Join us FREE for Streaming Media Connect, Feb 14-17, 2023. Reserve Your Seat Now!

B2B Video Marketing Best Practices and Tips from Cisco

General consumers make up the largest audience for video marketing, yet business-to-business (B2B) marketing appeals to more targeted audiences built on higher engagement and acquisition stakes.

Cisco's Leslie Drate, social media team lead in charge of the company's global web video marketing strategy, best practices, and social media platforms, shares strategies and real-world examples for video marketing with OnlineVideo.net in this article.

Read on to learn how to apply Cisco's own B2B video best practices no matter what size the enterprise or budget.

Business Decision-Makers Watch More Videos -- and Engage More

Cisco is widely regarded as a global leader in B2B video solutions. The company boasts around 2 million global video views, there are 3,000 videos on the Cisco.com corporate site alone, and it creates 1,000 new videos a year. Drate oversees the video marketing strategy for Cisco videos, and blogs for the company's global B2B audience.

Jimmy Ray Purser on Techwise TV.

Drate reported in a internal study over a 9-month period how IT decision-makers are watching more videos during actual business hours and throughout the week -- not just on corporate websites but on YouTube channels, as well. She cited an internal case study where 96 percent of IT decision makers and tech buyers watch videos for business. Even more impressive are high share-through rates: a whopping 84 percent either forward, share, or post tech-related videos.

Drate shared these key findings from a related CISCO study:

  • View 44% more pages while on Cisco.com

  • Are twice as likely to engage with high-value conversion activities on Cisco.com

  • Are 41% more likely to return to Cisco.com

  • Are 5 times more likely to click-through on a blog post with video

  • Are twice as likely to click-through on email

Cisco's Top Tips for B2B Video Marketing

Have a "video journey" plan. In other words, have video categories for each stage of the customer funnel. At Cisco, they segment videos into ten categories -- ten different types of videos -- for where the customer is at each stage of the funnel.

"Considering how the video fits into the overall journey and what to give the customer after the video, is going to be the most important thing that's coming up in B2B video," says Drate.

Length matters. Cisco found the sweet spot for B2B videos on YouTube to be 60 to 90 seconds; and on their corporate site to be 2 to 3 minutes (with exceptions for where lots of technical detail needs to be shared.) Understanding who your customers are and where they are along the funnel is key to understanding how much time they are likely to spend on your video.

"A lot of the decision making around the video that the visitor is going to watch has to do with where they are -- i.e., the customer journey," says Drate. "If they're at the beginning of the journey and they're just gaining awareness about your company, then a more general overview of your company is more appropriate. But once they're further along in the process and in what we call the design stage, where they're making decisions about one product versus another, they're willing to spend much more time with videos and other types of collateral, to compare feature-by-feature."

Save on cost by focusing on context. "A lot of the things that make a video effective have nothing to do with the money. The only thing that has to do with the money is the production quality; and the only category of video that relies on this is the advertising category." says Drate. "We've learned from analyzing our own metrics here at Cisco that it really doesn't matter how much we spend on producing the video. The results for what we spend $100,000 on could be similar to what we spend $1,000 on. It just has a lot to do with content and audience. So, if you have a technical audience, you can easily deliver a Flip-camera quality video, giving them the exact information they need. In fact, it may be of even more value to them than a more ambiguous or general-advertising kind of video."

Produce once, post often. Drate says all of the videos posted to YouTube are also posted to Cisco.com (preferably in more than one place).

"Video is also a big asset for our blog posts, Facebook, and other social media. We're always integrating video wherever we can on our website and social media, because of the higher engagement levels with video. That represents the customers need -- what they're looking for," says Drate. "That goes to listening and responding on the customers' terms, and customers want video."

Take advantage of YouTube's free and paid features. Every B2B company doing video marketing should have a YouTube account. Drate cited these YouTube features as working especially well for Cisco with its own client acquisition and engagement:

  • Hyperlink to your website. In the description field, include a full-length URL starting with "http://..." You get clickable calls-to-action without spending a dime.

  • Closed caption your videos. YouTube's free text transcript upload feature will allow users to more easily follow the video; and it also makes the video much more SEO-friendly.

  • Promote your own videos. YouTube gives everyone the opportunity to do video ads and overlays (Tru Video) on other videos than what's on your own channel.

Resist the urge to "go viral." Drate says B2B's get distracted by the notion that they need a video to get millions of views as an equation for success.

"It's much more about reaching your target audience than it is about the video going viral," says Drate.

Chop up big videos into bite-size "snacks." Sometimes B2B videos may come from a demo or speaking event, which can be lengthy. One strategy that works is to break up a long video into smaller clips. Do it in a way where you have individual pieces that can stand on their own, while connecting to both the other snack-size videos and the original long-format video.

Showcase non-video assets with video. In other words, re-purpose what you already have. What are some of your popular articles, white papers, and presentations? Each of them can have a video go with it.

Have listening and engagement strategies. Video isn't just great content, it's a great catalyst for conversations. Plan for conversations that will likely happen from your video; and lead conversations around that same video content. Also, follow the chatter online for ideas on how to respond with a video. When audiences know that companies are listening and participating in conversations on both a group and person-to-person level, people will be more inclined to engage with the company's video library.

Showcase the influencers. Drate says that B2Bs benefit just as much from influencers in their industry as B2Cs, especially when they're featured in corporate videos. Cisco's own personality, Jimmy Ray Purser on Techwise TV, is featured in many of its videos.

"He can have a product on a table and he'll talk about every feature, every port, and he'll go into deep, deep detail. The engagement on his videos is very high." says Drate.

#1 B2B Video Marketing Tip: Understand Context First

There's not much distinction between B2Bs and B2Cs when it comes to video strategy. B2Bs need to approach video with the same importance as B2Cs, and with a lot of the same strategies and tactics for content, distribution, engagement, and customer care.

What Cisco's own experience teaches us is that successful B2B video marketing is not about high production cost; it's about understanding the audience before deciding what video content to produce. Aside from advertising videos, context doesn't cost money, but it does require an understanding of the audience - who they are, what they want and need, where and when and how they experience and engage with video, and what communities they engage with before, during, and after the video experience. Not all customers are the same, so forget the one-size-fits-approach with video. Treat all customers with the respect of who they are and where they've been, to help them get where they're going.

Grant Crowell's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues