One of the most common questions that we get about online video is: “How long should my video be?” There is no easy answer but there are some best practices that can be followed that can help answer this question. Some of the things that affect video length the most are:
• Your content
• Who will be viewing it
• Where are they viewing it
• Where in the buying process your viewer is

Let’s start with your content. Your content needs to be watchable. You should not have an intern recording your video with a flip cam. Content needs to be strategic and it needs to follow the rule of good video production. While a short boring video is easier to watch than a long boring video, you shouldn’t be forced to create a boring video at all. The internet is overrun with mediocre and poor content. Now isn’t the time for your company to nickel and dime content creators. You want to create something that stands out!

The first step is to know your target audience and create a buyer’s persona. Even if you know your target and have a buyer’s persona, you will need to do some testing on this target to see how much time they are willing to watch in the different phases of the buying process.

How does the buying process influence the length of your video? Well, if they are new to your brand, your video should be short: 30-60 seconds. However, as they move on from the early stages of learning about your company, your videos can get longer.

Location of where they are viewing it plays into the length as well. Some companies find that, while viewers only want to watch a 60 -90 second video on YouTube, they are more willing to watch a video that is as long as 2-3 minutes on the company webpage. That is why experimenting with different lengths of videos, and different locations for your videos, is important.

Think of the process as being like a funnel. The point at the top of funnel is to build awareness about the problem that you are trying to solve. Therefore, the videos that people will see first don’t have to have a sale message. That is why it is important to make the first videos that they will see short and catchy.

When people get to the middle of the funnel they have come to the realization that they have a problem. This is a good place to talk about your solution. You can do this through “How to” videos, through leadership videos, and through short webinars. This content can be between 2 and 10 minutes in length. If you have a 60 minute webinar, it is best if you break it into 10 minute chunks or use a video player that can help the user get directly to the content they want right away. I would suggest using something like the D4 media player.

When they get to the point where they are almost ready to buy, they are willing to dedicate more time to watching your content.
Again, testing is important measure the attention span on your videos. If viewers fail to watch your entire video look at where viewers stop watching. This could signal a problem with your video. Make sure you test more than one video because there might be something wrong with the video, such as bad scripting, that is causing it to perform poorly.

This information is true for b2b and b2c companies. We had a phone call with a large online retailer a number of years ago and, at that time, they were recommending that product videos be no longer than 30 seconds. The reason they said that is because they had found no difference in sales between a 30 second video and 60 second video. If you wanted someone to hear your entire message, you needed to keep the video short. I think this advice and research still applies. Company videos on YouTube with thousands and millions of views tend to be 90 -120 seconds.

Often times, people will look at how long your video is before they will watch it to see if they want to invest in your content. That is why it is important to keep your video short in the beginning so that they are willing to give your video content a chance.