Type "ROI video" into Google and you'll see there are oodles of articles, infographics and, yes, videos on the subject. But you'll also notice that, astonishingly enough, hardly any of them quote meaningful numbers. There's all the usual stuff about video being accessible, portable, memorable, effective etc. etc. (all of which, by the way, are true). But almost invariably there are no actual figures to show you how much bang for your buck you can expect video to provide.
If you do need some hard statistics to help you decide whether - or to what extent - to invest in video marketing, the good news is that you've come to the right place.
One of the most wide-ranging studies into the return on investment of video was published in January this year. The research was carried out in the US by the Aberdeen Group and sponsored by the video platform provider Brightcove.
Marketers typically measure ROI in terms of website conversions - in other words, converting someone's interest in your content into an actual purchase. Aberdeen found that companies using video reported an average conversion rate of 4.8% compared to 2.9% for those that did not use video.
Aberdeen also worked out the average cost per marketing-generating lead. For companies using video, that figure was $93 (about £56); for companies not using video, the average cost was $115 (about £69). And while companies using video required 4,008 unique site visits on average to generate a lead, companies not using it required 6,405 unique site visits - a difference of 37%.
For a separate study last summer, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs surveyed 4,397 B2B marketers representing companies of all different sizes, from a wide range of sectors and from all over the world. The marketers were asked what sort of content is the most effective at generating leads. Video ranked third in the list - higher than webinars, blogs newsletters, research reports, white papers, website articles and eBooks. Only in-person events and case studies were considered more effective than video.
Conclusive though the results are, they do need interpretation. Critically, we shouldn't deduce that all video content produces the same results.
Let me explain. Aberdeen divided companies into three groups, depending on their effectiveness at sales and marketing - Best in Class (the top 20%), Industry Average (middle 50%) and Laggards (bottom 30%). Although Best-in-Class companies are more likely to use video, Industry Average and Laggard firms are only slightly less likely to use it themselves. This suggests that it's not the adoption of video on its own that delivers competitive advantage.
A key factor that distinguishes the content of Best-in-Class companies was originality. 68% of Best-in-Class firm developed original content, compared to 55% for laggards.
Quality also plays an important part, and yet, as marketers themselves are prepared to admit, that's an element that all too often is lacking. 91% of the companies surveyed rated "producing high-quality video content" as either 4 (valuable) or 5 (very valuable) on a scale of 1 to 5. Yet only 67% of companies ranked their ability to deliver high-quality content at a similar 4 or 5.
So where does that leave us? Here are four key take-aways:
There are, however, plenty of other reasons for investing in high-quality video content than the need for more web conversions. After all, to persuade customers to convert, you need to attract them in the first place. The impact of video on search engine rankings is the subject of my next post.