The use of video lead generation in sales and marketing has been growing in popularity over the years. I’ve been on the marketing, sales development, and account executive side of the business, and it’s clear from my personal experience that fewer people are picking up the phone. Between that and overcrowded inboxes, it’s challenging to get someone’s attention these days, even to say “no” quick (when you really want a “no,” or a “why?”). Here are four video lead generation strategies for more engagement.
The Stats Don’t Lie, Either
Due to the 54.6 billion total robocalls made last year, trust in answering the phone has declined to a point where less than 50% of all calls received are answered, according to Hiya’s State of the Call Report. Couple that with only .02% of B2B lead list cold calls converting, and less than 1% of cold emails getting replies, it’s evident that you need to do something extra to stand out.
Trying the following strategies for video selling might just land you a few solid leads (I know it did for me). For privacy reasons, I have left out personal details in the following examples.
The LinkedIn Native Video
While this one is by far the riskiest, it can also pay dividends when done effectively. Putting a vid on LinkedIn involves making a video where you speak directly to the prospect who you want to meet with (speaking into the camera), upload it to LinkedIn publicly, and tag them in it. Here’s one that worked when I was trying to get some engagement with a wearable device company at the end of 2017.
That video managed to get about 15,000 views (unfortunately, the analytics disappeared after 60 days, according to LinkedIn, so I don’t have the hard evidence of that). Our guy sent me a message on LinkedIn later that night, and complemented the video. Then, he referred me to the person internally who we needed to speak with on his team.
To be clear, this should act as a last resort after all standard contact methods have been exhausted.
Their company had no direct phone lines, and we couldn’t scrape up any cell phone numbers through tools like Zoominfo or Datanyze. I had tried messaging him on LinkedIn, and through email several times first, too. The other thing is that since these videos take some time to make (at least this video did), the company you’re working to engage needs to be a whale of a prospect. Unfortunately, the referral he gave me never turned into anything in the immediate future. We had just missed the boat with their compelling event.
Even though I never looked at Hootsuite’s LinkedIn video guide when I made my videos — it’s worth skimming over this post before making a video for your business. Also, be aware that 45% of people will only watch for the first 30 seconds, so there needs to be a compelling hook (a great piece of video) right at the beginning.
I planned for the video to be viewed with no sound (at least at first), and added the visual hook of an insane amount of weight on the bench. If you’re wondering, it was 585 pounds. I’m a little too small for that. I also didn’t mess around at the beginning of the video, and quickly let them know we could help them with their (publicly mentioned) global growth goals.
Key Insights on Selling With LinkedIn
Many companies saddle their salespeople with LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscriptions, and for good reason. The site has over 500 million users as of 2019, and 78% of B2B marketers rate it as the most effective platform in achieving specific objectives for their organization.
Even though you do not need to be connected with someone to tag them in a video post (they will still be notified) it doesn’t hurt to add them to your network first. One connection message that I found to get accepted a lot of the time and start conversations was simple:
“Hi, Dr. Brenner,
Bob Buckley here with This College Life. I came across your profile and was hoping you could help me out. Do you mind if I ask a few quick questions?
Here’s an example of a successful conversion from a message like that (sometimes I needed to follow up asking if we could talk one more time):
Even though I just plugged LinkedIn Sales Navigator above, the majority of my success with LinkedIn actually came from simple connection requests with a custom message included, like the one mentioned above. Having the subscription to Sales Navigator will allow you to send out a few more connection requests than with a non-premium account, so it’s worth the expense for maximizing your network. Once I started doing that, it became a lot easier to find out which companies might have needed our product.
Sending Video Via Email
After having some success with a public video on LinkedIn but little with sending videos through the platform’s messenger, I started looking into whether it was possible to send a video via email. This lesser-known (although growing) strategy for getting a prospect’s attention can be really powerful for cutting through their crowded inbox. Depending on what type of email client a person has, it can even be possible to have a video play within the message. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell what your prospects are using for email ahead of time.
I’ve always used a picture with a play button in the center for the highest delivery rate. You also need to include a hyperlink within the image, so when clicked, it opens into a new browser window where the video is hosted and then it plays. I used Wistia for the first few videos that I sent via email as an SDR.
Wistia can be a great platform to start with.
I’m still leveraging Wistia in video-related marketing efforts today with This College Life. Since the personal finance website Salt (saltmoney.org) was shut down a little over a year ago, there hasn’t really been a site focused on financial literacy and student loan resources for college students the way they were. At some point, one of their marketing reps must have been working with my university because I started getting emails from Salt about once a week at my .edu email.
It seems easy in theory to send an email about picking up where Salt left off, but even getting the right person’s attention at a school can be challenging. One time, I emailed someone in the administration at mine with a budget question and it took over a month for them to get back. Video to the rescue. At the very least, I can use Wistia to see free analytics on whether someone watches my pitch or not. Here’s an example:
How do you add a picture of a video to an email?
