Give customers a reason to watch your software demo

Software makes a big impact on the bottom line in just about every organization today. Real-life software users influence buying decisions. So, if you sell a technology solution that involves software, at some point in the sales cycle you need a persuasive video software demo.

Depicting credible reason(s) to try your software

As with any marketing video, the essential purpose is to get the viewer to seek out more information. You may want the customer to download a trial version, or to sign up for a live demo. In either case, you’ll be asking a busy person to put out a fair amount of effort.

What kind of video will entice them to do it? A detailed tutorial-style screencast might work — but it’s not a great place to start.  A better solution is to give the prospect a quick look at one credible reason to take the next step. And, your inside sales team will appreciate being able to share a series of such videos in a drip campaign. The good news is that it can be done inexpensively.

15-second video software demo example

Just about every technology solution promises “visibility.” A very short video demo can show people what they’re missing out on.

To illustrate this point, we’ve developed a series of video software demos as part of our video content “Good Ideas” series. The 15-second example here uses a clip from an explainer video to demonstrate just one benefit the technology solution promises: visibility. All it takes to create a simple video like this is a poster frame (important for social media, including YouTube), a video clip, and an offer of further information at the end. Music is optional. That’s it. Simple and cheap. [More very short demo examples can be found here.]

Screencast and video demo tips

In fifteen years of writing and producing videos about enterprise technology solutions, we’ve watched many, many live and recorded demos. Here are a few tips worth considering.

  1. Try to populate your demo with realistic (but not real) data around which you craft a story. It’s hard to maintain focus on a demo that just shows what happens when a tab is clicked or a menu it is selected.
  2. Add annotations and text. This not only reinforces what is being said, it also makes viewing more comfortable for people whose first language is not the one used on the audio track.
  3. Billboarding your demo with interactive chapter headings makes the content more accessible and makes it easy for viewers to repeat sections they find interesting.

There are lots more practical tips in  this infographic from TechSmith, makers of Camtasia and Snagit.

 

5 steps to save time and money producing technology solution videos

How do you get ready to make a video? Most enterprise technology solution video production starts with someone’s assumption that a video is required, a budget and (preferably) a deadline. Then someone writes a script or a treatment.

Here are five practical planning steps (my take on excellent suggestions from TechSmith, makers of Camtasia and Snagit), that will save time and money in the production process.

Define one customer benefit

Your goal is not to make a video. It’s not to tell someone something. The most creative way to define your goal is to state plainly at least one way in which this video is going benefit the customer who watches it. This will help you come up with a story line. It might even lead you to make two shorter videos (for about the same cost) — instead of one video that interests each of two different buying influences only half as much.

Write a visual script

Behind every enterprise technology solution video is the idea that customers will prefer watching video to reading text. Your script should describe as clearly as you can what the viewer will see. Try not to invoke vague abstractions like customer-centricity and digital transformation, even if your solution helps achieve those things. Whatever graphics you can devise to represent those concepts won’t add much to anyone’s understanding.

Gather assets up front

Can you repurpose existing video or photos? Maybe your customers have visual assets they’ll share. Are there logos and branding guidelines? It’s a lot more efficient to create scripts or storyboards around existing visual assets than it is make changes later on in the production process.

Make storyboards

No matter how hard we work at describing visuals in the scripts we write, people tend to ignore them in the editing process. It’s a lot harder to overlook the visuals in storyboards — even if they’re just stick figures. Concepts that are nebulous or downright wrong-headed tend to stand out. Some narration text will almost certainly need to be rewritten to improve the visual flow.

Get feedback

If you’re going to make a mistake, make it up front, not when you’re working with animated or live-action video. Rewriting a script is cheap. So is refining images in storyboards. Reshoots and re-recordings of narration are not cheap or easy. That’s why you want to get good feedback early on, especially from those people who have enough clout to demand changes later in the process.

This is the first in a series of practical suggestions for producing more effective enterprise technology video.

 

2019 Video Trends Worth Watching

This is the time of year when content creators mull over the year’s “trends” and opine about what we should be doing during the coming year. I’m not going to do that, but I will share a few “trends” noted by others that could be video trends of interest to technology solution providers.

Get more out of the videos you’ve already made

This is my favorite, from a Vidyard blog post titled “Three exciting B2B video trends for 2019.” While the idea of re-purposing content doesn’t sound all that exciting or trendy, it’s a really good idea with plenty of potential for innovation. Everyone should do it (in which case, it would be a trend).

