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Nonlinear video marketing: A marketer’s guide

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 27 May, 2016
Essential Essential topic

Diversify your brand narrative with a multi-platform marketing campaign strategy

The attention economy is not growing,” asserts CRM Essentials’ co-founder, Brent Leary, and many marketing strategists would agree. In today’s fast-paced mobile world, it’s become increasingly difficult to make an impression with traditional marketing techniques, as ever-more sophisticated methods - incorporating multiple formats and publishing platforms - take hold and make their presence felt.

This is known as nonlinear marketing, and in this article we’ll explore how and why the use of such abstract strategies can be so successful, and how you can start to incorporate nonlinear into your narrative.

The value of video

Cisco has predicted that 80% of all Internet traffic will be video content by 2019, revealing a growing trend for smartphone streaming that has put advertisers the world over on hot alert. There are many other reasons to embrace video marketing, and I’ve gone to the trouble of collating a few stats:

  • 75% of people are less likely to opt-out of mailing lists if a relevant video is linked to in the introductory email (Eloqua)
  • 64% are more likely to purchase a product after viewing a video online (ComScore)
  • 59% of company executives prefer to watch video content before reading accompanying text (Forbes Insight)
  • Video is the most shared type of content on Facebook (Zuum Social)

Nonlinear marketing can take video campaigns to the next level, taking advantage of the modern-day tendency for audiences to simultaneously access digital media across several different platforms, a practice known as omni-screening. This enables you to engage with viewers from multiple angles at the same time, offering varied, but interrelated content across multiple devices.

A winning strategy

One of the best examples of this form of marketing came with the launch of 2015’s Channel 4 drama, Humans. The creative promotional campaign kicked-off with a series of television ads that showcased a fictional organisation, Persona Synthetics, offering lifelike robots, known as Synths.

The adverts drew attention to an associated Twitter account, by incorporating the hashtag #Humans in the bottom corner of the end screen. From here, mesmerised viewers could then find their way to a working website for the company, creating a vastly interactive and memorable experience.

‘Is this for real?’ was the general line of questioning, but the fake firm was given further credence when a storefront on London’s Regent Street, one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, was given a makeover and covered in Persona Synthetics branding, complete with a pair of animated robots in the windows, reacting to passers-by using Microsoft’s Kinect technology. An eBay shop was also created, encouraging bids for the sophisticated ‘Synths’.

This coordinated approach resulted in an explosion of social media activity, stimulating widespread discussion and promotion. The efforts paid off, as the show attracted a record-breaking 6 million viewers, becoming the broadcaster’s biggest hit for 20 years.

Nonlinear marketing and you

Of course, stunts of this scale are not always feasible, but the beauty of nonlinear marketing is that it can be as flashy or as subtle as you choose, and still be just as effective. The key is to engage with your target audience in as many ways as possible, but most specifically via the media platforms that they’ll be using at any given time.

For example, if a television ad draws attention to an online platform, your audience may choose to visit that page during the commercial break. However, content accessed at this time needs to stand out and be easy to process, as viewers are likely to return their attention to the TV screen once their programme resumes.

Nonlinear marketing

Easy-to-remember web addresses, hashtags and QR codes are other ways to steer your audience towards promotional videos, or other online material. This allows them to access your content on the move, and instantly engages people in an interactive narrative.

Varied content

An advantage of using multiple platforms to output marketing content is that you can give varying insights into your brand identity. Each video serves as part of a larger picture, and consumers are encouraged to seek out the missing pieces and learn more about your products or services. Incorporating videos of varying lengths, across several different platforms, is the perfect way to approach this:

  • Bite-sized clips. Lasting only a few seconds, perhaps in the form of 15-second Instagram videos or 6-second Vines, can be a fantastic way to pique interest, and inspire people to search for more detailed content.
  • 30-seconds to one minute shorts. These commonly serve as adverts for television or on social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, offering a little more information and acting as a handy means of promoting products and services.
  • Full-length, informative videos. These are the final piece of the puzzle and can include interviews, how-to guides for individual products, or a behind-the-scenes look at your organisation, inviting people to learn more about the culture of your company.

Click here for further insight into making the most of Instagram Videos.

Engaging your audience

Of course, it is not enough to simply bombard your audience with visual content, however great it may be. You have to actively encourage them to interact with it, inviting them to learn more about you by offering a more personalised experience that allows them to explore your brand in whichever way, and on whatever platform, suits them best.

You should be thinking about:

  • An indispensable social media tool, a strong hashtag can significantly increase the visibility of your brand. The #PersonaSynthetics hashtag led to 423,000 website hits, and 200,000 views on the eBay auction in just 72 hours.
  • Interactive Video Hotspots. These are common on YouTube videos, encouraging viewers to click-through to websites, other videos or related content, which is a great way to drive sales and retain attention when your video comes to an end. These can also be added to points in a video where viewers may lose interest, giving the option to keep watching or move onto something new, but still relevant to your intended message.
  • Streaming Services. Platforms such as Periscope and Facebook Live enable you to broadcast live content and interact with your target audience, answering questions in real time. A great way to reinforce that personal connection.

Stand out from the crowd

With careful thought and planning, the integrated approach outlined above can soon be implemented, but with an estimated 300 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every single minute, a coordinated marketing strategy is vital if you want to really stand out from the crowd.

To truly capture your audience, you need a combination of online and offline content, allowing consumers to interact with your brand anytime, anywhere.

You can take inspiration from Compare The Market’s long-running and hugely successful meerkat campaign, which involved the creation of fully-functional comparethemeerkat.com - where you can actually compare meerkats - as well as several spin-off websites relating to specific chapters in the campaign’s story.

This simple, yet unique campaign has evolved over the past seven years to include promotional toys, a well-known catchphrase, individual Twitter accounts for leading meerkats, and a best-selling book penned by Aleksandr the Meerkat himself.

Mastering the art

Embracing a nonlinear approach may seem overwhelming at first glance, but it is a highly organic process that thrives on the ability to grow and evolve with your business. Careful analysis of social media data and web analytics can help you pin down your target audience and figure out what, where and how to broadcast your content.

Once you’ve mastered your analytics, it’s simply a matter of determining the story you want to tell, and making sure it reaches your audience. From there, your content can sell itself, generating discussion, piquing curiosity and inspiring viewers to share your content on social media.

Encouraging interaction of this nature sparks a direct narrative between the brand and consumer, simultaneously building trust and interest. This allows you to tailor content to your growing audience, responding to what they like and framing your message accordingly.



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