Video Marketing

11 Easy Ways To Optimize Your Mobile Video

Shawn Forno 01.02.2019

In 2017 mobile video accounted for more than 60% of all online video views. Half of your potential leads likely encountered your brand for the very first time on their phone—probably while doing something else. Mobile viewership of everything from micro-content to long-form documentaries is on the rise, and even “paired viewing” (watching video on desktop and mobile devices simultaneously) has become the norm. Is your video optimized for this massive audience to create the most engagement, hook the most leads, and get the biggest possible ROI?

It’s never been more important to create mobile video and to upgrade your existing video for mobile viewing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Before jumping into the 11 easy ways to create better mobile video, let’s look at why mobile video is more important than ever before.

People prefer mobile video. They use it for comparison shopping, staying up to date on current events, and answering their latest search query. Thanks to phones with beautiful retina HD displays people are watching more video on their phones than on their computers.

Dozens of video marketing stats proclaim the rise of mobile video, but the most compelling data comes from the world’s largest online video provider: YouTube. YouTube has revealed that more than 70% of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices. That’s huge, especially once you consider YouTube’s massive user base of more than 1.9 billion people (that’s almost half of the entire internet, by the way).

The internet has gone mobile. Are your videos ready for that?

Mobile Video for B2B

Mobile video is a fundamental part of the B2B buying process. No, really. In the 2016, Think With Google study titled “How Video and Mobile are Changing the B2B Buying Process,” director Richard Robinson spells out the importance of mobile video:

“In the B2B buying process, we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of people using video—going from 29% of B2B buyers only two years ago to 70% of B2B buyers today.”

The impact is clear, decision makers are watching video and they’re watching it on mobile devices.

Robinson argues in the same study (which features this great 3-minute video), that “Video, alongside mobile, has the strongest impact on increasing consideration rates during the B2B buying process.”

He’s basically saying that mobile video is now a fundamental pillar of the B2B buyer’s journey.

Mobile video is everywhere and it’s becoming essential to conversions—even in the B2B space. How do you make your videos more effective at reaching your target viewers?” Great question. The answer is simple: Make better mobile videos.

Below are 11 best practices to help you optimize and update your mobile videos:

Keep it Short: 60 Seconds or Less

We’ve talked about optimal video length before, but it bears repeating—shorter is better. ”60-90 seconds,” is the sweet spot for explainer videos, according to the video obsessed geniuses at Wistia.

mobile video

Shorter videos—ideally under 2 minutes—have higher engagement rates. That’s especially true for mobile video. Mobile viewers decide whether to watch something or not based solely on length—especially explainer videos. Complex, detailed videos, while more informative, don’t reach as many viewers. Aim for brevity and focus. Committing to a tight time frame will help you cut out the unnecessary elements and make videos more engaging.

Narrow Your Focus: One Problem, One Solution

People expect near instantaneous solutions to complicated problems. If you don’t offer one clear solution to they’re problem, they’ll look elsewhere for someone who does. Don’t try to sell all one hundred and one of your product’s amazing features. Instead, focus on the problem your customer is having and help the viewer see how your product solves it.

Robinson (from Google), again stresses the importance of relevance in quality mobile video:

“You need to really understand what information your customers are looking for and then engage them in the right video format.”

Explainer videos only work if you keep your viewer interested all the way through. Don’t bog them down with multiple bullet points and convoluted story lines. Find the one narrative or single product feature that you want to highlight and maintain laser tight focus on that message.

Complicated videos don’t translate well to mobile devices. If your message is too complex to explain in a sentence, it isn’t ready for mobile audiences. Get rid of extra content, or split it into multiple videos that each highlight one facet of a problem or feature. Your mobile viewers will watch the videos that apply to them and thank you for the sleek, digestible videos. Remember, mobile viewers don’t skip past boring or irrelevant sections the way that desktop users do—they simply move on to a different video that better answers their questions.

Keep it Interesting: Create Better Video Thumbnails

Too often companies spend massive production budgets producing a fantastic animated video only to drop the ball with a lame, random video thumbnail chosen by a YouTube algorithm. People judge a video by its cover, and if your video looks boring, no one is going to waste time watching it. Yes, many platforms like Facebook autoplay your video, but not all, especially not your own mobile website.

Scrub through your video for an exciting moment, grab that frame, and use it to create a great video thumbnail. Then hook viewers by adding a little bold text overlay announcing what your video. Remember, mobile optimization starts before a video ever plays.

mobile video

Read our full guide on how to create the perfect video thumbnail for more ways to increase mobile video engagement.

