How are your competitors using video?

There are many arguments keeping you away from video:

  • I’ve tried it in the past and it didn’t work for me
  • It’s too expensive
  • I have no idea if it’s going to work for me

Etc etc.

No matter what keeps you at bay, you should keep tabs on your competitors, who may be getting wised up on video. Video can really boost the ROI of many initiatives around driving awareness, building authority, increasing retention & referrals, and training employees.

In other words: video can help you drive costs down and sales up!

How to keep tabs on your competitors

Visit the websites of your top 5 competitors. See at the bottom if they have a YouTube link. That immediately shows you’re left behind with regards to video. Then visit their channels and note these:

  1. How often are they posting new videos
  2. What topics are they covering
  3. Which videos are the most popular
  4. And what’s the average view count on their videos

How to figure out what’s going on…

As a very rough guideline, let’s say a competitor has 1,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel. Based on that, you should assume that the organic view count of their videos on average should be 100 views. Organic views are the ones that happen because someone went to that YouTube channel or received an update email from YouTube – effectively organic are synonymous to “free” views and engagement.

In contrast, there are also paid views, which you get by advertising your video on YouTube – typically as a pre-roll to other videos. You do that through the Google AdWords platform, and targeting has become very sophisticated over the past 6 months.

You can choose which videos are popular with your audience and your ad will appear in front of those only. Or you can choose to target people who’re in the market for a new car. Google has the data from search and other tracked behaviors to deduce that for you!

The big benefit? A YouTube view costs only a few cents. Whereas to get someone to click on your search ad on you’d have to pay at least a few dollars.

Mini case study: Banks’ educational videos

Banks are increasingly investing behind product explainer videos. They don’t push customers explicitly to buy Certificates of Deposit (CDs) or invest in their wealth management solutions. But they will produce a video that explains “CDs” or “Emerging Markets Investing”.

What happened there?

Once you have a sense of the organic view count of your competitor’s videos, look for outliers. In many cases, a company will be getting 74 views or 85 views or 110 views and suddenly one video will have 65,000 views or even 1,000,000 views. What happened there? That’s where paid ads come in.

For a video with 1,000,000 views you can assume that the advertise paid around $50,000 to promote that video. That’s a very strong indication that a) the topic is “hot” with their audience (which is also your audience since they’re a top-5 competitor) and b) they’re getting a good ROI from the video ads.

What can you learn from this exercise

  1. If your competitors are already investing in video you may be getting left behind and it’s high time to revisit. If they’re not, the proposition is a bit riskier but there may be some white space left open for you. You’re probably all competing in similar ways, driving up the cost of pay-per-click and content marketing, so why not choose a different area where competition is lower?
  2. You’ll see which videos have the most views and focus on these topics. This will inform your decisions on topics, tone, and frequency of posting videos on your channel. And it will save you lots of money by avoiding your competitors’ failed experiments. Maybe you’ll see that testimonial videos don’t get any views. So skip those from your video strategy.
  3. Do video ads work in your industry? Video ads don’t work always, but if you see a competitor investing heavily behind promoting their videos month-in month-out that’s a good evidence that they’re getting a strong ROI on that investment and you may want to try something similar.

Starting your own video strategy

Whenever we start with a new client, we always perform a competitive analysis to see what their competitors are doing. This can give us a roadmap for success with video. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and we can learn from their mistakes.