How to grow your small business using video marketing

The human brain processes visuals at a rate that’s 60,000 times faster than text. Given our natural affinity for visuals, it’s not surprising that video is one of the most lucrative tools available to marketers in 2021:

  • 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website 
  • 80% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales
  • 95% of video marketers plan to increase or maintain their spend on video in 2020

In this guide, you’ll learn why you should be using video marketing to engage with your audience, how to create video content on a budget and the best methods to convert viewers into customers.


  1. Why is video marketing an effective strategy for small businesses?
  2. Is video marketing expensive?
  3. How to produce video content on a budget
  4. 5 effective video formats to build your audience
  5. How to promote your video content
  6. Tips for effectively using video on social media
  7. Expert insights
  8. Wrapping things up

Why is video marketing an effective strategy for small businesses?

Humans statistically have short attention spans. That’s what makes video so compelling—it’s easy to digest and grabs your attention. Not to mention it can significantly help to simplify complex concepts. 

In fact, 95% of marketers say video creation has helped increase user understanding of their product or service.

In terms of strategy and execution, video is incredibly effective across many mediums. You can use it as a standalone format (i.e. post a video to YouTube), insert it within a piece of content like a blog post, share it across social networks, add it to your landing page, and more. We’ll dive into exactly how to effectively apply video across these formats in a later section.

Video marketing is also an effective way to fuel the growth of your small business. Any activity with a high return on investment will help with your cash flow, which is incredibly important to your scaling efforts. 

Compared to other formats, marketers report that video gives them the highest ROI for social media marketing efforts:

Video also considerably drives up customer engagement. According to Wyzowl, people are 2x as likely to share video content with friends and family than any other type of content. As we know that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations and referrals above any other form of advertising, creating content that will be widely shared within your target audience circles can push meaningful traffic to your business.

Let’s look more closely at the three biggest benefits of using video marketing to grow your small business:

1. Drive customers and increase your sales

Video is effective at boosting conversion rates and ultimately sales because it’s great at plainly answering users’ questions. Visuals, often accompanied by audio, work together to dramatically demystify product features and solutions. 

Take this explainer video from project management software company Asana as an example:

This animated video does a great job of appealing to a top-of-funnel audience curious about how this project management tool makes it easier to get work done. It’s short, to the point and covers just enough basics to peak interest and incite curiosity to learn more, or sign up for a free trial.

As mentioned above, two thirds of people want to learn about a product or service through a short video. And an astonishing 84% of people report that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. 

2. Use storytelling to explain the benefits of your complex products

The drive to learn more about a brand through video is especially true if you sell complex or high-ticket products. That’s because if your product is complicated to explain, your target audience may struggle to a) understand its benefits and b) connect to it emotionally.

For example, Simba, an online mattress retailer based in the UK, knows that scientific phrases like “Simba Titanium Aerocoil® spring comfort layer” are rather clinical. 

Because of this, they need to illustrate, in layman’s terms, why the science behind their products is exceptional, and how it can help their customers get a better night sleep. 

This is where storytelling comes into play.

Check out this video featuring the Simba product team explaining how their advanced engineered mattresses are made:

Imagine how differently you’d feel if you had read a scientific article about the benefits of this mattress. It wouldn’t resonate nearly as much. By using storytelling, the team at Simba is able to take the viewer on a journey that explains what their product is, how they built it and why it matters.

The result? The transformation of a clinical product into a captivating, solutions-driven narrative. 

Top Tip: If you want your content to truly resonate with your target audience, you need to thoroughly understand who they are and what drives their consumer behaviour. Once you know that, you can develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure you promote your products and services in the right place, at the right time. To learn more about how to get your product in front of your audience, read our complete go-to-market strategy guide💡

3. Educate your audience, show your expertise & add value

While it can be tempting to focus on pushing your products and services, video marketing is arguably most effective when educating, empowering and adding value to your audience.

Take HubSpot, for example. They use their YouTube channel to share a mixture of entertaining and educational videos around various marketing and sales topics. In this particular video, they teach their audience how to Go Live on Facebook:

They know that a segment of their target audience consists of people who will benefit from this tutorial, so they take the opportunity to give expert insights that position them as the go-to source for guidance.

