Free eBook: Video Best Practices – Secrets to Ideation, Production, and Distribution

At this point, it should come as no surprise that video content is considered essential for all brands—and especially so for e-commerce brands. As an e-commerce professional, you’ve probably seen metrics touting video’s ability to build brand awareness, drive sales, and encourage repeat business. And as a consumer, you’ve probably noticed that video content is seemingly everywhere. 


Despite the fact that virtually every brand could benefit from video content, not everyone is familiar with how to go about the process successfully. It can be hard to understand some of the specifics of production and distribution, especially if you don’t have prior experience with video. 


That’s where we come in. Our teams at Lemonlight and AdRoll came together to create this guide to share everything we know about using video to drive e-commerce brands to success. We’ll walk you through why video is so effective, how to begin to develop your video concept, best practices to keep in mind for the production process, how to distribute your content and create cross-channel experiences, and how to measure success.


After going through these pages, our hope is that you’ll have everything you need to create the video content that will help your brand reach success—whatever “success” means to you. Let’s get started!

Why Video Works


We’ll begin by diving into why video is so effective for e-commerce brands in the first place. Two primary challenges for e-commerce brands are grabbing consumers’ attention and then providing them with enough information that they’re convinced about the benefits of your product or service. 


Both of these challenges are addressed with video content. Video is proven to be effective in gaining consumer attention online. In one study, 85% of marketers responded that they felt that to be true. In another study, over 80% of marketers reported that video has helped them increase website traffic, generate leads, and increase dwell time across web pages.


As an e-commerce professional, you know that these results are hard to come by. Rather than investing time and resources into coming up with new and innovative ways to reach prospective customers and captivate them with your messaging, video can provide a simpler alternative to solving those same challenges.


Once you have a captive audience, video is also useful in conveying your product or service offering to prospective customers. Here are some statistics that illustrate this claim: 


  • Viewers claim that they retain 95% of a message when obtained via video. (Source)
  • 94% of video marketers claim that video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service. (Source)
  • 96% of people say they have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. (Source)
  • 68% of people say they would most like to learn about a new product or service by watching a short video. (Source)


When you go beyond the statistics, video also provides value by means of adding authenticity to audience interactions. Video testimonials are especially useful for this as they link your prospective customers with actual customers. The dynamic nature of video helps audiences feel connected to the person sharing his or her experience, and hearing firsthand from an actual customer lends credibility to the content itself. The result is an experience that both increases the viewer’s understanding of your brand and builds trust between the viewer and your company. 


As you can see, video solves many of the challenges that e-commerce professionals devote hours upon hours to trying to solve. Unfortunately, video is incredibly underutilized for these purposes. Video sometimes gets a bad reputation, with people assuming that by nature, video content must be expensive, time consuming, and impossible for the average person to execute. 


Thankfully, these are misconceptions that are often not the case at all. While, yes, filming a Super Bowl commercial or other high-profile content might fit some of those stereotypes, a Super Bowl commercial doesn’t need to be the standard for effective branded content. There are many avenues you can explore that are inexpensive, quick, and beginner-friendly. 


Later, we’ll share our tips for simplifying production, but rest assured that you don’t need to be an expert to take advantage of video’s many benefits. And in pursuit of those benefits, anywhere your prospective customers are spending time online, your video content should be readily available for their consumption.

Pre-Production Strategies


Once you’re on board with the concept of video, the first step is to begin developing your concept. Video is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there are an infinite number of directions you could choose to take with your content. 


Regardless of your creative vision, there are a few parameters that should apply to any piece of content you create. First, your video should align with the goal of your content, which can usually be best attributed to the stage of the marketing funnel you want to engage. Your content should also align with your brand’s tone and potentially your visual brand guidelines to present a cohesive image to audiences. Then, specifics like the length and dimensions will be somewhat tailored to the distribution channel. 


Let’s take a look at the marketing funnel, also commonly referred to as the sales funnel or the buyer’s journey. The funnel follows prospective customers from the moment they learn about your brand through the time after they’ve made a purchase. The four stages are awareness, consideration, and decision, with each stage reflecting the thought process of the consumer in that moment. Many marketers will also add a fourth stage for “delight,” aiming at the concept of customer retention after a purchase has been made. 


