video-ctas-best-practices-21.png

Most marketers agree that videos are an essential and effective tool for businesses.

“70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium.” – Vidyard

In fact, the 2015 State of Digital Marketing report found that nearly 76% of B2B marketers use video, which made it the most popular content marketing format for 2015:

video-ctas-best-practices-3.pngImage Credit

So the question now is: How do you make money from them?

In this age of analytics, marketing professionals need to demonstrate results — more leads, more subscribers, more calls.

The most successful sales and marketing videos encourage the viewer to do something at the end—something that can be measured by clicks or other metrics. Most of these actions are triggered by a call to action, or CTA.

Let’s look at your options for creating video CTAs and some best practices for them.

Types of CTAs

So you’ve done your homework for crafting an effective CTA. Most importantly, you’ve figured out what action you want viewers to take, whether it’s subscribing to an e-newsletter, sharing your video on social media, or clicking on a URL to find more information about your company or product.

With this CTA in mind, you’ve created your script, video and voiceover. Now you need to decide the format your CTA should take.

Here are the 4 most common types of CTAs:

Annotations

Annotations are clickable, customizable text, links or hotspots that you layer on top of your video.

They can help improve the video experience for viewers by adding information, making your video more interactive, and even engaging them.

video-ctas-best-practices-4.pngExample of an annotation

Verbal CTAs

Verbal CTAs spoken by a narrator or host can have a strong impact on viewers, who are probably already emotionally engaged by the topic. These are most commonly used in fundraising videos on sites like Kickstarter.

However, they may not be as effective if your video features multiple speakers.

In-Video CTAs

These are the CTAs that are part of the video itself, such as a clickable URL that appears in the opening credits, a screen during the video, a verbal request—or all three.

video-ctas-best-practices-5.pngExample of an in-video CTA

Note: The process for adding In-video CTAs, which are embedded links (URLs), can vary based on the video platform you’re using.

The trick for this type of CTA is ensuring that you place it before viewers drop off, but without annoying the viewer.

Research suggests that 20% of viewers abandon a video within the first 10 seconds

End cards

Think of end cards as the “final credits” for an online video: They’re a logical place to insert your CTA.

End cards are the final screen that include CTAs, older videos, and/or even social media links.

The purpose is to push your engaged viewers to subscribe or view more content. YouTube and other video hosting platforms have tools to help you create end cards easily:

video-ctas-best-practices-6.pngImage Credit

Snagajob, for example, utilizes end cards to their advantage by combining quality graphics, verbal CTAs, and standard annotations to grow their subscriber base (24K and counting) and earn more video views.

video-ctas-best-practices-7.pngSnagajob end card example

This is a broad overview of the different types of CTAs that you can add to your video. But CTAs are handled differently in different environments.

YouTube is by far the most commonly used video hosting platform used by marketers.

video-ctas-best-practices-8.pngImage Credit

Since YouTube has a handful of unique, and somewhat non-intuitive, features, we’ve broken up this post into two parts: CTAs for youtube videos and CTAs for other video hosting platforms and players.

Here’s a breakdown of CTAs for YouTube Videos:

CTAs for YouTube Videos

YouTube Annotations

Annotations, as we previously mentioned, are clickable, customizable text, links or hotspots that you layer on top of your YouTube video.

Types of annotations include speech bubbles, spotlights (text that appears when you hover over an area in a video); notes; titles; and labels. You can also add links to videos, playlists, channels, and others:

video-ctas-best-practices-9.pngTypes of YouTube annotations

Annotations allow viewers to respond to your CTA immediately, but they can also annoy users, so they’re best used in end cards.

Note: Annotations only appear on standard YouTube players and embedded players. They do NOT appear on mobile, tablet and TV devices.

YouTube Cards

Cards are more interactive and engaging than annotations. You can use cards to point viewers to a specific URL (from a list of eligible sites).

Depending on the card type you can add an image, title, and call-to-action text. In addition to better customization, cards are better than annotations because they will work on both desktop and mobile.

video-ctas-best-practices-10.pngTypes of YouTube cards

There are 3 main types of cards:

  • Video or Playlist cards: Link to another YouTube video or playlist that your viewers might be interested in.
  • Channel cards: Link to another channel that you’d like to call out to your viewers.

video-ctas-best-practices-11.pngYouTube channel card

  • Link cards: Link to an approved website including your associated website, licensed merchandise or directly to creative projects (for crowdfunding).

video-ctas-best-practices-12.pngYouTube link card

Viewers can open cards by clicking on a “teaser” that appears for a designated amount of time.

video-ctas-best-practices-13.png

Or, when the teaser isn’t showing, they can hover over the player (on desktop) or whenever the player controls are showing on mobile and see the card icon (i).

