November 5, 2014

Concepting, Shooting, and Sharing an Effective Business Video Series

Meryl Ayres

Creative

When is the last time you indulged in a series? House of Cards, anyone? The fact is, a successful series of any kind (TV, book, business video) can be addictive. Each book or episode gives its audience an unfinished-yet-satisfying imprint of a topic or story. So satisfying that audiences return again and again to consume more related content. In the world of business video, this addictive quality translates to better overall engagement on a company’s website.

Many companies are already reaping the benefits of video series, and we were curious about their experiences. We’re super excited that Bigcommerce, Yashi, and Trackbat were willing to share with us their inspirations, game plans, and results!

Meet the series

Without further ado, let’s meet the companies and their respective series, shall we?

Bigcommerce is an e-commerce platform that provides shopping cart solutions for online stores. In 2013, they began creating Bigcommerce University, a collection of series that teach their customers how to build successful digital stores.

Yashi is a location-focused digital advertising platform. Their series is made up of 30-second episodes, in which web advertising and television advertising go head to head (hint: web advertising wins every time).

Trackbat (formerly known as GetCourse) creates software that enables you to collect valuable feedback and data on your presentations. Their 007-themed series offers tips and tricks about body language in common business settings.

All of these companies are using series to teach their audiences, whether it’s general lessons about their industry or how to optimize their products. Having taught middle-school for three years, this makes perfect sense to me. Video series allow you to present specific (even complicated) content in quick, approachable segments. Consumers of digital media are especially impatient (perhaps more so than the average 7th-grader). Getting to the point and breaking things up will allow your viewers to learn according to their own styles and needs.

Shooting a successful series: the interviews

We interviewed Bigcommerce, Yashi, and Trackbat about the ins and outs of their respective series and their outcomes. While their stories differ, you will notice common threads and lessons learned that could inform your own video series journey!

Q: What inspired you to make a series?

Bigcommerce: "We wanted to help our clients become more comfortable navigating the back end of their online stores and provide them with a ’smart’ path to getting up and selling faster. We also wanted to assist our sales and support teams with accessible content to provide to our clients."

Yashi: "As a digital video DSP [demand-side platform], one of our biggest obstacles is getting people to understand the benefits of advertising online vs. advertising on television. There are endless reasons why digital video trumps TV, and we wanted to convey that by offering bite-sized 30-second videos—each of which covers one of those reasons. Our team was inspired by the iconic Mac vs. PC series that Apple began producing in 2006. In an effort to create a way to explain our position in the market, in a way that was entertaining and informative, the characters of Web and TV started to come into view."

Trackbat: "After creating a stand-alone video a few months ago about body language for presentations, we saw a huge follow up from our social media fans giving their own tips and tricks and asking for help in very common business situations. We knew we had to step in and make a follow-up series that addressed the most common ones with the tips and ideas shared from the community."

Suggestions for inspiration:
  • Listen to your own audience for content suggestions.
  • Series can serve as a great tools for customers and sales teams alike.
  • Having a model series to mimic can be useful.

Q: What processes or strategies did you rely on for producing your series?

Bigcommerce: "We formed a team. It took a small army to make sure that we focused, stayed on target, and continued to develop helpful content. Two times a week, we met as a team to discuss how to problem solve for specific instances and improve. Our team makes every effort to approach the content from the perspective of a beginner and sprinkle in some more advanced tips and tricks along the way. This ensures we stay aligned with our client base, and it helps us design the video course flow."

"We also make sure that we have multiple eyes on all aspects of creation, from the script to editing to the user experience on our landing pages. Additionally, we send our clients a Net Promoter Score survey each quarter to assess their satisfaction levels. We currently have an NPS score of 52, which includes both clients and trailers. So, we’re pretty pleased with the direction we’re headed thus far!"

“Our team makes every effort to approach the content from the perspective of a beginner and sprinkle in some more advanced tips and tricks along the way.”

Yashi: "The marketing team and the executive board storyboarded and scripted a few 30 second spots. We’d act them out and see which ones worked for everyone, and which ones fell flat. If the message was too intricate or unclear, we tried to simplify or cut it completely. We utilized our network and hired one of our CEO’s friends in the video production industry to lead a small production crew. We put an ad out and began auditioning actors as we finalized our scripts. In order to be as efficient as possible, we scheduled one long day of production to shoot all 16 spots. We prepared by doing a table read and a rehearsal, collected any and all props, and outlined a production schedule to make sure we stayed on track."

