Whether it's a pre-roll ad on YouTube or some original promotional content, online video advertising can offer value to businesses of all sizes. Small businesses in particular have found that digital videos can boost awareness, website traffic and sales in a cost-effective, budget-friendly way.

"Almost everyone watches online videos in some form today," said Tim Jensen, senior Web strategist at digital marketing firm Overit. "You can reach people at a fraction of the cost of traditional TV advertising, with much more segmented opportunities for targeting. You can target videos based on specific content people are watching on YouTube, geography, demographic information, or interest in your products or services as shown by their online behavior."

Like any content marketing campaign, a video ad has to engage viewers and reach the right audience to be successful. Experts shared their advice for creating a great video marketing strategy. 

Plan it out

When creating a branded video, it's essential to consider the delivery method prior to production, said Eric Fischgrund, owner of marketing and public relations consultancy Fischtank.

Plan your messaging, production and delivery before you create your video. This way, you can customize your content for the channel from which it will be disseminated, whether that means it's hosted on YouTube, used for social content or sent out through an email marketing system.

Keep it short

Attention spans continue to shrink, and marketers know that they must compete with a lot of other content for views. Jensen advised keeping your video campaign as short as possible, especially if it's a pre-roll ad.

"The shorter the video, the less annoyed people get and the more likely they are to watch all the way through," he told Business News Daily. "From statistics in campaigns we've run, [we know that] people are almost twice as likely to watch all the way through a 15-second spot versus a 30-second one."

Build relationships with viewers

Trust and engagement are two of the most important factors in successful video marketing strategies. Michael Wayne, CEO and co-founder of women's lifestyle YouTube community KIN, noted that content creators should focus on connecting with the people who view their videos.

"More often than not, a [YouTube] channel with the most-engaged audience is going to perform better than one with the most subscribers and views," Wayne said. "Engaged audiences want to feel like the advertiser has the video creators' best interest in mind and shares the same values. Advocate for things YouTube creators care about and they will advocate for your brand. If you support them in honest and meaningful ways, they will ultimately champion your brand to their audiences."

As part of a long-term strategy, Wayne recommended starting relationships with smaller YouTube creators who share your brand's visions. Once their channels start growing, your relationship could evolve into a meaningful, mutually beneficial partnership.

Define and measure specific objectives

Video marketing can help you achieve broad, generalized goals like "new leads" or "search engine optimization," but by defining more focused goals, you can realize the full potential of this advertising medium. Measuring those objectives can also shed light on why a campaign did or did not succeed.

"A video campaign should have specific objectives such as driving new traffic to the website, increasing social engagement on Facebook or to receive responses from a targeted e-mail blast," Fischgrund said. "Sometimes the issue isn't in the video or delivery, but in what happens next — such as having a poor conversion page or another issue with the website or call-to-action. Only by defining objectives and measuring them, can companies improve their understanding of video marketing and its results."

Originally published on Business News Daily.