Videos like this can also help you to capture a wider audience not yet familiar with your product. How? Because members of your target audience may not know that they want or need your product, but rather stumble upon it when researching another tool. Tapping into that potential use case is a great way to expand your reach, increase video views and build brand awareness.

To apply this principle yourself, become a thought leader in your industry. Create informative content for your audience and share your expertise. By empowering your customers to solve their problems, you become a trusted authority in their eyes.

Is video marketing expensive?

Video marketing can be expensive in certain cases, but you absolutely don’t need a large budget to make it work. 

And you also don’t need to invest in a ton of gear; in many cases, a smartphone and handheld tripod are good starting points (more on this in the next section). 

Or, in the case of Alex Brown, co-founder of The Beard Club, you can get creative and hire freelancers, interns or students to help you craft powerful, high-quality content:

Alex’s savvy online video marketing efforts have helped his company generate over $10 million in revenue:

He says that you don’t need a big budget to get quality results.

“It’s definitely tough when you’re starting out. It’s a question I get all the time. People ask how we initially afforded to hire a cameraman and video editor. Though that can be a challenge to navigate, there are lots of opportunities to find creative people that like working on commercials that would work for sweat equity and exposure. You just have to be really good at pitching your vision and having them get excited about what you’re creating.”

Alex Brown, co-founder The Beard Club

How to produce video content on a budget

Let’s explore five inexpensive apps, tools and techniques to help you build a simple video marketing studio from your own home or office.

1. Use your smartphone

Your most affordable asset sits right in your pocket. If it’s good enough for YouTube superstars, it will likely be good enough for your first film productions.

Using your smartphone to shoot videos is a huge cost saver. Most smartphones (from the iPhone 6 to the Samsung Galaxy) come built-in with high-quality cameras that can be used for creating high-quality video content. Here’s how to get the most out of it:

  • Use a tripod to position your camera from an elevated position. You can find some affordable options online.
  • Look at the camera lens while you’re recording and stay near the mic. This replicates eye contact, which allows you to build rapport with your audience. If you have the budget, it’s well worth investing in a smart phone-friendly microphone.
  • Don’t use your device’s digital zoom. Since you’re not technically zooming with a lens, you’ll just risk shooting a low-quality video.
  • Use the exposure lock. This will help to keep the focus and exposure constant throughout your shot and avoid jittery-looking footage.
  • Take care of the lighting. Natural light is free and works well. So shoot outside during “golden hour” (the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset) or near a window.

2. Use screen recording software and royalty free assets

Instead of putting a “live” scene together, create some slides and use royalty-free photography from sources like Unsplash to tell your story.

You can also add royalty free music and free stock videos as “b-roll footage” to make it look even more professional.

To record your screen as part of your video, use a screen capture software like Camtasia. This can work well when communicating ideas and in-depth, how-to content.

Take Tide member Ian Anderson Gray, who ran a webinar with BuzzSumo. In this example, they used this format to run regular webinars to promote how their services can help their audience with their live video marketing efforts:

Screenshot Video Marketing - Webinar Landing Page
Video marketing webinar landing page

Webinars can also help with your lead generation efforts. Create a landing page, offer your webinar in exchange for lead details and voila – you have a new lead generation channel.

3. Use free editing software

If you have a Mac, then you already have video editing software that comes for free with your device. Just search for iMovie in your apps. If you’re using a PC running on Windows, make sure you have Windows Movie Maker installed.

There is a learning curve that comes with editing yourself. But generally speaking, both software packages are easy to use. You can check out various tutorial videos online to accelerate your training and learn how to edit your videos with this native software.