As you might be able to guess, your video content should look very different depending on the stage of the funnel you plan to use it for. A video enticing someone to make a purchase should have different priorities than a video intended to help someone learn about your brand for the first time. 


To break the process down in more detail, we’ll dive into each of the stages of the marketing funnel to take a closer look at what the ideal video would look like. Note that this breakdown doesn’t mean you should only use video for the stage you might be struggling with or need to prioritize. 


The most effective video marketing strategy would include video at every stage, with the videos helping to seamlessly bring the viewer through the steps more efficiently. When done right, using video like this helps consumers feel more informed and confident in their decision to engage with your brand. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the awareness stage. 

Awareness Stage 

The awareness stage is typically characterized by the buyer realizing that they have a problem that needs to be solved. In other words, they identify a need. At this point, the buyer also begins to identify where the problem fits into their priorities. Is this an immediate need that needs to be addressed ASAP, or is it a minor consideration that should be addressed over the next several weeks or months? 


As a marketer, before you plan for video content at all, you should try to understand as much as possible about how your buyer is feeling at this moment. You may already have this data or you may not, but think critically about what the need is that your brand is prepared to fill and whether it’s likely a low or high priority for your customer. Also think about the emotions attached to the decision as emotion is a powerful driver for purchase, and assessing how your customer might feel is a great way to understand them on a deeper level. 


For your brand, the key to success in the awareness stage is being visible to your customer when their need arises and they become conscious of it. It’s your job to show up in search results, have an informative website, and present your viewer with content that clearly addresses how your product or service fills the need they’ve identified. 


Video Content


So, what should video content look like for the awareness stage? The key here is really just to engage your leads and inform them that your brand exists with a potential solution to their problem. You don’t want to push a sales pitch or overly detailed content at this point. You just want to open a conversation that will hopefully continue as the customer moves forward in their decision-making process. 


There are a few video styles that are especially effective here, including commercials, explainer videos, and educational videos. 


Commercials briefly outline the problem your brand solves and highlights your value proposition—what makes you unique compared to your competitors. Commercials should be brief, typically no longer than a minute, and the tone and messaging should align with your brand’s overall look and feel. 


Explainer videos are similar, but they give a more detailed explanation of how your product or service solves the problem in question. Rather than giving a broader overview of the brand, explainer videos focus on the problem and solution for the consumer. 


Education videos are also similar, but they involve less of a sales pitch. Rather than positioning your brand as the solution to the problem, the focus is typically providing informational content that helps the viewer understand the problem or solution more clearly. After watching, viewers should feel more confident in their interpretation of the problem and potential solutions. 

Consideration Stage 

Next comes the consideration stage. This is when your prospective customer is actively searching for a solution for the need/problem they identified in the awareness stage. They might be conducting research, looking into your company and competitors, asking around to see what others have experienced, or contacting companies. 


By this point, you’ve engaged with your prospective customer at least once. They’ve had one or more touchpoints with your brand and may or may not remember how your product or service works or how you’re different from competitors. Your goal with consideration stage video content is to convince the viewer that your brand is an effective solution to their problem. 


Video Content


Three types of content are especially useful here: testimonial content, FAQ content, and product content. 


You’re probably familiar with testimonial content, where actual customers share their experience with the brand on camera. The benefit of testimonial content is that it paints your brand in a positive light in a manner that audiences perceive as authentic. If your existing customer shares the exact same value proposition that you shared in the awareness content, it’s more believable and convincing coming from a customer. 


FAQ content is useful for getting ahead of potential roadblocks that buyers might be experiencing. If they have questions or concerns that you fail to address, you might be eliminated from the prospects for the rest of their search. If you can address those questions head-on in an FAQ video, though, you might propel yourself to the head of the pack because you’ve eliminated doubts. 


Product videos show your product in action, covering what it is, how it works, and how it solves the problem for the end-user. This is similar to a commercial or explainer video, but it goes deeper into the explanation or analysis of the product itself. You’ll also want to double down on how your product differs from competitors in this video. After all, the next stage is where the buyer makes a decision, so give them information that will help them narrow the playing field between you and your competitors. 