Trackbat: "The first video was probably the hardest in the series, mostly because it involved creating a plan for how to format the episode and develop the characters. Once we understood the rhythm and setup, all it took was replacing the setting and writing the scripts with the personalities in mind, and the episode setups simply flowed. The episodes became easier and faster to produce, which is the real beauty of making a video series."

Helpful strategies for producing a series:
  • Regularly meet as a team and develop a production schedule.
  • Establish a style and some parameters to make each episode easier to produce.
  • Testing out your scripts on an audience will help you hone your messaging.

Q: How did you make the videos feel like a cohesive unit?

Bigcommerce: "We worked closely with our style guide and creative team to ensure the color of the background, our shirts, the font, timing of icons and animation, etc. all aligned with their vision and goals for the company. We also used the same set up for shooting each time. We worked very hard to document the camera settings (e.g. f-stop, film speed, etc.) and tape the floor and lights to switch between heights for Katey and James. This made for not only a much more streamlined shooting process but also consistency across all videos. Our editor also had specific filters and settings which he kept to make sure each video had the same contrast/saturation settings."

Yashi: "We used the same actors, set, tone, and format for each of the videos. And, of course, we ended each video by branding our company. We knew the jingle would be vital to our parody series so we hosted a contest on musikpitch.com and picked the perfect complementary tune to complete the project in post."

Trackbat: "Although the videos very loosely tie into each other, the repetition of gags, the opening sequence and title cards, and the format of being told techniques to use by the operatives boss all showcased a connection between each of the videos. Not every video in a series has to call out that it’s connected; simply using visual cues like graphics and episode formats across all the videos can do the job quite well."

“Not every video in a series has to call out that it’s connected; simply using visual cues like graphics and episode formats across all the videos can do the job quite well.”
Tips on unifying your episodes:
  • Keep track of details (fonts, filters, camera settings) to ensure your aesthetic remains consistent and polished.
  • Something as simple as an episode format or a familiar gag can make your episodes seem connected.
  • A solid jingle can go a long way.

Q: How did you share the series with your audience?

Bigcommerce: "We used e-newsletters, education-focused emails, and blog announcements, and also promoted via social outlets: Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and learning network, Udemy."

Yashi: "We featured the series in the middle of our homepage, shared it with our social network, included it in a blog series, and our sales team shared it with prospects. Lastly, we used our own platform and served the videos as a targeted online ad campaign."

Trackbat: "We did a lot of promoting on our social media websites; mainly LinkedIn, since that was the platform in which we wanted to excel the most and which we thought would drive the most conversions. Other than that, we also published blog posts for each of the videos and a cumulative blog post gathering all 5 videos in a playlist."

Takeaways for sharing your series:
  • Emails and blog announcements make great vehicles for sharing a series with your audience.
  • Consider which social channel will achieve your goals most effectively, and promote the series accordingly.
  • Featuring a video series on your homepage can be an engaging way to communicate your product.

Q: What benefits have you noticed?

Bigcommerce: "Upon the pilot of the ’Build Your Store’ section of our series, we were sure to collect viewer email addresses. After a few months, we took the list of email addresses and ran it through our Business Intelligence team. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Bigcommerce clients who engaged with the videos were 2 times more likely to get to their first sale quickly. We were even more delighted to find a 13.6% lift between folks who had engaged with Bigcommerce University during their store trial period compared to those who had not watched a single video."

"An additional benefit we did not foresee was the ability to identify other areas of our business that our clients are curious about. We were able to spawn a new blog series called ’Sell More’ that discusses e-commerce tips and best practices we don’t necessarily cover in Bigcommerce University."

Yashi: "We have brought attention to our brand and spread awareness of how effective and powerful programmatic online video advertising is in comparison to traditional advertising. When prospects, clients, or partners reference our series, they are always able to identify the scenarios that play out in the episodes."

“When prospects, clients, or partners reference our series, they are always able to identify the scenarios that play out in the episodes.”

Trackbat: "The number of blog subscriptions through the playlist trumped the number of conversions we saw normally on individual blog posts."

Results to remember:
  • Video series can function as scalable teaching tools.
  • Short, memorable episodes make for interesting conversation topics.
  • A helpful video series can convince blog readers to become subscribers.

You’re probably asking yourself, "Would our company benefit from a video series?" Or maybe you’re thinking about burritos. Either way, a videos series can provide your customers or wider audience with valuable information that they can consume at their leisure. The consistencies among episodes also make for a relatively streamlined production process. If there’s a will, a scalable topic or theme, and a passionate team, there’s a way!

Do you have an idea in mind for a potential series? Have you produced your own video series? Have you benefited from another business’s online series?

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