There are lots of ways to re-use a video: edit it, send a personalized link to it, make it interactive, and so forth. Author Jesse Ariss suggests getting started with a technique that’s amazingly simple: update the thumbnail! An attractive and informative thumbnail makes a video easier for sales teams to share. This is especially apt for YouTube webinars, many of which seem to be billboarded with a random screen grab from the middle of a demo. Thumbnails (or poster frames) are really important. For videos shared via social media, the thumbnail is the only chance you get to stop the viewer from scrolling past your video.

6-Second Video Ads

This is trend #6 out of 10 trends noted by Shutterstock. It’s declared a trend on the strength of research suggesting that 61% of six-second ads lift brand awareness.

While snackable content is a proven tactic in the competition for attention, six-second storytelling may be too heavy a lift for most technology products (as opposed to brands). There are no B2B spots on this list of the best six-second ads from HubSpot. But how about crafting six-second stories around specific competitive advantages? Or product features? (If you can’t make those work, you’ll be interested in Shutterstock’s #7 trend: “Brands Exploring Longform Content” like product walkthroughs and unboxing videos.)

Using Video to Scale Corporate Training

Panopto’s Top 5 Corporate Video Trends coalesce around the value of leveraging internal resources such as the expertise of subject matter experts. Fully capitalizing on these “trends” takes a dedicated video content management platform (like Panopto’s).

Panopto calls their approach an “Enterprise YouTube” for corporate video management. While it may not be a trend that’s gathering momentum with technology solution marketers, the general idea is certainly worth thinking about.

A searchable, customizable library of on-demand video assets that takes full advantage of all the creativity you can muster from internal resources and external partners could provide an invaluable knowledge-sharing resource to your customers and sales team, and a productivity boost for your bottom line.  A recent workplace productivity study by Panopto and YouGov actually put a dollar value on the cost of inefficient knowledge sharing: $12M annually for a company with over 5,000 employees.

From marketing, advertising and sales to corporate training, video will continue to grow as an important tool in 2019. 

 

Video content management: who benefits?

If your content marketing strategy includes white papers, blog posts, videos, etc. you might want to rethink it. Video isn’t a content type like the others. When a customer clicks on a link to a white paper or a blog post, they have a pretty good idea of what to expect. But video, not so much.  Sure there are different types of videos: webinars, thought leadership, explainers, tutorials, and so forth. But if you manage the video budget along these lines, you’re leaving money on the table. To realize the full value of video, think video content management.

Who benefits from video, anyway?

Why should a B2B company make videos at all? Not because people like to watch a lot of video. Not to create buzz or convert someone. You benefit from a video only if customers benefit by learning something that helps them make or confirm a buying decision.

A good starting point for video content management, then, is to ask, “What content should we be creating to help the customer?” This will open up new ways of thinking about video and its uses:

  • Could we make this white paper easier to understand if we turned a complicated diagram into a guided tour?
  • Could we help ensure continuity of operations (a customer benefit, for sure!) with “knowledge transfer videos” in which old hands share hard-won know-how.
  • Could we personalize videos? Or help sales personalize messages to customers by explaining why a particular video is relevant to a particular customer’s business.
  • Could we work with sales to make sure we have a quick and authoritative response to each frequently asked question. Not every response needs to be video; but, as a visual medium, video is frequently the quickest and easiest medium for customers.

Video content management for distribution, production, data, and search

Clearly, every video you produce is content that needs to be managed along with all the text, presentations, and other stuff you produce. But digital video has heftier technical production and distribution requirements than other media. Video platforms, like those on this top 15 list, are useful for distribution and for collecting viewing data to feed into CMS and other sales/marketing systems. If customer education or capturing tribal knowledge is a high priority, take a look at Panopto. Developed at Carnegie Mellon and widely used in education, it offers lots of tools for turning expert knowledge into consumable video.

A video content management platform might also include tools, such as transcription, for making video content easier to find and share. The obvious customer benefit is the ability to find the answer to a question buried deep inside a webinar or demo. But sales teams will also be able to find more relevant video material to share proactively.

 

Video tactics for the modern B2B buying experience

A fascinating new research report by Forrester’s Laura Ramos finds that companies waste a ton of money on content that “buyers don’t want and sellers 
won’t use.” The survey of marketing decision-makers reveals that few of them think they have a complete understanding of exactly what content sales needs, although they recognize that the sales process is a crucial channel for content distribution. She identifies a number of practices that have helped companies create marketing content that satisfies both buyers and sellers.

