How Long Should a Promo Video Be?


This is a really common question and like so many other questions in the field of video and marketing the answer is simple but frustrating.

It depends.

So lets break down the elements and see what it depends on, in this article I’m going to focus on where your video is going to be watched and by who and also what type of content you are creating and how much depth is required for it. These element collectively determine the length you content should aim to be.

What’s Your Objective?


 Julie Andrews said we should start at the very beginning, but I prefer to start at the end. It’s not until we figure out the result we want that we can work out the direction and set sail.

For most businesses it a simple end point, more sales. But the pathways to that can take many different twists and turns and if you don’t plot a course you can easily make a wrong turn.

Ok hold on, it’s starting to feel like the plot to Labyrinth so lets break this down a bit with some examples.

Example 1: Lets say you make amazing trainers, they’re trend breaking marvels of eye candy and you want maximum exposure online in front of legions of influencers and celebs.

Example 2: You make bamboo toothbrushes; the materials are sourced from fair trade practices, and everything is biodegradable.

In the first example your message is largely visual and emotive, your audience is broad and your content will need to excite and inspire them.

In the second example your message is largely about story, your audience is a developing niche and you’ll need to educate them about the benefits of your product.

You can see straight away why a 10 second ad might work for the first one, but example two might benefit from a 10 minute film.

There are no hard and fast rules about this but it’s worth thinking about your service, product and audience and figuring out what type of content you’ll need to engage them. Often it’s a mix and it can depend largely on the funnel. The funnel? What’s that? Good question.

Video Marketing Funnels

Video is most commonly used as part of a marketing funnel. If you’re experienced in marketing, you’ll know what we mean by the term ‘funnel’, but for those that don’t, a marketing funnel is essentially a visualisation of the customers journey.

So in online terms the customer might discover you via an advert, then connect to your social media pages, then visit your website and finally make a purchase.

The funnels shape represents the diminishing volume of prospects as you move along the process. One thousand people might see your advert but only fifty will purchase from you.

video shoot

Generally the length of the content you create is determined by the stage that the customer is at in the funnel. Or at least it determines their patience when it comes to consuming your video content.

This is a simple trust and time relationship. The wonderful internet machine can deliver us so much content, SO MUCH content, that we are literally overwhelmed with choice. If you can’t get your message out there quickly then it’s game over. Our first meeting with a potential client online should be brief, exciting and memorable. This is why most online adverts are less than 30 seconds and quite often under 10 seconds.

Once you have made the initial connection then you can relax a bit, make a cup of tea and think about publishing something a little longer.

There are exceptions to this, of course. In the examples we have spoken about so far we’ve mostly been talking about an ‘outbound’ or advertising model.

Depending on your business model (remember our friends with the bamboo toothbrushes?) you might instead choose an inbound or organic model. Essentially this means that you create great watchable content and the audience finds you rather than the other way round. Social media channels can work reasonably well for this but YouTube is a far better choice because of its intent driven search algorithms.

Much like Google, customers will intentionally visit YouTube in search of something. Often the answer to a question. This is quite different to passively scrolling a social feed while you have a few bored moments waiting for a train.

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If you can create compelling search driven content for YouTube then your potential video time limit immediately jumps up. YouTube not only facilitates longer videos it actively encourages them. YouTubes metrics are measured in viewing minutes not numbers of views. So, keeping someone watching your content for 10-15 minutes is of benefit to your channel status as well as your potential sales.

Of course longer videos don’t necessarily have to mean bigger budgets, YouTube viewers are often happy with simple production values, as long as the content and message is top quality.

If you try and make a 10 minute advert saying how great you are, a post it to YouTube you’ll be rewarded with your very own gift set of tumbleweed.

Inbound video is a long game, it’s about building an audience that trusts you over time and as such the content must put them first.

The rewards will be vast though, an avid audience that laps up every film you publish and keeps you front of mind and top of the authority list.


Inbound video is a long game, it’s about building an audience that trusts you over time and as such the content must put them first.

The rewards will be vast though, an avid audience that laps up every film you publish and keeps you front of mind and top of the authority list.

Website Content


Of course social media isn’t the only place you can put video, nor should it be. Many companies use video to introduce themselves on their website and provide a quick overview of their services, philosophy and people.

Video for your website should not be considered ‘top of funnel’ content because by the time someone is on your site, they’ve already discovered you, either via a Google search, a referral or some other path. So, in this place you can afford a few minutes to deliver the essentials.

Its important not to try and cram too much into this initial video. It’s a common mistake and one that often rears its head when lots of people are involved in the video brief. Everyone has a great idea and all twelve of them want it crowbarred into the film for the sake of democracy. Read more about how to manage the content creation process in our Complete Guide to the Corporate Video Production Process.

It’s far better to keep the message simple and brief and then direct your audience to a second or third video for more information.

You wouldn’t unload your life story on a first date, it’s the same thing. 

Generally, even though it sounds obvious, a video shold be as along as it needs to be. There’s no point in doing a detailed industry report and ommitting all the detail because you’ve set an abitary 2 minute limit. Similarly no one want to watch a 5 minute video that only makes one point.

So as you can see there isn’t really a quick answer to all of this. Video can be effective at 10 seconds or 10 minutes. A good video company will help you figure out the best approach taking into consideration you audience, channels and objective. Once the film has been publish it’s important to review the analytics and see how much engagement your video has received. Advanced video platforms like Wistia will help you dig into the deeper viewing metrics and see where audiences engagement drops off.

Feed all of your learning back into your next project and you’ll be winning.

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