Video has revolutionized the delivery of information and training content.
Whether you are teaching people through online content or training internal coworkers, using video to share knowledge is becoming an expectation.
Don’t make folks spend their time pouring through long, wordy training manuals or documentation to learn about your product or service. The type of content you create matters just as much as the information you are trying to share, this includes video.
The problem is many companies struggle with how to create and deliver engaging and effective instructional videos that viewers will actually watch.
TechSmith conducted research to learn more about people’s viewing habits and preferences around instructional and informational videos.
Here’s what you’ll find in this
- How to create videos that are effective and that get watched
- Why video keeps rising
- How to find and know your audience
- How long should you make your videos
- How to optimize video for search (SEO)
- Why people stop watching videos (and how you can avoid it)
- What is the best way to create videos for an international audience?
- Lessons from real-world videos
- How to start making your own videos
- Research methodology
We wanted to know how to create instructional videos that get watched.
In this guide, you will find actionable tips on how you can leverage these video statistics. In the end, you’ll be able to create effective video content that helps people learn new skills or gain new knowledge.
Top video stats (from our research)
- 53% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week (up 152% compared to 2013)
- 52% of viewers prefer instructional and informational videos between 3-6 minutes in length.
- Online search continues to be the most common way (45%) for users to find instructional and informational video content.
- Video title and description are the most common reason why viewers choose a video to watch
- 92% of “great videos” came in below the 20-minute mark
And here are the complete and final statistics, habits, and trends we found around video and how you can leverage them in 2020 and beyond.
How to create videos that are effective and that get watched
Video has emerged as one of the most powerful and widely used formats for delivering training and instructions, regardless of who your audience is.
The vast majority of businesses have embraced video as a marketing, training, and communication tool. And while marketers say video is becoming ever more popular, marketing professionals aren’t the only ones who can benefit.
The acceptance and consumption of video (including mobile video) continues to grow across most departments, segments, and demographics.
This should come as no surprise.
As employees, students, and customers increasingly expect information to be available in video format, businesses are embracing video for its benefits, visual appeal, and effectiveness.
The big question is no longer “Should I create a video?”
Instead, we need to be asking “How do I create videos that are effective and that get watched?”
We conducted research to discover user preferences and consumption habits across six different markets – Australia, Canada, France, UK, the US, and Germany.
The TechSmith Video Viewer research provides unique insights into when, why, and how people engage with informational and instructional video content. We’ll also walk you through the best practices to ensure your instructional and informational videos are efficient and effective.
Discover how you can revamp your own instructional and informational videos to find a better way to connect with your audience and build brand awareness.
Why video keeps rising
Video viewing figures are going up across the board. The Cisco Video Networking Index forecasts that video traffic will grow fourfold from 2017 to 2022.
And video will make up 82% of Internet traffic by the end of that period, up from 75% in 2017.
This growth can partially be attributed to the ever-increasing video file size, quality, and the rise of video streaming services. It also reflects the viewing practices and overall demand for video content.
And this trend goes far beyond entertainment content. The latest video marketing statistics from Wyzowl shows that 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, up from 63% in 2017 and 81% in 2018.
The TechSmith Video Viewer Research shows that this trend also holds true for instructional and informational videos.
In 2018, 55% of people reported watching several (two or more) technical videos each week. This is up from 45% in 2016 and up from 28% in 2013.
A rising star: Instructional videos
The increase in viewing frequency is particularly noticeable in the field of instructional video content. YouTube reported that searches related to “how to” are growing 70% year over year and that hundreds of millions of hours of how-to YouTube videos are being watched every year.
The TechSmith Video Viewer Research also shows this strong increase in the consumption of instructional video content.
In 2016, only 28% of respondents reported watching 2 or more instructional videos per week. By 2018, this number grew to 53%.
Video is rapidly becoming the preferred way people want to learn new skills and get instructions.
Watching instructional content has become a regular task for most people. Organizations that effectively embrace video for training and educating customers and employees have a clear advantage going forward.
