5 Ways to Optimize Video Content for Mobile

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

A few seconds here and there while standing in a line? An email before bed? A YouTube video (or two or three) on the bus ride to work? It may seem like an inconsequential pastime, but even the most dedicated digital natives might be surprised by how quickly all of their viewing adds up.

Hooked On Mobile

By analyzing combined research from Nielsen, comScore, and SmartInsights (among other sources), Inc. discovered that the average person spends four hours a day on their mobile device. Through studies like these, we can see how mobile has begun to rapidly overtake all other forms of web-browsing. In fact, last year the majority of site visits came from mobile sources, as opposed to traditional desktop. Therefore, if a company still caters exclusively to desktop users, imagine just how many MQLs their outdated formatting and clunky interfaces might be driving away.

All of which begs the question: How can your company or brand take advantage of this valuable digital real estate without an expensive 180° pivot? Well, by utilizing these five simple tips and tricks, any brand can easily optimize their video content for mobile – and reap the rewards of an expanded on-the-go audience.

1. Cater to Different Attention Spans

Mobile Optimization Row of Phones

So you made a piece of content, uploaded it to the platform of your choice, and sat back to watch the views roll in…only to be surprised at the huge disparity in engagement between mobile and desktop. That could be because when it comes to mobile video content, audience attention spans are distinctly shorter. While this might seem obvious to anybody who has ever watched their toddler skimming through apps, the difference in attention spans is still more drastic that you might imagine.

An Animoto survey revealed that only 8% of mobile viewers are willing to share and/or like a video over five minutes in length, compared to 19% of desktop users. Now compare those stats to the 66% of viewers who are willing to share if the video comes in at under one minute! Additionally, almost half of these same viewers will decide whether or not to keep watching until the end of a video within its first 15 seconds. That means if you want to keep mobile audiences engaged throughout your video content, make sure it is designed to fit their viewing habits by reining in your duration and placing the hook up front.

2. Keep it Quiet

Mobile Optimization Audio

We all know the awkward experience of clicking a link on our phones while browsing in public, only to bombard everybody around us with blaring music, corny V.O., or other unexpected, annoying noises. That might be why 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound – which means that your brand needs to be able to speak to mobile audiences without saying a word. For starters, try turning off autoplay with sound – because nothing makes you swipe away faster or–even worse–develop animosity towards a brand–than public embarrassment.

Or do away with sounds altogether! For Instagram, all it takes is one easy click. Then, instead of sound, try utilizing subtitles, intuitive visuals, or infographics to get your message across. Captions can boost view time by over 10% without adding significant overhead. Sample some of these popular tools to easily auto-caption your videos today.

3. Ratio is Key

Mobile Optimization Ratio Aspect

Almost everybody is familiar with the two basic video aspect ratios: Horizontal and vertical. But a major element of optimizing video content for mobile is making sure it fills as much of the screen as possible – which means becoming super familiar with the nuances of each format. For example, when it comes to video feed placements, Facebook recommends a 4:5 aspect, while for stories placements they suggest a full 9:16 vertical to take advantage of the way most users hold their phones. But keep in mind, not all platforms are the same – a 2:3 vertical ratio is well-suited for Facebook, but won’t work as well on Instagram.

Calculating the ideal dimensions for your video content ahead of time can save both effort and money – try using Wistia’s Aspect Ratio Calculator to avoid unnecessary cropping or black bars. As with every other aspect of video content marketing, the more you plan in advance, the more trouble you avoid down the line.

4. Careful with your Call to Action

Mobile Optimization Call To Action

The Call to Action (or CTA) is the specific request you make for your audience to…well, to take action. Choosing a CTA in the first place is hugely important in and of itself; this is the moment where visitors must make a decision to engage further and be converted into leads. In the realm of video content, fulfilling your CTA usually means clicking on some form of link. Then, viewers can then be whisked away to an online store, company Story Page, etc. But depending on what video platform you use to host your content, generating an intuitive mobile CTA can have varying degrees of convenience.

Deciding which to use or pay for is a unique hurdle that your brand must overcome. For example, while massively popular platforms YouTube and Vimeo may appear to be the obvious choice, third-party hosts like Wistia or Vidyard may offer better options. Be sure to research all available options (keeping your budget and audience in mind) before making the choice that is optimal for your needs. And always double-check that your captions are accurate, grammatically correct, and legible before uploading them.

5. Thumbnails that Make their Mark

Mobile Optimization Thumbnails

Whether they are scrolling through social media, diving into a video aggregator, or casually exploring your company website, potential customers will frequently decide whether or not to watch your videos based on their thumbnails–the little pictures that represent the video to viewers before they play it–and their splash screens, which are the images that cover the viewing area. These need to not only be visually compelling but–and this is especially a challenge for mobile optimization–legible. Large, crisp fonts, startling imagery, and high-contrast colors are an excellent way to create thumbnails that pop.

Think of the thumbnail as an entire marketing funnel within itself, which must be designed to convert disinterest passersby into SQLs within the span of a second. To that end, the use of a play button overlay is essential because it can act as a visual call to action – one that draws in less intuitive viewers.

A Powerful Tool

Remember, the goal is not to radically alter your content strategy–assuming you are satisfied with it–but to subtly adapt to the potential (and the limitations) of mobile viewing. Everything on a mobile screen is smaller, more compact, and can easily vanish with the stray flick of a viewer’s thumb. But numbers do not lie, and there is no more intimate an access point to potential SQLs than the small portal they have a 24/7 connection with inside their pocket. That is why, with these simple methods, you can not only shape your creative conversations going forward, but also conveniently retrofit existing video content so that it is optimized for mobile.

Leland F.

Leland F.