You can have up to five cards in one video, and viewers can see multiple cards by scrolling down the list. (Note: Your account needs to be in good standing to display cards on your video.)

Here’s an example of a Link card promoting an eBook:

video-ctas-best-practices-14.pngExample of a YouTube link card

Descriptions

A video description is text that appears underneath the video itself on sites like YouTube.

Usually, you only see the first few lines of a description; by clicking “show more,” you see an expanded version.

video-ctas-best-practices-15.pngYouTube video description

Including a CTA in a description can be less distracting than an annotation, but be careful where you put it: the first few lines of your description are vital for SEO, so make them count.

A Word about YouTube CTAs

If you’re hosting your video on YouTube, you’ll need to take note of some specific guidelines.  

For example, YouTube annotations only work on desktops.  If you want your CTA to show up on mobile devices, you’ll have to use YouTube cards—with which YouTube hopes to replace annotations.

Adding a CTA to a sponsored video gets much more complicated, as we recently discovered. Both types of sponsored videos have limitations on deploying CTAs:

  1. In-stream videos: These are video ads that play before another video on either YouTube or the Google Display Network. They only allow you to add a CTA overlay that will send viewers to a landing page on your website.
  2. In-display videos: These are video ads that appear on YouTube search results and related videos; as YouTube overlays; and on partner websites. Clicks on your video thumbnail can only go to your video. Clicks on CTA overlays go to your website.

video-ctas-best-practices-20.pngYouTube video thumbnail

video-ctas-best-practices-17.pngYouTube video CTA overlay

Google’s Adwords Advertising Policies Help page on TrueView video ads provides a deep dive and a technical comparison of the two.

CTAs for Video Hosting Platforms and Players

More and more businesses are deciding to host their videos on their own websites using products from companies like Vidyard, Wistia, Vzaar, Brightcove, or Kaltura. This allows them to keep viewers on their site, without getting distracted by unrelated ads videos, as they might on YouTube.

Often marketers use a combination of YouTube and self-hosting services.  YouTube’s massive audience provides reach – a chance to acquire new leads. Self-hosting, as described, is better for retaining traffic. It’s used for lead nurturing and conversion.

If you decide to go this route, one of the main features to look for in a video hosting company is an easy way to create and customize clickable CTAs within the video.

Some new platforms even let you create customized, branded interactive video players, which can come in handy if you’re creating videos for Facebook and Twitter video ads. For example, Viewbix lets you create multiple options for CTAs that appear directly in the trailer, including forms that capture leads.

“One of the main gripes against YouTube video hosting is the inability to include effective links or calls to action in the video,” says Jonathan Stefansky, CEO and co-founder of Viewbix. “Other than the annotations, attempting to drive customers to a company site via YouTube content is extremely difficult.”

When you have control over the player, that problem goes away.

Viewbix says that 20% of the viewers who watch a video in a Viewbix video player click on the call-to-action button or engage with at least one of the apps inside the player itself. This is 16 times higher than average video engagement rates!

Best Practices for Adding Video CTAs to Your Video

Once you’ve selected the format for your CTA, it’s time to add it your video. Here are a few brief guidelines:

Timing

When should your CTA appear? At the beginning, middle or end of your video?

If your CTA is in the video description text or on an end card, the answer’s clear. But for other formats, there are different schools of thought.

YouTube suggests that cards work best when they appear at the same time as a scripted verbal call to action (which you could place anywhere in the video); meanwhile, end-of-video annotations have much higher click-rates and lower close rates than mid-video ones.

Placement

If your annotation CTA appears during your video, make sure it doesn’t obscure the video itself.

Don’t place them in the lower third of the video, either—advertising can cut them off. YouTube for example, displays a CTA overlay for ads on the bottom left (above the video timeline).

video-ctas-best-practices-18.pngExample of a YouTube ad

Bake CTAs into Your Videos from the Start

A final (and yes, self-serving) note: It’s not just the video players that let you add CTAs.

Increasingly, the platforms that help you make videos offer this feature as well, meaning that you can incorporate CTAs right into the content of your video.

GoAnimate, for example lets you convert any text into a clickable call-to-action in a few simple steps:

  • Click the text you want to change into a CTA
  • Select the Advanced tab from the Tray
  • Click the link symbol

video-ctas-best-practices-19.png

 

  • Enter a valid link

And you’re all set! Your viewers can now click on the CTA to open it.

Note: Links will only work when viewed through GoAnimate on our website or if you’re using the GoAnimate video embed code.

You can also check out our one-minute tutorial on how to create and use clickable links.

Wrapping it Up

While we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, we hope we’ve given you a sense of the many options that exist for creating effective video CTAs, as well as the considerations you should keep top of mind.

With a little planning, your video will get prospects clicking—and converting into customers.