In 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim opened the doors to YouTube inviting content creators around the world to share their videos with a global audience. It was a simple idea but one that would change the world of digital media — and brand marketing — in a very significant way. Consumer behaviors soon shifted with a massive rise in video content consumption, and we now see more than 20 billion videos devoured every day across YouTube, Facebook and SnapChat alone. While YouTube’s success was partly fueled by the quality and diversity of the video content itself, there are some key attributes to the YouTube platform that have made it so appealing to content creators, marketers and consumers alike:
- First, YouTube is very easy to use, making it simple for any content publisher or marketer to publish their video content, no I.T. department required.
- Second, it enables personalized and interactive experiences that capture and retain audience attention. Suggested content, annotations and playlists keep you on a curated content path that is unique to your interests and strangely addictive.
- Third, it’s powered by back-end analytics that enable continuous optimization of content preferences and recommendations, all geared towards keeping audiences immersed in content for as long as possible.
- And finally, it offers content for just about anything you could be looking for, and it makes it easy for you to discover that content at just the right time.
Fast forward to 2016 when businesses are investing in video to fuel engagement with prospects and customers. From brand videos to explainers, customer testimonials to onboarding, video has become an integrated part of how we connect with modern buyers. In this new world, businesses need to consider a new strategy ‘beyond YouTube’ for hosting, publishing, optimizing and tracking the performance of their online video content.
It’s no longer about views and shares, it’s about engagement and conversions — and every second counts.
Modern video platforms are rising to the occasion, building from what worked for YouTube as a consumer platform and tailoring to the needs of a modern business. A research report from Forrester Research analyzed the state of the market for Online Video Platforms (OVPs) for Sales and Marketing, offering new insights into how business requirements are changing and what the new breed of OVPs are offering to help businesses be wildly successful with video. What’s interesting — but maybe not all that surprising — is that many of the fundamentals are the same as what made YouTube successful, but designed in a very different way to help power the video-enabled business.
Leading Video Platforms Are Easy to Use, and Built for Marketing and Sales
As the use of video content spreads from brand to content marketing to product marketing and even into sales departments, it’s critical that a video platform for business is easy to use and is designed with ‘self-service’ in mind. Modern marketing and sales teams need to be nimble, and need the flexibility to publish new content to their website, social media channels, third party sites, and even their own branded video channels without the need for I.T. support.
Just as YouTube made it easy for anyone to upload and share a video, so too must a modern OVP. But it’s not just about ‘making it easy’, it’s about integrating with the common workflows that your marketing and sales teams use today, and that’s where OVPs really shine over YouTube. The top video platforms offer integrations into marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, email applications, social media channels, content management systems and more to enable different teams across marketing and sales to easily share content in a way that is natural and integrated with how they work today.
OVPs Deliver Personalized, Interactive Videos Experiences Built for Business
Modern video platforms are enabling businesses to go beyond the traditional ‘lean-back’ viewing experience to engage audiences in a more personal and interactive way. This is key for the future of video as it replaces our dependency on white-papers, eBooks, infographics and other types of static content geared towards lead generation. While YouTube has done a great job delivering personalized content journeys and interactive recommendations, it falls short when it comes to the needs of a modern business. Leading OVPs now offer advanced video players with the ability to embed data collection forms, surveys, calls-to-actions, and custom interactive events that can drive prospects and customers to engage more deeply with your content. From generating a new lead to enabling a prospect to request a demo from right inside a video asset, the potential here is extremely interesting. In addition to interactive capabilities, leading OVPs are now offering tools to create personalized content journeys, curated playlists, self-guided video tours and even hyper-personalized video content that brings the viewer’s name right into the video itself. Personalization isn’t a new idea for marketing and sales teams, but they need to be thoughtful in how it plays into their video content strategy and how an OVP can help.
From Analytics to Insights: OVPs Deliver Data for Making Smarter Decisions
Perhaps the most significant area that leading OVPs differ from consumer platforms like YouTube is in the type, and depth, of analytics offered to businesses. YouTube offers insight into view counts and audience drop of rates, but that’s pretty much it. Leading OVPs go well beyond YouTube to offer insights on the demographics of viewers, the relative performance of different online distribution channels, viewer engagement trends and heat maps, and how each video is contributing to lead flow and revenue. Some OVPs can also track the video viewing activities of individual prospects and customers with the ability to push that data into marketing automation and CRM systems to make the data actionable. For example, if a prospect watches your product demo video for 3 minutes followed by your pricing video for 30 seconds, that can trigger a notification for an immediate sales follow-up with specific insight on which content that person watched, skipped and replayed. Actionable insights like these can have a material impact on business, helping you make smarter, faster decisions that directly influence revenue.
Support for Content Throughout the Entire Customer Lifecycle, Including UGC
While a modern business may not need to scale to hundreds of millions of videos like YouTube, it does need a proper foundation to efficiently scale to hosting and managing thousands of videos over time with support for user-generated content (UGC) from within its own employee base. Even if you only have a few videos today, it’s not far fetched to think that your team will soon be recording custom demo videos, customer stories, screen recordings, on-demand webinars, culture videos, and more.
Managing a growing private library of video content on YouTube can be extremely frustrating and inefficient while lacking the necessary controls for managing approvals, publishing rights, and security of private video messages, customer support videos, onboarding content, training, and more. Not to mention that YouTube inherently owns the rights to your video once it is uploaded.
Leading OVPs offer a range of tools to help business efficiently scale their video library to support hundreds or thousands of videos addressing the needs at each stage of the buying journey. Most have support for both external and internal (private) video content as well as both on-demand and live video content. Some OVPs offer integrated tools for video capture and editing, making it easy for internal employees to record custom video messages, screen captures, or product demos and share them privately with other employees or customers.
OVPs for Sales and Marketing have come a long way in the last 5 years. What’s most exciting to me is that they are not only making it easier and more efficient to do what we’ve always done with video, but they offering new ways to use video in a more strategic way to create value in the business. Whether it’s more leads, more connections, more revenue or happier customers, OVPs can deliver significant results in a business faster than ever.