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On today’s episode, we will be talking to Kristen Craft from Wistia. This is the eCommerce Marketing Podcast episode 5.

Robert: Welcome to the Ecommerce Marketing Podcast. Today our guest is Kristen Craft, and Kristen is a big fan of technology, education, and business. She loves being part of the marketing team at Wistia, helping people use video more effectively. She also loves working with Wistia’s partner community, building connections with other companies that care about video marketing. Kristen holds advanced degrees in Business and education from MIT and Harvard. In her spare time, she brews and drinks different varieties of beer. Welcome, Kristen, today to Ecommerce Marketing Podcast!

Kristen: Thank you so much, Robert. I’m glad to be here.

Robert: So I wanted to have you on because video marketing is important and many businesses can actually use video to achieve their business goals. And I just wanted to hear from you, what do you think some of the objectives and business goals that video allows or can help businesses achieve?

Kristen: Sure, you know I think, in general, when people are trying to figure out what their video strategy should be, it makes sense to think about what existing goals you have for your company. So for most companies, of course, sales is a huge goal. But there might be other smaller goals, or sort of sub-goals that play into that, such as getting people to sign up for your email newsletter or getting people to engage with you on Twitter or Facebook. And I think that in any of these regards, it’s a good practice to think about “Alright, how can video help me achieve these goals that I’m already striving towards?”

Robert: Okay, and when you say businesses need to ask that question—okay, so it’s good that you ask the question how can they achieve these goals, but even before achieving the goals, is there a better… Is it best for them to have a foundation or lay a groundwork on how they can use video to achieve the goal?

Kristen: Yeah, that’s a good point. I think, if I were mapping this out for most companies, I would try to think about the entire lifecycle of other people’s interactions with them. So, for example, most companies create content in order to attract people to the company, or people to a landing page, and in that particular context I think video is a really attractive piece of content that you can put out there to help your website’s SEO, and just help draw people into your company’s circle. So thinking about the next stage in that relationship with your audience, you want people to engage more deeply with your company over time. So, perhaps the next thing it to get them to sign up for your email newsletter. Well if you’re putting—you create a video where you’re sharing best practices and really helpful, valuable information, give people a call to action within the video asking them to sign up for your newsletter. And then last, let’s say you’re selling a physical product. If you’re trying to sell—Zappo’s, I think is a great example, because they’ve started using video for almost every pair of shoes they sell. Think about your physical product, think about this pair of shoes, and what kinds of questions to people have about these shoes? Maybe how they look with a certain pair of pants, or how tall they make somebody or whatever those kinds of questions might be, and then use video to help answer the questions that folks already have about that product.

Robert: Okay, and what can businesses do to actually start using video in their whole marketing strategy? How can they include video in their whole marketing strategy? What do they need to do? What are the steps they need to take?

Kristen: I think one of the most important steps to tackle early on is to, with a single video, is to figure out what you’re one goal is for that video. I think often times we see happening is companies try to do too much all at once, so they say “Okay, I’m gonna make a video and I want to show off my product and I want to show off my company culture and I want to try to recruit and hire talented people and I want to get people to sign up for my email newsletter!” You know, it’s understandable to want to do everything when you’re starting to make a video, but I think it’s more important—or most important—to choose a single goal and make a video that will help move you towards accomplishing that single goal. So, back to the Zappos example, if your goal is to sell more of this one pair of shoes, make the one video that helps you get towards that one goal. So I guess, back your question, what is the first thing that they should do? You want to make a video, great. Figure out what your single goal is for that video before you even start scripting, or before you start going into production.

Robert: Okay, so that’s really a great point. So they just need to figure out why they need to use the video. And let’s say you’re going to use video and email, or add video to email marketing, they probably want to figure out “Okay, why do I need this piece of video in my email marketing? What’s the end goal for the subscribers? What are they going to be getting from this video?” and other than the goals, let’s say—okay, so they figure out the goals, what is the next thing. What’s the next step for using video for their marketing?

Kristen: I think the next phase that people should go into after figuring out that goal is what we call pre-production. And this—I think the biggest step or the most important step within the pre-production phase is scripting a video. And many people are inclined to think “Oh, I don’t need a script! I can just wing it! I am an expert in this subject matter! I’ll just go out there and get on camera and I’ll sound really natural because I’m not reading from a script!” and it’s such an understandable viewpoint, but all of us speak with “ums” and “uhs” and “likes” and, although that feels and sounds somewhat natural, in certain contexts it ends up sounding pretty unnatural and sounds pretty distracting when it happens on camera. And that is, I think, one of the biggest reasons why scripting your video in advance is important. Because you want to make sure that your messages is as crisp and concise as possible without any distraction. And I think that you can do that and you can script it without having it sound—end up having it sound overly rehearsed.

