By Mark Walker published April 26, 2013

How to Use Video Content to Drive Awareness, Leads, and Sales: A Guide

video-content-brand-awareness-salesThroughout 2012, video marketing for B2B businesses undoubtedly showed an upward trend in both effectiveness and popularity, and most industry observers expect this to continue into 2013 and beyond.

Here are a few relevant findings from respected industry reports and trends to back up this claim: 

Research firm and reviews publisher, Software Advice, recently found in their 2012 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey that video was the second most popular type of content used across channels.

In another study, B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America carried out jointly by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, it was found that video had the largest increase of any content marketing tactic in 2012, jumping by 70 percent from an already hot 54 percent increase in 2011.

Findings from Searchmetrics could partly help to explain this trend. They found that, of all content included in Google’s general search listings, video appeared most frequently, being displayed in over 70 percent of search results.

Perhaps more importantly than its impact on SEO are the results video has had in generating the desired response from target markets.

A study from the Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media suggests that the use of video embedded in an email is a powerful tool, with 88 percent reporting that email with integrated video improves campaign performance, 76 percent acknowledging that it generates high click-through rates, and 72 percent believing that their prospective clients are more likely to buy after viewing video content sent via an email.

CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Report also illustrates that a significant majority of B2B marketers — 58 percent — believes that video is an effective form of B2B marketing.

So if you believe the reports and buy into the reasons why video can be such an effective marketing channel for B2B marketers, let’s look at how you can make it happen — and how to achieve amazing results with it.

We begin with the preparation phase: the tasks involved in building your strategy for creating video marketing efforts that will get a response from your viewers and, ultimately, help transform them into satisfied customers. (In our next post, we will follow on this foundation with processes for executing on this strategy.)

Step 1: Define your purpose

Firstly, let’s look at why you need to define a purpose before you create your first content marketing video campaign:

  • Reason 1: A defined purpose will save you money, because you can create very specific, targeted videos with simpler messages. Your videos will be shorter and easier to digest, and you won’t need to spend money on creative ways to appeal to “everybody” all at once.
  • Reason 2: With more crafted and targeted messages, you’re more likely to see a response that gives you a return on your investment, as it will resonate more effectively with the customers who actually want/need your product or service.
  • Reason 3: Getting your video found by your potential customers will be cheaper and easier to achieve than a catch-all video, too. Rather than competing against big-budget competitors to have your video ranked for broad search terms (which are expensive to bid on in Google Adwords), you can focus on the more cost-effective long-tail terms that better match the video’s content.

Hopefully those three reasons are good enough for us to move on and talk about achieving this clarity of purpose, which prompts the question, “What do we mean by purpose anyway?” Well, it actually means a couple of things…

First, what response are you trying achieve, and what metrics will you use to judge if you have achieved it (i.e., what will tell you that the video has been a success)? There are myriad different purposes you may want your videos for, including:

  • To make a sale
  • To generate an inbound lead
  • To position your brand or build brand awareness
  • To demonstrate a new product or service
  • To educate a market
  • To entertain

Once you’ve decided what outcome you’re striving for (and how its success will be measured), the second purpose you need to define is what audiences are you trying to reach. (This is directly related to the first list.)

For example, there is no point in trying to make a video that appeals to junior executives with no purchasing power if you’re trying to clinch a sale, or to create a video to educate the market if the landscape is generally well known amongst decision makers.

Some questions to keep in mind about your target:

  • Are they senior decision-makers, mid-level influencers, or observers who may be making decisions five years hence?
  • Do they speak your industry language (e.g., a techie to a techie), or are you trying to reach a different type of executive who may not be so familiar with your industry jargon (e.g., a results-driven sales outsourcing company trying to reach a new, creative, product-obsessed market), or someone not in your industry at all (e.g., a government regulator)?
  • Do they care more about numbers and metrics, or vision and aspiration; details vs. big picture; process vs. creativity; layers of bureaucracy vs. flat structure, etc.?

The best way to come up with an answer to this second question is to imagine you’re having a conversation with your “perfect customer” at a trade show. How do you greet them, what do you talk to them about, and in what manner? This is roughly how your video should address that same “perfect customer.”

So now that you have your purpose — a measurable outcome plus a target market — it’s time to pick the right kind of video to appeal to that segment and put a swing in your metrics barometer.