There’s also a handful of other free and inexpensive video editing software that you can download or use online. Some of the more popular names include Animoto, Biteable, Vimeo, Lightworks, Hitfilm Express and Movie Maker Online

4. Turn customers into content creators

User-generated content includes social videos, posts and other formats that your customers create themselves about your brand. Unboxing videos are a great example of this, where YouTubers “unbox” new gadgets, fashion and other products and take them for a spin:

On many occasions, your customers will create content without having to be prompted. If you do want to incentivise them to create content, you can also run contests, giveaways, or challenges. However, be sure to read the guidelines of each channel before promoting your contests, as each may have their own rules.

For example, you can organise an Instagram giveaway and give free products to the winners who make the most creative video of themselves using your product or service. They can submit the videos via direct message, or you can ask them to tag your business in their Instagram stories. The latter is a great way to get your followers to tag your brand in their own content, effectively expanding your reach to a whole new audience.

For example, women’s wear brand Aerie capitalise on posts of their customers wearing their products and then re-sharing their posts on their own Instagram account:

Emulate this approach by branding your own hashtag, and encourage customers to share their purchases and tag your handle. Include this call-to-action on your packaging, receipts and other post-purchase collateral.

Top Tip: Instagram marketing is an incredibly powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox. This interactive and engaging platform can help you to engage and interact with your audience in a meaningful and personal way; helping you to grow your brand as a result. Learn how to make the most of this platform by reading our beginner’s guide to Instagram marketing for small businesses 📸

5. Showcase your brands with animated videos

Animated explainer videos are everywhere and can be expensive to produce. Using tools like Power Animate will help you put together simple animations at a fraction of the cost. There’s also Moovly, Vyond, or Animaker if you want other options.

Check out this example from Starbucks to see what this looks like in action:

Top Tip: Interested in more software and tools to save you time and money? Here are the 26 best small business software for small businesses 🙌

5 effective video formats to build your audience

Now that you know a few ways video can be used in your marketing, it’s time to figure out which is best for your audience and business goals.

Let’s look at five of the most common video marketing formats to get you started:

Showcase your product with demo videos

Demo videos or product videos are short, educational formats that explain how your product or service works. They present your product in action and urge your audience to buy or use your service by showing how you solve their problems.

Here’s a video we made to explain what Tide is about:

You can also use animated videos to explain complex ideas, or record an unboxing video to showcase your products in use. For example, SaaS brand PandaDoc uses animated video to explain how their product works:

If animated video is too expensive, then direct-to-camera works well, too. This is what Stitch Fix did to explain how their fashion service works:

Capitalise on your events

If your business hosts events, such as in-person or digital meet-ups or conferences, then you should record as much as you can to repurpose for your video marketing strategy.

For example, In 2017 we hosted our “The Future of Fintech” event. We produced a highlight reel and shared it on our YouTube channel:

Most events and keynotes take place in lower lit rooms, so it’s important to bring a reliable DSLR camera that performs well in low light. When live streaming on Instagram or Facebook, find a room with great natural lighting.

Build social proof with case studies

By sharing stories of how you help your customers, you build trust and credibility around the fact that you deliver on your promises. Use case studies to attract new customers, and fuel your sales process to convince sceptical buyers you can get results.

For example, we’re regularly talking to our members to feature them on the blog. These face-to-face meetings are the perfect chance to get their thoughts on the Tide app and collect valuable feedback, which is exactly what we’ve done in this member spotlight:

You don’t need to visit your customers to capture these types of videos. Instead, you can ask them to send self-made video reviews about why they’d recommend your business. Include instructions on how to record their video with high-quality lighting, backgrounds and sound.

Demonstrate authenticity with behind-the-scenes videos

Give your audience the opportunity to meet the people behind your brand and understand how your product is made. Authenticity isn’t something you should try to fake. It is an effective way to build an emotional connection with your customers.

In this example, Adobe Creative Cloud introduces their audience to members of their team that are “behind some of your favorite Adobe Creative Cloud products”:

When filming behind-the-scenes content, it’s important to capture as much as possible. Even if what you’re filming seems unusable, keep shooting. You can use editing software to create a cohesive story later. Besides, adding in some bloopers will help make you more relatable.

Expand your audience with expert interviews

Interviewing thought leaders can be a great way to create added value with your existing customers and also tap into a new audience. It’s a different take on the traditional influencer marketing model as it allows you to build deeper, more strategic relationships with movers-and-shakers in your industry.

