Last week, hundreds of marketers, sales leaders, and video producers came together in San Francisco to challenge the status quo of video for business. Long regarded as simply a top-of-funnel asset, Viewtopia® presented the evolution of video within an organization. From new ways to use video across the entire marketing funnel, to sales teams using personalized video to engage prospects, all the way to HR teams using video internally for training and executive briefings – video is no one-trick pony.

If you weren’t able to make the trip to San Francisco (or didn’t tune into our Live Stream) here are some of the biggest lessons we took away from Viewtopia®:

Storytelling Isn’t Just a Buzzword

Everyone loves talking about storytelling – your brand should have a story, your marketing should tell a story, even your sales team needs to structure their conversations like a good book, but what does that mean in the context of video? Laura Ramos was our first keynote speaker at Viewtopia® 2016, and in addition to sharing some of her extraordinary expertise and years of marketing insights, she hammered home one major point – anyone interacting with prospects shouldn’t just be conveying ideas. They should be telling stories.

But storytelling isn’t as simple as just crafting an exciting tale of mystery and intrigue and shoving your product in there. Ramos took this conversation deeper, and looked to Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the importance of “why” to back up her point. Storytelling isn’t just about being entertained – it’s about educating your prospects, and making sure they are not only captivated but walk away with meaningful information, and a tangible next step.

YouTube is Important — But so is Your Website

Steering away from the more high-level talks around video strategy, one of the more tangible themes to come out of several talks and keynotes was the importance of leveraging networks, but also bringing your video home. More than 20 billion videos are played across SnapChat, YouTube and Facebook every day, but what happens to these prospects once they’re done watching?

Next-level marketers are moving video content back onto their company website, and organizing it in a meaningful way to allow for discovery and conversions. Whether it’s creating company-hosted video hubs like Act-On, or simply ensuring that anything you put on YouTube is also available on your website, controlling your video isn’t just about seeing who’s watched what content and when. Hosting your own video channel means that when a prospect finishes watching one video, you control what comes next — no cat videos, and no competitor’s content. Unless you want cat videos, in which case, power to you.

Always Have a Call-To-Action

When YouTube first rolled out, brands that engaged were able to quickly have an impact. It was a new frontier, and Nike quickly rose to the top of the charts by simply having video content that got people excited. But marketers now need to prove the ROI of their video content, and the pressure is on to ensure videos actually drive conversions rather than simply build awareness

Leveraging modern Online Video Platforms (OVPs) allows marketers to fully customize the video experience, including adding interactive elements like forms, and links to other videos or content pieces. No longer a passive asset, video must become an active marketing tool that not only drives engagement, but generates leads. And thanks to the evolution of video technology, marketers can collect contact information directly through videos, and sales professionals can include interactive experiences directly in videos to give prospects the power to self-identify.

The new world of video isn’t just a set-it-and-forget-it asset used solely to generate views. It’s an active, powerful tool that — when used properly — can pay for itself in pipeline alone.

Marketing Automation and Video are a Match Made in Heaven

Several of our speakers came from the marketing automation space, but their views on video were far from biased. Marketers are having a harder time than ever proving the ROI of their marketing campaigns, and video has long been viewed as a black box. But modern OVPs integrate with major marketing tools like Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On and HubSpot giving marketers unprecedented insights into how prospects are engaging with content, and changing the way demand generation teams react to video views.

Whether you’re automatically suggesting relevant content to prospects that engage with your latest product update video, or signalling your sales team when a prospect watches 100% of your demo video, marketing automation and video data are an unbeatable combo. And demand generation teams that see their video content as a silo will quickly be left behind.

Personalization is Not Just a Gimmick

Personalized video isn’t new anymore — we’ve been helping companies personalize their video content across holiday campaigns, event promotion, and even product launches. But that level of personalization isn’t just a top-of-funnel marketing tool anymore. Truly innovative brands are using personalized video on sales prospecting, and even for event recruitment.

Terminus CMO Sangram Varje spoke at length about using personalized content to bring incredible speakers to their first account-based marketing community event, #FlipMyFunnel. Personalized video allowed them to cut through the noise, and get noticed — which, for a company that was relatively small at the time, was no mean feat.

Easy to use products like Vidyard GoVideo (formerly ViewedIt) are also making it possible for sales teams to quickly personalize video and send it out to prospects, bringing in a new wave of prospecting. Rather than boring cold-calls and BASHO emails, sales professionals are taking a few extra minutes to create content that speaks to their prospect’s pain points rather than yelling about features, and the results speak for themselves.

And Don’t Forget to Sample the Refreshments

Viewtopia® was a jam-packed two day event, with everything from Zack King sharing how he creates his magical video content, to panel discussions of real, successful video marketers sharing their real success stories. By day one, we were overflowing with knowledge — and by day two, we really just needed to sit down and process it all.

Thankfully, this year’s event featured plenty of space to relax and rewind, including an innovative VR game experience. And of course, nothing wraps up a great session like a glass of wine, a craft beer, or a cocktail.

We’re already planning for next year’s event, and armed with feedback from our attendees, we’re excited to make it even bigger and better than Viewtopia® 2016. Hope to see you there!

If you want to be notified when the recordings for all of the keynotes, workshops and sessions are available, just sign up here:

Jon Spenceley