It is a truth universally acknowledged that online video is taking over the world. Whether you work for a small business, an agency, or a global brand, get this — video, as a medium, will continue to grow in importance over the coming years. We know. We’re floored by the news, too. But the best you can do is hop aboard that video train and make it work for your business.

Making videos for marketing purposes can be a daunting experience for most, so we’ve broken it down into four key questions you should ask yourself before getting started. Prepare for some video-making soul-searching …

#1. What is your goal?

It’s important to have a clear goal in mind before you even consider filming a video. Are you trying to drive direct conversions to your product or service? Increase customer retention? Improve brand recognition and reputation? Educate a viewer about your product and its features?

This hilarious product video for the world’s favorite veggie is a great example of a goal-driven marketing video:

Once you’ve established a clear goal, figure out which relevant metrics you should track. Number of video views is a metric that is often used mistakenly as a “success” stand-in (“Look, Ma, a bajilion views!”), but we’ll be the first to tell you there is no “one metric to rule them all” in online video.

Sometimes, your metrics will be cut and dry — how many sales resulted directly from the link in the video? Other times, you will have to measure success more qualitatively — how has sentiment around my brand changed after people view this video? Some really good metrics are likes and comments. People who actually take time to leave you a thoughtful comment are rare.

#2. Who is your audience?

Having a clear goal in mind will help you identify your core audience. Our advice is this: envision your audience as a single person and build an identity around that person. Is it a creative type who values production quality and technique? A businessperson who just wants the bottom line upfront? A teenager with a limited attention span who is looking for a quick laugh? By envisioning your audience, you can put parameters around your video needs and start budgeting time and money for your idea.

We love how Intelligentsia coffee speaks to its coffee connoisseur customers:

#3. How long do you want your video to be?

You’ll need to decide if long-form video (longer than 10 minutes) or short-form (shorter than 10 minutes) is the best way to communicate your creative vision and achieve your goal. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are some best practices you should keep in mind if you’re creating a marketing video. Advertisements should be as short as possible, and no longer than 30 seconds. A campaign video (like a crowdfunding video) should be anywhere from 90 seconds to three minutes long.

We always encourage brands to stop interrupting videos with ads and start creating audience-worthy videos themselves. Long-form branded videos are better at engaging customers on a deeper level than any video advertisement ever could. The Lincoln Motor Company, for instance, has commissioned a number of short films for their #InTheMoment and #HelloAgain campaigns that have captivated Internet viewers beyond their typical consumer base.

#4. What’s your budget?

FYI: the length of your video production is directly tied to how much it will cost to create the video, and should be reflected in your budget.

If you’re filming your own video with your own video production crew — great! When building out your budget, make sure you account for the standard equipment and labor costs, along with things you might not anticipate like insurance and transportation. Plan as much as possible in advance, but be wary that surprise costs always arise, no matter how fine-tuned your inner planner may be.

If you’re hiring someone to create a video for you, you have the option of going with (in order of least to most expensive) an independent creator, a small to midsize agency, or a global agency. Unlike your budget, the price tag may not directly correspond to the quality: your video could be just as great if it’s made by an independent filmmaker as by a professional agency. So how should you choose who to hire? Lucky for you, we already wrote about that.

No matter your budget, your business video has the potential to be original, creative, and fresh. It should never be just another generic brand video.

Crowdfunding Video Campaigns:

This is in a new realm and has been growing substantially.  We are getting a lot of crowdfunding video production inquiries these days.  Launching a product or service or motion picture is becoming easier and easier.   I fully suggest hiring the "Crowdfunding Marketing Company" along with your production company and making sure everyone is on the same page in the meeting.  This goes a long way when figuring out crowdfunding pre production scripting and concepts.

Once you’ve answered these four brain-bending questions, you should have a great foundation for your biz vid strategy. And if you ever need more help, the Vimeo community is famous for being super helpful with advice and critiques — find these excellent, Vimeo-loving people onFacebookTwitter, orLinkedIn and join in the convo!

This article was originally published on the Vimeo blog.