Marketing videos create awareness. But then what? What do viewers actually do after they click the "Play" button?

If you want to know a lot more about your customers and your videos, get them interacting with each other. It's easier than you think, and you'll get data... while your customers and prospects get a personalized experience.

Interactive Web Video: A New Kind of Personalized User Experience

Nearly all online marketing videos provide an impersonal user experience that captures little data beyond whether someone viewed the video. That's about to change.

No clicks means no data. Source: HapYak data
based on 13.35 million interactive video views.

Interactive video, which allows viewers to direct the flow by clicking on-screen objects, was specialist technology until recently. It didn't scale. It didn't work on iPhones. Now it's HTML5 and works in a browser. That's instant scalability. With the release of Apple's iOS X, it works on iOS devices. That's big.

Why is interactive video such a big opportunity? Instead of one-way passive communication, you can now provide customers with what are, essentially, video Web apps. Users have control. They can choose their own path and jump to the topics they are interested in. They can give you feedback within the video itself. They can learn on their own, in the bite-size chunks e-learning experts recommend.

As viewers make choices, they will also be generating data that tells marketers how specific leads and prospects engage and interact. That's data you can send to your CRM or sales and marketing automation systems and analytics tools to guide further interaction.

Better User Experience

Let's say your product has three major differentiators, X, Y, and Z, and you usually pitch them in that order.

But some viewers are really interested in Y. Others may care more about Z. Shouldn't you let viewers skip ahead? They'll like that. (And why do you care if they skipped X? Unless everyone skips it.)

If they skip to Y, you can pop up a button offering to show even more information about Y. Now you're guiding the buyer's journey and creating engagement.

Better Video Content Management

Product explainer videos are usually under two minutes long. Important details always get left out. Now they can be "included" in the video production process, so viewers who want to learn more can do it with a click. It's never going to be cheaper or easier to create that additional content than while you're producing a product explainer video. Think of it as getting valuable content out of what otherwise would have been left on the cutting room floor.

Another way to create related content economically is to record subject-matter-expert interviews you conduct during pre-production, as you are writing the script. "More info" links can then guide viewers to that additional relevant content.

New Life for Old Videos

Any interactive video can direct viewers to more detailed information in existing videos, such as webinars. Or, interactive sales training and similar learning applications can in-corporate webinars and subject-matter-expert videos.

New Ways of Using Existing Content and Web Apps

You can use interactive videos to run meetings or book demos. Integrate existing Web forms and other Web apps, such as shopping carts, calculators, and polls.

New Ways to Nurture Leads

I'm talking about actual nurturing here, not creating leads or tipping them over the lip of the sales funnel. According to Sirius Decisions, 80% of unqualified leads—understandably ignored by sales—will go on to buy from someone within the next 24 months. How can interactive video help?

Obviously, understanding the buyer is key to lead nurturing. When you've tracked customer interactions with your videos, you'll be in a better position to zero in on which pain points and features matter most.

Less obviously: segmenting your video productions into short bursts of learning for inter-activity gives you lots of informational video tidbits to use in sales automation mailings. That's especially valuable, because videos increase email opens.

Videos for Account Management

Low-key but engaging interactive video is a more appropriate approach to cross-selling and upselling existing accounts than videos created simply for building awareness.

Anyone in your company can add interactive controls to existing videos. It's that easy. And that's important because now the people who are closest to the customer can guide the user experience to a far greater degree than is possible with conventional, passive video.

Any salesperson or business development specialist who can imagine the choices a customer might want to make can also direct the placement of clickable objects to make those choices a reality.

So, you bring empathy and a consumer-like experience to video—without requiring a lot of video or IT resources.

Time to Get Started

Even if you want to add a lot of customization and fancy branding to the interactive video experience, it's done with the HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript technology your Web team is familiar with. Though, to be sure, it requires editorial skill to organize information, to imagine what customers will want to click on, and to create surrounding context for the interactive video.

There is no better time to start experimenting with interactive video. It's easy. It's not ex-pensive. All that's required is imagination and editorial skill—and a desire to see more customer engagement coming out of your marketing video investments.

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image of Bruce McKenzie

Bruce McKenzie is a principal at 2-Minute Explainer and founding partner of Business Information Graphics. He is a B2B video expert who creates explainer videos that increase sales and shorten the selling cycle. He has created videos for IBM, Oracle, Compuware, BMC, TIBCO, and others.

LinkedIn: Bruce McKenzie