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Nine video KPI's: using ROI to improve ROI

Tim Cumming and Helen Pain, updated 11 Jan 2022

When you're weighing up video marketing pros and cons, you need stats, proof. A clear sense that video isn't fluffy. This article breaks out nine meaty KPIs for you. But there are two golden rules to follow first.

Beautiful red flowers

Golden Rule One - Goals

First, start well. Have you set clear goals? If you're going to invest in video, you'll need to consider its rewards. Commission video without a clear goal in mind, and you might as well ignore ROI. Like all marketing, aiming at a number is a wise, sound and honest approach. For example:

Golden Rule Two - Video Marketing eats Video Content for breakfast

Second, think about marketing as opposed to content. Marketing's recent renaissance is well document in the 2020 Gartner Buyer Enablement report - not from the sell side, but vitally, from the buy side (if you've not read about buyer enablement, take ten minutes - it may surprise you).

Have you explored the marketing and sales capabilities of video - many underestimate what video can really do, and set the bar too low. For example, done well, video can improve prospecting, sales nurturing, sales convincing, onboarding speed, client support and team training, even prospect training. Among today's digital-first B2B buyers, you need your business to be video enabled, not merely well-articled.

This article aims to explain a variety of ways in which goals can easily be set, the kind of goals you can have, and the strategies that you need to pursue when considering and commissioning video, in order to achieve those goals.

Evaluate the Good You Do

Here are nine key performance indicators that are effective measures of the performance of your video:

Top 5

1. Engagement

Put simply, this is how long a viewer watches your video. Do they watch right the way to the end, or do they bail halfway through? Or, even worse, do they flee near the beginning? Knowing this KPI is a measure of the fit between your audience and your message.

Your video host will reveal engagement for you, if you've used the silver rule below. Vimeo has a helpful overlay graph - you may be surprised by the falloff in viewing right to the end, to the CTA. It's telling. Make your films too long, or too dull, or simply in low quality, and you'll not get many viewings right through to CTA.

Many research projects show that testimonials, case studies, tutorials and demos, are among the highest ranking in engagement scores (See Curata). These research statistics are by nature broad: in our experience, case builders and convincers tend to have higher rates of engagement, but demos and tutorials often score high amongst client groups too.

Do List

  • Engagement: create a spreadsheet and track your engagement
  • Improve: ask your clients what they like least about these videos, edit the videos to match - make changes, to improve the content, upload the new videos, track engagement again, rinse and repeat
  • Avoid Youtube: because it forbids replacing live videos, and the workaround will amplify your trial and error workload and cost (you'll be required to upload, tag, title, describe and optimise each time you revise)

2. The rate of play

This is a measure of the number of people who click 'play' once they're aware that there's a video on the page. This is largely a measure of the thumbnail - the chosen image, its size, what its headline says, or what the title proposes, where and on which page it has been embedded, when a client visits your website.

Do List

  • Research: look into examples of thumbnails on best practice pages, and on competitor websites
  • Improve: update your thumbnails and split test them, before settling on the best one. Sounds minor, but this can significantly boost viewings and engagement.

3. Viewings

This depends on how long you regard a play to have counted as a viewing, for instance, 10% of the video, 30%, 50% or 100%. Your viewing count is going to vary, but it will give you a rough and ready sense of user behaviour, and the sheer number of people who have viewed. It's more of a vanity metric than a value metric, but at least it tells you who was interested enough to watch.

Do List

  • Viewing count: agree on the achievable % in order to compile viewing data
  • Statistics: conversion rates dramatically rise when there is a completed viewing and if you find that you can't encourage viewers to stay right to the end it makes sense to move your cta further inside the video
Sculptures of cherubs gazing upwards

4. Response

This is a measure of what people did after viewing your video, and whether they reacted to the CTA (call-to-action) during, or at the end, of the video. So many companies miss a sensible opportunity to direct a viewer to take a next step.

To Do

  • Research: examples of CTA include discover topic x, visit website, compare us, cross-sell or upsell, explore features, see how our clients have succeeded, book a Zoom, compare methods or processes, calculate likely returns. Some of the most impactful CTA tools you'll ever find are at the 2020 Gartner Buyer Enablement report
  • Implementation: apply your method of 'next step' to your video at the end if you're confident of viewer completion, or in the middle if not.

Even if you're asking them to read more, to download or visit a certain page, the important thing with a CTA is to remember that the viewer should be asked to do something particular and specific in this moment, rather than relying on them to remember something or to retain an idea they can use later on, which is far less effective.

5. Sharing on social media

This is, to a certain extent, a measure of the virality of the video. If viewers share your video, it's an expression of their endorsement for the ideas, your brand, the people, or for the humour inside your video.

It's a crude measure, and often too much weight is placed on shares because they don't really produce anything of direct commercial value. It's always going to be CTA and response that counts more. However they do produce a measure of extension of audience reach. And that does count for something.

Goal setting

  • Social media: For each channel that you publish your videos on, gather the sharing stats from the channel's native statistics tool. Do this over a regular time period which coincides with your financial year
  • Statistics: Move the stats onto a spreadsheet and compare sharing to lead generation to see if there is any obvious causal relationship. There may be a tenuous one, or an obvious one.

6. Surveys

There's a growing field of technology which overlays videos with surveys and allows you to capture answers to questions, opinion or sentiment, directly related to points made in the video. This is a convenient and engaging way to gather data. It's much better for the viewer than formal surveys - no-one employed likes to be asked if they mind spending four minutes answering questions to help another business.

The best way to do interactive questioning is to inject a minimum number of two or three brief questions into the video so that viewers can express their views.

