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How to make marketing videos for every stage of the customer lifecycle

21st May 2014
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You’re probably hearing from all angles about the power of video. About how it’s the content marketing of the future. About how YouTube gets a billion unique visits every month and that’s more than anyone can shake a stick at.

What people probably aren’t telling you, though, is how to actually leverage some of that value for your own business, how to use it to enhance your campaigns. We all know that the proliferation of online video represents a massive opportunity when it comes to marketing, but it’s making sense of that opportunity that’s where the issue lies.

At the Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders, researcher James McDavid discussed the great potential of video within the marketing realms. “Online video offers opportunities that are distinct from TV; we’re talking about data, interactivity and different means of distribution here, that are open to marketers looking to share their messages with people through video.”

However, the black cloud hanging over the video marketing landscape was quickly addressed: “It’s impossible to use a single piece of video content to meet everybody’s needs,” he said. “There’s no silver bullet, you need to think about the different requirements of people with the video content you’re using.” There are just so many pesky variables that determine different requirements.  

For instance, different demographics have different consumption habits. Overall, half of European adults consume video on a monthly basis, but there is by no means an even spread within that 50%. Those 18-24 year olds are (unsurprisingly) the most avid watchers, with 80% of them consuming video every month. This number falls steadily as you move higher through the age groups. When you reach the 65 and over band, there is still a good 29% consuming online video. 

The devices which are used to consume this content – desktops, tablets and mobiles, for example – are other variables worth bearing in mind. There seems to be a strong relationship between device and the type of video viewed, with each influencing the other. For instance, those needing quick DIY videos while in the middle of a job tend to look for content on their mobile, as it promises immediacy. The relationship is two-way though; some users just prefer to consume media on their mobile, so because of their choice of device, they'll tend to gravitate towards short, snappy content that can be consumed on the go.

Different kinds of video also generate different levels of engagement and viewing rates. Short-form content, such as user-generated videos (39%), music videos and news, came out top of the popularity heap in Forrester’s survey. These viewing figures tower over those of longer videos. The likes of full-length films and episodes – exactly the space in which marketers traditionally advertise – were the least popular with 17% and 16% of respondents watching them regularly.

Looking at differences in business sector, meanwhile, the CPG and retail field currently make the most use of video. This is followed by automotive, then food and drink, and finally media and entertainment. While these guys may already be at the party, there’s still plenty of room for more. “These are the leaders in utilising online video today, but it doesn’t mean the opportunity is closed to other verticals,” said McDavid. “I think these are the people who’ve understood the power of video early…but if you’re a B2B marketer, for example, there are still plenty of different ways that video is applicable for you.”

A structured approach

So, how do you tackle the problem of single pieces of video content not working for everyone? How do you try and get around all those different variables to success? “I think to do that we need to develop a framework and a more structured, methodological approach that we can use to place online video into,” McDavid asserted. This framework, he suggested, is the customer lifecycle.

Forrester’s customer lifecycle features six stages:

Discover: the discovery of a need that can be met by a particular product category.
Explore: The exploration of all their options and research of brands.
Buy: The process.
Use: The experience of beginning to use their new product.
Ask: Seeking support and looking for answers to product problems.
Engage: Initiating and participating i9n conversations with and around the brand.

McDavid suggested that marketers can support each of those stages by focusing your video content on optimising audience reach in the discovery and exploration phases; concentrating on the depth of information offered during the explore and buys stages; and building positive customer relationships through the use, ask and engage phases.

Forrester's customer lifecycle, supported by the three pillars of video

Not only does this technique help ensure you are delivering relevant video content to the right customers at the right time, but is also allows you to actively guide your customers through the cycle. “You can actually use each individual stage of the lifecycle to vector people around,” said McDavid. You might move into the engaged stage and want to vector somebody back into the exploration or the buy stage.”

He continued: “I think we’re very used to thinking about video operating squarely in the reach quadrant and as part of discovery. I think that’s a hangover from the TV-centric view. But actually, online video is offering opportunities for you to spread video further throughout the lifecycle as you move around.”

The customer lifecycle

In the discovery stage you need to ensure your video is offering broad reach and broad appeal; search is king. McDavid suggests promoting your videos with catchy descriptions and optimising them for search with tags and keywords. Think of YouTube as your new search engine. Here, you can supplement your own YouTube channel with paid search video advertising.

Videos focusing on the explore stage need to balance entertainment with practicality; you want content that people will be drawn to and enjoy, but that also offers practical information and will help nudge them through to the next stage of the cycle. Product demos are something to think about here, while remembering that heightening reach is still a critical factor. 

Online video can support the buy stage brilliantly. “Interactivity is unlocking opportunities here,” McDavid said. Integrating online video with your ecommerce platform with in-video transactions is just one such example. If, however, interactive video is not suitable or attainable for your particular business, concentrate on using the completion and engagement data to identify leads within the audience.

The use stage is when brands can help customers unlock the value of their purchase. How-to videos have a long life as they offer relevant, useful and in-depth information about specific products and allow the customer to get more value from their purchase. “This type of content helps marketers move beyond a campaign mind set into something that is more long-lasting and long-term,” said McDavid. “This is the first stage where you’re really trying to build a relationship with your customers so this kind of content is great for sparking discussions.” It’s also a good stage at which to vector the customer through to another stage – for example by featuring supplementary products and upselling.

Reaching the ask stage of the lifecycle, customers want easily accessible, comprehensive answers to their product related problems. Companies which know the key challenges that their customers face and the most common questions they get asked can really make use of videos here – answering them on film. The viewing figures for this kind of content won’t be colossal, but that’s not important. Making sure people have the resources they need to self-serve, if and when they require them, is key to building your relationship with them and keeping them in the cycle.

Social is a great space in which to use video in the engage stage. This kind of short-form, social and sharable content is going to generate high engagement rates. People want to watch this kind of content, that mixes utility with entertainment, and they want to share it. Short-form social video is the most consumed type of video online, as mentioned above, meaning that there is great opportunity here. “Content that’s seeded in these kind of short-form social video platforms is also a great way to vector people back to other stages of the customer lifecycle,” noted McDavid.

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