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How Video Marketing Will Change the Game for Marketers in 2016

01/13/2016 02:59 pm ET

2015 was another pivotal year in the world of digital marketing. The rise of the connected customer has lead to countless innovations in mobile, social and engagement marketing strategies. The use of marketing automation platforms has surged, and the most successful businesses are now embracing real-time analytics to optimize how they engage each individual buyer. Traditional advertising has rightfully evolved into the world of content marketing, and personalized content journeys are replacing the one-size-fits-all mentality of yesterday's marketers. And as we're all now seeing first-hand, video has emerged as the medium of choice, not only for peer-to-peer content sharing and broadcast media, but also for brand-to-customer communications in both B2C and B2B markets.

In April of 2015, it was unveiled that over 4 billion videos were being played back each day on the Facebook platform alone. By September, this number had doubled to a staggering 8 billion video views per day. Cisco now predicts that 80% of all Internet traffic will be streaming video content by 2019, up from 64% in 2014. And in a recent market survey by research firm Demand Metric, 74% of B2B marketers reported that video now converts better than other content types.

The rise of video marketing has been one of the most exciting trends in recent years. To learn more about what's happening in this space and what to expect in 2016, I spoke with my friend Michael Litt, co-founder and CEO of Vidyard, to get his top predictions for the year ahead in Video Marketing.

1. Video goes from brand to demand to sales and service

Many still think of digital video as viral content on YouTube, video ads on Facebook, and flashy homepage videos that tell a brand's story. But in recent years we've seen the most successful brands expanding their use of video throughout the entire customer journey to help them build better relationships, educate and convert buyers, and improve customer satisfaction. From creative campaign videos that bring light to pain points to customer testimonials and personalized product demos, video will play a starring role at all stages of the marketing and sales funnel in 2016. In a recent research report by Ascend2, the companies that are seeing the greatest success with video marketing ranked the importance and effectiveness of different types of videos in the following order, starting with the most effective:

1. Customer testimonials
2. On-demand product demonstration videos
3. Explainer and tutorial videos
4. Thought leader interviews
5. Project reviews and case studies
6. Live and on-demand webinars
7. Video blogs
8. Event videos

Note that "bottom-of-the-funnel" content like customer testimonials and on-demand product demos lead the list, which may seem somewhat surprising. But if you think about it, this is the content that sits closest to new revenue. Video marketing can help companies sell more.

2. The rise of video selling in B2B markets

The best sellers are the ones that challenge customers to think differently and educate them as trusted advisors. Whitepapers, canned presentations, and customer case studies are helpful tools but nothing beats video when it comes to educating buyers and building an emotional connection. Video is the next best thing to being there in person, and it's proving itself to be a powerful and highly accessible weapon throughout the selling process. Over the past year Vidyard some interesting trends in video selling techniques, particularly in B2B markets with the High Tech industry leading the way. Savvy sales reps are using smartphones and webcams to record personal greetings or to send a follow up message following a meeting. Many reps are leveraging video testimonials to showcase how other clients are achieving success.

Vidyard also saw the rise of "micro demo" video libraries as a way of boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of online product demos. Instead of relying on a Solutions Consultants (SCs) to deliver live demos to every prospect, modern sales teams are enabling reps to create a customized on-demand product demo by assembling a series of short videos on different topics into a simple playlist for viewing by the prospect. Not only does this improve efficiency and reduce the number of hours spent by SCs on demos, it provides an opportunity for the demo to be shared more broadly within an organization and viewed at a time that is most convenient. It also enables the sales rep to track when different prospects tuned in and how much of the content they actually engaged with. In 2016 we'll see video selling emerge as a common practice in more and more markets.

3. From lean-back to lean-forward: Video goes interactive

The promise of interactive video has been around for a number of years, but we've yet to see it take off as a mainstream technology. One of the biggest challenges has been the complexity of implementation for brands, and the requirement for a customized video player that may only work on a limited number of sites. With recent advancements in player technology and design tools for creating interactive elements, 2016 will be the year that interactive video becomes a practical and well-used tool for marketers across all industries. I'm not talking about the ability to click on a pair of jeans in a video to buy them, I'm talking about integrated questionnaires, surveys, data collection forms, and other practical tools that will help marketers turn static videos into active tools for generating leads, qualifying customers, and driving greater engagement.