Anytime is the right time for watching videos
While respondents didn’t show a preference for watching instructional and informational videos on a particular day of the week, there is a notable spike in watching this content in the early to mid-evening hours.
This highlights one of the key advantages of video.
It’s usually pretty easy to access the information you need whenever and wherever you want it.
Technical advances like mobile devices, fast home internet connections, and public video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo contribute.
In comparison, other types of trainings usually have more rigid time and access restraints. Interactive eLearning courses contained within an LMS are often not as accessible from home, and in-person trainings are entirely dependent on another person’s time.
How to find and know your audience
When you create videos, it is important to define and understand the audience and their needs. At 60%, the majority of people choose to watch a video because they are genuinely interested in the topic. The main reason that people continue to watch a video is that they’re genuinely interested in the topic.
This is the case for an average of 83% of viewers we surveyed.
Before you create a video, determine who you’re targeting by asking yourself questions like:
- Who are they?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- What goals are they pursuing?
- Do they have previous experience with the topic?
- What will they need to accomplish their goals?
- Where and how will they likely find or access the video?
- What is their skill level?
- What related topics should they also be learning?
Carefully consider these factors when you plan and create your video content to ensure it will be helpful for your audience.
Consider cultural differences, as well. If your audience is international, keep in mind that some types of humor or cultural references may not work across multiple regions. Even simple hand gestures may be innocent in one culture and offensive in another.
How to grab their attention (and make them stay)
We know that video viewing is on the rise, and while younger audiences watch videos more frequently, it’s a medium that’s reaching people of all ages.
But the amount of available videos also means that viewers are more discerning toward what they watch.
Video creators need to think carefully about the style, structure, and format of their videos in order to meet viewers’ needs and expectations.
How long should you make your videos?
When it comes to video length preferences, it seems that there’s a “Goldilocks length”— not too short, and not too long.
Across all countries in our most recent study, the majority of viewers prefer instructional and informational videos in the ranges of 3-4 and 5-6 minutes.
Content over 20 minutes in length was only preferred by less than 10% of all participants.
So, just like Goldilocks’ porridge, you need to make sure that your video length is just right for its purpose. While some videos can be longer, make sure that you’re not overloading your viewer with information. Your video shouldn’t include information isn’t relevant or cover too much information.
In other words, make your video content as short as possible, yet as long as necessary.
These tips will help you to keep your video short and sweet, while including all of the points you want to make:
- Write a script or storyboard to plan your content and keep your video focused and short.
- Focus your video on a single topic with a single objective.
- Consider organizing your topic into a video-series or creating “microlearning” units, which deliver short units of information.
- For longer videos, create a table of contents to enable viewers to easily navigate the video and quickly access relevant sections.
Right-size your video
As an additional part of the most recent research project, we looked at nearly 100 examples of “great videos”.
The majority of these videos (92%) came in below the 20-minute mark. This confirms the idea that most instructional or informational video content should be less than 20 minutes.
That said, people are willing to watch longer content if it is valuable and engaging. A surprisingly large percentage (25%) of the analyzed videos were between 10 and 19 minutes in length.
How to optimize your video for search (SEO)
Our research revealed that online search continues to be the most common way (45%) for users to find instructional and informational video content.
YouTube is not the only place where users are searching for video content online. 44% of survey participants reported that they used a normal search engine site like Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find the last video they watched.
Finders Keepers: Optimizing Video for Search
The fact that most people find a video via a specific search means that it’s crucial for you to make content easily findable and identifiable.
Your options may vary based on where you host your video content, but the goal is to provide enough context around your video so search engines and viewers can find it.
This involves good naming practices, a clear description and a grasp of basic search engine optimization (SEO) for videos.
The following tips will help you optimize your videos and make sure your users can easily find the right content.
1. Clear video title
Your title should clearly state the problem that your video is solving, how it is presented, and the product it applies to. Make your video title at least five words long and include your primary keyword.
2. Detailed description
Craft a description that carefully outlines the content and key learning points of your video. Aim for a minimum of 200 characters and include keywords and alternative wording.
