Best Practices: How to Tailor Videos to the Customer Journey

Lenovo Improves Engagement and Conversions with B-to-B Videos

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Over the past year, PC maker Lenovo has moved from making long, product-focused videos to short "snackable" videos tailored to where the buyer is in the sales cycle, and it's getting good results. In fact, video now ranks as Lenovo's No. 2 lead generator in terms of conversions to sales, right after ebooks.

"We used to do long, five- to eight-minute videos that were basically product tours," said Michael Ballard, senior manager of digital marketing at Lenovo. "Our mindset was, 'Everyone wants to hear about our products,' but that was not really the case."

After reading research studies about the effectiveness of using videos at different stages of the customer journey, as well as doing its own research with its target audience of IT buyers, Lenovo's marketing team embarked on a new video strategy.

"Our goal has been to create shorter, snackable content and have video placed throughout the funnel, not just at the top of the funnel," Mr. Ballard said.

Depending on the campaign and the budget, Lenovo will produce videos in conjunction with ad agency partners, internally through its marketing groups in different regions around the world, or "quick animated videos we can slap together in a couple of hours," he said.

"In some cases, we'll have different types of videos throughout an entire campaign, and in others we have a video we'll use at just one stage of the buyer's journey. Our overall goal for the next six to 12 months is to have videos at every stage of the buyer's journey for every campaign."

Recently, Lenovo created a video campaign to raise awareness at the top of the funnel for "inactive" leads -- prospects who had not engaged with Lenovo content for at least six months.

"We needed something to get their attention," Mr. Ballard said.

Lenovo research found that IT professionals like to share "war stories" about their users, so it worked with ad agency Traction, San Francisco, to create a series of humorous videos called "Users Happen," about the problems people can get into with their computers.

In one video, created with software partner Microsoft, an IT professional in a cube shares stories about a user named Chad who destroys his laptop many times by leaving it on top of the stove in the break room, shoving it in an elevator to hold the door open, and letting his dog eat meat on top of it.

To reach buyers who are aware of Lenovo and are just beginning to research products, the company uses videos that are still humorous, but interject more product information.

For example, to promote its ThinkCenter Tiny-in-One desktop product for businesses, which snaps easily into a monitor, Lenovo created a video doing a side-by-side comparison of a NASCAR pit crew changing a tire vs. an IT guy installing the product. The IT guy wins.

For this video, "We're pushing the product and some of the values around it, but we're still having fun," Mr. Ballard said.

Finally, for users that are at the bottom of the purchase funnel and need very specific product information, Lenovo creates more product-focused videos, such as one using 3D modeling to show the insides of a computer and all the specs.

"This is an engaging way for a person who wants to consume product details, but may not want to do it in a readable format," Mr. Ballard said.

Making the videos work even more effectively is a new video platform Lenovo is using called Vidyard, which integrates with its Eloqua marketing automation systems, Mr. Ballard said.

"We have the ability to track who's watching the video and how much of it they watched," he said. "We do lead scoring, so if they only watched 10%, that means they're not interested and it won't count toward their score. If they watched 90%, it will count toward their lead score, similar to downloading a brochure. This is insight we as marketers have never had before."

Lenovo's most recent video in its "Users Happen" series achieved a 96% watch rate, which means that of the users who watched the video, the average user watched 96% of the video.

"Usually you are lucky to get past 70%, so that is a very high engagement rate," Mr. Ballard said.

He also said video as a lead conversion tool now ranks No. 2 behind ebooks, followed by infographics at No. 3.

Here are some best practices for marketers that want to tailor videos for different stages of the buyer's journey:

1. Don't talk about yourself. "No one cares about you," Mr. Ballard said. "They care about their pain and how you are addressing it."

2. Use humor. "Throw in some fun every once in a while," he said. "Everyone loves comedy. It can be a very powerful tool."

3. Make videos short. "We use snackable chunks that are all around the 60-second mark," Mr. Ballard said.

4. Create content for the entire customer journey. "When we create campaigns, we make sure we have a content component for the entire buyer's journey, from getting someone's attention to providing a very specific solution," he said.

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