We did this with our “Tide Talks” series, where we interviewed various industry experts to share their experiences with our audience.

More recently, we’ve launched our “Tide Masterclass” webinars where our members and business experts come together to share their best small business tips. This is a great opportunity for our community to meet digitally and learn from one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How to promote your video content

The more qualified traffic you drive to your videos, the bigger the impact will be for your brand awareness. It will also lead to better metrics overall, such as higher click through rates (CTR), open rates, and ultimately increased sales and conversions.

Note: Make sure that for all of the below video promotion channels, you follow the recommended video guidelines of the platform you’re posting on. This will help to ensure you’re sharing the highest quality experience that won’t result in poor playback.

Let’s run through three of the best ways to promote and boost your video to achieve an incredible ROI.

1. Paid media

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all allow you to connect with your audience directly through video. And you can use this same video content to fuel your paid promotion efforts.

With that in mind, let’s look at how to use three of the biggest social ad platforms to promote your video content.

How to create Facebook video ads

Every single day, 1.82 billion people worldwide use Facebook. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 76% of marketers use video to promote their brand on Facebook. 

Importantly, video that’s optimised for mobile accounts for more than 50% of Facebook’s ad revenue. As more users are accessing social platforms from their smartphones, optimising for mobile to make it easier to watch videos should be an important part of your video marketing strategy. 

With Facebook ads, you can target specific audiences based on their location, age, gender, interests and online behaviour. By getting your targeting right, you’re more likely to generate relevant and qualified traffic to your videos, ultimately leading to more conversions.

Screenshot Facebook Ad Dashboard for Video Marketing with Facebook Targeting
Facebook Ads dashboard

There are three main ways to utilise paid video advertising on Facebook:

  • In-stream. Your ad will play within another video that your audience is already watching.
  • Feed. Your video will populate on your audiences’ feeds as they scroll through.
  • Stories. Your video will play as a story that your audience can click to watch. It will be available for 24 hours before disappearing. 

You can also turn your existing photos and text into engaging slideshow ads. Use this feature to highlight more than one product or item that you sell, show your audience exactly how it works, or tell a brand story. This is a great way to produce low-budget videos that still look professional and modern.

Visit the Facebook for Business “Create a Video Ad” page to get started on promoting your first video. 

How to create Instagram video ads

According to Instagram, 500 million people use Instagram stories every day, and a third of the most viewed stories are from brands and businesses. By promoting your videos through Instagram, you can build brand awareness, gain followers and capture new customers.

Similar to Facebook, you can target your audience on Instagram based on location, demographics, interests and behaviours. In order to use Instagram ads, you must have a Facebook page and an Instagram Business Profile.  

Also similar to Facebook, there are a few main ways to use video in your Instagram ads:

  • In-feed. Your ad will play seamlessly as your audience scrolls through their feeds.
  • Stories: Your audience can click on your story to see your ad for 24 hours before it disappears.
  • Instagram TV (IGTV): These are longer-form ads that can run for up to an hour long. IGTV acts as a video hub where you can display TV-like content and aims to compete with platforms like YouTube.  

You can also choose from several ad-types:

  • Canvas ads: Optimised for mobile, this ad-type allows you to create an immersive experience where users can essentially access your website without needing to leave the app.
  • Carousel ads: Your audience can swipe through a series of branded videos to explore your multiple products or services on offer. 

As an example of how to create Instagram ads on a budget, TIJN eyewear as an example. The brand showcased eight different products through a GIF-styled Instagram story. This tactic doesn’t require any budget dedicated to video and can be easily made using your product photography:

Screenshot TIJN eyewear Instagram video marketing campaign
TIJN eyewear Instagram video campaign

Creating an ad like this doesn’t require any budget dedicated to video and can be easily made using your own product photography.

Visit the Instagram Advertising page to learn more and get started. 

How to create LinkedIn video ads

LinkedIn video ads appear as sponsored posts natively within the newsfeed. They allow brands to engage with a professional target audience and are ideal for B2B small businesses looking to make the most out of their video marketing and attract new clients.