3. Conduct keyword research
Incorporate alternative terms and wordings into your description and video tags. A good way to find alternative phrases is to type the original term into YouTube’s search bar and look at the search suggestions.
4. Tag your video
Pick your target keyword as a tag, and then choose other tags related to your primary keyword. Don’t add dozens of tags—stick to around 10.
5. Add captions
Captions will make your content more accessible, and they are additionally used by video sites like YouTube for content-indexing to improve search results.
Most video platforms support captions in the standard .SRT or .VTT formats, and some sites like YouTube will even auto-generate a caption-transcript for your video.
A good title and description will also make people more likely to click on your video when they find it.
When we asked viewers what made them watch a video, the most popular reason across all countries was “the title and description were interesting/intriguing”.
Make effective video thumbnails
Video thumbnails are often part of the first visual impression a viewer will have of a video, and they can provide a lot of important context and information to the viewer.
Let’s compare the following video thumbnails taken from various YouTube channels of major tech companies.
The difference in information, context, and professionalism between the images become quite clear:
Thumbnails provide a lot of context about the video:
- Topics clearly stated
- Product recognizable due to logos and colors
- Consistent design used across all videos in a series
- Visually appealing and professional look
- Showing author adds personality and expertise
- Corporate branding
Thumbnails don’t provide much context about the video:
- Topic not visible
- Product not visible or not clear
- No consistency
- Unprofessional feel
Why people stop watching videos (and how you can avoid it)
Viewers don’t watch every video until the very end. That is a known and common behavior across all audiences. That said, you can gain a lot of value by exploring why.
Why did viewers stop watching their last video?
The most common reason for a viewer to stop an instructional or informational video before the end is that they don’t get the information they were expecting. The second most common reason is that the video isn’t interesting.
Armed with this knowledge, you can optimize their content to meet viewers’ expectations and reduce video drop-offs.
Your videos needs to match your viewers’ needs and expectations
You can help to set expectations for your viewers by controlling the initial experience with the content. This is primarily done by using a clear title and accurate description that conveys the video topic as well as the style of the video.
The actual video needs to match the description and product, it needs to be detailed enough, and should be easy to follow along (especially important for instructional videos).
The thumbnail, if applicable, can also relay upfront information for the viewers.
And if the video is embedded on a website or part of a course, you also need to provide enough context around the video (i. e. website text, course title) to let the viewer know what they should expect.
How to make your video interesting to keep viewers engaged?
Some topics and information may simply be dry and uninspiring, but an engaging presentation can keep viewers from getting bored and tuning out.
Follow these tips to make your content engaging to keep your viewers watching until the end:
- Use storytelling techniques, incorporating characters and a storyline that provoke emotion.
- Use an engaging speaker or voiceover to present the topic with passion and excitement.
- A visible speaker can also serve as an authentic ‘expert voice’ in your video, and you can leverage the existing experts within your company. Their knowledge of the subject will allow them to present information accurately and authentically.
- Include practical, real-life examples that your viewers can easily apply to their own lives.
- Make extensive use of good visuals, like images and icons to illustrate your concepts.
- Be particular about when you repeat information, or when you slow down: Both can be effective techniques, but can cause people to stop watching if overused.
- Humor can be a great asset to keep viewers engaged when executed well, assuming it’s appropriate to use with your topic and for your audience.
- Use familiar, everyday language in your script. Avoid overly formal expressions or jargon. Carefully consider your technical terms—while sometimes a bit dry, they may be critical to understanding and following the content.
- Prompt viewers to actively follow along with your video, post thought-provoking questions and ask for comments, feedback, and other engagement.
When you create video, be sure to create content that’s relevant, engaging, and useful. Regardless of where, when, or how people view your videos, focus on making your learning content as accessible as possible so that it can be viewed anywhere, at any time.
Your video doesn’t need to be high-quality
It may be surprising to learn that the video quality was not a common reason for viewers to stop watching a video. In fact, only 5% of viewers listed poor video quality as the main reason they stopped watching.
This provides another useful lesson for you:
Good content trumps perfect production.