Step 2: Pick the right video type for your purpose

There are nearly as many types of video as there are purposes, which is great because it means you can usually find a pretty close fit between the finished video and your desired outcome. However, it does provide you with a somewhat complex web of choices. Here are just a few of them:

  • Animated/cartoon
  • Whiteboard/illustration
  • Time-lapse
  • Talking head(s)
  • Interview
  • Presentation
  • Montage
  • On-location/at-event
  • Behind-the-scenes/documentary
  • Product demo
  • Case study

Then you have to think about the tone:

  • Corporate or creative
  • Market leader or new entrant
  • Humorous or serious
  • Collaborative or competitive
  • Traditional or irreverent
  • Formal or informal
  • Technical or colloquial

Then there are the finishing touches to think about:

  • Subtitles
  • Background music
  • Voiceover
  • Interactive technology
  • Length

Of course, these lists go on (and on, and on…), so that’s why it’s so useful to know your purpose first — from there, you can more easily eliminate the styles and tones that definitely won’t fit, and concentrate on those that will. (We’ll talk more about tone and personality in Step 4.)

Deciding on the right video format

When choosing the format of your video, think about your existing brand and the brands of your major clients:

  • Is your existing website cartoonish, like Hipmunk, Mailchimp, and Team Treehouse?
  • Or does it focus on ease of use and design aesthetic, like Heroku, Dropbox, and Square?
  • Maybe it’s designed to show thought leadership, like Accenture, KPMG, and McKinsey & Co.?
  • Perhaps it’s more utilitarian and full of information on features and benefits, like 37Signals, Leads Explorer, and Hubspot?
  • Or heavy on testimonials to inspire trust and credibility, like Balsamiq and Badgeville?

Once you’ve thought about this, the above list starts to get more manageable: The first set of companies would do well to stick with animation; the second, a time-lapse video; the third group, an interview or presentation; the fourth group may go with the whiteboard or product demo; and the final group, talking heads or case studies.

One assumes that your website is optimized to appeal to your customer base, but it’s worth pausing for a moment and looking at your five highest-priority target customers and seeing if the style of their corporate communications are similar to yours. If not, how will you resonate with them?

With your purpose in mind, and a style of video chosen to suit that purpose and the existing style of your online brand, it’s time now to look at the choice of video length.  

Step 3: Let’s talk length

Everyone knows length is important, but no one can agree what the perfect length is.

According to the graph below, taken from Forbes Insight’s report, Video in the C-Suite, the majority of executives prefer three- to five-minute videos, while only 9 percent prefer longer than five minutes, and 36 percent still prefer videos that are one to three minutes in length.

Chart reprinted with permission from Forbes Insight.

A quick search on YouTube and Google finds that most B2B videos with hits in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, tend to be 90–120 seconds in length.

However, that only goes to prove that they’re popular in general; it doesn’t show whether they were effective at achieving the desired outcome within their targeted market.

My suggestion on finding the right video length is that the length should be a function of your stated purpose.

You can’t really provide thought leadership in 90 seconds, so you’ll need videos closer in length to those found on a site like TED‘s, which are often up to 18 minutes long. That may be pushing it for many brands, but certainly a target range of 8 to 12 minutes is a good estimate for these kinds of videos. However, you wouldn’t want a product demo to run for 10 minutes, when you can communicate the key features in 90 seconds.

Humor can be achieved in 30 seconds or less, while gravitas or educational content may take longer. Testimonials can be 10-seconds long, whereas case studies may have more impact if they include sufficient details, so they might need to run longer — between two and five minutes.

At this point it’s best to approximate your video length depending on purpose (outcome and audience) and the complexity of the message; then, measure and refine according to the actual results, as there is no golden rule.

However if you’re an absolute stickler for golden rules and have no time or budget to experiment, it seems your best bet would be to create videos two to five minutes in length, and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

Now that we’ve agreed length isn’t everything, we need to consider brand personality, and how your videos will reflect your brand’s values.

Step 4: Just be yourself

With a video type chosen, and a target length decided upon, it’s time to start thinking about the content of the video — particularly about how you want to portray your brand.

There is one simple, golden rule for this decision — be yourself.

You don’t want any major incongruity between your existing brand and the content of your video. This needs to play into the narrative you develop, how the script is written, and what your call to action is.

