Until recently, video was often relegated to the list of things B2B marketers did "just for fun" – or at least it wasn't a major part of their campaigns. But video has now become an integral component of B2B demand generation initiatives, and companies are implementing video-based strategies to educate and engage prospects and customers.
Using video platforms like YouTube, B2B companies can deploy videos to extend the value of their brands, and to reach prospects and customers in an interactive way. While many companies are still understandably hesitant to embrace video due to budget or ROI concerns, forward-thinking marketers are diving headfirst into the video pool.
The need and demand for video is growing faster than available budget, noted Michael Kolowich, Founder & President, KnowledgeVision. “Companies are planning to spend about 30-35% more on producing video this year than last year. Video provides an unprecedented opportunity to engage and measure.”
Marketers can now also track the consumption of videos and other interactive content by integrating marketing automation and enhanced lead-scoring tools. In the past, measurement was previously limited to “viewed” or “not viewed,” but today companies are now able to score viewer engagement far more accurately.
Video Drives Engagement, Demand
As more companies adopt video for their marketing campaigns, experts say they also need to rethink the typical, and often passive, approach to creating and presenting video content.
“We have to redesign our notion of video for an interactive content world,” Kolowich advised. “We have to design our video so it’s not necessarily a linear story, but so that viewers can make their own ways through the topics and sub topics at their own paths throughout the user experience. Content needs to be active, not passive. And what’s outside the frame — the context of the video — is just as important. It should drive viewer to complete and action and the marketer to see results.”
Used properly, video is great for a number of marketing initiatives, including SEO, engagement, social sharing and customer education. Here are a few examples of how leading B2B marketers are driving engagement and demand with video campaigns:
- Eloqua uses video extensively for demand generation. The company has partnered with a data visualization company, JESS3, to produce videos about Revenue Performance Management as a new business strategy. "The Future of Revenue" is a School House Rock inspired, animated video that puts RPM in context of some of the most significant milestones in the history of business (including scientific management, total quality management, and supply chain management). The video has garnered about 54,000 views on YouTube, and Eloqua followed up on its success with a new RPM video this year called "What is Revenue Performance Management?"
“Eloqua uses video in several ways for campaigns and lead gen,” said Elle Woulfe, Eloqua’s Director of Marketing Programs. “For example, a video might be offered up as a piece of content early on and these videos are typically more educational in nature, like the Future of Revenue. When leads are further down the funnel, we will provide more product specific videos (because these prospects have shown a certain level of interest).” The company also uses a series of customer testimonial videos, which are tailored to specific types of campaigns.
- HubSpot uses video to communicate at various stages of thecustomer lifecycles -- and even, in some cases, just to have fun. The company's top of the funnel video offers focus on market and trend education; middle of the funnel videos provide viewers with an in-depth look at products; and at the bottom of the funnel, video is used for customer training topics such as software optimization tips.
“Our main video objective is to educate potential buyers about HubSpot's marketing software as well as build trust through showing case studies of customers using our software” Andy Pitre, Marketing Evangelist at HubSpot. “We use YouTube Analytics to measure the effectiveness, quality and level of audience engagement of its video projects. It’s important to increase the number of views we have each month in order to expand our reach. However, it’s more important to track the number of subscribers, likes and dislikes. We want to make sure our audience is enjoying the content that we’re producing.”
HubSpot videos have more than 1.2 million views on YouTube, according to Pitre, and overall product awareness has increased 300% since the company started creating product focused videos.
- OpenView Labs has produced nearly 300 videos to date. Many focus on thought leadership. For example, the company produced a video with Andrew Davis, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of TippingPoint Labs. Davis shared “5 Marketing Lessons From The Muppets” — with compelling comparative analogies and colorful examples of how Jim Hensen innovated “Muppet marketing.” OpenView shares videos via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To date the company’s videos have garnered about 60,000 views on YouTube.
“We create both promotional and educational videos to foster engagement, build awareness and tell our story,” said Amanda Maksymiw, Senior Associate at OpenView Labs. “Our promotional videos are generally used to visually show our competitive advantage or value proposition to our prospective portfolio companies. Members from our team and thought leaders from the industry in short one-to-two minute videos offering practical information or actionable advice for senior managers at growing technology companies in our educational videos.”
Maksymiw pointed out that video is a medium marketers can use to engage their target audiences and buyer personas. “It is important to recognize that people consume information in a variety of ways so it is important to integrate visual content into the typical B2B written word world.”
- Pardot uses video to extend the life of its thought leadership content. The company released an animated video to break down the technical concept of marketing automation to prospects who are just learning about its product. Pardot also records its thought leadership webinars and makes them available for on-demand viewing. The best practices presentations cover dozens of topics and are led by both internal experts and external partners or clients.
“When we debuted the animated video, we used it as a part of a nurturing campaign designed to reactive cold leads in our database,” said Adam Blitzer, Co-Founder and COO of Pardot. “It was the most successful messaging effort of the nurturing campaign. In one day the video drove 15 demo requests in a single email promotion. And these are from leads that had gone silent for ages! It took something out of the ordinary — in this case, a few quirky little stick figures — to wake them up again.”
The video has been viewed more than 3,000 times since its debut less than three months ago, and engagement rates have been very high. “What has been really neat is to see the video program grow,” Blitzer said. “In just seven months, we’ve seen our overall monthly webinar views triple. Numbers like that mean we’re going to continue putting out content and sharing it with the B2B community.”
Video Marketing Best Practices
- DON’T be afraid to gate video content: “We gate some of the educational and support focused videos that we create for our customers, but this is mostly because they are meant for a specific audience and we would not want them to dilute our marketing focused videos,” said HubSpot’s Pitre.
- DO consider the funnel when crafting videos: “When creating video, think about how different types of videos will help move leads through your funnel,” Pitre added. “A short overview of what your company does will typically do really well for prospects. Case study videos will do well for qualified leads and opportunities. Instructional videos will be helpful for your customers.”
- DON’T forget to track your success: “We track our conversion rates and some other stats within our own Pardot system, but we also get great performance data from our video hosting provider, Wistia,” said Pardot’s Blitzer. “This allows us to see what’s working and even get new content ideas based on which videos are the most popular.”
- DO keep at it: “Don't count on creating a video that goes viral overnight on your first attempt – there are no silver bullets or magic formula,” said OpenView’s Maksymiw. “Get your team together and brainstorm a bunch of ideas.”