The role of video in our online experience continues to grow and evolve. Just one example is Facebook’s introduction of auto-play video previews in the newsfeed; it’s a clear indication that video, as a medium, attracts a response and increases the likelihood of engagement. It communicates on a more emotional level than text or images. It also implies entertainment, as people associate video with recreation, not work.
This is why marketers are embracing video, and its use as part of the online sales process is exploding. We’re seeing more businesses and organizations replacing text, white papers and product documents with video, which allows them to connect with their audience on a much deeper level.
But it’s important to remember that video is, by nature, a more passive medium than text and requires less concentration to absorb, so it’s important to be strategic when delivering the video content, so as to hold viewers’ attention and ensure the information you’re presenting is resonating.
Thankfully, there are now a number of techniques and supporting technologies that all businesses can use to take advantage of video’s capabilities as a marketing tool. By using them on your website, you’ll be able to guide prospects down a strategic path as you introduce your product, its benefits, its features, and its pricing, while tracking each prospect’s position in the buying cycle. These techniques require the development of multiple videos, each armed with a specific task, and an effective way of tying these videos together to ensure viewers stay on the path.
The process of developing this strategic path is part creative and part technical. Creative techniques used within the video will compel the viewer to watch the next video in the series. Devices such as “cliff hangers” or introducing a question that begs for an answer are commonly used techniques to urge viewers to keep watching. Combine this with easy-to-implement technologies such as automatic loading of the next video into a video player or a call-to-action link at the end of the video, and you’ve got your path.
Planning the Path
Of course, before you build your video path you need a plan. For many, a video path can follow a traditional marketing funnel approach to sales and lead generation, starting with an introductory video at the top of the funnel, a deeper education in the middle of the funnel, and ending with a rationale or justification for purchase at the bottom of the funnel.
A Top-of-Funnel video introduces the viewer to your brand and builds their interest in what you have to offer. As with all first impressions, creating the right emotional response is important.
Videos at this level could include an animated explainer video (if your product or service is complex), a culture video that introduces prospects to your people, process or positioning, or even customer testimonials.
Most businesses see the value in a top-of-funnel video, and most businesses stop at this point, and rely on text and images to do the rest of the work. However, video has extraordinary potential when used through the rest of the buying cycle.
Once the initial impression has been made and you’ve successfully held your viewer’s attention, you can deepen their understanding of your product or service with some mid-funnel videos. These videos are about educating your viewer, helping them understand your value beyond the emotional level, and more on the rational level. Recorded webinars, product tour videos, and demos are all examples, allowing the viewer to build their understanding of the product’s value.
The bottom of the tunnel is all about justifying the decision to purchase, and clearing up any questions, hurdles or hesitation. Videos explaining product categories or levels, pricing, or other frequently asked questions are a good idea at this stage. It’s still important to maintain the emotional connection with the viewer, even at this late stage, ensuring that the tone, feeling, and message is still consistent with your brand. Credibility and trust are crucial at this point, but of course that’s where video really shines.
As mentioned, there are a number of techniques and technologies that can guide the viewer down the path, including creative devices (cliffhangers, questions, etc…), automatic loading of the next video, and call-to-action links that prompt the viewer to click, thereby loading the next video in the series. And there are also services that enable you to track a prospect’s progress down the path, many of them integrating marketing tools such as Salesforce, ExactTarget and MailChimp.
As video’s use grows online, it’s important for marketers to adapt to consumer behaviour and preferences. With some planning and adoption of new technologies, video can be a powerful component of your online sales process.