Bringing together steps two to four, lets look at some hypothetical examples:

Example 1: New Horizon Sales

New Horizon Sales is a start-up trying to prove that its new 3D Claytronic sales reps are the future of the direct sales industry. Its purpose is to educate the market on a brand new, untested technology, and to do so it will need to reach the highest-level executives, regulators, and sales directors.

To achieve this, the company may choose a series of documentary-style videos showcasing its Claytronic sales reps out in the field, with each video focused on one of its key advantages, such as effectiveness or reduced costs. Each video should run between three and five minutes, due to the need for a narrative to be established and the key educational points to be conveyed.

To measure its success, the company would run a market survey before and after the launch of the video campaign, to measure awareness of, and attitudes towards, its new technology amongst its target market, as well as how many inbound enquiries it generates. The call to action could be as simple as, “Learn more about the future.

Example 2: Big Data Corp.

Big Data Corp., a fast-growing SME in the competitive “big data and analytics” space, is trying to establish its solution as being the most advanced in the market, supported by the most talented team.

Its purpose is to position its brand as thought leaders, targeting data scientists and strategic executives at FTSE 500 firms, and to generate leads for its sales team to follow up with.

To achieve this, the company could focus on proving its technical competence by producing videos of its talks at industry conferences and interviews with happy customers and its lead product developers. These may run between 10 and 15 minutes in length, as big-picture topics are being explored and the company will need to prove its depth of knowledge and technical proficiency.

Each video would have a strong call to action, and have buttons next to it, allowing viewers to download white papers, or contact a product rep.

Success would be measured by the number of leads generated, and a market research survey would also be helpful to gauge how the company is comparatively viewed against its competitors in terms of innovation and thought leadership, before and after the video campaign.

Example 3: BadAss Software

BadAss Software is a software company vying for the business of freelancers, to help with its accountancy, CRM, and invoicing needs. Its purpose is to generate direct sales from very small companies and freelancers.

To achieve this, the company may choose a more irreverent tone delivered via cartoons that make fun of more expensive/corporate software, and should end each video with a specific call to action — for instance, a free trial, or perhaps even giving customers the chance to star in a future cartoon as a caricature of themselves, for the best case studies submitted after their software trial period.

Video length is probably 90–120 seconds to capture to attention of freelancers juggling multiple tasks, with just one feature delivered per video. Success is measured by the increase in sales, and by how many times the video offer code is used to claim a free trial.

Conclusion and next steps

Now that we have an idea of how purpose combines with the basics of video type, tone, and length, our next post will outline the steps for executing on your video content marketing plan. Stay tuned…

[Update: Read the second part of this post, How to Execute Your Video Strategy in 8 Steps.]

For more tips on video content marketing best practices, read CMI’s eGuide on creating content.

Author: Mark Walker

Mark Walker is the Content & Social Marketing Manager for UK & Ireland at Eventbrite. Eventbrite is an online self-service ticketing platform available for anyone around the world to manage, sell and promote tickets to their events. Mark regularly blogs about the events industry, and anything that can help event organisers grow, from digital marketing and design, to business strategy and careers. You can read more at the Eventbrite blog, follow on Twitter or Facebook and connect on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Mark Walker

  • Jeannine Mulliner

    Thanks for a really timely and helpful article.

    • http://twitter.com/jfdimark Mark Walker

      Thank you Jeannine, glad you liked it!

  • http://www.globalcopywriting.com/ globalcopywrite

    Gee Mark, you’ve left me hanging on a cliff. I have a client who has invested in an original video as part of a new branding exercise which involves a content marketing strategy. From what you’ve written, everything they’ve done so far is hitting the mark. (Right purpose, right type, right length, right format, etc.) Thanks for this terrific run down. I had a sense they were on the right track but wouldn’t have been able to articulate the reasons why. Your post will be a good guide for future projects.

    Of course, I’m interested in making sure this content gets consumed and spread as widely as possible, again, as part of a broader content strategy. I’ll be waiting impatiently for the next instalment from you.

    • http://twitter.com/jfdimark Mark Walker

      I’m pleased to hear it’s been a useful post for you. I’ll try not to make you wait too long for the follow-up!

  • Steve Johnson

    The power of having visuals could no longer be denied but companies often start with poorly made video and switch to better productions as they become more aware of how production quality represents the brand. One must definitely consider the experts for getting this job done.

    http://www.videoexplainers.com