Like most modern marketing teams, you’re likely investing more resources in online video content than ever before. And why wouldn’t you? Video is the most influential medium for engaging online audiences and building an emotional connection with your buyers. It’s the perfect way to inspire, educate, and even entertain.
That’s precisely why 95% of marketers (including those in B2B companies) report increasing investments in video content. But as you expand your use of video across marketing programs; such as web, email marketing, content campaigns, demand gen, social, and events; something not-so-entertaining starts to happen. YouTube falls short as a platform for managing a growing library of video content and using it to generate meaningful, and measurable, business results.
Enter the world of Online Video Platforms (designed for media companies and publishers) and Video Marketing Platforms (designed for marketing teams using video across web and digital marketing programs). These video platforms mean business and can help modern brands ensure they generate big returns on their video content. But not all video platforms are created equal! So before you press play on your next video solution, keep the following considerations top of mind.
1. Ease and Intuitiveness of Video Content Management
One thing YouTube does have going for it is simplicity. Just about any marketer can create a video channel, upload a video, and share it with the masses. Look mom, no IT! The video platform for your business should strive for the same type of user experience. Be sure to test out the user interface and common administrative workflows to ensure it’s simple enough to be used by just about anyone in your marketing team. If you need a 2-day training course to figure out how to upload and publish a video, that’s not a great sign of things to come.
2. Integration with Your Critical Distribution Channels
Where, oh, where will your videos roam? Your own website? Your YouTube channel? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? While most video platforms make it easy to embed a video on your own website, be mindful of your need to publish across multiple channels. Does the solution offer simple publishing to YouTube and social media sites? What about embedding videos in landing pages built by your marketing automation system? And do you need to share some videos in a private or secure manner?
3. Ability to Publish Custom-Branded Video Channels
Customized video channels on a brand’s own website are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. Let’s say you produced 50 videos last year, some are up on your main website, some were used in specific campaigns, and others are…well…nowhere to be found. What a lost opportunity, especially given how much Google loves videos for SEO and search ranking! Custom-branded video channels can be a simple way to publish libraries of videos (maybe even all your videos) onto your own website in a similar way that you would publish a YouTube channel. In addition to the SEO benefits for your own website (more videos = SEO goodness), you can now give web visitors a one-stop-shop for navigating your video library without having to send them off to the YouTube black hole. While you could custom develop your own video channel with some hard working web developers, some video platforms include this as a turnkey offering making it a snap.
4. Integrated Tools for Lead Generation and Interactivity
Getting lots of views is great, but chances are some of your videos are created to help you generate new leads or convert them through the buying journey. Some modern video platforms help you turn passive videos into active tools for lead generation, qualification and conversion. Look for the ability to enhance your videos with email gates, custom data collection forms, annotations, post-roll CTAs, and interactive elements that can be used to gather information from the viewer and turn your videos into 2-way conversations.
5. Breadth and Depth of Video (and Viewer) Analytics
Big data. Data-driven marketing. Analytics and insights. We all know the buzzwords, but can the video platform give you meaningful data that you can actually use to improve your results? Beyond the typical view counts, look for the ability to track audience engagement and drop-off rates, “heat maps” to determine portions of videos commonly skipped or replayed, and information on how the video is performing on each discrete distribution channel. Also look for the ability to gather analytics on the viewers, not just the videos. Where are they watching from, what types of devices and browsers are they using, and can you collect or infer any demographic data to help you better understand who’s watching?
6. Ability to Identify and Track Individual Viewers
This is a big one. Have you ever wondered WHO is actually watching your videos or how you might use that kind of information if you had it? Some video platforms will help you identify each unique viewer, track their video viewing activity history across each channel, and even synchronize that data with contact records in marketing automation and CRM systems. This capability typically acts as a foundation for enabling your video platform to integrate in a rich manner with your marketing and sales tools.
7. Integration with Your Existing Marketing Technology Stacks
Following on the previous point, you’ll want to consider if/how the video platform can integrate with your existing marketing technology stack. Are you using a marketing automation platform to manage your lead generation and qualification programs? How are you managing email communications and updates to social media? What CMS are you using and how well can the platform integrate? These are all important questions as you expand your use of video across your integrated marketing programs.
8. Ability to be Leveraged by Your Sales Team
Wait a minute, we’re talking video for marketers here, why bring up the five letter S-word? Because for marketing to be successful, sales needs to be successful, simple as that. Generating a boatload of leads with video does you no good if your sales team can’t close them. So give some thought to if/how sales might use video content and video analytics as they’re trying to seal the deal. Can the video platform help your sales team prospect and qualify with video content? Can it help them better understand the interest and intent of potential buyers with insights from video engagement analytics? While this may not be a top priority from day one, it may become important in a future phase and just might be something to socialize with your sales counterpart (assuming you’re on speaking terms right now).
9. Tracking and Measuring the True ROI of Your Videos
You spent $20,000 on an amazing new video and the return on that investment was…..ummmmmm…..2,156 views?!?! What does that even mean? As you expand your video program and invest more into it, both you and your boss will likely want to know what’s working and what the ROI is. If the goal of your videos is to generate views, then counting views might make sense. But in the real world this is rarely the case. If you’re using video as part of your digital marketing and demand gen programs, you’ll want to start tracking how that video impacted lead generation, pipeline and revenue.
10. Scaling with Your Business as Your Needs Evolve
Scalability of a video platform can be looked at in numerous ways. Has it been proven to scale with a large volume of content and concurrent viewers? Can it scale with your administration and management requirements by offering role-based and group-based administration? Can it scale with your requirements to deliver both external-facing (public) and internal-facing (private) video content for different use-cases? Will it address the needs of other business units beyond marketing such as sales, HR, corporate communications and training? And finally, will it scale with your evolving technology stack by offering integrations with systems you use today or may use tomorrow?
I hope this top 10 list is helpful to some of you out there as you look to take that next step in the world of video marketing. Feel free to use this as a framework when doing your own video platform evaluation or when trying to build a business case for investing in a video strategy at your business. Onward and upward, you video marketing trailblazer!