"The next big thing in content marketing is video," Justabout Everyone, Company ABC.

I can't credit that "quote" to anyone in particular because it's been said by so many, from those in online media to B2B marketers. The truth is... as much as marketers love surveys and trend data, sometimes it's just blatantly clear that something is upon us. Enter video.

But, knowing hasn't yet translated into doing. Most folks are stuck. Video appeared on the scene so suddenly that marketers are still learning how to use it effectively. It's a black box. But it's time to crack it open.

Let's look at three driving forces that are shaping the evolution of content marketing, and the crucial role video plays within each:

  1. Key buyers are becoming increasingly influenced by video.
  2. Marketers need more feedback about their content.
  3. The pressure to show content ROI is increasing.

1. Key buyers are becoming increasingly influenced by video

All great marketers know that everything starts with the buyer; the marketer's job is to deliver content and engage buyers in the most effective ways possible. Doing so requires continual assessment of not only what content buyers are seeking but how they're choosing to consume it and the influence it's having on buying behavior.

In the B2B world, typically, the higher up you can engage, the better, so understanding the content consumption behaviors of C-level executives is extremely important.

A recent Forbes study of more than 300 C-level executives at large US companies (over $500 million in revenues) revealed surprising insights on the growing impact of video content:

  • Video is becoming a critical information source for senior executives. More than 80% are watching more online video today than a year ago.
  • Senior executives are turning to video more frequently. 75% said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly.
  • Work-related video can drive executives to take action. Overall, 65% have visited a vendor's website after watching a video.

So it's not surprising that video is fast becoming a critical form of content for buyers. It's also not surprising that the rise of content marketing has created too much content for any one person to digest, making the need for short, well-scripted and relevant video content all the more critical.

2. Marketers need more feedback about their content

The secret to being a great content marketer is not just about creating compelling content. It's also about creating effective feedback loops, which can be just as elusive as creating content in the first place.

Research shows that only 36% of B2B marketers believe they're being effective with content marketing, and less than half feel they're producing engaging content.

Blame the lack of a strong feedback loop. How do you know if the content produced was actually consumed? Did people read it all or just partly? Did they read it more than once? Did they share it?

When dealing with video, however, the feedback loop is built in, thanks to the linear nature of count and time elements in the analytics. Knowing how many times a video was played (count) and how long it was watched (time) can rock your world with feedback.

Your count, or click-through rate, tells you if there's interest in the content. The time, or attention-span data, tells you if the actual video content was compelling and engaging.

Video feedback: how long and which parts each user watches

That is a huge win over traditional copy on a Web page, which leaves marketers all but empty-handed about which pieces of content readers found most engaging, including how much of it they read.

Video provides highly tailored feedback, enabling marketers to learn what's engaging and what's not. If people are dropping off your 90-second video after 10 seconds, you'd want to know and adjust accordingly. If 80% stayed and watched to the end, you'd want to know that too!

The time nature of a video can also tell you what content in the video was consumed or skipped by each user.

You can use all of this wonderful detail to modify trouble spots and amplify what's engaging in future productions. Houston, we have feedback!

3. The pressure to show content ROI is increasing

As efforts toward content marketing rise, so does the relative marketing investment. More than half of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.

This is another place video excels, and it comes down to connecting the dots to closed sales.

By capturing user-level information, including what videos each lead watched and for how long, and feeding that data into marketing automation or CRM tools, marketers can segment, score, and nurture leads.

Did someone watch four videos for a total of 14 minutes on your demand generation service? Great! Be sure to send him or her more content on demand generation, or pass that lead to CRM and have the sales team follow up immediately.

Not only can you tell what specific line of service a lead is interested in, you'll know how much he or she is engaged. This informs the next appropriate action (nurture or contact directly) and provides the perfect context for following up with information tailored specifically to the lead.

When the business is won, you can use the data to understand which pieces of video content have the most impact on closing business, and optimize accordingly.

If video content marketing is still a black box in your marketing program, it doesn't have to be. The resources available to marketers are affordable and easy-to-use... and, soon, they will be indispensable.

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How Video Plays a Crucial Role in the Rise of Content Marketing

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image of Michael Litt

Michael Litt is the CEO and a co-founder of Vidyard, a video marketing platform that helps marketers manage and measure the impact of their video content. Reach him via michael@vidyard.com.

Twitter @MichaelLitt

LinkedIn: Michael Litt