Eric Peters is a Senior Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot Academy. He’s responsible for managing acquisition and growth marketing for HubSpot’s globally recognized online training division, and currently sits on the Industry Advisory Board for Udacity, where he helps advise the online course provider’s digital marketing curriculum.
We’re thrilled that Eric will be gracing the (virtual) stage at CouchCon on August 14, and couldn’t wait to hear his answers to some of our questions about creating educational videos. Don’t miss his session all about how HubSpot built a video certification and learning course, but in the meantime, let’s dig in!
WISTIA: How does your team at HubSpot decide what topics to cover when creating videos? How can you identify what your audience wants and needs?
ERIC: Great question. It’s a bit of an art, but we try to bring as much science to this as possible. We typically start with our own business goals for the content — is the course meant to attract new users, teach our customers how to use a new tool, support our agency partners in growing their businesses, etc.
If we’re aiming to attract new users, which requires an in-demand, broadly appealing topic, we’ll create a scorecard that compares the following variables:
- Monthly search volume for the topic, and whether HubSpot is already ranking for that topic
- Whether the topic is trending in other online course providers like Coursera and Udemy
- The extent to which we have content partners who can support content creation
- How often the course will need to be updated (for example, social media marketing is an ever-changing topic that needs to be updated more often than an introductory sales course
- How similar it is to an existing topic we already have in our course library
We’ll then give each topic a score for these from 0 to 10, average those out, and use that prioritization as a starting point. With that information in mind, we then go ask our users what type of content they would like to see in HubSpot Academy.
We have hundreds of thousands of users at various stages in their HubSpot customer lifecycle, and from various regions and business functions. Cross-referencing those demographic and firmographic characteristics with the responses they provide via surveys can be very helpful for identifying course topics.
“Cross-referencing those demographic and firmographic characteristics with the responses they provide via surveys can be very helpful for identifying course topics.”
WISTIA: When should a business start investing in educational content? Are there certain industries that could benefit most from creating these videos?
ERIC: Here at HubSpot, we’re obviously big believers in inbound marketing, wherein you create free educational content to attract people to your business, build trust with them, and continue to educate them until they’re successful customers and promoters of your business.
With that in mind, I think businesses should always be creating educational content, from the second they start. Did you know HubSpot was a marketing blog before it was a software company? Educational content has always been in our company DNA.
You’ll learn about this concept of a buyer’s journey in our Inbound Marketing Certification course, and the need for specific types of content to usher people through it. Whether it’s content created for the attract, consideration, or decision stage — or even post-sale content for customer onboarding and enablement — there’s always a place for educational content in your growth strategy.
“Whether it’s content created for the Attract, Consideration, or Decision stage, there’s always a place for educational content in your growth strategy.”
Now, whether that content should be video, text, graphical, or who knows, maybe even a virtual reality simulation, should be based on the cost-benefit of that content and which format serves the audience and topic best.
WISTIA: What are your top three tips for creating engaging educational videos?
1. Use the “Why, How, What” framework to keep educational content consistent. Start with why they need to know what you’re about to teach them, tell them how they should do it with examples, and show them what it looks like when it’s done right. Teaching people in this order helps them understand and apply what they’re learning.
2. Entertainment and education go hand in hand. Just because they’re educational videos, doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Keep your audience engaged, and show some personality, because when you’re audience is sitting behind their laptop watching your video by themselves, it’s easier than ever to get distracted and abandon your video.
3. Make sure your video has captions. If you want to walk the walk of an educator, use closed captions to make your videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. You’ll reap the added benefits of ESL (english as a second language) viewers, and search engines, having an easier time understanding the content.
WISTIA: When it comes to measuring the success of your videos, which metrics are most important to consider?
ERIC: Educational video content is measured by engagement and impact. View counts don’t matter nearly as much as minutes watched, and minutes watched doesn’t matter nearly as much as a demonstrable behavioral change in our users. If this seems difficult to measure, just ask them. For instance, on Twitter, when a HubSpot Academy graduate tweets that they’ve accomplished their certification, we regularly ask “what will you do differently now?”
We also survey them for this information a few weeks after passing the course. Every week, the HubSpot Academy team sits down to review those transformations we’ve seen in our users where we can identify a clear before-and-after effect of their experience.
WISTIA: What’s the best piece of advice you could offer someone who’s looking to get started with creating educational content?
ERIC: Don’t be precious with your content. Daysha V. Edewi, who was previously a video producer at Buzzfeed, taught me this one in her HubSpot Academy Master Class. It basically means to not turn your wheels and obsess over every last detail when you know you’ll be iterating on the content anyway. It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to launch the content; go for 95% because the only way you’ll really know is if it’s out in the wild and being seen.
Want to learn more from Eric Peters and other business video experts? Join us at CouchCon!