Telephony provider Cbeyond has approximately 70 to 80 video testimonials and product demonstrations on its website and blog. The company's director of public relations, Shana Keith, who also handles interactive marketing, said video is a perfect way for Cbeyond to improve its overall visibility with its customers, which are mostly small businesses. “It's a very clean look and feel, and a good way to educate our customers about our services and their features and benefits,” she said.
Cbeyond isn't the only company that's jumping into video. According to a February 2011 eMarketer report, “7 Trends for Video Advertising Engagement,” video advertising will account for 19.4% of all online display ad spending this year, with that number rising to 35.9% by 2014. The increase can be attributed to video's unique attributes, said senior analyst David Hallerman in his report. “Video—with its ability to tell stories and therefore influence the audience emotionally—is the most inherently appealing ad form in any medium.”
As Hallerman's report points out, however, video is still in the experimental phase, changing every year. Last year, marketers were busy creating and building YouTube channels and putting video on their websites. This year, marketers are taking video to the next level, using it in ways they may not have envisioned only a year ago. Here are seven of the top video trends in 2011.
1) Video gets more social. Last year, social was an important yet optional part of any video strategy. This year, it's a required component as marketers see the value of shared views as opposed to paid views. Something that's shared virally can have a bigger impact than a paid video placement, which is why so many marketers are tweeting when posting new videos or linking to them from their blogs or Facebook pages, said Kirk Davis, exec VP and co-founder of video technology company Liquidus Marketing.
2) Detailed analytics. Before, marketers focused on views and how long someone was engaged with a video. Today, however, they're looking at additional metrics to help tweak marketing and promotion. “Marketers need detailed reporting on not just how many videos are watched and for how long, but who is watching those videos, what other behaviors are involved—requesting more information or forwarding to a friend to view,” said Paul Ritter, managing director at the Web Video Marketing Council, an industry group dedicated to online video. Even something as simple as a Facebook “like” can provide details about what makes a video well-received.
3) Hit the road. CBeyond has about 750 salespeople across 14 markets. Many of those people, Keith said, are bringing laptops with them into sales pitches, using website videos to drive home their marketing and sales messages. “It's great because the salesperson can let the subject matter expert articulate the data points that customers may be asking about,” she said. “We're hearing it all the time from the salesforce: They love having the videos to help close a deal.”
4) Go beyond the marketing department. Marketers, realizing the power of the Internet, are letting customers and prospects create video elements and new content. For instance, Lumber Liquidators, which sells building materials to contractors, recently produced a number of videos using crowdsourcing (asking people to create videos) on Poptent.net to promote its various offerings. “These videos will run on both TV and reside on their website so customers can see the product benefits, thanks to the power of sight, sound and motion provided by video,” said Neil Perry, president of Poptent.
5) Mobile optimization. As smartphone usage soars (as of October 2010, 29.7% of Americans had smartphones, according to Nielsen Co.), marketers are scrambling to make their videos visible on whatever device a customer or prospect may have, said the Web Video Marketing Council's Ritter. “One of the challenges that companies face is figuring out how to reach as wide an audience as possible on their mobile devices in an era where the range of devices, speeds and formats has been growing at a dizzying pace,” he said. “Marketers should look for ways to deliver their video content to their desired audiences in a way that can auto-detect the viewer's type of device and connection, and be able to serve up the right content automatically.”
6) Personalization. WhiteGlove House Call Health, a mobile healthcare provider that sells its services to businesses, sends out personalized videos to customers using a technology from StreamVine, said Michael Cohen, VP-marketing at WhiteGlove. “It's [our CEO] Bob [Fabbio] speaking: "Hi, John. This is Bob, president and CEO of WhiteGlove,' ” he said. “It's personalized, and then we include a call to action.” By making it personal, the company can help boost engagement, he said.
7) Localize. Before this year, video—even for use in international markets—may have been produced in one country but dubbed in English. Today, marketers are creating and posting video in local languages. Apriso Corp., which sells manufacturing operations management software, records its customer testimonial videos in the speakers' native language and uses subtitles to translate for other markets, said Veerle De Decker, the company's EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) marketing director. “You get the true feeling of the person speaking, and it shows our global focus,” De Decker said. “I want people to see that we can provide the same solution and quality standards all over the world.”