There's a reason you don't see many people making videos on the internet: it's hard. It's not like TV, where you just have to sit there and watch something come at you. You have to actually get your audience to interact with what you're doing, and that doesn't happen by accident.

The internet is a hostile frontier—and it can be even more hostile for an online video than for other kinds of content. When you post an online video, it's up against all kinds of distractions, from memes and cat videos to Facebook notifications and emails from work. Your audience can click away at any time, so keeping them engaged is even more important than when they're watching TV or reading print media.

We've been experimenting with different techniques to catch viewers' attention in an online video. We've found that the best way to keep your audience engaged.

In September, we posted a blog on making video testimonials. We embedded our first sample testimonial in the blog post and it did okay. It got some views but wasn't really getting us anywhere. So we tried something new: we embedded a shorter version of the same testimonial in the same spot. Here are what we found:

Keep it brief

We analyzed those two similar videos, one of which was 10 seconds shorter than the other. The shorter video had a 72% completion rate, compared to 50% for the longer one. Our analysis shows that there's something about having a cut-off point that makes viewers pay attention.

So what does this mean for your own videos? If you have footage from a single source that you'd like to share on social media or in an email newsletter, make sure you don't include an entire clip—it could be too much for your viewers!

Turns out, psychologists say that the average human sustained attention span is 20 minutes. But for online videos, it seems to be about 60 seconds.

When it comes to customer engagement, length really does matters for video. This is why a three-minute-long video has poor viewership.

Put the best part in the beginning

Online videos are a great way to spread information, but there's one problem: People don't watch them for long.

Most video viewers lose interest in what you're saying before you've even finished your first sentence. They get distracted, bored, or realize that the video is not for them. The moral here is: If there's something that you really want people to see, put the most interesting part of your video in the first shot.

Be straightforward

The best way to grab your viewers' attention is to make sure every shot contains specific and new information. If you aren't getting useful points across, people will stop listening. Don’t be afraid to cut out unnecessary content - it will keep your audience focused on the important things. The more specific examples that are relevant to the viewers, the more audience stays interested.

Keep your video personal

Have you ever noticed that when you're watching a video, the first thing that catches your attention is the people in it?

We're human, and we're naturally interested in other human beings.

Don't start talking about the product right away. People love hearing about how others live their lives and what they do in their free time—it helps them make connections and feel like they know the person who is endorsing their product or service better than before watching this video testimonial clip (or even after watching multiple clips!)

Final Thoughts

Making and posting a video entails time and money. So, make sure that you keep your audience engaged and appreciate the fruits of your labor.

Following those 4 simple techniques will give you a better chance to hold your audience's attention and stand out from the crowd.

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