Image of Modern B2B Buying Experiences Require A Singular Content Strategy.

This worth-your-time Forrester report Modern B2B Buying Experiences Require a Singular Content Strategy can be downloaded from content hub provider Folloze.

The report does not single out video as a content type, but the best practices she recommends suggest some new video tactics for a modern B2B buying experience. Here’s my take on five of them.

Produce content that is modularized for industry or role

A company that supplies robotics software, uiPath, pairs industry-savvy copywriters with marketing channel specialists to produce content modules that sales can mix and match by topic, idea, or industry. Video tactics might include bite-sizing webinars and demos — a fairly simple editing task. Bookending product videos with different intros and outros is another way to target an industry or role without creating a whole new video.

Augment content with resources that bring messages to life

The reference here is to “big rock” content assets (e.g., eBooks) that will be divided into digestible bits like blog posts, infographics, and videos. The most successful programs include additional sales enablement content to help salespeople understand the marketing content from the buyers’ point of view. One way to help sales get more out of marketing videos is to create an interactive version augmented with examples, objection-handling suggestions, quizzes, etc.

Use content hubs to put sellers in the spotlight

What do content hubs do? Here’s 2-Minute Explainer video we made about the Journey Sales content hub solution.

Content hubs are microsites customized for a prospect company’s convenience with relevant content and collaboration tools. Journey Sales, a client of ours, provides “Smart Room” software on SalesForce. Other vendors include Folloze, Triblio, and Uberflip. Content hubs are supposed to foster engagement between buying teams and sales teams. Clearly, they should be stocked with lots of different kinds of content.

 

Plan video content by the numbers

The first rule for keeping videos for IT decision-makers short, is “Don’t tell them what they already know, just tell them what they want to know.” Maybe that’s two rules, but enforcement is hard either way. It’s particularly hard to say what each person on a buying team starts out knowing or wants to know. Not everyone is out to acquire “product knowledge.” Some good general guidelines on what IT decision-makers want to learn can be gleaned from the wealth of statistical factoids in IDG’s Guide to engaging IT decision-makers in the digital-first age, an infographic which summarizes the findings of several recent in-depth studies. Here are a few of the findings worth taking into account when you plan video content for customer engagement.

It takes a whole semester

The average sales process is 4.8 months, during which you’ll need to reach 16 influencers, half of them from IT, half from the business. You want to avoid “marketing hype/buzz words” — most IT decision-makers (56%) have problems with that. 90% put a high value on “tailored” content — by tech platform, industry, or company size.

Many decision-makers (78%) say end-users are playing an increasing role in process. 71% said they would like to have”more educational resources” from vendors, tailored for non-technical functions. 85% are “more likely to consider a vendor who educates them in each stage of the decision process.” The average decision-maker downloads five “educational assets.”

Keep in mind that not every learner needs to master the subject. For some, it’s enough to tick a few boxes.

 

How to make irresistible content

Many B2B sales and marketing leaders regard “interactive video” — if they regard it at all — as an exotic form of communication that won’t interest their buyers. This is surprising. In 2017, 41% of B2B buyers said they prefer interactive content (DemandGen). Recent technology improvements have made interactive content pretty easy to create. And so much of it — e.g., personality quizzes — is surefire clickbait! In other words, interactive video represents an opportunity to make irresistible content that can improve your B2B customer experience.

Facebook recently-announced interactive live and on-demand video features that let creators add quizzes, polls, challenges and gamification. “Video is evolving away from just passive consumption to more interactive two-way formats,” says Facebook’s VP of video product Fidji Simo. Facebook sees this as fitting into the broader trend toward interactive content in general. 

Better CTAs (and more of them)

Responses to a CTA (Call To Action) is a much-used “conversion rate” metric, especially among marketers of big-ticket technology solutions. A study by Forrester Research found that putting CTAs inside a video (as opposed to CTA’s outside on the web page where the video resides) increases the conversion rate 5% -12%. As Persephone Rizvi at eLearning Industry points out in Interactive Video Revolutionizes Role-Play Training. with interactive video, there are lots of actions the viewer can take, and every response generates customer data that can help improve your understanding of the customer, and your sales/marketing content. 

Interactive video plus

It doesn’t need to be an “interactive video” to take advantage of the richness video brings to sales and marketing communication. Just about any type of interactive content can incorporate video, along with text, graphics, buttons and anything else that can be displayed online. Here are a couple of ideas from SnapApp.

