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How to Succeed with Video Marketing

One of the questions we always get asked is how long should a marketing video be?

Now here’s the thing, it’s typically a simple answer... short. Take what you are thinking, cut in half, then again for good measure. Attention spans are getting shorter with viewership after one minute dropping off a cliff.

Simple really, shorter is definitely better.

Except of course when it’s not. The rise of content marketing is tipped to be the future of video. No one wants to be sold to, they want to be informed, advised and encouraged by video. So in this scenario, being brief – because we’re told to be – is pointless. The goal here is to provide real value to your prospects.

There is no magic formula - the right length for a marketing video – well it’s a definite grey area. There are plenty of stats that will tell you sub 30 seconds – no longer than a minute. In fact, I’ve used these stats in many marketing pitches and presentations. So, what is the correct answer? Well to get to the answer, your agency should be asking you for context to help narrow your brief and requirements.

  • What is the purpose of your video? There’s no room for wavering here, no room for dual purpose. A video cannot serve two (or more) masters.
  • Who is your audience? And much like the above, clarity is key and “everyone” is not achievable.
  • What is your relationship with your intended audience? This is crucial as it will impact how interested your audience might be in what you’ve got to say.
  • What is the intended delivery mechanism? See bullet point one. If this hasn’t been considered from the outset, then you’re in for trouble.
  • What is the key message you want to deliver? This message needs to resonate through everything you say and show in your video.
  • What is the style and format you want to use in your video? Presenter, Q&A, detail driven, live action or animated characters, shocking or inspirational.
  • Last, but by no means least, make sure you pinpoint the measurable outcome you are trying to achieve.

The key here is there is no one size fits all. There are many types and uses for corporate video.  So, by telling you about the optimal length without any of this context, I wouldn’t be doing a very good job.

However, you do need to consider the trends and use this research to tailor your video strategy. So, what are the current trends?

Corporate videos are in general becoming shorter.

You almost don’t need the evidence for this. You can see it, on your news feeds and sponsored adverts. Video length is shrinking. General guidance would pitch it between 60-120 seconds for corporate overview videos, with advertising even shorter.

But why the shift?

Attention spans are shrinking. As life continues to accelerate and we continue to multi-task we are overwhelmed with information competing for our attention. There are plenty of studies to back this claim and change in online consumption behaviour.

Mobile video viewing is the norm. Most people watch video content on their mobiles, so short form video is a necessity for most mobile uses and apps. Very short form video is the new kid on the block. Tik Tok, Vine, Instagram, YouTube Ads offer hyper short formats that undoubtedly have impacted viewing behaviour.

Video length can be a turn off. We’ve all done it. Quick glance at the video length before committing to pressing play. Is the reward worth the effort?  If this video is going to take up too much time, viewers can and will move on.

Viewership drops off quickly. All video hosting services verify this research. Very view corporate videos are completed and more then half (yes you read it right) are abandoned before the viewer gets halfway through. Such is this impact that YouTube changed its algorithm to emphasize time watched.  Why? Because clicks aren’t as important a metric as percentage completion. That gives you true value to your video.

The conundrum is you may have a lot to say, but the longer your video is the less likely you are to have viewers make it all the way through.

Simple then, shorter is clearly the winner, unless of course it’s not.

Some video types are becoming longer.

You are ready to make your corporate video, tell your customers and prospects about you, your products, your offices, your people, your values, services etc. What is the issue? Nobody really cares. Instead, they care about their own problems, and HOW you can help. This is where content marketing comes into its own.

Content marketing isn’t selling. It’s providing valuable information to customers and prospects and associating your brand with that content. It establishes trust and delivers value. This is where longer video comes into its own. Tips, guides, updates, research – content that helps the viewers.

Content that is associated with an opt-in service i.e. someone has specifically signed up to view, typically means they are more invested in your brand and will have more time for what you may have to say.

Making compelling, thought-provoking content will lead to viewers stickiness. If people have a genuine interest in what you have to say they will watch it regardless of length.

So yes, there is a clear case for shorter being better, but it doesn’t mean it is always best. Relevance beats short.  Of course, short and relevant is a force to be reckoned with.

Video length guidance:

Corporate Overview Videos  – 1 to 2 minutes.

Online Promotional Ads – 15 and 30 seconds

Product or Service Promotions – 60 seconds.

Customer testimonials –  1 to 2 minutes

Recruiting Videos – 1 to 3 minutes

Content Marketing – 1 to 5 minutes (or longer)

Very Short Form Video – 6, 15 or 16 seconds

Viral Videos – 60 seconds.

Video Case Studies – 2 to 4 minutes.

Training Videos – 2 to 30 minutes.

Product or Service Demos (not Promos… Demo’s) – 90 seconds to 3 minutes

Product Reviews – 1 to 3 minutes

Event Videos – 2 to 60 minutes.

How to get it right.

  1. Your video needs to be as long as it takes you to get to the point. The sooner you get there, the better, as we’ve established people really don’t need much of a reason to click away.
  2. Your video type, audience relationship and purpose should be the driving factors to determine video length.
  3. Front load your content. Most of your audience won’t make it to the end of your video so make sure you include all the good stuff at the start.
  4. Don’t waste time on lengthy branded video intros, it delays you getting to your point and increases people skipping away. See point 1.
  5. Consider serialising content. We know it’s hard to boil everything down to fit with attention spans. So instead break up your content into manageable chunks.
  6. Trust in your message. The “too many cooks” adage is so relevant here. Script reviews and add-ons in a business round robin to include everything anyone could possibly think of, do only one thing. Make your video longer. That fourth or fifth benefit will be no good if no-one makes it that far.
  7. Remember, the overall goal is to keep your audience watching. Give them enough value to take the action you are trying to achieve.
  8. Finally, if you made it this far, then thank you. The bottom line in video (as in all comms) should always be, get to the point as quickly as you can.


By Emma Cole

Marketing & Technology Accounts Director at FWD Motion