Clearly LinkedIn video ads have proven successful, as 66% of marketers report using them. 

Screenshot LinkedIn video marketing campaign
Video marketing campaign on LinkedIn

While LinkedIn might be known as a professional platform, it doesn’t mean you can’t show your personal side. Use storytelling to connect with your audience and inspire prospects to build trust and confidence in your brand.

Visit this LinkedIn help page to learn more and get started.

2. Optimise your videos for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the act (and art) of optimising web pages and content for a chance to rank for specific topics and keywords in Google.

For specific queries, YouTube videos often prominently appear on the search engine results page (SERP) in Google. There’s also a dedicated tab within Google where users can search through relevant videos, and most of those videos lead to YouTube as well.

Video content in Google search results
Video content in Google search results

That’s unsurprising, considering YouTube is the main social channel for video marketing: 88% of marketers use it and 83% report seeing success with it. 

To increase the chances of getting your video in front of as many users as possible, follow these tips:

  • Perform video keyword research. Include relevant keywords and phrases in your video headline and description to appear in relevant searches. Use a tool like Keyword Tool to find the words you need to incorporate to be relevant for a specific topic.
  • Include video transcripts. This provides Google with “crawlable” data, allowing it to understand the content of the video and learn exactly what it is about. Transcripts are also very much needed for improved accessibility to help people with different abilities to be able to consume your content.
  • Provide value to your audience. The more people like, watch and engage with your video, the more it’s likely to rank.

3. Share your content in niche communities

Uploading and sharing your videos in online groups, forums and communities can drive a fresh burst of traffic to your content. Community members are already interested in the topics you’re covering, and are more likely to share your video or buy your products.

You can also bring value to the community by joining the conversations and participating in relevant discussions.

For example, if you’re selling pet snacks, a quick search for ‘dog’ groups on Facebook turns up countless options:

Screenshot Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups

Top Tip: We’ve covered the basics of how to promote your content on social media, but there’s so much more to learn. Used correctly, social media can be one of the most cost-effective ways to engage with your audience and gain meaningful visibility. But it takes more than simply posting on an ad-hoc basis. You need a carefully thought out plan that lets you engage with the right people, on the right channels, at the optimal time. To learn more, read our 7-step guide to creating a social media marketing strategy for your small business ⚡️

Tips for effectively using video on social media

Here are four tips to help you make the most out of promoting your videos on social media platforms:

Leverage the power of live video

According to Facebook, viewers spend 3x more time watching live videos than those that aren’t broadcasting in real time. Instagram and Facebook live videos can last up to an hour, allowing your followers to engage, ask questions and catch up on the latest updates from your brand.

Once your live stream has ended, people who missed it can re-watch it later. This adds to your library of video content, making your live video “evergreen”.

For example, Food and Wine use live video to teach their audience how to cook various dishes. The live Instagram video pictured below features a professional chef guiding viewers through an at-home cooking session:

Screenshot Video Marketing with Facebook Live
Video marketing with Facebook Live

Show viewers how your product or service works and how your customers use it. Get your audience eager to try it for themselves while building brand awareness and loyalty.

Make your video searchable

Optimising your video’s metadata, headline and description is key when increasing the chance of it appearing in Google. This ensures that the video content you’ve put your heart and soul into will get seen.

The same applies when optimising your content for social media. Explore each platform to find out which features you can use and what additional information you can add to help your video campaign to be featured more prominently.

Include keywords that help potential customers to find your content. Where possible, link to more detail on your website to make the connection and drive traffic to your own platform rather than keeping all engagement on the various social media channels.

YouTube, for example, allows you to add tags to your videos. This helps users find your content based on relevant keywords and topics they search for. You can also add a transcript and detailed video description as well as links to specifics showcased within the video or to your other social media channels. Hire a freelancer to transcribe your video, publish it on your blog and embed the video within the content.