Decision Stage 

Next comes the decision stage. Making it here is no small feat! However, the stakes are also higher at this stage than the others we’ve passed through. In this moment, the buyer will decide whether your brand is the solution to the problem or not. Success in this stage is measured by conversions, so you’ll need to do what you can to close the deal.


Note that in general, at this stage you’ll be providing more detail than you have previously. This is the time to push stats, case studies, reward incentives, or special offers. Any information you have that has the potential to sway the decision in your favor should be included at this point.


Video Content


Three video types that work well here are tutorial videos, before and after videos, and personalized videos.


Tutorial videos walk through a step-by-step assessment of how the product or service works. The goal is to provide a comprehensive view of the process so that the viewer understands exactly what to expect if they make a purchase. You’ll want this content to be as clear and linear as possible to eliminate doubts and make the process easily digestible. 


Before and after videos are useful in making the final pitch for viewers to buy because they illustrate the “after” phase, where the problem that’s been plaguing your viewer has been solved. Dramatic effect is also at play here, where the stark contrast between “before” and “after” helps emphasize the impact of your brand. 


Before and after videos don’t work universally across all industries because there isn’t always a clear “before” and “after” to display, but they’re effective for any physical transformation brand (think fitness solutions, home repair services, cleaning products, etc.). 


Finally, personalized videos are becoming more of an industry standard, especially for high-stakes sales. For example, if you’re a B2B company selling a software service to a large corporation, you could send a video of yourself explaining how your brand is a solution for the exact company in question, addressing their specific pain points and acknowledging any decision-makers by name. This adds personality to the sales process, and can be incredibly effective when competitors are sending mass-produced content with no customization. 

Delight Stage

Lastly, in the delight stage (which is sometimes referred to as a formal stage in the funnel, and other times is included as the timeline that comes after the funnel is “completed”), you want to engage with your customers to make sure they’re enjoying their experience. 


There are two goals here. You want to make sure that your product or service is effectively meeting your customer’s needs, and you also want to encourage them to recommend your brand to others or come back for repeat purchases in the future. 


Video Content


The primary type of video that’s useful here is a video that walks your customer through their experience with your product or service. This will mean something different for every industry. If you sell a software tool, your video might include a step-by-step installation walkthrough to ensure that your customer is able to access the tool correctly. If you sell clothing, you might send a video offering multiple ways to style or accessorize your products. 


Regardless of the industry, the point is to make the use process as simple and straightforward as possible. If you think there might be any doubts for your customers after they receive your product or service, this video should address them. 

Tips and Tricks for Production


Now that you know what type of video you need, it’s time to think about how to handle the production process. We’re going to go through our tips and tricks for tackling production yourself, but know that if that’s not the route you want to explore, you can always work with a production company to handle the shoot for you. 


Depending on your needs, many production companies will be flexible about how much of the process they handle. For example, if you just need someone to film on shoot day but you can prepare the video concept and edit the footage together, that’s often an option. If you can get the footage yourself but need an expert to handle the edit process, that’s also often an option. 


If you decide to work with a production company, let them know what your needs are (i.e., how much of the process you’ll want them to own). Make sure to also review the company’s portfolio to make sure they have content examples that are similar enough to what you have in mind that you trust their ability to execute. You don’t need to find a carbon copy of your dream video, but if you like the examples they’ve produced for other projects, that’s a good sign. 

Production Cheat Sheet

If you decide to manage the production internally, here are some guidelines to make your content look more professional—and to help the shoot go as smoothly as possible. 


– If you’re using natural light, aim to shoot early or late in the day to avoid harsh overhead light. This also allows you to take advantage of beautiful, naturally-occurring light known as the golden hour or magic hour.


– Avoid filming with windows or other reflective surfaces in the foreground of your shots to avoid catching the camera in the reflection. You can also shoot at an angle to avoid reflections. 


– Shoot plenty of b-roll footage for your videos so you can use it later if you need it.


– Avoid using your camera’s mic if you’re capturing audio, and use recording equipment instead. Microphone placement is also critical for your audio recording to sound correct.


– Avoid unnecessary zooming and panning so you don’t disorient your viewers. Smooth camera shots allow the viewer to focus on aesthetics within the shot instead of being distracted by bad camera work. 


– When shooting interior shots, add additional light to the room to make the space feel warm and inviting on camera. This can be achieved by adding film lights or even just opening curtains to let more natural light into the room. 