This also reinforces the idea that genuine interest in the topic (83%) and relatable content (66%) are the overwhelming factors for getting users interested in your video. Visual effects or video quality doesn’t have the same effect.
High-end equipment and super-fancy video effects aren’t necessarily a recipe for success.
Concentrate on writing accurate supporting copy and creating an interesting video rather than trying to create a Hollywood-quality blockbuster. Create content that keeps users interested and engaged, even if it’s a simple screen recording or video from an iPhone.
What is the best way to create videos for an international audience?
Based on our research, an easy way to create videos for an international audience is captioning.
Do you caption your videos?
They are a powerful yet underused tool to reach a broader audience. Our research shows that most viewers (69%) across all six countries are prepared to watch a video in a foreign language, subtitled in their native language.
However, less than 10% of the videos we analyzed currently contain multi-lingual captions- a missed opportunity for this content to excel further.
Caption text can easily and cost-effectively be translated, and several caption languages can be included in a single video. This makes the video more accessible to an international audience.
There are a few other reasons why you should include captions in your videos:
Captions allow people with hearing impairments to follow along with the content. For that reason, video captions are actually required by the American Disability Act and comparable international legislation in many situations.
Captioned videos can be watched in noisy environments or in situations where no headphones or speakers are available.
Captions also provide SEO benefits by making your video more likely to be found. Depending on the platform, captions can even allow for in-video search.
Lessons learned from real-world videos
There are plenty of good tools, solutions, and techniques that you can use to dramatically improve your videos.
But how do we know what elements are most valuable for engagement and for keeping viewers’ attention?
When conducting our Video Viewer Research, we also asked respondents to submit videos they had watched that they felt were examples of great instructional and informational videos. We received 95 submissions and analyzed them to identify common elements they shared.
This is not the complete list of what your video needs to be successful.
But if you use what we learned and include as many of these elements as possible, it will go a long way. You’ll ensure your viewers both enjoy your videos and come away with the knowledge and/or skills you intended.
Focus on video length
Typical video wisdom says that shorter is better. And, for the most part, that’s right. The vast majority of the videos submitted for analysis (92%) were less than 20 minutes in length.
Again, the majority of viewers prefer videos of 1-6 minutes in length. However, there was also an appetite for longer videos of up to 20 minutes.
Depending on your topic and audience, a longer video may be more successful.
Remember the Goldilock’s method though. You only want to make your video as long as necessary.
Don’t forget the audio!
While audio clarity did not appear to be an important reason people stopped watching videos, 75% of the videos identified as good or great had clear voice-over audio. This ensures the narrator was easy to understand.
But that’s not all. Videos that received a four or five star rating for “how accurately did the video achieve its goal” and “how did you personally rate the video” had even higher percentages of clear audio at 89%.
So, while people may not stop watching a video because the audio is bad, good audio does appear to be an important factor in how well a video achieves its goal.
Luckily, you don’t need a professional recording studio to achieve good voice-over audio. A low-cost microphone and a quiet place to record can make a huge difference.
While background music wasn’t as pervasive as overall audio clarity, 50% of the videos we analyzed had a musical soundtrack to accompany the narration or the onscreen visuals.
The right background music can help set the tone for your video and offers a friendly, non-intrusive way to add interest to your video.
You don’t need to create your own music. There are a number of websites that offer royalty-free music tracks that you can add to your video projects.
Add camera video for more interest and engagement
In our analysis, more than 70% of the videos submitted included camera video.
But even if there’s no actual product to show, adding a more personal touch by the speaker during your video can help with engagement.
In fact, close to half (49%) of the videos we analyzed had a visible speaker at some point in the video.
Don’t panic, though. That visible speaker doesn’t necessarily have to be you. Bring a subject matter expert to highlight a key takeaway to make your video more personal.
Or, you may want to work on getting more comfortable on camera.
Give them context before (and while) they watch
Overall, 62% of the videos we analyzed had a title card or intro clip.
An intro clip or even a simple title card can provide important information for anyone watching a video gain a better understanding quickly of what to expect.
They also provide a touch of professionalism, branding, and consistency. Be careful to keep the intro very short and compact, or you risk losing your audience before they get to your real content. 1-3 seconds is often long enough.
