What B2B marketers are still getting wrong about video

Solomon Radley04/10/2018

With 70 per cent of B2B buyers now watching videos on their path to purchase, the case for investing in video is clear. But before they can capitalise on this emerging trend, marketers must first remember the basics.

Affordable, high performance B2B video is within your grasp.

We’re not talking about bland product demos or one‐dimensional customer testimonials here, either.

Several forward‐thinking B2B brands are already creating the types of attention‐grabbing video content that engage audiences, boost conversion rates and drive company revenue.

Unfortunately, these brands are in the minority.

The benefits of video content are now widely known. According to market intelligence firm Aberdeen Group, companies that use video marketing grow their revenue 49 per cent faster than those that don’t.

Almost half of B2B buyers watch more than 30 minutes of video content while researching a product or service. And 70 per cent of B2B marketers say that video is the most effective medium for driving conversions.

But for many marketers, it seems that reaping the rewards of investing in video is easier said than done.

In the past, high production costs were the main barrier that stopped B2B brands from capitalising on the medium’s surging popularity.

Industry giants like GE could afford to splash out on lavish productions to ‘wow’ their customers. But for everyone else, there were simply no affordable options available.

Now, all that has changed. The cost of creating B2B video content has fallen dramatically in recent years, opening up a range of possibilities for B2B brands to engage customers at all stages of the marketing funnel.

So, it should come as no surprise that a study from Google shows that the number of B2B buyers using video has doubled in recent years, with 70 per cent now watching videos on their path to purchase.

This is part of a broader digital trend. Business Insider reports that video will make up 82 per cent of all web traffic by 2021.

But unless B2B marketers can learn the lessons of the past, they will struggle to create engaging videos that resonate with their target audiences. So, today we’ll outline how to avoid a fundamental error that stops many marketers reaping the benefits of B2B video.

The funny thing is, this mistake isn’t unique to video. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog post, delivering a webinar, recording a podcast or creating a video showpiece to drive awareness for your brand – the secret to creating impactful content is always the same.

No matter what your marketing goals are, the first thing to remember when you embark on any kind of content project is: you should never create something for the sake of it.

Don’t do B2B video for the sake of it

HubSpot reports that 45 per cent of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in 2018. And if you’ve been in the game for a while, that statistic might have an air of déjà vu about it.

When content marketing first became a mainstream practice, the amount of content being created skyrocketed. Every brand and its dog had heard about the benefits of publishing stuff that’s actually useful and were suddenly churning out blog posts like there was no tomorrow.

Then came the discovery that most of this content wasn’t getting read – just 5 per cent of content pieces were getting 90 per cent of the engagement.

At the same time, many businesses didn’t have a strategy for nurturing the prospects that did engage with their content through the marketing funnel. So, all their hard work was going to waste.

Well, the same is true of video. And if marketers forget that, we could see history repeating itself in a few years’ time.

Too many B2B brands are already creating video for the sake of appearances. They churn out mediocre content because they feel they must, only for it to sit on their YouTube pages gathering dust.

Instead, marketers must take the time to ensure their videos feed naturally into their existing marketing funnel.

Take enterprise software specialist SAP, for example. Around 20,000 B2B customers gather in Florida each year for the company’s annual Sapphire conference. But, there are inevitably thousands of people who can’t make it there in person.

So, in 2016 SAP partnered with 11 industry influencers to extend the event’s reach. The company recorded interview‐style videos with each of these influencers and live streamed them to around 80,000 people across the globe.

This is a great example of how video can support your existing marketing strategy. It takes an existing and proven campaign and uses video content to amplify its message and reach.

Creating shareable thought leadership content around one of your brand’s key messages can be another effective tactic for supporting existing marketing initiatives with video. Typically, this will involve taking the messages and ideas that are working in your past or existing campaigns and exploring them using creative video formats.

While these videos don’t typically work well when shared through top‐of‐funnel channels, they will be hugely useful to buyers that are further along their customer journey.

The important thing is to make sure you’re always creating video content that addresses a genuine audience need.

Great video content starts with a ‘big idea’

Some might think the best way to create an engaging video is to throw money at the project. But, as you’ll know if you’ve ever seen The Hangover Part III, big budgets don’t guarantee big quality.

That’s because the secret to creating effective B2B video doesn’t lay in expensive production values or flashy animations. Whether you’re spending £500 or £500,000 on your next content initiative, the most important thing is to make sure you start with a ‘big idea’.

That means more than deciding whether you want to do a product explainer, a Q&A interview or a 20‐second clip for social media. It’s about distilling what you want your video to be about down into a single sentence that explains why your target audience will want to watch it.

For example, Hootsuite’s Mean Tweets video launched a new user interface with a tongue‐in‐cheek parody of a popular TV show segment. The format works because it implies that the video will be entertaining, using humour to convey the message that Hootsuite listens to its customers.

“Start with two questions,” recommends Econcultancy’s Nikki Gilliland. “What do you want to convey? And, how can you make it engaging?”

If you begin with a muddled or convoluted message, then you’ll likely end up with an unengaging video, too.
Nikki Gilliland, Econsultancy

Of course, you won’t always be creating long‐form videos to use as content pieces in their own right. It will often make sense to create shorter clips specifically for social media.

Customer service specialist Zendesk is often held up as an example of a B2B brand that has got creating videos for social media down to a fine art. Its tailor‐made video shorts use quirky, off‐beat humour to articulate the idea that Zendesk can help with difficult relationships.

For brands with a smaller video budget, stock image montages can also be great for getting people to click through to your site and view more substantial pieces of content.

The World Economic Forum’s Facebook page contains many great examples of how to use videos like these to whet a viewer’s appetite and entice them into finding out more about a story.

When you get right down to it, the secret to creating great content is the same no matter what medium you’re working in.

Videos make it incredibly easy for customers to engage with your content. But if you want them to spend time watching your videos, you still need to make sure you’re putting their wants, needs and desires first.

As B2B brands start to build up their own video libraries, it’s the marketers who stick to the basics of great storytelling that will be best positioned to capitalise on this emerging industry trend.

Key takeaways

  • You don’t need a huge budget to do B2B video. Falling costs are creating opportunities for B2B brands of all sizes to engage customers at all stages of the marketing funnel.
  • Don’t do B2B video for the sake of it. Create video content that feeds naturally into your existing marketing funnel and contributes to clear business objectives.
  • Take an ‘audience first’ approach. If you want customers to spend time watching your videos, you must appeal directly to their specific wants, needs and desires.