Robert: Okay, and once they’ve addressed the goal, they’ve come up with a script, what’s the next step in the pre-production? Is it the recording, then editing? What comes right after?

Kristen: Well, right after scripting, what we generally do as Wistia is we move into what we call a table read. And during a table read, you sit around a table with a friend, a colleague—someone who knows you and your tone of voice—and you read through the script a few times. And I think what we tend to look for when doing a table read is—are parts of the script that feel unnatural. I think there’s a lot that feels natural in reading text, and when you’re just reading it in your own head, it feels perfectly normal. But then, once you actually read it out loud, certain things just sound a little bit too formal. We tend to speak more casually than we tend to communicate in writing. So I think the process of going through a table read and reading through your script a few times out loud to somebody else, that will help you identify the parts of your script that need smoothing or need a little bit more casual language. I think having another person as a sounding board, I think they can sort of pinpoint and say “You know, Robert, that part didn’t really sound too smooth. It felt a little bit too jargon-y or it was a really long sentence, I was having a hard time following what you were saying.”

Robert: That actually definitely makes sense. Even though I’m doing a podcast, I’m not doing video, but probably coming up with a script then just doing a table read, probably can help and make the whole—the podcast even better so it probably—it definitely works for video, and just… I guess any marketing strategy you’re using, it’s always best to have the script, have the plan, but also always include your other team to give you a different feedback and just make it better.

Kristen: Yeah, definitely! You used the example of this podcast, you know, for us, the production process—or the recording process is not—presumably it’s not overly burdensome, it’s not super expensive, whereas when you’re shooting a video, that process of filming actually can be pretty expensive. Sometimes you’re renting studio space. Sometimes you’re hiring a videographer. Maybe you’re even renting camera equipment or lighting equipment. So you want to make sure that you are able to be as efficient as possible once into the shooting phase. And I think that’s why it really makes sense to spend the extra time and the extra attention during the pre-production phase, so that you can be efficient and cost effective once you move into shooting.

Robert: Okay, and what comes right after the table read?

Kristen: So, usually after that we move into the shooting phase. And I think—at Wistia, we tend to shoot in a video studio. That is not the case for many of our customers. A lot of our customers will shoot video just around their office or in their home office, for example, so I guess maybe I’d say there’s actually a mini-step between pre-production and shooting which is figuring out where and how you want to shoot your video. And the kinds of things that I think we look for, and we suggest other people look for are places that don’t have a lot of distractions in the background. We tend to like shooting against a plain piece of colored paper that acts as the backdrop, but I think any sort of ideally colored wall will just add a little bit more personality to it than just having a white wall. But if nothing else is available, a white wall is certainly better than being in front of a fire—I dunno, other random stuff. I think also, probably the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re choosing your shooting location is to make sure that you do not have a light source behind you. So you don’t ever want to have your back to the windows, instead you want to have your—you want to be facing the windows so that your shot is as flooded with light as possible so you’re eliminating any distracting shadows.

Robert: And with that type of shoot, what you’re describing right now, you’re talking about shooting and recording a person.

Kristen: Yes, that’s correct. We do a lot of live action, but also we do plenty of screencast video where we’re showing what’s happening on your computer screen and then we have voice over.

Robert: Okay, and in the case of doing the live action or shooting your computer screen or showing your product, what type of takes should people have or be thinking of when doing that time of recording?

Kristen: With screencasting, I still think it’s good to script in advance. You don’t want to be winging it even if your face isn’t on camera. I think also another best practice to keep in mind is just to turn off any applications that can ping you while you’re recording. You want to make sure you don’t have a chat application or Skype or something open and popping up while you’re in the middle of recording your screen. I think also, if you are like me and you have just a billion tabs open at once, make sure that you are opening up a fresh window so you don’t have the distraction of all these other tabs and stuff that people are gonna be looking at rather than focusing on the content you really want them to see.

Robert: Actually, after you mentioned having the live chat or Skype on, I have to disable my and change it to away because, yeah, I don’t want anybody just popping in right now as I’m recording this.

Kristen: Yeah, totally.

Robert: So we’ve gone through the goals, we’ve gone through the scripting, the pre-production, the recording—okay, what comes right after?