– Double-check your shots before you press record. Once you have the perfect shot lined up, always remember to take a minute to perfect anything you see within the shot. Straighten the painting on the wall, move furniture if needed, adjust objects, and remove unwanted clutter or trash so it doesn’t ruin your shot later.


– Think like your audience. If it doesn’t look good to you, then it probably won’t look good to your audience. Trust your intuition, and commit to what needs to be changed in the moment to make sure your shot looks great. 


– Keep a schedule. It’s easy to lose track of time or underestimate how long a shoot can take. A good rule of thumb is to map out the number of rooms you need to capture on camera, and decide how long you want to spend shooting at each location (generally 15 mins. to 1 hr. depending on the caliber of the production). A well-thought-out schedule will ensure that your production always runs smoothly.

Customer-Centric Video Distribution

So you have a beautiful, well created, strategic video, and now you’re ready to get it out there. Bring on the views! Your boss might even say something like “Let’s make this go viral!” At that point, your heart might drop, because every good marketer knows that one does not just “make it go viral.” We’ve all seen viral videos all over the Internet, but how does it happen? 


Going viral isn’t just a lightning strike of luck. There are concrete steps you can take to make sure your content gets to the right people and resonates with them enough for them to watch and share. Once you have a good piece of content using the tips and information above, you’re ready to put together a distribution plan. Here are some questions to answer that will set you up for success: 



  • Who is my target audience? 


This includes demographic information like age, gender and more, but also defining characteristics like interests, concerns, pain points, and more. You might be tempted to skip this step thinking that you already know your customer. While you might be right, it’s always helpful to consider things you might not know about your customer or customer segments you haven’t previously identified. 



  • What content does my target audience like to consume for fun? 


Is your ideal customer really into anime and spending time on reddit? Do they enjoy reading in-depth think pieces on The Atlantic? Are there social media influencers who they follow and trust? Blogs they get inspiration from? Considering what your customer consumes in their free time allows you to place your video in those places in a natural way, increasing the likelihood that your video will get watched and shared. 



  • What do I want video viewers to do after they watch my video?


Different distribution channels are more conducive to different actions. Short videos on Instagram are more likely to drive purchases, where videos on Twitter are best for driving awareness. A video that’s distributed through display networks is also a great way to build brand awareness. Whichever channel you choose, think about your audience, what they’re doing on that channel organically, and how your desired action might fit into their existing behavior. 



  • What type of content is successful with my target audience and where is it successful? 


Take a look at videos produced by successful influencers or other brands who are having success, and try to spot trends. You might notice that your audience reacts differently to different types of content on different platforms. For instance, they may be willing to watch a longer video on Facebook, but they might not seem to have the patience for the same video on Instagram. Depending on the video you have produced and what you’re trying to get your customers to do, that may lead you to decide that Facebook is a better channel for you than Instagram.



  • What is your idea of success?


Your distribution plan will also depend on what your idea of “success” is. Depending on what you decide from question three, you might decide that your video is successful if it is viewed completely, if it drives traffic to your website, or if it’s shared extensively. We’ll talk more about success metrics, how to determine them and how to measure them in the next section.


Once you’re able to answer the questions above, you’ll have a good idea of what you want out of your distribution strategy. Then, all you have to do is pick the channels that fit the strategy you have already decided on. 


Here are some things to know about the most popular video distribution channels.


  • Over 4 billion video views happen on Facebook every single day. 
  • Distribution options include video ads, video posts, stories and livestreams.
  • 85% of videos are watched without sound, which makes engaging visuals critical.
  • Facebook traffic skews more female than male; 75% of females vs. 63% of males use the platform.
  • Facebook is a great way to reach adults. 68% of adults ages 50-64, 79% of adults 30-49, and 84% of people ages 25-29 use the platform. 


  • 1 billion people use Instagram every month. 
  • Instagram is the most popular with people ages 18-29, with 67% using the platform.
  • 62% of people say they have become more interested in a product after seeing it in an Instagram Story.
  • 73% of US teens say that Instagram is the best way to reach them about new brands and products.
  • How-to tutorials are the most popular type of content on Instagram.


