We marketers love our trends, and these days there are plenty to choose from: marketing clouds, account-based marketing, predictive analytics—the list goes on.

But few trends had as big a 2015 as video marketing. Some 96% of B2B marketers are now using video, according to a recent study by the Web Video Marketing Council. And for good reason. Video is great for engaging audiences and getting their attention in a crowded market.

A year ago, I wrote that 2015 will be the year of video marketing, and that certainly turned out to be true:

  • The play button has become the most compelling call to action on the Web.
  • Use of video analytics and attribution has grown, and more businesses are integrating analytics with their marketing automation platforms and CRMs.
  • Video has become a strategic tool for lead generation.
  • More companies have taken to hosting their own videos and using YouTube as a complement.

Marketers have learned that video is good for more than attracting attention. It enriches the customer journey at all stages, and it is more effective than other content at converting buyers.

In 2016, the video skills marketers have learned in 2015 will allow them to expand to new applications, creating better content experiences and telling their stories with more impact, and they'll get serious about measuring ROI and using that data to optimize results.

Here are my four expectations of video marketing in 2016.

1. Video will play a larger role throughout the customer journey

Ultimately, marketers need to help convert sales, and video is great for that. In a Demand Metric survey last fall, 74% of businesses reported that video content outperformed other content types in driving conversions.

Video works throughout the buying journey, and its importance shouldn't be underestimated in a world where buyers are up to 90% of the way through their purchasing journey before contacting the vendor.

  • At the top of the funnel, fun, light content is great for showing off your company culture. Thought leadership interviews demonstrate your company execs' expertise. How-to videos demonstrate how your products address customer needs.
  • In the middle of the funnel, more detailed product demos, client testimonials, and video case studies help customers see that you really can do what you say—and that you've already done it for others.
  • To seal the deal, sales reps are sending personal greeting videos, customized product demos, and culture videos that showcase what it's like to work with their business.

A recent study from Ascend2 found that customer testimonials, demo videos, and explainer/tutorial videos were the most effective at helping convert leads.

In 2016, more companies will produce videos for each step of the customer journey, and many of them will empower sales teams to create and harness content to help them close more deals.

2. With more ways to use video, more companies will do it themselves

Ascend2 also reported that 91% of companies say they're still seeing the effectiveness of marketing videos increase, and 71% of those with successful video programs say they'll increase investments in video production in the coming year.

That makes sense—because the return on investment is there. Organizations that use video are seeing revenues grow almost 50% faster each year than their video-averse counterparts do.

In 2016, as marketers find more ways to enrich customer journeys with video, the medium's already-strong conversion rates could improve—making it easier for businesses large and small to justify the costs of planning, production, and distribution.

Traditionally, businesses have been slow to adopt video production. The cost of equipment and concern about the difficulty of using it well prompted most to use professional production services. But the costs are declining, and it's becoming more important to make authentic content, particularly at later stages in the buying journey. Plus, marketers need to be able to produce timely videos and can't wait months for a professional video company to put something together.

3. More data, more data, and more data

We're all being pushed to prove ROI, and video provides the opportunity to measure success much better than text-based content. Being able to see what people watch, how long they're paying attention, and the moment they take action or leave the process is key for marketers who need to continually optimize content programs.

Part of the reason investment in video production will increase is because of the ever-growing importance of data and analytics for marketers. As marketers optimize video programs and find more ways to successfully distribute content and drive conversions, the numbers will support additional dollars in content budgets.

In addition to converting better than other content types, video will give business more opportunities than ever to learn even more about customers as video analysis tools grow stronger.

Video length, imagery, voice-over, graphics, music, personalization—all of these can affect the way a potential customer absorbs the story marketers tell, and as we learn to better measure metrics related to those elements, we'll create better, more powerful content.

4. The rise of interactive and personalized video content

Until recently, on-demand video content has been used primarily for one-to-many marketing communications and consumed as a lean-back experience (press play, sit back, and enjoy the show!). In 2016 that will start to change in a very material way as video content becomes more interactive and more personal.

Interactive video has been talked about for many years, but primarily in the context of B2C commerce brands. While enabling viewers to buy a pair of jeans by clicking on it in a video is a wonderful idea, market adoption has been low and implementation complexity is high.

New technologies designed for B2B marketers are making it easier than ever to turn videos into an engaging, lean-forward experience that can help you turn viewers into leads, and leads into customers. Overlaid data collection forms, mid-roll surveys and questionnaires, and choose-your-own-adventure style videos will make 2016 the year that interactive video content begins to enter the mainstream.

And, finally, 2016 will be the year that "1-to-1 personalized video" and "content individualization" find their place in the modern marketing dictionary.

Video personalization is the idea of weaving the viewer's name, company logo, or perhaps LinkedIn picture seamlessly into the video content itself to bring the viewer into the story—literally.

What once seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea is now possible in a fully automated fashion and in near real-time.

As tools such as video personalization become more popular in 2016, you won't be sending videos simply to tell your story: You'll be customizing videos to show how it's their story too.

* * *

The point of all these updates is that visual content is better for marketers, it is often preferred by users themselves, and it offers the perfect mix of snackable and actionable content for marketers who want to make an impact on the widest audience possible.

In 2016, deciding which videos to produce and how to get the most from them may be the toughest decision of all.

The good news is that with the right planning and the right technology we can get the data to know when our strategies work and when we need to go back to the drawing board—err, video studio.

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The Year in Video Marketing and What to Expect in 2016

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image of Tyler Lessard

Tyler Lessard is co-author of The Visual Sale and a believer in the power of being helpful and human. As VP of marketing at Vidyard, Tyler was immersed in the worlds of video marketing, video selling, content marketing, and customer experience. He's been recognized by Demand Gen Report as the top B2B Buyer-Centric marketer and by Adobe as a Top 50 Fearless Marketer.