Visual Engagement – why it matters and how to get it right

How to get people to watch more of your video

‘Engagement’ is one of those words that gets bandied about in marketing and communications circles all the time. But many people aren’t really sure what it means. If someone has watched 30 seconds of visual content, is that enough to say they’ve ‘engaged’ with it? Or should visual engagement be measured in viewer retention – i.e. did they watch it all the way through? Or can you only say the viewer has really engaged if they do something as a result of watching your video?

The fact is that visual engagement can be any one of these things; but broadly speaking it’s about how long a viewer spends watching your content. The length of time a viewer spends is a good indication of the quality of your content and whether you are providing them with what they want.

Low visual engagement is not necessarily bad

If you’re worried that, on average, viewers only watch the first 30 seconds of your video/animation and then navigate away, it might not be a bad thing. 30 seconds may be just enough for them to get “a flavour”. For example, if it’s a marketing piece for your company, or an answer to a question in a ‘how to…’ video.

If those viewers then go on to contact your company directly, or buy your product having seen that it will solve their problem; that equates to ‘good’ video engagement, however long they spent watching.

Or, you may find that when a percentage of viewers drop out it’s because they’re self-qualifying and saying ‘this is not for me’; this is not necessarily a bad thing either, as you won’t need to qualify them later on in the sales process.

However, if the percentage of drop-outs is high, this could be because of poor referrals. I.e. they’re clicking on a link thinking the video is about something it’s not, or because your video is just not engaging enough.

Another issue could be that your video is just too long. Viewers are initially engaged but simply don’t have the time or are too distracted by other things to watch in its entirety. 5-10 minutes is the cut off point for any video for marketing or comms purposes. Although even this may be too long for some types of video content.

So, when measuring visual engagement, it’s important not just to focus on the time viewers spend watching your content. But also how other metrics correlate with your visual marketing activities. Are you getting more website visitors as a result of sharing content on YouTube or Vimeo – are you seeing more enquiries or sales? If you have videos embedded in your website, where do viewers go when they navigate away; are they visiting other pages of your website or leaving your site completely?

6 ideas to improve your visual engagement…

  1. Promote your content to the right audience
    The first step is to ensure you’re attracting the right target audience to your video content. It may be very satisfying to see a high viewer count. But if those viewers are not your customer base or target audience your videos or animations are never going to have the impact you want.

Whatever way you promote your content – internally or externally – make sure it’s getting put in front of the right people.

  1. Manage viewers’ expectations
    It’s tempting to oversell your video content to get prospects to click on the link and watch. But, if they’re promised one thing and then it turns out to be another, you’ll see a high bounce rate. If your video content is aligned with your target audience this won’t be a problem.
  2. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS)
    Clear, concise videos take viewers through a well-executed narrative that will keep their interest throughout. Remember, you’ve only got a short amount of time to get your message across. Whether that’s a snapshot of your business, a training guide, or an important message from the Chief Exec. So don’t over complicate things in an attempt to make it more engaging.
  3. Get to the point
    A longwinded intro is another common drop out point. Whether it’s a title sequence involving graphics and logos etc., or an explanation of what the content is about, you haven’t got time for this! Jump straight in by showing and proving your point instead of talking around it.
  4. Troubleshoot where viewers drop outvideo engagement – why its matters and how it works
    The beauty of visual content is that it can be edited and refined to improve results. So don’t resign yourself to a failed video; instead look at where viewers are dropping out and whether it can be edited to build engagement for longer. Failing that, learn from this for future video productions.

Also, look to see whether viewers are dropping out because they got what they came for, before the end. If so, is this a problem? Maybe you’ve given them a solution before you’ve had an opportunity to make your point or tell them what to do next. It may be an idea to split your content into multiple videos so you can include that call to action immediately after they get the answer.

  1. Keep viewers engaged until the end
    You may be signalling to your viewers that the video, or animation, is over and you’ve shared all the valuable content you have. Perhaps you’re using words such as ‘and finally’ or ‘in summary’ or ‘to recap’. Instead keep driving viewers through right to the end, especially if you have a call to action that’s an objective for your content. Make sure any music you use doesn’t sound like it’s wrapping up either, it may seem to fit with your content but it’s another indication that the video is over. It’s not over until it’s over!

Visual engagement is a bit of a science, balancing the needs of your audience with what have to say and ensuring they stick with it so that you can influence their behaviour in some way.

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