As any pedestrian trying to navigate a big city sidewalk can attest, text messaging apps can be dangerously engaging. Chatbots are automated messaging apps designed to keep users engaged. They’re about to have a big impact on marketing content (including video), and account-based marketing, in particular.
Rise of the Chatbots
“How Bots Will Completely Kill Websites and Mobile Apps” is just one of many provocative headlines you run across when you start looking into why tech giants are so enamored with chatbots. People use messaging apps more than they use social networks, reports Business Insider. Mark Zuckerberg predicts that most Facebook interactions between businesses and their customers will soon be mediated by chatbots. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that the underlying design of Microsoft Windows will be “Conversation as a Platform” going forward.
Chatbots are “conversational user interfaces” (CUIs). They can interact using chat, text messaging, voice, menus, buttons, images and video. In complex applications, these virtual assistants need artificial intelligence, like IBM’s Watson. Some even require humans to intervene for the tough questions. But even simple bots can be friendly and help people find what they want faster than a traditional point-and-click computer interface.
Chatbots and Marketing
An account-based marketing (ABM) strategy is already in place or in the plans at 75% of B2B companies, says a January 2017 “State of the Conversation” report published by Corporate Visions. Aimed at acquiring, retaining and growing business with good customers, account-based marketing (or selling) is “the future of B2B sales” according to Journey Sales CEO Bill Butler. Focusing on key accounts is nothing new, of course, but today’s ABM relies heavily on automation to increase engagement.
That’s where chatbots come in. Customers who aren’t ready to engage with sales are perfectly willing to engage with a chatbot as long as it appears to be helping them find out what they want to find out.
Beyond the Promotional Video
Obviously, there are implications here for all kinds of content. People expect replies that are short and to the point. The implications for video are especially interesting because most video is designed to deliver a message, like a commercial or infomercial. And a video can’t be scanned like a white paper or product sheet.
In other words, most B2B marketing video produced today is not suitable for chatbots. Nor it is especially suitable for the ABM model where engagement, not messaging, is the goal. Vidyard’s 2017 B2B Video Benchmarks survey shows that, for videos under 90 seconds (most top-of-the-funnel videos), 25% of viewers stop watching before videos are 50% done, and just over 50% of viewers watch to the end.
Put yourself in the place of a customer working on his own to understand your solution. Studies show that knowledge workers spend 30% of each workday searching for information. Why not make your information the easiest to grasp? Video can do that. With or without a chatbot.
“Video-first” and Conversational Commerce
A relevant meme here is “video-first” — the idea advanced by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook will be mostly video by 2020. People are increasingly accustomed to using video socially — not just to watch, but to converse.
That’s why it makes sense to “think like a chatbot” about video. Video is great at succinct explanations — but you need to deliver the right video at the right time. In account-based marketing, user experience—not messaging—should drive the form and the content of your videos. Chatbots or no chatbots, building a library of “chatbot-ready” videos will give your sales and marketing teams more options for reaching out to customers than they have with traditional video formats.
Three Ways to Get Started
- Persona-based videos-- Focusing on a buyer persona means you can make shorter videos. Get to the point faster. Take up less time. That’s already two or three steps in the right direction toward a better user experience.
- FAQ videos--Your subject matter experts know what questions people ask. Why not provide “the short answer” in a short video? Add a few graphics or simple explanatory animations. Punchy FAQ videos could work as promotional teasers in social media, as well as customer-friendly content in account-based marketing.
- Put a chatbot in your video--There are plenty of easy-to-use tools for making a video respond to input — almost like a chatbot. This can be as simple as adding chapter headings to a webinar, interview or whiteboard talk. Or a video where you can click on objects to dive deeper into the subject. Or a video that links to new content based on user input.
What’s different about responsive (or “interactive”) videos is that the exploration and interaction all take place within the video window. So it feels more like app, less like a website.
Video analytics typically don’t provide a lot of valuable information. But the more personalized the video, the more it can tell you about viewer engagement and interests. You can get viewers to volunteer information about their interests. Every interaction provides data points. Integrated with your CRM or marketing automation platform, your “conversational” videos tell you a lot about the buyers you’re conversing with.