There’s Something About Video

commercial real estate videosA study published by Forbes a few weeks ago discovered a startling statistic. 59% of C level executives said if given the choice, they’d rather watch a video on a topic than read a text version of the same information. Around the same time, Bo Barron revealed the results of his reader survey where he noted the apparent desire for more video posts.

There’s always been plenty of data that shows video and images are more engaging than text.  They’re more often shared, commented on or liked. Even more important, the click through rates on videos beat those on text and visual banner ads.

There’s also a lot of data showing that video viewership is common and growing. According to Pew Research, 78% watch or view (compared to 69% in 2009) videos online and 31% of internet users posted their own videos in 2013 – more than double the rate in 2009 (14%).

But when put to the test, choosing videos over text or images doesn’t always pan out. This guy isn’t alone in finding that his training videos were often ignored with users choosing plain old text guides.  Even NAR’s study on digital buyer behavior shows that only 16% view home buying related videos.

It’s one thing to like to watch crazy cat videos rather than read about them. It’s another to want information asap – and viewing a video isn’t the clear winner for achieving that.

But back to the guy at Quicksprout. He’s still sticking with video even though his ROI was negative. Why? Because his video viewers turned out to be very grateful and extremely loyal. And why is NAR so bullish on video? Because video viewers were more likely to make contact. In other words, videos are better lead generators even if the home video viewer pool is small.

So what does this mean for CRE? You should probably be looking to include video along with your standard text/visual content and document downloads on your site. But not just any kind of video content.  Try some of these ideas:

  • The NAR subjects didn’t view videos just to see the home’s interior (70%). The main reason they looked at videos was to find out more about a specific community (86%). Maybe your building pics and flyer are enough. Create videos of the surrounding area instead.
  • A study by Marketing Profs’ on videos in email found that training course videos were deemed most effective (28%). Product demos, product promotions and customer testimonials were also relatively effective (18% – 21%) but effectiveness dropped to about 5% for branding videos. So don’t waste your time on glossy company “brand” videos. Maybe try customer testimonials that also include some instruction – how the lease process went for a new tenant, how impressed the owner was with your marketing. Or do a “self” testimonial as a way to personally introduce yourself to potential clients.
  • Try using videos in some of your email marketing. Study after study shows emails that include videos outperform text/image emails. Here is where a short interior/exterior video might work. Or do some split testing comparing a building video with a testimonial to see which works better.
  • Consider presenting market data in a video. Don’t get too in the weeds or make it too long – they can download the document for that. Use your charts and add a voice over to present a quick overview with the most important trends or statistics. PowerPoint 2010/2013 presentations can be turned into videos relatively easily and uploaded to YouTube.

Creating videos is time consuming whether you do it yourself or not.  And CRE isn’t the only industry that’s behind in the online video arena.  Thanks to simpler to use phone and tablet video apps, though, you have no excuse for giving it a try.  Start small and keep these tips in mind:

  • The most important thing of all is to create a script that includes the order of filming and your voice-over text. Don’t wing it unless you’re one of the few who can can make that work.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Good lighting is of the utmost importance.  If you can’t take a good shot with the existing lighting, skip it.
  • Audio must be clear and synchronized.  Get a good microphone to attach to your video camera or phone for better results.
  • Include “cut-aways”, also called “B-rolls” to yourself/the speaker or other footage to add some interest.
  • Film more footage than you think you’ll need.  You can always cut and edit.
  • Keep it short – no more than 90 seconds.
  • Don’t forget a call to action.  Your logo and contact information in the “closing credits” is usually enough but consider your introduction one as well.  State who you are, the name of your company and mention the URL of your website.
  • Skip sites like Animoto.  I have no idea why its become so popular with real estate agents, especially since the point of it, as one of its founders said, is to make you cry.  It’s for photography compilations.  If you want to use it, ditch the music…please…



  1. says

    Chris – thanks for plugging my post. Great post on the research behind using videos, and how to pull them off! I’m going to use some of your suggestions myself!

  2. says


    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been banging the “video drum” for a couple of years now. I’ve gotten some great feedback on my short video series “Tuesday Traffic Tips” for CRE. One of the comments I received yesterday was “these are great, short, and informational”!

    I believe this is the next big thing for CRE!

    • says

      Allen – I love your videos. The person who commented was correct – they are great, short, and informational. They give the market a great feel for you and the benefits you can bring them. Well done!

      Maybe you can write a post on how you do them! I’d love to read that post.

    • Chris says

      Short, informative – and great – is about as good as it gets… And good idea for Allen to write a post on how it’s done – nothing like hearing about it first hand.