Make it Engaging: Hook Viewers in Seconds

Once you entice viewers with your great video thumbnail, you have to keep them on the line for the rest of your video. If you don’t grab viewers’ attention within the first three seconds (yeah, people tune out that quickly), your video isn’t optimized for mobile viewing. Attention spans are so short that Facebook video best practices even recommend showing brand or product imagery in the first few seconds.

Luckily, animation provides a dizzying array of options to captivate viewers right off the bat with fluid transitions, luscious titles, and arresting character design.

Combine visually interesting characters with rich imagery and a dramatic starting point, not a slow buildup. Pull a Tarantino, and start your video at the finish or at a pivotal moment of action. Hook mobile viewers right away with something exciting and keep them watching until they walk face first into a pole.

This ad from Lume deodorant is a perfect example:

Reducing bounce rates is all about mobile optimized video that keeps viewers watching until the end. Mobile video is exactly that—mobile—which means your video better get moving right out of the gate.

Optimize for Audio Independence: Make it Visual

While the right soundtrack or quality voiceover can add personality and nuance to a product video or explainer video, the truth is, many mobile viewers don’t listen to audio at all. A 2016 Facebook study showed that 85% of Facebook users watch video with the sound off. When you consider that mobile usage accounts for 68% of the time that users spend on Facebook, it makes sense why your video needs to be understandable, without sound.

If your explainer video relies on voiceover to communicate the value of your product, you’re missing out on a lot of potential leads. Optimize your mobile video to be audio independent with clear visuals that communicate the message without sound. Captions and subtitles are a simple way to get around audiophobic viewers, but a more effective tool to capture and keep mobile viewers is visually interesting animation. Animation shows instead of telling. It prefers dynamic visuals and interesting transitions over sound bites.

Look at the difference between a live-action talking head interview of David Lynch and an animation of that same interview:

Which of these two videos would you rather watch? Which would you be more likely to play on your mobile Facebook feed or YouTube suggested plays? The answer is clear: animation is a great way to engage mobile video viewers without using sound, and when you incorporate sound animated video just gets that much better.

Add Some Text: More than Just Subtitles

Since most mobile video viewers don’t tap for sound, it’s important to use text in your explainer video. But text is a lot more than captions and subtitles. Your video needs to incorporate words into the animated images and visual content. Explainer video text is more than just narration—it’s a way to underscore and really drive home key facts. Watch this video we produced for Know Better Bread for a few examples of how to use onscreen text in your mobile video:

mobile video

The video features several segments that are driven by text, as well as narration. If you watch the video with the sound off, you still get the impact of the timeline. Remember, you only have seconds to grab the attention of mobile viewers, but even when you manage to captivate people, you still only have 30-60 seconds to explain what your company does and why people should care. That’s not a lot of time.

Every frame and image needs to convey as much information as possible. On-screen text is a great way to increase information density. You know the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, if that’s true then your 60-second mobile video (at 24 frames per second) is worth 1.8 million words. Don’t waste a single frame. Get your message across with words, text, images, and more.

Choosing the right font for your mobile video text can be overwhelming, especially after staring at a screen for a few hours, but your font choice conveys tone and branding to the viewer. Here’s a list of 10 diverse Google fonts (aka “free to use”) that are designed for mobile video. Don’t be a Helvetica drone; you’re better than that.

Guide Viewers: Establish Visual Hierarchy

Text overlay is essential for mobile video without sound—especially product information, time-sensitive announcements, and your CTA (more on that later). Mobile video is built on a simple hierarchy: visual cues outweigh audio messaging every single time. To achieve the greatest impact with your text establish visual hierarchy.

mobile video

In the Know Better Bread video, we pack a lot of information into each frame. To counteract visual overload we use bright primary colors to highlight the most important text. When you use text, always create a visual hierarchy of information through text size and color. You can even color-code the essential text using your existing branding to get even more information across.

RSA whiteboard animation is a great example of how to highlight important text in dense explainer videos so viewers don’t get lost in the deluge of onscreen words.

Make sure you use large, bold, contrasting text that stands out from the color and content of your video. If you’re concerned your text won’t be legible, use white text and outline it with a thin (1 pixel weight) black border. It will be visible against any background.

Use the Right Aspect Ratios: Size Matters

mobile video

It’s important to remember that the default dimensions of mobile video (or “aspect ratios” if you’re a smarty pants) are different from a desktop. For example, the average iPhone display is about 4.7 inches. Compare that to the default size of a YouTube or Vimeo video on your computer (not in full screen) and it’s not that big of a difference. The problem is that most smartphones viewers aren’t necessarily going to view your video at full size. In fact, a lot of people prefer vertical video on mobile devices.