Interactive quiz illustration

Quizzes like this arouse curiosity to drive home differentiators.

Quizzes. Quizzes let buyers quickly get their bearings, and give the marketer an opportunity to put across some eye-opening differentiators. Here’s a example of an interactive quiz from Boston Scientific. Interactive quizzes can provide the marketer with data on customer interests, messaging appeal, and levels of knowledge. And, being interactive, the quizzes can easily guide users to other content they’ll be interested in. 

Maturity Assessments. 

 

Video: The Buyer Enablement Tool

Gartner, the leading supplier of categories to the Information Technology Industry, has come out with a new one: Buyer Enablement Tools.  “Today’s buying journey isn’t just hard — it has reached a tipping point where it’s become nearly unnavigable without a significant amount of help,” according to Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor at Gartner. “Much like sales enablement, sales organizations must focus on what we call ‘buyer enablement’.”

Gartner research indicates that two-thirds of any B2B buying journey is devoted to “gathering, processing and de-conflicting information.” Customers appreciate suppliers who provide information that makes the buying process easier.  “Buyer Enablement Tool” is not (yet) a Gartner Magic Quadrant category, but whether or not a piece of sales content fits into the category seems consequential to me now. If you start out to make content that makes the buyer’s job easier,  you may well end up discovering new types of effective content that work for you.

Buyer Enablement Video

Take video, for example. What is a logical objective for a video designed for buyer enablement? It might not be “describe key features and benefits” — not all members of a buying team care about the same features and benefits. More targeted objectives might be:

  • Clear up common misconceptions
  • Answer a frequently asked question
  • Show how easy it is to do an important task
  • Explain why we think the way we do
  • Provide reassurance on a key issue

If meeting objectives like these is really going to help out the buyer, you don’t want to keep her waiting. You’ll want your video to come to the point quickly, and stop there.

 

Make interactive videos for free with open source software

You can increase engagement and provide superior customer experience at the same time by making interactive videos out of your ordinary “passive” videos.  I mean, wouldn’t you, as a viewer, like to start up a webinar and see clickable “chapter headings” — so you can skip ahead to the interesting stuff? Wouldn’t your sales team like to enrich product videos with new options — like seeing more in-depth info — right there in the video window?

The advantages of interactive video for you and for viewers are clear:

  • The viewer is thinking about your content, not just watching it
  • Viewers can navigate to what interests them most
  • Learners learn more when they get to ask and answer questions
  • You can add more than one call-to-action
  • You can verify viewing
  • You can collect feedback and interaction data

Interactive video tools designed for business users

OK, you say — but doesn’t that take heavy-duty tech and video skills? It does not. Now, interactive video tools designed for business users are available on many video platforms.

If you want to get a good idea of the process, I recommend trying the free, open source platform H5P. Here’s a demo of what you can do with H5P. You can test-drive their software to make your own interactive video, as well as other types of interactive content.

H5P is a widely used learning management solution that’s well-suited to injecting fun and games into any long-ish marketing video. With plugins for popular open-source content management systems WordPress, Joomla, and Moodle, H5P is easier to use than PowerPoint. You start by selecting a video on the web — your website or a video hosting platform like YouTube.

Screen shot showing how easy it is to select content for  interactive videos

Host the video on your website — or make interactive videos from your videos previously uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Then you add pre-made interactions. 

 

Why you need more “snackable” video content

The DemandGen 2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report is out. Among the findings that might surprise you is this: the role of sales is critical early in the sales process. Yes, buyers are spending even more time doing research on their own, and the buying team is bigger, and the purchase cycle is longer. Nevertheless, a month or two into the purchase process, buyers look to sales to deliver the content and additional information that speaks to their specific needs, industry and business challenges. The survey doesn’t differentiate content types, but snackable video content should certainly be in the mix.

Buyers’ top concerns

Respondents’ top concerns were ‘deployment time/ease of use’ (77%), ‘features/functionality’ (72%) and ’solved a pain point’ (71%). Deployment tends to get little coverage in product videos (beyond assertions that it’s easy). Clearly buyers have an appetite for details about deployment. There ought to be video on the subject.

While most technology companies do have text and video content that speaks to industry-specific features and pain points — much of it is the opposite of snackable. For every buying team member who wants to spend 40 minutes with a webinar, there are undoubtedly several who would watch five minutes of highlights.