Kristen: So, during—I think often times the recording will actually take a little bit longer than people think. Because the first take of the script is probably gonna be a little bit rough. People often times feel a little awkward on camera at first, and it’s pretty amazing to see how that can change over time. If you have somebody directing you who knows you well, they can help put you at ease. If you’re delivering your message into the camera and you feel pretty stiff or you sound sort of awkward, encourage that director, that friend, to give you that feedback so you can do additional takes. So I’d say it’s worthwhile spending that time shooting until you get a take where you look at feel and there’s not too much—it’s not like we’re actually using physical film these days, so there’s not really much downside in getting extra footage and reshooting until you get some footage that looks and feels right.

At that point, we move into the editing phase. I think there are a lot of different editing platforms that people tend to use. If you’re just getting started with video, frankly even iMovie, which comes free on many Macs, tends to work pretty well. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of and it lets you do most things with your video. So I think during that phase you’re just trying to edit to make sure that you’re using the best possible clip if you’ve done multiple takes during the shooting phase and then smoothing out any awkward moment or jump cuts during the video.

Robert: And with the editing phase, should—knowing a lot of business owners and just businesses, people always tend to try and be perfectionists, which is not bad, but is that something that—should people really focus that much in the editing phase and spend a lot of time or invest a lot of time editing or do you advise just to go ahead and try to get your video out there as best as it can be?

Kristen: Yeah, I think it’s totally natural to want things to look and sound as good as possible, but I think that video really should be an iterative process. You don’t want to agonize over every video you make. It’s probably a better bet to spend that time and repurpose that time to make multiple videos, because every time you make one it’s going to get better. Just as you would rehashing the same blog post again and again and again and spend a hundred hours on it, you don’t want to be devoting that kind of time to a video either. Better to get something out the door, put it out there, get feedback from your audience, see what works, see what didn’t work, and then make your second video even better. Just because I think the problem with trying to get something to be absolutely perfect is you don’t actually know what’s going to be perfect. You don’t really know what’s going to resonate with your audience and what’s going to appeal to them and make them want to share it with a hundred other people. So trying to chase after this elusive perfect video is a little bit of a hopeless task just because you don’t know until you actually put it out there what perfect will mean your audience.

Robert: Okay, and after the post-production, is that the whole video production process? Have we covered everything or is there something that’s missing?

Kristen: I think there are a few little things that people can do to make their video even more professional once they’re done with it. We suggest that people try to use music in almost any video they make. I’m not even sure what it is that accomplishes this, but there’s just something about using music in a video—if you are deliberate of course, making sure that the tone of your music matches the tone of your video. But somehow adding music just makes any video feel more compelling and I think ends up making it feel a little bit smoother in general. If you’re watching—if you’re making a video, rather, announcing a product launch, and say “I’m so excited about this video!” having upbeat, exciting music there in the background of your video just helps to increase the excitement level that’s conveyed to your audience. So I think just looking for music that helps with the tone you’re trying to set with help your audience feel more engaged with the content that you’re sharing.

One other quick tip about making your videos. Look professional and sort in in line with your brand. This is a fairly easy thing, but using bumpers in the beginning and end of your video. When I say bumpers, I mean—what we kind of do is introduce the Wistia logo at the end of every video, and I’ve seen other companies that use a bumper. There’s a company called Big Commerce, and they have a video series called Big Commerce University, and they have the same sort of bumper intro animation at the beginning of every video and I think at the end of every video too. And it just adds a nice touch to every video that helps all of the videos hang together. It gives it sort of a cohesiveness.

Robert: Okay… So it that the whole video production process?

Kristen: I think so.

Robert: Okay. And as far as—just back on the video production—or just the whole video marketing strategy and just using video for marketing, are there some common roadblocks that you know of, and how can people overcome some of them?

Kristen: Yeah, I think one of the biggest roadblocks, or one of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make is thinking “Okay, I’m just gonna put my video out there, I’m gonna put it on YouTube, I’m gonna get a million views, my video’s gonna go viral, then my business is gonna take off!” and I think that this is flawing thinking for a couple reasons. First of all, people go to YouTube for entertainment, primarily. They don’t really go there very often to learn about a product or service. If they want to learn about a product or service, they usually go to the company that offers that product or service. So first of all, I think that a lot of people imagine that they’re just gonna get discovered on YouTube and it’s just gonna blow up and be a great thing for them, but that actually happens a lot let frequently than you think. It’s a little bit sort of like winning the lottery to become that dollar shave club example.

