Video: A Tactical Guide to Content
In b-to-b, video is quickly becoming a key component for audience engagement.
The consumer appetite for video is well-acknowledged. But video is emerging as a critical component of b-to-b sales and marketing strategies. Skyrocketing viewership, exceptional storytelling, and effortless sharing form the bulk of the evidence for b-to-b publishers.
But before you point your phoneâs camera at your CEO and say âAction,â take heed. Thereâs an art to this new medium that takes some training (and some un-training)
to understand. First, let your content be your guide.Â
Determining Your Format
GreenBiz has pioneered its video strategy by linking it to the companyâs robust conference business, says Hugh Byrne, senior vice president of product and audience development. Within the context of their conferences, four products have come to define their video presence.
âWe ask ourselves: What are we trying to accomplish?â he says. âAre we trying to draw a new audience into our site, or get new people interested in our events?â
Longer post-event archive sessions may run up to 60 minutes. The companyâs Ted Talk-style presentations distribute conference material online. Eight to 12-minute backstage studio interviews are designed to augment the presentations. Shorter pre-event marketing videos, featuring calls to action, function similarly to ad units placed around the website.
When proposing video concepts to SourceMediaâs clients, Adam Reinebach, executive vice president and managing director of the companyâs Professional Services Group, says that understanding their position in the marketplace actually drives the content they create.
âAs a b-to-b-focused company, we sell video as a thought leadership asset,â he says. âFor us, itâs a unique opportunity to get in front of senior-level decision makers and present a story in an engaging way.â
In most cases, this means his team doesnât sell video based on volume or promises to deliver millions of impressions.
âTypically, weâre talking to clients who want to reach a specific individual who would be interested in their product,â he says. âOur approach to video is governed by that.â
Rather than let the cameras roll indifferently as a client rattles off his or her product or service, Reinebachâs team has developed a series called âAsk the Experts,â in which subjects answer a targeted list of industry-relevant questionsâ
a method that establishes them as experts and leaders in their field.
Other markets require an even simpler approach. A new program called â60 Seconds Smarterâ functions as a teaser, summarizing a product or idea in a minute or less via footage of a hand drawing on a whiteboard.
Forming the Team
Finding creative video solutions means companies must invest in a creative video team, a strategy advocated by both Reinebach and Byrne.
GreenBiz benefits from multiple sources of outside talent, Byrne says. A full-time creative directorâequipped with extensive video production experienceâhandles graphic design for branding and collateral, custom editorial, multimedia, and event production. This staff member also hires contractors and temporary talent as needed.
âBecause we produce a large volume of content around events, we go through multiple cycles of hiring contractors to convert raw content into finished product,â he says.
Recognizing the value of video to their clients, SourceMedia invested in its own video studio, Reinebach says. Green screens, high-definition film faculties, and two full-time staff videographers contribute to the growth of the video portfolio from both a sales and editorial perspective.
âI encourage companies like us to invest in some creative resources that really understand video as a format and as a medium,â he says. âYou canât make the assumption that someone in your creative department will naturally understand something like this.â
A good team will recognize that video is a sensitive medium. Persnickety choicesâsuch as volume, splash screen, and placementâcan have the final say on whether a video goes unwatched, no matter how brilliant the concept or how compelling the footage. When creating video, style matters almost as much as substance.
âWhat our audience responds to the most are short, snappy pieces that are compelling right off the bat,â Byrne says.
For a recent video pulled from a presentation on sustainability, GreenBiz experimented with two splash screens: One featuring an image of a comical slide from the presentation, and one without. Unsurprisingly, the click-through rate on the humorous splash screen was nearly three times that of the other.
SourceMedia nudges viewers even further into engagement by experimenting with prudent autoplay on some videos.
âWe prefer to do autoplay so it catches your eye, but we put it on mute so the volume isnât jarring,â Reinebach says. âIf the video is already playing, thereâs more of a tendency to continue watching.â
Experimentation has reinforced the necessity of good editing for both companies.
Experiment to Find What Works
âWe initially dumped all of our event content onto our sites with limited editing, leading to a lot of dull material that no one wanted to watch,â Byrne says. âReleasing fewer, shorter videos that draw from our highest-quality content resulted in video viewership rising 33 percent in 2013 over 2012.â
âWe actually advise our clients to not go longer than three or four minutes, because the stats weâve seen show a tremendous drop-off past that time,â Reinebach says.
Learning which metrics to analyze and which to ignore can present problems for companies hoping to depend on traditional metrics of success. Counting pageviews wonât yield significant insight into how well your videos are performing, Byrne says.
âDeeper analytics are extremely helpful,â he says. âWe split-test many of our splash screens, which significantly increases click-through rates, and monitor user engagement and drop-off rates to determine which content is performing better. We also link viewership data into our marketing automation platform, which helps identify event prospects for our sales team. None of this can be done with traditional programs like Google Analytics, and require better analytics tools on the video hosting platform.â
After considering several analytics clients, GreenBiz selected a program called Vidyard to provide insight into their video and shed greater light into viewersâ patterns, Byrne says.
But videoâs relatively recent entrance as a component of sales and marketing strategies means that companies still have room to determine which metrics constitute success for them.
âIn our case, itâs not that weâre shying away from metrics, but if youâre buying from Source Media, it isnât a volume game,â says Reinebach. âItâs a quality-audience game.â
Because of its inscrutability, pitching video to clients can still be a tricky task, he says.
âSelling video is far from easy, because itâs hard to qualify the results,â he says. âYou canât just easily take your video results and throw them into a giant report and have the CMO immediately recognize the ROI.â
But videoâs stupendous growth makes it worth a companyâs time to invest extra resources into this new territory, from both a content and a sales perspective.
âIf you commit as an organization and say âWe care about video, itâs an important medium, and itâs a growing way that our subscribers, customers, and audience are consuming content,ââ Reinebach says, âthen youâre going to succeed at video.â