Marketing to B2B customers is notoriously difficult, and in the past required a very hands on approach with a large outbound sales force. In this day and age, B2B marketing could not be more different. To be sure, key account managers and a sales team will always have a role to play in the process, especially when consultative sales is required. However, today’s buyer is far more informed, connected, and self-guided when it comes to discovering and learning about B2B products or services before progressing towards a purchase decision. That is where video comes in as one of the best tools for improving engagement and conversions in a B2B marketing and sales cycle.
Rather than thinking of a funnel as a solid device with a singular entry point, a river might be a better analogy in a B2B marketing context, with multiple tributaries and a meandering pathway. This is an important part of why video can confer multiple advantages to B2B companies using it intelligently. If you can map out your customer pathways to purchase and identify key touchpoints where customers or prospects typically face uncertainty before progressing in their relationship with your company, you can then design and implement online video to streamline the process and speed up the sales cycle.
The origin or source of a river is called its headwaters. For your typical marketing funnel, this is typically referred to as the discovery stage where potential customers meet and greet your brand. This stage of marketing is not focused on any particular customer niche, and primarily aims to generate name recognition by establishing a broad presence in different channels. For a B2B customer doing general research or browsing forums, for instance, the goal is to be found where they are seeking information or spending their time, even if it’s not directly relevant to your industry.
Video for the top of your marketing funnel is quite possibly the most fun type to make. It should trigger an emotional response in viewers to encourage social sharing amongst people who might not even need your product. At this stage it is all about just being visible and not about targeting. Videos that provide valuable insights, are light-hearted and humorous, or more like a cautionary tale tend to do very well. People are only able to refer your brand to interested parties if they have heard of it in the first place.
The key metrics to look at for this stage are social sharing, likes, commenting, and other indicators of the level of engagement your video is generating. If you are allowing users to embed the video on other websites, tracking that if at all possible is ideal as well. You want to arrive at an estimate of the total reach of the video to gauge its effectiveness at reaching new audiences and getting your brand name out there.
A great example of this type of B2B video marketing are short videos from Zendesk on YouTube. They are smartly placed on a social sharing and content discovery site with a ton of traffic – the second most trafficked search engine – and are hilarious, relatable, and engaging. Even if you don’t have a website in need of a customer service application, you might enjoy and share this video like more than 112k people already have.
An example of a shareable video with a more serious tone is this one from a Danish insurance company. It seems like a sort of public advisory about leaving dogs in hot cars, and you have no idea it’s an ad until the very end. It’s been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube and achieved an exceptional level of engagement in terms of sharing and commenting.
Further along in the process, you start to encounter intent. People are specifically seeking your product or services and are no longer in a discovery mode. At this stage, your video content becomes a lot more targeted, and rather than being present on social networks or discovery engines, you will likely publish these videos on your website.
At this stage, your content creation process will be guided by the key decisions that need to be made along the customer journey. These videos are much more targeted than those higher up in the funnel. The goal is to provide the resources for prospects to educate themselves and easily reach the information they need to make a purchase decision.
This could take the form of an introductory or explainer video for your company, address more specific questions, or present case studies showcasing how your products or services solve common problems for your customers. Product tours and behind the scenes glimpses are also very popular. These videos should be consistent with your companies branding, and help establish a voice for your organization.
Naturally, more people will watch your videos than will buy your product or service, especially right away. That is where video as a lead capture tool becomes very important. Using email gating, or inserting an email signup form at the end of a video as a post-play screen are great ways to grow your email list and segment prospects based on which videos they watched. Email gating might reduce your view count, so use it with discretion based on the context of the video to ensure you are not working against your ultimate goal. Post-play screens are exceptionally good for generating qualified leads since a prospect who watches an entire video is more likely to be interested in your products or services. From there, you can forward leads directly to your sales team, or start an automated drip email marketing campaign.
An excellent tool for judging the effectiveness of these videos is heat mapping analytics, also known as video engagement metrics. If your video hosting provider offers heat mapping for video engagement metrics, you can easily tell how much of a video people are watching. If your email signup form is at the end of the video, it really matters if they are not watching the whole thing. With email gating, if a user enters an email address but only watches a few seconds of the video, you can guess they might not actually be that interested. You can use these metrics to identify pain points in your videos, and to adjust your content and calls to action accordingly.
Going With the Flow
The key to any content marketing initiative is to analyze, test, revise, and repeat. You might not get it all right the first time, but tracking key metrics about your videos’ performance will help you improve over time and is key to the long term success of your video marketing.
Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Avid vermicomposter. Green thumb. Follow her on Google+.