  • YouTube reaches more people between the ages of 18-49 than all cable TV networks combined.
  • 70% of the total watch time comes from mobile devices.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 2x increase in “which product to buy” videos.
  • 90% of shoppers have discovered a product through YouTube.
  • Authenticity and relatability are the two most important things for a YouTube video.
  • 78% of marketers said that YouTube is the most successful video marketing channel. 
  • Since Google owns YouTube, you can easily promote your YouTube videos through the Google Display Network and on YouTube. 


No matter which channels you choose to use, it’s important to first consider your customer, their organic behavior, and how your content will fit in with what they’re already doing. 

How to Measure Video Success

“Success” is a pretty vague word, and it can mean different things in different situations. Even just in the world of marketing, you’re bound to elicit some questions if you declare your campaign successful without any additional context. 


Your definition of success for video marketing campaigns will determine which metrics are most important to you. Most video campaigns are geared towards driving awareness for your brand, and it’s traditionally been hard to see the long-term impacts of your video campaigns. However, for marketers with the right data and tools at their disposal, seeing the long-term impacts that videos have further cements the fact that video is an indispensable part of a marketing mix. 


Below, we’ve separated out common metrics to analyze at every phase of the customer lifecycle. While finding these metrics in connection to your video gets more difficult as you go later into the lifecycle, it’s important to have a finger on the pulse of these metrics to spot long term trends, even at a high level. 


In this phase, you’ll recall, the goal is to catch a potential customers’ attention and create an impression. You may also want to drive them to take some action to further engage with you, pushing them down the path to purchase. Here are some metrics to watch: 



  • Video completion rate


This is the percentage of your video that was viewed. It’s important because it tells you how much of your content a potential customer is consuming, but it’s also factored into some algorithms, like Facebook’s, that decide who is shown your content. Facebook uses the average completion rate to rank videos in a user’s newsfeed. A higher completion rate means you’ll get more organic traffic, which in turn lowers your costs. 



  • Video views


This is one of the more simple metrics, as it just tells you how many people have viewed your video. However, it’s important to know your channel’s definition of a “view.” For instance, YouTube counts a view when someone engages with an ad, watches 30 seconds of an ad, or watches the whole ad if it’s less than 30 seconds long. Facebook (and Instagram) on the other hand, count a video view on a campaign targeted towards views at the 15-second mark, or completion if the video is less than 15 seconds long. 



  • New site visitors


For this metric, you’ll have to dig into your website analytics tool. You should be able to see new site visitors by source, but you should also look at new site visitors overall. A customer may see or watch your video and later remember it when they’re ready to get more information. That type of behavior would look like an organic new site visitor, but was really driven by your video. 


So, you have their attention, but they haven’t quite purchased yet. As we mentioned earlier, the goal of the consideration phase is to capitalize on that attention and move someone closer to purchase. The engagement phase might be relatively short depending on how long potential customers consider a purchase and compare different options. 



  • Likes, shares, retweets, comments


Most social platforms that you use to distribute your videos will contain some engagement metric. Whether they break it out and share with you the exact actions that people are taking or they just tell you an engagement rate, this is a good indication of the kind of effect your video is having on people. The next step will be to go one level deeper and go through any comments, retweets, or shares to get an idea of exactly how your content is resonating and what reactions people have. 



  • Email sign ups


If a customer is letting you into their heart (aka, their email inbox), that’s a clear sign that a customer wants to hear more from you. While it will be difficult to track email sign ups back to your video unless you are especially intentional about it, you can watch for increases in your list around video launches. 



  • New social media followers or subscribers


Like email sign ups, this metric will be an indication of how receptive customers are to your message. Most social media platforms will give you this number, so watch for increases that could be attached to your video. 


This is the ultimate goal for most campaigns, which means you’re probably already practiced at measuring the impact of your campaigns as it relates to purchases. However, it’s important to remember that a subgoal of the decision phase is to encourage someone to purchase again and refer their friends.



  • Return on investment (ROI)


Calculating your ROI for a video campaign can entail looking at just your media spend, or you can include the actual cost you incurred through video creation. It’s helpful to understand it from both angles since time is, as the saying goes, money. 



  • Conversion Rate


This counts the amount of conversions over the amount of people who saw your video. Make sure to look at various time frames or lookback periods to make sure that you’re taking into account how long it might take for someone to go from a video viewer to a purchaser. 