These same tools will be used to create a new category of video in 2016: the choose-your-own-adventure video. Brands will empower viewers to self-select their content journey within a single video player, greatly increasing content relevance and engagement for the viewer while enabling the marketer to collect incredible insights on the interests and intent of its prospects.

4. Personalized video brings the viewer into the story (literally)

Personalization has been a key trend in digital marketing for a number of years. What started as adding someone's first name to an email message has erupted into countless ways to tailor the marketing experience for different individuals, companies, and segments. Personalization has swept through email marketing, social media, content marketing, and most recently web-based content thanks to the introduction of RTP (real-time personalization) technologies. In 2016 we'll see this continue with the rise of personalized video, a new concept that enables marketers to customize the actual video content with information unique to each individual viewer for a truly tailored content experience.

Imagine your first name or company name woven seamlessly into a video inviting you to try out a new product. Or a video advertisement that showcases how your website could be improved with an exciting new technology, complete with real images of your actual website. This level of personalization is now a reality and possible at scale with new personalized video technologies. In 2015 we saw personalized video campaigns generating anywhere from 200%-1500% increases in click-through and conversion rates, so it's a sure bet that many more will try their hand at it in 2016.

5. Video marketing becomes as a core competency within marketing organizations

If we had told you 10 years ago that businesses would soon have entire teams dedicated to social media, you likely would have called us crazy. Today, brands across all industries, including B2B markets, will soon have dedicated video marketing teams. With the growing importance of video as a content medium and the incredible potential for interactive content, personalized video, and video as a sales tool, this one almost seems like a given.

Today we're seeing more and more companies hiring video production talent, creative directors, writers, and former journalists to bring video production talent in-house. External agencies remain very important, but this movement is critical to enable businesses to scale content production with the needs of their marketing and sales teams and the expectations of their customers. If your business is not yet hiring video production talent or building out a simple video studio, this may be the year to think about the transition.

6. YouWho? Multi-channel content distribution becomes critical for brands

Much like content marketing and display advertising, video marketing has become a discipline that requires thoughtful execution in both creative development and online syndication. Though YouTube has previously ruled the roost when it comes to video distribution, it's no longer the only game in town, and for many it may not even be the most important. Many marketers are now leveraging their own branded websites and custom video channels to house their expanding libraries of video content, reducing their dependency on YouTube for video management and playback.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are now equally, if not more, important channels for video syndication for brands in many different industries. A wide range of video ad networks is now available to assist in syndication of video-based ads. In 2016 we'll see marketers expanding their use of digital channels well beyond YouTube to reach their audiences wherever they happen to live and travel across the web.

7. Marketers embrace the power and potential of video analytics

One of the most interesting and under-appreciated concepts in the video marketing space is the ability to track the actual engagement of each viewer, not just whether or not they clicked play. Because video is a connected, streaming content medium, marketing and sales professionals can track the second-by-second viewing habits of their buyers and trigger immediate actions based on how that person actually engaged with the content. Using creative video to bring people into your story, then the analytics behind the scenes to uncover insights and drive action when they are most engaged with your brand is a very powerful concept.

Coupled with this concept is the ability to track very detailed insights on the behaviors of viewers and the performance of video content in a way that just isn't possible with traditional text and image-based content. Not only can we track view counts and minutes watched, but we can now understand which videos are best holding people's attention and which ones are seeing high drop off rates. And by tracking the identity of each viewer and tracking their engagement within marketing and sales systems, we can better understand how each video is contributing to lead generation, pipeline and revenue production. With many of the fundamentals and pre-conditions now in place, we'll see massive growth in 2016 in the usage of intermediate and advanced analytics that will help businesses learn how to hone their video marketing skills.

The explosion of visual content cannot be ignored by marketers. It is estimated that 3.8 trillion photos were taken in all of human history until mid 2011, but 1 trillion photos were taken in 2015 alone. YouTube alone has over a billon users worldwide. Nearly 60% of all digital impressions are now driven by visual content. Video has emerged as the medium of choice and for marketers to stay relevant and achieve business results, they must recognize and adapt their content strategy.

This post was co-authored by Michael Litt (Twitter: @michaellitt) , co-founder and CEO of @Vidyard.

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