During the first 20 years of the Web, content presentation was focused on text and graphics. Today, however, video is the fastest-growing content segment of the Internet. Online video has become an immovable part of the direct marketing industry. According to the “2014 Online Video Marketing Survey and Trends Report,” published by Flimp Media and the Web Video Marketing Council, 93 percent of marketing professionals are using online video as part of their marketing mix and 82 percent of marketers feel that video marketing has had a positive impact on their business.
This makes sense when you consider that more than 75 percent of U.S. adults watch online video on a regular basis. According to James McQuivey at Forrester Research, one minute of video content has the same value as 1.8 million written words. That’s roughly 3,600 Web pages! There is no doubt that the next generation of Web marketing will be video-heavy and will be interactive. User interaction will be as much a part of the video marketing experience as the content itself.
With this in mind, here are five key factors that B-to-B marketers need to consider when incorporating online video into their direct marketing strategies, whether it be for inbound website and SEO marketing or for outbound email and mobile video marketing for lead generation.
1. Use High-Quality, Engaging Video Content
It’s surprising to see how much bad video content is being deployed by B-to-B companies on websites and in outbound email marketing to drive prospect engagement. Dispel the notion that any video content is better than no video at all. You only have five to eight seconds to make an impression and keep viewers engaged, and your entire video should generally not exceed two minutes in length.
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Please, if you are serious about generating positive results, don’t use audio PowerPoint videos (Slidesharks), low-cost or free animation videos (Powtoon, Animoto, Wideo), or user-generated webcam and smartphone videos. These will make an impression, but probably not the one you want to project for your company.
Video production costs have come down dramatically in the past few years, so there is no excuse to cut costs or scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to your video content and messaging. Use a professional.
Here are a few more tips to grab your viewer’s attention:
• Make sure your video content speaks to your audience. You want to relate to their pain points, needs and objectives, not yours.
• Use storytelling whenever possible. This is a powerful way to get your message to the viewer, especially with well-produced testimonials and animated motion graphics.
• Get straight to the point so the viewer becomes quickly engaged and isn’t trying to figure out the purpose of the video. If possible, open with a compelling message.
2. Create Interactive Multimedia Content
A standalone video is limiting, both in terms of driving the viewer to take action and in terms of the engagement and response tracking data that can be generated. Unfortunately, making the video itself interactive can be costly, time-consuming and limiting, in terms of hosting and player options.
A better tactic—especially with outbound email marketing—is to create branded, interactive video microsites, landing pages or video brochures with built-in tracking and unique URLs that enable the viewer to watch your video, then take appropriate response actions as needed. Just posting video content on YouTube won’t generate many quality leads for B-to-B companies. You need to provide context and an ability to take action at different levels.
This is especially true when it comes to video email marketing. Since most video won’t play within an email, viewers are often redirected to YouTube, a Web page or a standalone video player. This can be a mistake, because either you are limiting the viewer’s follow-up options or you are distracting them with other, irrelevant content. It’s better to provide a squeeze page-type of branded experience that will make an impression, enable clear follow-up actions and increase the amount of engagement and response data you can collect.
The good news is new video and content marketing capabilities are integrated with most email and marketing automation platforms. This makes it very easy and inexpensive to create, distribute and track video microsites and video brochures for B-to-B lead generation.
3. Use Flexible, Personalized 1-to-1 Distribution
In a one-to-many mass email scenario, marketers send out thousands of emails using email service providers and marketing automation tools. This may be effective for consumer marketing, but has diminishing returns when it comes to engaging prospects with video for B-to-B lead generation.
Not only do a large percentage of these graphic email messages get blocked or flagged by corporate spam filters, most B-to-B prospects don’t respond well to impersonal email marketing messages and triggered marketing follow-up messages. Further, as spam software becomes more sophisticated, it becomes much more difficult to reach the inbox with mass email sends. It’s better to directly send thoughtful, personalized messages with linked video and multimedia content that has built-in tracking and reporting by email address.
4. Use Real-Time Engagement and Tracking
When using video marketing for B-to-B lead generation, it is essential to give salespeople instant access to tracking and reporting data from an outbound video email message or campaign. That’s because the goal of any good B-to-B direct marketing effort is to increase the likelihood of sales engagement with a qualified prospect.
Using dynamic content, like video and video brochures together with personalized messaging and one-to-one distribution, will help drive higher prospect engagement rates. But that is only useful if tracking intelligence is provided to the appropriate salesperson in real time to improve follow-up response times.
Even back in 2009, MIT found follow-up response times are critical to new prospect engagement. According to the study, “The odds of qualifying a lead in five minutes vs. 30 minutes drop 21 times. And from five minutes to 10 minutes, the dial to qualify odds decrease four times.” This means you realistically have less than 30 minutes after a prospect interacts with your video marketing message to reach out to get them on the phone.
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The problem with most one-to-many email and marketing automation programs is that engaged lead information does not make its way to the appropriate salesperson or customer serviceperson for follow-up until it is too late. And when it does, often the salesperson doesn’t respond quickly enough to generate results.
5. Use HTML5 Video and Mobile-Responsive Content
Finally, if you are going to use video for B-to-B marketing, make sure your videos and interactive multimedia content render properly on mobile devices, tablets and the most common browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. In general, you should be using a universal video format, like MP4, that is compatible with HTML5. Adobe Flash once was a desirable video format, but now it is obsolete for marketing because it will not render on many handheld devices—specifically the iPhone and iPad.
Making your video accessible so it can be viewed on any device or browser increases the likelihood of engagement and of generating positive marketing results. This means your videos must be formatted so they play automatically and will adjust to various bandwidth levels for better quality viewing. Almost all computers and mobile devices in use today are compatible with the MP4 video format.
Mainstream adoption of Internet video has already occurred. David Hallerman, a senior analyst at eMarketer, believes more than any other marketing format, video and rich media have the potential to change the rules of the game for the direct marketers. As new broadband and mobile-based digital media technologies make Web video available to even larger audiences, they will provide a conduit for ever richer, more engaging, interactive direct video marketing experiences.
Author Notes: Wayne Wall is founder and CEO of Hopkinton, Mass.-based video production, video marketing and video communications company Flimp Media. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All Photos from MediaOne Studios