Your University Video Strategy in Six Steps

Having a University Video Strategy ensures that your film content has a specific purpose. Without this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating videos just for the sake of it – and missing out on its full potential.

Any video content is good, right?

Statistics comparing the effectiveness of video to other formats are striking. Text and images are mere sparklers compared to video’s fireworks. You want to get attention? Generate engagement? Motivate shares and conversions? Video outperforms other formats on all of these.

However, simply spewing out videos won’t deliver the kind of metrics that makes an education marketer’s heart beat faster.

You need a University Video Strategy

Go through the six steps below to align your film content to your marketing objectives. This process forces you to think about how you’ll measure success before you begin. It makes you consider all the business-based reasoning first.

This leaves the most fun – but potentially distracting – creative considerations until last. Only once you’ve figured out what you need the video to achieve can you make effective decisions about treatments.

Yet with so many things to consider, it can be difficult to know how to get started.

Our six steps to an effective video strategy for your University will guide you through the process. We’ll cover the Why, Who, What, Where, When and How of video marketing strategy.

And if you have any questions or need some help, email me on hellow@weareclearhead.com or call +44 (0)207 494 1589

University Video Strategy Step 1: Why (Objectives & Metrics)

What specific aim do you want to achieve with each video?

Perhaps you want to challenge negative perceptions of your University or its location. Maybe you want to provide virtual tours for international students. Or you need to reduce the number of calls to your student recruitment team about a commonly asked question.

A clearly defined objective – not just ‘we want to get more students’ – will help you to make all the decisions in the following sections.

Losing focus dilutes impact

If you have more than one objective, achieve them through individual videos. It’s the same as other types of marketing content. If you try to communicate too much, or speak to too many different types of people, you’ll end up saying “nothing to no-one”.

What will success look like?

Once you know exactly what you are trying to achieve, you can build in metrics to measure success, e.g.:

  • 10% fewer applicants choosing not to enrol because of negative perceptions.
  • 20% play rate (percentage of visitors who land on the international students page who choose to play the video)
  • 30% fewer calls to your recruitment team about the FAQ addressed in the video

University Video Strategy Step 2: Who (Audience)

When developing written content, education marketers know how to tailor it to a specific audience. Yet, when it comes to video strategy, often the approach taken is one-size-fits-all. However, the same rules apply: the more targeted the content, the greater impact it will have.

Ask exactly who you’re targeting with each video. If you don’t already work from personas, this is a great time to start. Personas is marketing jargon for pen profiles of the people you want to target. Personas help you to understand the pains and ambitions of each segment of your audience.

What is the decision-making journey for your prospective students? Where does this piece of video content fit into that journey? How will your audience’s needs impact on your video?

Secondary audiences

Of course, prospective students may not be the only audience you want to communicate with. Other decision-makers such as parents and career advisors are involved. Some video content may not be to do with student recruitment at all – video can help attract a higher calibre of staff. Again, bear in mind that each additional audience you try to appeal to will dilute the impact for all audiences.

University Video Strategy Step 3: What (Message & Call to Action)

What is the main message of your video? What action do you want viewers to take next? The answers to these questions will start defining what viewers need to see in the video.

What’s your takeaway?

After a prospective student watches the video, what do you want them to tell their friends? This is your ‘takeaway’ – the core message you want to convey. It should relate to your objective and be relevant to the audience segment or persona you are targeting.

What happens next?

Your takeaway message should also relate to the Call to Action. This is the action you want viewers to move closer to after watching the video. Calls to Action can either be direct or indirect.

  • Direct: If you are seeking a perception change about the location of your University, perhaps the call to action could be to view an interactive map of the local area, showing all the facilities nearby, or to leave a comment on the video.
  • Indirect: If you have specialized facilities that are unique to your University, your call to action could be to ‘Study at the only University in the UK that can help you become a …’.

Whatever you choose, leave viewers with a clear instruction about what to do next. Make it as easy as possible for them to continue their journey towards enrolment. That might mean subscribing to your YouTube channel or providing an email address. It might mean applying through clearing. Just don’t lead your audience into a content cul-de-sac with no clear next step.

University Video Strategy Step 4: Where (Distribution & Promotion)

Without a planned distribution and promotion strategy, your video will languish unwatched. Instead, set aside time to think through how you can leverage your owned, earned and paid channels.

Although the same video can be published across many channels, the end use will shape a lot of its characteristics. This should be taken into consideration early in the process.

Do you plan to have multiple edits (e.g. shorter ‘trailer’ versions to build excitement and anticipation on social media)? If so, decide on the quantity and length before you start production. This will ensure you capture the footage you need so that each piece works as standalone content as well as part of the bigger piece.