Needless to say, this data is highly valuable - you're getting a direct response to your messaging branding and narrative flow. What can be richer? Even branding videos can carry sentiment capture, where you can really get a sense of audience agreement or disagreement, or even misunderstanding of the very message that you're trying to convey. It can be seen as a perfect way of closing the loop between the expression of a message, its receipt and consequent effect.

To Do

  • Providers: Vimeo, Wistia and other platforms now offer limited overlays. These are convenient and quick though they usually require the top end plan, and hence cost. But why stop at limited overlays? You can commission fully interactive videos from a number of firms now - they deliver much higher engagement too. Just Google 'interactive video marketing' and explore
  • Efficacy: before you make a start on your data capture, work backwards. What changes can you make to your product, or service, that you can ask about? What is it you need to know most about? Trust? Intention? Problems? Timescales? Which 2-3 questions do you want to ask? What do you wish to gain? Map these out before you explore interactive video.
One red seat among a sea of grey ones

7. Video conversion rates

Perhaps the most important statistic of all, it's a measure of the number of viewers who eventually became sales leads, prospects or customers. You can find out where they've gone on from viewing a message directly into your sales pipeline.

This is the most valuable outcome from making a video and certain types of video are best suited to this, such as convincers, persuaders and demos.

Goal setting

  • Statistics: You can gather information and statistics in a myriad of ways. Possibly use Google Analytics. By setting goals and goal values alongside funnels from the video you'll be able to clearly see the contribution the video has made to your conversion. You'll simply need to track or events on your website in order to automate the capture of response data. Conversion rates vary hugely from industry to industry, company to company, and proposition to proposition. Your particular ideal conversion rate can only be found by trial and error, but tracking will certainly deliver insight and improvement over time
  • Analysis: 4 or 5 columns inside of spreadsheet tracking each video against a conversion to enquiry sales nurturing or a client win for example will produce a useful picture of the value of your videos
  • Action: Analysis and insight alone are not enough. you do need to take action to improve the conversion rates of your videos. The quickest and simplest way to do this is by varying the thumbnails and CTA's inside your videos. More meeting methods include varying the problem part of the narrative and the result part of the narrative. and that means editing the video and replacing the old with the new to track the difference.

8. Topic response

Topic response measures the effectiveness of specific topics covered in the range of the videos that you have published. The aim is to observe semantic hotspots across all of your video communications, and to understand the efficacy of each topic. This can guide your planning for your next videos and highlight where to invest your time and money.

To Do

  • Setup: Tracking topics is made simple by Google's UTM codes. These will allow you to track video response on the basis of media, campaign, keywords and a variety of other terms. Together they can produce either sophisticated or simple analyses of viewer response to topics
  • Analysis: Once you've harvested the analysis, the next step is to spreadsheet up a picture of which topics resonate most strongly with your audience. It's often surprising to see how little the topics you thought were important are being taken up. And vice versa. Your audiences' priorities rarely align with yours, and your goal here is to let your audience lead. For example costs nearly always surfaces as the number one topical interest - and how much do you address that in your video?

9. Format response

A video format is the type of narrative used to tell a story, such as explainers, assurers or convincers. Essentially, format response tracks the conversion rates and efficacy of each video format, which should match the various levels of your marketing and sales pipelines, for example, you may experience 7% conversion rate from assurance videos, and 15% conversion rate from explainer videos.

While there may be no obvious relation between the performance of each format, it's incredibly useful to see how video narratives and CTAs are shaping your customer conversion right across marketing and sales.

Goal setting

  • Setup: This is very similar to topic track. You just use Google utm codes again, feeding the correct word in to describe the format you've used is a simple approach. For example explainer, promo, taster, assurer, convincer - you get the picture
  • Analysis: This is also very similar to topic analysis. Set up a spreadsheet and load in the data. Just use the same CTA or goal result headings that you created for topic tracking, in order to compare the conversions against each of the formats. This helps generate a comprehensive picture, and compares meaningfully with topics.
Underground well lit railway tunnel

Silver rule - Host on a platform that really supports trial and error

Choose your host wisely. Vimeo and Youtube and most other platforms like Wistia, Brightcove, Vidyard will offer you statistics. There's a good list of web hosts at Sharpeye Animation. Video hosts change their analytics frequently, so we're not going to attempt a detailed comparison here, as it'll be obsolete fast. But web host Kinsta has quite a good comparison.

Instead, here's a swift list of video hosts that will support your video analytics, in order of analytics preference:

  1. Vimeo: ad-free video uploads, even with free plans, worldwide distribution and good built-in social media integrationsSo, let's be truthful, be honest, about what hasn't worked, and finally put in that measuring system that we've always aspired to, and perhaps never got around to. Not just talking about Google Analytics or HubSpot. Talking about actually using Google Analytics and HubSpot.
  2. Dailymotion: unlimited bandwidth and storage, ads mostly appear at the end, includes customizable widgets, superior player technology, and personalized branding tools, video management is pretty good, partners get social network analytics, audience retention, minutes watched, and more
  3. Jetpack: ad-free, video hosting service for WordPress, reasonable stats
  4. Wistia: ad-free, but pricey video hosting, has some nice touches like video sitemaps and 360-degree video, decent video analytics
  5. Vidyard: top-end video-marketing-oriented service, includes conversion management and excellent detailed analytics right down to attention span, custom CTAs and A/B testing for thumbnails
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Already got this covered?

If you already have business videos and they're not generating response, there's much above that will help you improve their performance. But what would be even better than your current business videos?

One-minute Improvers


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