It’s natural to want guarantees that your new film is worth the investment.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard too many horror stories to count about unscrupulous marketing firms taking advantage of their clients by making outrageous and often dishonest claims.

While it’s tempting to take solace in promised returns, it’s important to step and back and ask yourself whether and how they can actually be delivered. With a little help, you can learn to recognize which production companies are making empty promises, and which are offering well-designed, constructive plans.

By becoming familiar with the relevant statistics, you’ll also become a good judge of your own videos’ success after the fact. You will be able to analyze the results on your own without relying on a third party to interpret them for you.

Let’s go through some real examples that we’ve seen in our time in the industry, and counter them with what you should be looking for instead.

Myth 1: Double Your Brand’s Growth

This sounds nice, but it’s more of a buzzword than a useful metric.

It’s a warning sign when someone uses a nebulous term like growth without qualifying it at all. How is growth being defined? What are the reference points for measuring it? Are you describing market share? Consumer perception? Do you have any hint as to what kind of data you should be checking to confirm that this growth has been achieved?

Besides, there are too many variables that influence growth, and many of them have nothing to do with video. Promising growth is an easy way to claim credit for any progress at all, whether the video in question contributed or not.

That’s why it’s important to define video-specific goals.

In order to know if a video is bringing more people to your website, you need to track not just the number of hits, but whether site visitors played the video and whether they watched it all the way through. You need to compare the actions viewers take now that you have video in place relative to how site visitors behaved when you didn’t. More critically, how many more are being converted by your call to action?

When they’re juxtaposed with some other alternative, click-through-ratios, actions post-video, Facebook likes, and bounce rates are all verifiable and quantifiable stats that you can put to good use.

Myth 2: Raise X Dollars for your Capital Campaign

This one is just silly. How can anyone guarantee you an exact dollar amount? Do they promise this same number to everyone, regardless of differences in industry and audience?

Furthermore, once again, what options do they give you to confirm that the video was what drove your success?

What you can measure are the concrete links between your video and donation page. How likely to donate are visitors who have seen the video compared to those who haven’t? How many visitors are clicking through to contribute from places where the video is embedded compared to places where you use another medium to advertise?

Good statistics are backed up by a record of specific actions.

Myth 3: Increase your Revenue by X %

It’s a mistake to think of video in terms of increasing your revenue. A good video is the start of a relationship with potential donors, participants, and volunteers. It spreads awareness, draws people in, and makes a call to action. When this works, it’s personal. It isn’t the kind of progress that translates directly into sales numbers.

Framing the issue in this kind of language is nothing more than a shiny distraction. The critical information is in the impact video has before money enters the picture. Do you want to know whether your video is inspiring people? Measure how often the video has been viewed, the length of viewing, and how often it’s been shared on social media so that you know how viewers are responding. Keep your eye on the click-through rate – it’s the closest you can get to gauging the direct influence the video has on viewers’ actions. Are they seeking out more information or acting on an invitation to donate? If your video is persuading a significant percentage of visitors to take a closer look, it’s doing its job, guiding viewers on a path to commitment.

When our clients ask for these kinds of numbers, we happily mention our past successes. We might refer to our many viral videos, or the time one of our videos single-handedly earned the backing to launch an educational summer program, or the time we helped a private high school increase turnout at their open house by 125%.

But at the same time, we always make sure to emphasize what the numbers can and can’t tell you.

If someone is making you promises that sound too good to be true, they probably are.

By learning to distinguish between false and reliable metrics, you can protect yourself from unsubstantiated claims, and at the same time acquire a deeper understanding of how your videos are working for you.

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