Think video marketing doesn't include performance marketing? Think again

Kellie Fitzgerald / October 2020

Now seven months into the pandemic, brands continue to face many uncertainties. But there are some aspects of the “new normal” that are clear. Social distancing requirements have caused people to spend more time online than ever before, which has rapidly accelerated e-commerce, e-learning and remote working. This online surge has made it increasingly critical for businesses to maximize their digital presence, to reach potential customers and engage them across the purchase journey.

At Google, I lead a team of specialists who help brands do this through YouTube. And while video has played an outsized role in the marketing funnel since long before the coronavirus, many marketers have been slow to recognize its full potential. The fact is, beyond its benefits for brand-building, online video can also be a powerful performance driver. As we found in a recent study, for example, 70% of people say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube.1

The fact is, beyond its benefits for brand-building, online video can also be a powerful performance driver.

Whether you’re a brand marketer focused on creating demand or a performance marketer focused on fulfilling it, I’d encourage you to think of video ads more expansively and as an engine for both, especially now, in a time when every media dollar needs to stretch a little farther.

Here are three video marketing strategies — inspired by successful brands — that can help you take advantage of video for any objective.

3 illustrated icons represent the concepts of making simple, strategic creative tweaks, optimizing for relevance, and helping satisfy demand

Make simple, strategic creative tweaks

At this point, most brands have gotten used to pivoting to address changing consumer behavior, especially retailers who face ongoing restrictions at their physical stores. Retail brands facing this pivot have found that small changes to their video campaigns can help further their e-commerce goals.

The marketing team repurposed existing video creative by updating it with timely messages about new offers.

L’Oréal USA, for example, is proof that simply updating a text overlay or a call to action (CTA) can improve your outcome at a fraction of the cost.

This spring, when the company was confronted with closing retail stores for some of its direct-to-consumer brands, like Kiehl’s, the marketing team adapted their strategy to focus on e-commerce and drive efficient visits to retail websites.

L’Oréal repurposed existing video creative by adding a CTA about a new “Friends and Family” deal. The team then ran the creative as a TrueView for action campaign, prompting users to click on the offer. This approach helped hit conversion goals and showed benefits earlier in the customer journey as well.

As Oliver Hobbs, director of media and data activation for L’Oréal USA’s Active Cosmetics Division explained, “The campaign’s cost per landing page visit outperformed our expectations and delivered a campaign average that was 4X more efficient than some of our other tactics. This approach also allowed us to measure the incremental search lift in both brand and product-related search terms.”

Optimize for relevance

To get the most out of your spend and build meaningful connections with your customers, ads should reflect their interests and intent. By understanding and responding to their preferences and behavior, you can reach viewers over time with a campaign that responds to where they are along the path to purchase.

One business that has done this successfully is smart security service provider ADT. After research indicated that specific audience segments were more likely to be interested in security systems, ADT created custom messages to reach these segments.

Compared to the same period in 2019, ADT saw lifts in favorability and consideration — 8% and 10%, respectively — along with a 22% increase in conversion rate.

Using Video ad sequencing, which allows brands to create a bespoke journey for users based on how they respond to each ad, the brand engaged interested viewers with a product story that shifted their perception and drove them to take action. ADT used sequencing to introduce their brand messaging and then surface action-oriented messaging later on.

“We wanted to create detailed consumer journeys, specific to the purchase behavior for each audience. This would allow us to speak to the right audience at the right moment,” explained Stacie Dauffenbach, ADT’s director of digital brand. Compared to the same period in 2019, ADT saw lifts in favorability and consideration — 8% and 10%, respectively — along with a 22% increase in conversion rate.

Help satisfy demand

In addition to helping you be more relevant, audience signals can also uncover emerging consumer needs to inform how you show up for potential customers. Trending searches are a prime example of this, as you consider how your brand appears in the moments when consumers are ready to take action.

When online education platform MasterClass began seeing a spike in digital content consumption and an increase in searches for topics related to its own course offerings, the company took note. It then used these insights to anchor a new “Buy one, share one” offer to encourage people to try its courses.

“For us, the issue is not finding people who are interested in our product,” said Thomas Hopkins, head of performance and lifecycle marketing at MasterClass. “It’s connecting interested people with the right content.”

Using a YouTube tool, MasterClass was able to take its understanding of what people were actively searching for and apply it to existing video ads that it updated with a relevant offer. For example, if someone searched for gardening tips, they would be served a MasterClass ad offering for a course on gardening. This approach helped drive awareness for the brand, as well as action. MasterClass saw a 140% increase in clicks to their website and a 70% increase in course sign ups compared to their previous campaign reporting period.

As you continue to look for ways to maximize the impact of your video marketing, keep these approaches in mind to help you reach both brand and performance goals.

Sequential storytelling is changing video ads. Can it change perceptions?