Not all videos need a video intro, but many can benefit from it. Think about your audience and how they access your content. The goal is to provide context, wherever that might be best for your situation.
Viewers also benefit from further context and information during the video. Text overlays, including information such as warning signs, part numbers, instructions, and the name of a speaker can add interest and provide valuable information to help viewers learn the most from the content.
56% of the videos we analyzed included such text overlays to provide more details.
Graphical callouts, including arrows, icons, and highlights that are placed within the video, are also an effective tool to direct attention and provide context to viewers and learners.
Provide next steps, additional information, or a call to action
Once viewers finish watching your video, what do you want them to do next? How should the learning experience continue?
It may not be clear unless you tell them.
Add a call-to-action to instruct the viewer to watch a related video:
- Take a quiz
- Fill out a worksheet
- Download related resources
- Actively apply knowledge in the real world
More than two-thirds of the videos (64%) we analyzed included such a call to action, giving viewers clear direction on the next steps or where they can learn more.
Analyzing the submitted videos taught us a lot about video creation best practices. Users always need context, and we can provide that within and outside the video.
Clear audio and proper video length are important.
Adding bits of interest and personality, such as camera video, text overlays, and background music can also make videos more engaging, more memorable, and—ultimately—more successful.
But remember, you don’t have to use them all. Choose the ones that support your message and see how your audience reacts.
How to start making your own videos
It’s no secret that people increasingly look to video when they want to learn a new skill or information. Whether you need to share knowledge with one person or 100,000, a video offers a unique way to engage and enlighten viewers beyond the capabilities of written content.
This guide offers insights into how real people’s video preferences and habits, as well as analysis of great videos. This shines a light on how YOU can create better, more successful instructional and informational video content for your audience.
But ultimately, don’t be overwhelmed by the details.
Get out there and start creating videos!
Learn as you go and find out what works best for you.
It’s time for you to make some videos! We’d love for you to consider getting a free trial of TechSmith Camtasia by visiting the TechSmith website.
Camtasia – screen recorder and video editor
TechSmith Camtasia makes it easy to create informational videos for teaching, training, and explaining concepts.
Record your screen and add content you already have by importing slide decks, webinar recordings, video clips, images, and audio files. With Camtasia, you can…
- Add transitions, annotations, callouts, and effects with drag-and-drop ease to focus viewers’ attention and highlight key information.
- Add pre-built motion graphics, music tracks, and other assets to capture your viewers’ attention and that professional polish.
- Create quizzes, interactivity, and captions to improve viewer engagement.
- Produce MP4 files or upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo, Screencast, or LMS for easy sharing.
Video viewer survey
To understand more about how video is most effective, TechSmith conducted research to discover user preferences and video viewing habits.
The main portion of the research consists of a survey that was administered to 924 unique respondents in late December 2018. The recruitment, as well as the delivery of the survey, were conducted by Qualtrics, an independent research partner.
Similar versions of this survey were previously conducted in 2013 and 2016. This report focuses on the most recent results, but data from previous reports will be referenced for comparative purposes.
For the 2016 study, we surveyed 1,006 participants while the 2013 study involved surveyed 1900 respondents. All studies used the same type of survey methodology, though the questions varied slightly year to year.
About the survey participants
Participants had to answer between 16 and 20 multiple-choice questions, and 3-6 open-ended questions about their attitudes towards technical videos, focusing on two different types of videos:
A video that teaches a process, such as a step-by-step tutorial or how-to video.
For example: “How to add a new customer to the database.”
A video that delivers facts, ideas, or important information.
For example: “Overview of the new safety regulations” or “Insights from the last departmental meeting”.
Analysis of video characteristics
An overview of the analysis-findings can be found in the section titled Be the best: How to make your video content shine.
As part of the survey, respondents were asked to submit examples of what they felt are great instructional and informational videos.
The 95 submitted videos were watched and analyzed to identify common attributes and elements, which allowed us to gain further insights into what makes great videos.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through the research. We can’t wait to see what you create this year!