Short vs. Long video results

In today’s presentation at Target Marketing Magazine, we give you the wrap-up of our test of short video clips that were used to promote shows for a performing arts organization. You may recall that we assured you early on that we’d let you know if it was a success or a bust. So, let’s get right into the results.

You may recall that this test was inspired several weeks ago by Twitter’s release of Vine, a social media platform where six-second video clips are posted. We decided to test this short video format in a name that tune contest to see if it would move the needle on ticket sales.

During the past several weeks, we’ve shared with you a few twists and turns in the road. Learning number one was that six-seconds simply isn’t long enough to produce what we considered for our purposes to be a meaningful video. As a result, we adapted the format of the five short video clips to a length of 18 to 38 seconds each.

Learning number two was if we wanted to use promoted posts on Facebook, we had to have a thumbnail image with less than 20 percent of text. That required using Vimeo over YouTube, because YouTube only allows custom thumbnails if you choose monetization of your videos. We tried that, and determined it was distracting from our message.

Learning number three was that the engagement is different based on three different styles of videos we have used. Our longer form music videos resulted in the highest percentage of likes, comments and shares. The short video clips had about half the level of engagement, suggesting that at least for this organization, short video isn’t enough to sustain ongoing interest.

Regarding the short video clip format test, my conclusion is this: I’m glad we did it. The test certainly didn’t hurt us. But I’m not convinced that short videos pushed sales, and I don’t know that I would do it again.

Here’s why: in our video format mix for this show, we also produced a behind-the-curtain video. It was four and a half minutes and featured a preview of the show, along with interviews with a director, song arranger and soloist and several seconds of the soundtracks of a few new songs. That video, like those we have used for past shows, resulted in double the views over the short video clips.

Other metrics you may be interested in knowing about is how our emailed patrons responded to a series weekly messages. The first five emails featuring the short video clips had strong open rates initially with a gradual decline after five weeks. Click through rates gradually declined as well, suggesting that interest waned with the short video clips.

The behind the curtain video email that was sent a week after the short video clip contest ended experienced a click-through rate that was about 50 percent higher than emails featuring a short video. This suggests that once the patron saw that the video was a behind the curtain format, and wasn’t any more of the short video clips, their interest was renewed and they watched the longer form video.

What does this tell us? Our fans like longer videos with more meaty content. That’s what gets our emails opened and clicks to our landing page, and generates the best engagement on social media. And that’s how we’ll promote the next performances.

Because of deadlines for producing this video, I can’t tell you the exact ticket sales performance except to say it’s trending at about the same rate as a year ago. Unfortunately, because we couldn’t confidently A / B split test, we won’t know the impact short videos had on ticket sales.

But, we know that video works for this organization, as evidenced by the 20 percent increase in ticket sales last Christmas, and the fact that we experienced this level of sales increase in light of all radio advertising having been cancelled. We’re committed to video as the central delivery vehicle for promoting this organization’s performances. Finally, the reality in marketing is this: you must dig into the numbers and analyze results, every step along the way. And, you must test new approaches. You won’t always hit a home run. But sometimes you have to venture out of your comfort zone to discover would could be the next big marketing opportunity for you.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.