And I think the other mistake there is it’s not making your website the hub of all of your activity. I think that everything you’re doing for your business should point back to your website, because that’s where people ultimately are going to buy from you. So you want everything you’re doing, always, to be pushing people back to your website so they’re engaging with you and learning about your product and learning more about you and just sort of transacting with you in some way. I think the issue with putting something on YouTube and just thinking it’s gonna take off is that when you put a video on YouTube, it is making YouTube stronger. It is not making your website stronger. Instead, you want to be doing the kinds of things that are going to make your website stronger and making your company stronger as a result. Sure, put it on YouTube as well, but definitely make sure that you’re putting every single video you make on your website, so it’s doing that sort of that heavy lifting in bringing people to the site and keeping them there.

Robert: Okay, and I think we’ve—with what you said about you controlling the video, and just having the information on your site—I think one thing we’ve actually done is actually use Wistia and you guys actually do provide a hosting service that actually can make that better.

Kristen: Yeah, definitely. We have different kinds of plans for different kinds of companies. Our free plan lets you host up to fifty videos for free. I think a lot of people have never continued using us for—[cut off]—but I think we try to make sure that people have access to the tools that let them get the most out of their videos. So, for example, if you have a Wistia video embedded on your website, you can customize the calls to action that happen around that video. So somebody watches it and then at the end of the video, you want to prompt them “Hey, sign up for our newsletter so you can see more great video content from us in the future!” and they’re able to enter their email address right here in the video frame itself.

Robert: Okay, and are there any other roadblocks that you’d like to share and how we can overcome them?

Kristen: Uhm… Yeah, I think the kind of last thing that I just would mention is often times peoples own fear and anxiety about making video just keeps them from doing it. So going back to what I was saying earlier, just making a lot of video is the best way to get over that roadblock. There’s no way you’re going to get over your fear of making a video, except by just making a lot of videos, and you might look really—you might feel really awkward the first time you do it, but I can guarantee that you will feel so much less awkward the second time, and even less awkward the third time, and probably by the time you hit your ten video, you will be really feeling like a pro at that point. I think people’s own anxiety around it can act as the biggest road block, and ultimately you just have to do a lot of it.

Robert: Okay. And Kristen, you’ve actually shared a lot of great information today, but before I let you go, I had one more question—actually a couple of questions. With video, what are some of the unique and creative ways you’ve seen other businesses use video in their whole marketing strategy?

Kristen: I really like the way that—there’s a company, actually nearby here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Litmus. They help people do email testing so that people will ensure their email with look great no matter what browser or email client you’re using. And they do a—I don’t know if it’s weekly—but they do a regular series where they talk about trends in email marketing. And I think that this kind of content is really compelling, because it’s really informative, they share interesting stats about what’s changing like “Oh, did you know that X proportion of people are reading your emails on mobile devices these days verses what it looked like a year ago?” So I think that kind of regular content where you’re sharing useful information, and especially information that isn’t readily available elsewhere, is an incredible tactic for drawing new audience members into your circle and keeping them coming back for more.

Robert: And any other creative uses of video you know of or have seen?

Kristen: Yeah, I also like the way that, uh… There’s a company called Bamboo HR, they make HR software, and they tend to use video in a lot of different ways, but one of the ways they use it is to help show off what their company culture is like. So they use video as an asset to help them with their recruiting and hiring efforts. And I think it—ultimately your happiness in any job or company is going to depend so much on the culture of the place, and it’s one thing to read about the company culture in written text, but I think it just comes across some much more clearly and powerfully if you’re seeing that in video format.

Robert: Okay. Thanks, Kristen, for being a guest of the podcast today. Before I let you go, if you can let people know how they can reach you if they have any more questions, or any resources or how they can just get you?

Kristen: Sure thing! I love hearing from people on Twitter and I would be more than happy to share any feedback on videos that you’re making, or give any advice on videos that you’d like to make. So please reach out to me on Twitter at thecrafty, that’s T-H-E-C-R-A-F-T-Y, and I’d be so excited to hear from you and see what kind of videos you’re making!

Robert: Is there any other thing you’d like to mention before we finish the recording?

Kristen: Uhm… I don’t think so, Robert. I think—I guess that I would love for people to check out Wistia, and sign up for a free plan, just start playing around with it. I think it’s a pretty intuitive platform to get started with, and you know, come see what you can do with video hosting on your own site with Wistia.

Robert: Okay, thanks, Kristen, for again being a guest, I really appreciate having you on. And hopefully we’ll have you back on in the future. And until then, thanks again, and we’ll be talking later.

Kristen: Okay, thanks a lot, Robert. Take care.

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