Then there’s Twitter and Instagram, which allow you to add relevant hashtags to your content:

Screenshot using Twitter hashtags for Video Marketing
Utilising hashtags for video marketing

This extends your reach to people who follow and search for those relevant hashtags. You can use tools like Hashtagify to find them.

Include a strong call-to-action (CTA)

What are you trying to achieve through your video marketing efforts? Typical campaign objectives include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Growing your social media following
  • Generating subscribers to your newsletter
  • Generating qualified leads
  • Generating new customers
  • Retaining existing customers

Before starting your journey, sit down and figure out what you’d like to achieve.

Once you’ve decided on a goal, include calls-to-action within your video content and descriptions that get viewers to take the right action. This could be to subscribe to your YouTube channel, visit your website, or a discount for a product you feature.

Generate hype around new launches

To generate excitement around their Spring Fashion Show, Burberry revealed their latest clothing line on Snapchat through a series of snaps.

They did this by creating pictures and videos featuring their designers and models. They also live-streamed their launch party, providing a sneak peak to fans who couldn’t attend:

Screenshot using Snapchat for product launch Video Marketing
Product announcement on Snapchat

There are several ways you can do this without a fancy event. As we mentioned earlier, giving a sneak peek behind the scenes can build hype around your product by showing progress of it in development. You can also share an exclusive preview before your public launch.

You can also run webinars that show your audience the benefits of your product while providing actionable information. This works particularly well with brands in the B2B and SaaS space.

💡 Expert insights

Insights author: Suds Singh is the founder of Interesting Content, they are a specialist video production agency that only works with predominantly SME’s and B2B  brands. Since being established they have worked with scores of companies including Tide! They are also one of our proud members.

Suds Singh founder Interesting Content
Suds Singh – Founder Interesting Content

Our 3 top video marketing tips

Whenever we work with our B2B clients we start with a single customer in mind, what is her biggest headache, what business problem/ issue could this piece of content help her with. By adopting this approach we find our message is distilled and succinct.

Having said that here are 3 practical tips you should consider:

  • What is most important to the person you are aiming the video at?
  • What action would you like them to take once they have finished watching your video? (This could be calling you to find out more about your product or service or something simple like signing up to your newsletter)
  • Keep it short, fun, simple and snackable

How small businesses can get started with video marketing

Ensure all content you create, including video, has a key message that is central to all your marketing collateral. To do this:

  • Think about what business issue you’d like the video to address. At which point of the marketing funnel are your customers at? An intro video would aid you to increase interest, whereas a customer testimonial would help push that client over the edge and sign on the dotted line.
  • Take your time to write up a script with your audience in mind. Make it relevant, relatable and succinct. You don’t have to have a huge budget to dip your toe into the ocean of video.
  • Like with everything you buy right or buy twice. You’d be surprised at how much a good video production agency can make sure your budget goes as far as possible.
  • Remember a video is an investment if done well, you should see a good return of investment even long after the content has been delivered.

How we have used video to grow our business

As a video production company, we want to lead by example and road test ideas before recommending them to our customers. We use the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action), principle to help us to engage with our customers.

Attention:  We created an intro video to be the face of our website. This video alone has helped us win business with a number of household names:

Interest: At this point, we know our customers are interested, so we publish snackable content to not only stay top of mind but also to nudge and gently push people along the funnel. And have fun with our content to give the impression we are a fun easy to work with. Here is what this video looks like:

Decision/Action: Once we have a firm confirmation of interest, or if we have sent over a quote to get our customers over the line we would send them a testimonial video like the one below. This not only shows an independent testimonial of our work but by being associated with a well known brand we develop instant credibility:

Wrapping things up

Creating great and successful video content can seem expensive and daunting. By now, you know that this doesn’t have to be the case. All you need to get started is a smartphone and a compelling story.

With the right planning and a strong message, you can expand your audience and motivate them to take action. Even if your videos don’t feel perfect the first time, keep testing new formats. As technology advances, video is getting easier to create and share—so keep an open mind and dive in when you’re ready.

Photo by Vanilla Bear Films, published on Unsplash

Kerstin Reichert

Kerstin Reichert

Senior SEO Manager and SME marketing expert

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