Content length

The different platforms and channels each come with different expectations about the length of video content. A video published on social media will need to be under set durations of length in order to upload successfully.

University Video Strategy Step 5: When (Life-cycles & Planning)

Timings are the next thing to think through before getting stuck into the creative messaging of your video. Consider how long you want your video content to last, when you’ll need the finished piece by and how often you plan to create new video content.

Growing old gracefully

Look back at your prospectus from a few years ago and it will seem dated now. The same is true of video. It has a limited lifespan, just like any other form of content. After about two years, standard video content starts to show its age.

You can mitigate the two-year lifespan by working with suppliers who work ahead of today’s quality standards. They can ensure your project is future-proofed for the longest amount of time. This lifespan extension helps to make the initial premium of higher quality more worthwhile in ROI terms. In addition, the improved first impression of your University’s brand is an extra advantage.

Turnaround times

Are you planning to include the video content in a specific campaign? Use it at a launch event? Or simply add it to a webpage to increase conversions? The timescale you have in mind will affect what can be achieved.

Quality and quantity

Years ago, forward-thinking marketers would create a single promotional video which they’d update once every two or three years. Now, the best video content marketers have video numbers in the hundreds, with a range of lengths.

We realise that this sounds like a hard sell coming from a content creation agency that specializes in video. So here’s some impartial, third party research on the power of video.

  • 6 in 10 website visitors will watch a video, if one is available, before reading any text (Diode Digital).
  • 64% of brand marketers expect video content to dominate their future strategies (Nielsen).
  • 9 out of 10 visitors remain on a site longer if it has a prominent video (MistMedia).
  • Optimised video increases the chance of a Google first page search listing by 53 times (Cisco Visual Networking Index).
  • 1.8 million: the number of words one minute of film is worth (Dr James McQuivery of Forrester Research).
  • 8 out of 10 internet users remember watching a promotional video in the past 30 days (Online Publishers Association).
  • 7 out of 10 people view a brand more positively after watching interesting video content (Axonn Research).
  • By 2018, 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video (Cisco Visual Networking Index).

These are all good reasons to not create single videos in isolation. Instead, choose which elements of your content calendar and marketing strategy are best served by video content. Include video as one of the formats you use to communicate with your target audience on a regular basis.

Planning in advance also opens up opportunities to be more creative with your video content. For example, you could tell a story over several weeks, or build up anticipation of an event or launch with a series of teaser videos.

University Video Strategy Step 6: How (Look & Feel)

Arguably this is the most exciting part of the planning process. It’s when creative ideas are introduced and the look and feel of the final piece is discussed. Left to last, the look and feel can now take into account all the other factors to ensure effectiveness against your objectives.

How do you want to present your University’s brand?

Just as you wouldn’t print your prospectus on nasty paper using a horrific design (we hope), consider what the quality and style of your video says about your University. Wobbly frames, unclear audio and unflattering shots look cheap and unprofessional.

You might save money by filming on your iPhone or asking your in-house video technician to create something, but the results won’t be the same. Cheap is a false economy.

At the same time, budgets aren’t infinite and your University needs to demonstrate value for money. That’s why having a clear objective and metrics for success in place from the start help to keep the content focused and provide the ability to track its effectiveness.

Create opportunities to get better value for money

There are lots of ways of increasing your value for money. For example, you could film content for two videos at once to reduce set-up costs. You can edit longer video content into several shorter pieces to create smaller bite-sized videos. Instead of having a film crew onsite for two days, book them for four. Then plan in how you can get a whole suite of video content created at once, which you can release in stages over the year.

How can you bring the message to life?

What approach suits your objective, audience, message and call to action best? Are you seeking to educate, inform or entertain viewers? All three can be effective approaches, just don’t bore people!

That may sound obvious but it’s a common mistake. Don’t create videos that no-one wants to watch. People would rather watch a video than read a webpage or brochure because video is more visual, immersive and engaging. So unless your Vice Chancellor is a top vlogger or a respected celebrity, don’t film him or her talking for five minutes. At least, not if you hope to interest prospective students.

This is an area where your creative agency can add significant value. They will offer fresh ideas, introduce you to current trends and explain the technical possibilities offered by video.

Whether you’re already an advocate for video content, or if you have yet to upload your first film or animation, I hope you found something new and useful in this piece.

Do you want advice on your University Video Strategy? Would you like to know more about how Clearhead can deliver effective video content for your University? Please get in contact. You can email me via hello@weareclearhead.com or call us on 02074941589.