B-to-B: Video, the Last Frontier
I received my DMA:2011 Conference and Exhibition magazine for the big annual event in Boston this year. I scanned the 31 direct marketing topics the event would cover. Video? Video? Conspicuously absent as of late July, even though the DMA:2011 conference homepage features a video that one might conclude is intended to lure registrants to the event.
Most members of the direct marketing industry, other than DRTV practitioners, don't grasp the impending impact that online video with viewer tracking will have on the $180 billion direct marketing industry. The ability to deliver and track video on smartphones and tablets is suddenly critical for successful video direct marketing.
Why Video Matters
A 2010 report from Cisco found that 30 percent of Internet traffic is currently video. By 2013, 90 percent of Internet traffic is projected to be video. In October 2010, 65 percent of U.S. executives surveyed by Forbes indicated they visited a vendor's website after viewing a work-related online video, 53 percent conducted a search for a vendor/product/service for more information and 42 percent made a business-related purchase. Online video also drives much higher engagement and response rates than static text and graphic content, according to an array of reputable industry research reports.
More than 75 percent of business executives regularly view online video content, according to Interactive Media Strategies' "Enterprise Video Communications Survey," Q1 2011. Forrester Research reports two to three times higher email clickthrough rates when video content is embedded. Online viewers spend an average of 1.5 minutes with video compared with an average of eight to 10 seconds on static graphic email messages, according to MarketingSherpa. Video ads generate four- to seven-times higher engagement and response rates compared to static ads, according to DoubleClick.
Based on these numbers, the ubiquity of online video and the huge appetite for video content among all generations, it makes you wonder: "Why isn't the direct marketing industry embracing online video?"
Online video offers a great upside for direct marketing, but it is uncharted territory for most B-to-B marketers. Video requires a different set of technical, creative and marketing skills than print, paid search and email marketing.
The good news is new video technologies and improved production efficiencies are making online video direct marketing less complex and much more affordable.
There are four critical factors for successful B-to-B online video direct marketing:
1. Invest in Engaging Content
Adding audio to your latest PowerPoint presentation isn't engaging and isn't going to generate a response. You only have five to eight seconds to capture viewers' attention—after that, they'll move on if they aren't sucked in. Content for sales and marketing must have the proper pacing, information, relevancy and reasonably high quality. The video must engage viewers long enough to consume your core message.
2. Create Viewer Interactivity
An effective online video message for lead generation needs to combine engaging video with interactive multimedia content and calls to action. Standalone video doesn't allow users to interact with or respond to your marketing or sales message. It also restricts the ability to track and understand your video message's impact. Effective lead generation combines video with interactive multimedia elements like text, graphics, Web links, buttons, images, Web forms and branding. New technologies allow viewers to physically click on links, buttons and forms in the video that allow them to access additional information, register for an event, or communicate directly with a contact center.
3. Make It Mobile
Make sure your video marketing message can be accessed on smartphones and tablets, which are commanding an ever-increasing share of online video viewing. According to MeFeedia, on average, iPad users commit to watching a Web video for five minutes, Android users watch for three minutes and iPhone users watch for 2.4 minutes. In contrast, desktop users tend to watch Web video for less than two minutes.
The explosion of the tablet device market is likely to have a major impact on business video marketing. According to an Interactive Media Strategies' February 2011 business executive survey, more than half of the 1,002 survey respondents said they would boost their viewing of online business video content if they could access it via a tablet device.
This presents technical challenges for marketers. Mobile video marketing solutions must be fully automated, which means they must have:
- the ability to have multiple video formats and bit rates encoded simultaneously without having to upload more than one original video file; and
- the ability to auto-detect the type of viewing device (phone, tablet, laptop), connection speed, operating system (Apple, Android, Windows), and browser type, so the optimal video format and bit rate (video speed) can be delivered automatically. This means making video content available in both HTML5 format for smaller smartphone screens and Flash format for PCs and Macs.
4. Have Actionable Tracking
Good metrics are essential to understanding the success of sales or marketing initiatives. Direct marketers require both the ability to engage target audiences with high-impact video and multimedia content, and real-time, actionable viewer tracking and reporting that allows the sales team to follow up with qualified prospects immediately.
Actionable tracking collects details about a specific users' interactions by following their email addresses and other data. Good software tracks metrics like total engagement time, length of time watching video, video starts, videos watched to completion, call-to-action links clicked, number of emails forwarded and to whom, social media sharing activity and viewing device used.