Once a customer has purchased, most brands turn around and try to encourage a customer to come back. The interesting part is that the way a customer finds out about you can impact how loyal they are to you in the long run. So, if someone sees an impactful video and then becomes a customer, they’re more likely to have positive associations with your brand and therefore more likely to be loyal. 



  • Return purchase rate


This is particularly important for brands with products that can be purchased more often, like clothing, makeup, food, and more. It’s also important, though, for products that are meant to be used longer term like luggage, electronics and even cars. While it will be difficult to attach your return purchase rate to your initial video distribution strategy, you can see how adding video to your email strategy or retargeting previous customers with a video increases your return purchase rate. 



  • Lifetime customer value


This is the measure of how much a customer spends with you over the average lifetime of a relationship with you. If they spend more, you can imply that they are a loyal customer. The lifetime value is impacted by retention marketing, but it’s also heavily dependent on a person’s initial reaction to your brand, which in this case involves video. 



  • Referrals


Whether you ask for them or not, customer referrals are an important part of any marketing strategy. Because you don’t have to pay for referrals unless you have a referral incentive in place, referrals are a method of obtaining new free or low-cost customers. 



  • Shares, retweets


Watch for customers who are consistently sharing or retweeting your content. By interacting with you in this way, your customers are helping you to increase your organic reach. 


Because most video efforts are meant to create awareness, measuring the impacts of your videos throughout the customer journey is difficult, but not out of the question. With the right tools on your side, you’ll be able to measure your impact and see how video can help you not only create awareness and drive purchases, but also help you create more loyal, long-lasting relationships with your customers. 


How to Turn Video Into a Cross-Channel Experience


Now that you’ve published your video to the appropriate channel and started to measure results, you might think your production journey is over. But in reality, you’ve just created an opportunity to develop a cross-channel experience.


A cross-channel experience (or omnichannel experience) is the idea that customers don’t just interact with your brand in one place. Especially in digital channels, users are spending time in any number of ways, and could potentially have several touchpoints with your brand in a short timeframe. 


The goal in actively developing this cross-channel experience is to ensure that those touchpoints work together seamlessly. You want to deliver a cohesive experience to consumers to create one singular vision of the brand in their minds. By combining channels, you also amplify the impact of any single piece of content because it’s supported by other pieces.


For e-commerce brands, it’s also important to remember that your website or e-commerce platform itself acts as a brand touchpoint. The process of searching for a product or service, adding it to a cart, paying for the purchase, and receiving the item also send a message about your brand. Every element of the purchase process itself should also align with the message your video content sends. 


There are several ways to go about developing a cross-channel experience from your video content. First, you’ll want to promote the video itself through other distribution channels. Let’s say you decide that Facebook is the best distribution channel for your content based on the processes we described above. Just because Facebook is the best avenue for your content doesn’t mean it needs to be the only avenue for your content. 


You could post a teaser of the video on Instagram, link to the video within a blog post, make a shorter cut of the video for paid social ads, or add the video permanently to a relevant page on your website. By going through this process, you’re diversifying the consumer viewing experience and also maximizing the value you’ll get from the single piece of content. 


The key takeaway here is that your final video can become a starting point for various other forms of content. This combination of video variations or supplemental distribution channels will enhance the overall user experience with cohesive messaging across channels and content forms.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still not convinced you need video at all, here are our closing thoughts about video’s value. First, many forms of video are evergreen content, meaning that the same video could live on your website, for example, for many years before it starts to lose value. This means you’ll make a one-time investment in creating the content that will pay dividends for months or years down the line.


Second, consumers report that they want brands to put out video content. In many surveys, consumers share that video is their preferred way for learning about a company, product, or service. For example, Wyzowl reports that 68% of people say they’d most prefer to learn about a new product or service by watching a short video. Why would you miss out on the opportunity to give your audience what it’s asking for? Learn more about consumer preferences surrounding video content here


Ultimately, the best way to approach video content is to get started. If your e-commerce brand is lacking in the video department, we recommend diving right in—even if you feel like you’re not ready yet. By the time you’ve gone through the process once, you’ll have a valuable asset to distribute and a wealth of knowledge about what you might want to do differently next time. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Alexa Nizam

Alexa Nizam