People don’t want to rotate their phone to watch a video, which means that most mobile viewers are going to see your video in the smallest aspect ratio possible, so be prepared. Here are a few guidelines for optimizing mobile video for Facebook:

  • Aspect Ratios Supported: 16:9 (full landscape) to 9:16 (full portrait)
  • Mobile in feed: Facebook recommends 4:5 or 1:1
  • Desktop in feed and desktop player: For desktop in feed, vertical video will continue to be letter-boxed to 1:1. For desktop player, vertical video will be 9:16 with no black bar letter-boxing
  • Recommended Aspect Ratio for Vertical Video: 9:16 (full portrait), ensuring core content falls in the 2:3 mask for mobile News Feed

Read our vertical video guide for mobile video best practices on YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

Make Mobile Video Dynamic: Quick Cuts Keep it Interesting

Holding on one steady shot will bore viewers quickly, and boredom equals bounce rates on mobile devices. Keep the camera angle on the move to tell your story with quick cuts that frame and reframe the subject(s) in new and compelling ways. Rapid cuts and interesting transitions are a great way to accelerate the storytelling of an animated video for the typically shorter mobile attention span of 30+ seconds.

This animated explainer video for Scandis is constantly on the move. Every new beat has a new “setting” and a new story to tell. The rapid dynamic pace gives the animation a sense of purpose while also clearly separating selling points in the viewer’s mind. It’s a powerful combination driven by purposeful transitions and cuts.

Increase the Drama: Unexpected Angles

Again, mobile video is all about increasing engagement. To do that, you have to keep it interesting. If you only take one thing away from reading this blog post let it be this: Mobile videos cannot be boring. And you know what’s boring? Flat, static, head-on angles.

One of the coolest parts of using animation in your explainer video is that you can mess with camera angles and POV on a whim. If you want to zoom to the top of a skyscraper, you can do it without hiring a helicopter crew. If you want to “dive” into your computer screen to see the magic behind the software, go for it. Even if you use live action, drones are cheaper than ever before allowing you to produce shots with interesting camera angles and dramatic pans, zooms, and perspectives.

In this recent animated explainer video for The City of Santa Monica City Attorney’s Fair Housing project, we “zoomed” into a child’s drawing to explain complicated housing regulations. That’s a lot more interesting than someone in an office explaining your housing rights, and in the end the engagement factor is essential to getting the important information out there.

Experiment with low angles that frame your subject in a dramatic way. Pull back and use dutch angles for transitions. Move the camera around. If you go with an animated video you can do any number of interesting (even impossible) things with the camera motion and angle. Have fun and your viewers will too!

Be Bold: Create a Simple CTA

Mobile video viewers are tough to capture—they’re not sitting on a chair in front of a screen. If you do manage to engage them with your video, the bigger problem is converting them on the spot. And that’s the whole point of your video isn’t it? One of the best ways to increase conversions is to include a clear, simple, EASY TO DO, call-to-action at the end of your video.

Here’s a mobile video CTA checklist to get you started:

  • Is there a link in your mobile video that viewers can click?
  • Does your mobile video show a #hashtag on the screen so you can track when people share your video?
  • When does your mobile video tell people to click the Like, Share, Comment button below?
  • Does your mobile video redirect users to a dedicated (mobile friendly) landing page?
  • Can users “buy now” with one tap?

Keep your mobile video CTA simple. Unlike desktop campaigns, mobile video should aim to produce a single, measurable action. You have to track conversions, impressions and shares to see what works. Every click means a better target audience for future campaigns.

Provide a path to conversion (shares, learn more, sign up, or buy), and your mobile video will shine.

Mobile Video: The Future is Now

In a recent survey, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that 50% of marketers across a variety of industries plan to increase their digital and mobile video spending in the next year. These findings are significant but not at all surprising. In fact, according to Forrester, mobile will drive 72% percent of growth in online video ad spend in the next five years. Mobile video is already making an impact on decision makers from casual browsers to B2B C-suite buyers. Embrace the future by optimizing your video marketing strategy for mobile viewers.

Optimizing for mobile video might seem tough, but it’s just about engaging people when and where they watch. People are still searching for solutions to their problems. They’re just doing it on their phones. Create mobile videos that people want to watch and join today’s top performers with video that converts.

Download our free eBook to learn more about how to succeed with mobile video.

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