Adding a hyperlink to an image is fairly straightforward. The first thing you need to do is pull up the page where you will play your video. Then, open up the screenshot tool on your computer. If you have a PC, search the “snipping tool” in the bottom left search bar. If you’re on a mac, press “shift-command-4” and your cursor will turn into a crosshair. Clicking “new” when the snipping tool opens on a Windows PC will turn the cursor into a crosshair. Click in the top left of your video and drag until the box is covering your video. You want the play button showing in the image, too.
Open up a blank email draft in your email client (I use Outlook) and click in the draft so the cursor is blinking there. Then, if you’re on a PC press “CTRL + V” to paste the still image of the video. On Mac, it’s “CMD + V.” Once the image drops in, you will probably need to resize it. That can be done by clicking on the image once and then clicking and dragging one of the 8 white dots to change the size. I recommend the far bottom-right corner dot. After your image is the correct size, copy the link to your video from the address bar where it’s hosted.
This Next Part Might Get Confusing
Right-click on the image and select “link” from the menu that opens up. The window titled “Insert Hyperlink” will look like you need to pick a local file on your computer. The good news is, you don’t. Right-click inside the “Address:” field and then select “Paste” to drop your link in there. Click “Ok” and you now have your video setup with a link. Add in whatever text you think is necessary within the email to get them to click on it.
Keep the message short, something like “I thought it would be better to get on camera to tell you this” or “to ask you this.” You may also want to right-click on the image before sending and select “Edit Alt Text” where you can type one or two sentences explaining what the image is in case your prospect’s email client doesn’t fully load the picture. That way, they won’t be left staring at a URL with no direction.
Using Salesloft? Vidyard Could be Perfect
If you have Salesloft in your tech stack, then you should really look at trying Vidyard for sending video emails. The integration is very smooth, and at least a few of the videos I sent from my Vidyard-Salesloft-Outlook combo were watched 20-30 times with the email itself opened 100+ times. Both Vidyard and Wistia have free options, so if you signed up for those two platforms, you could send eight videos, total without paying anything to start.
Key Insights on Selling With Video Emails
There are many compelling common-sense reasons to adopt video emails into your lead generation strategy. Think about what’s easier to pass around a company: an email that has a few sentences and might be good (when it looks like the same thing people get bombarded with every few minutes) or something that looks the same as what a person might click on to laugh at and unwind (and no reading required). Plus, almost 60% of executives prefer watching a video than reading text, according to Wordstream.
At least a few of the videos I sent via Vidyard’s platform were watched 20-30 times. These will absolutely make an impact on those who open them. Consider this case study of Vidyard’s customer Gordian, a construction technology company. They brought in 6 million in revenue with just 5 very compelling videos. They saw 736 market-qualified leads, 21 sales opportunities, and 11 closed opportunities to add up to 6 million in revenue. Even other organizations outside of business are using videos to drive further engagement. Just look at Loyola University Maryland’s strategy to welcome admitted students with personalized video.
By doing this, they stand out from the myriad of other college choices.
When the team sent out the first video campaign to 8,000 admitted students at the end of 2017, there were over 10,000 views. More importantly, 4,000 reviews. The takeaway? They made a really positive first impression with prospective students and making it personal paid off. If you’re nervous about the time investment for personalized video in your B2B company or other organization, ask yourself the following question: Can I really afford to send another 10,000 canned emails?
Facebook Targeted Ads
You should be careful about direct Facebook lead generation. Making any kind of move like that could be taken the wrong way. Imagine walking up to someone’s house outside of work hours for a B2B meeting request. It probably wouldn’t work out so well. The good news is, you can still leverage the platform in a non-intrusive way through their Facebook for Business advertising.
Key Insights on Selling With Facebook Video
As of December 2019, there are 2.5 billion active users on the Facebook platform. Overall, user statistics may not be as important, but you should still recognize the sheer volume of people there. Facebook’s lead generation ads are some of the most cost-effective to leverage in B2B advertising, too. You can collect prospects’ info directly on Facebook instead of risking losing people when they click through to your website. The site offers helpful instructions for using their ad platform and there are useful guides all over the web for making content that converts.
You can even target specific people with ads if you have their email. It should be noted, though, that those emails need to be the ones used for their Facebook accounts. Video ads will play automatically as you scroll down the page and include sound, but play it safe by assuming that your prospect will have sound turned off and try getting their attention without it. As many as 85% of all video views on Facebook happen without sound, according to Digiday. Fortunately, you can look at plenty of time-tested methods for keeping someone in the first three seconds with nothing but a visual. You can find great examples on the blogs of companies like Hubspot and Buffer for getting viewers to stick around.
Twitter and Instagram
The great thing about Twitter and Instagram is how many prominent people have public profiles. Even better, you can tweet at or tag someone, and they will be notified whether they follow you or not. Before putting too much time into these platforms, make sure they routinely post and/or engage with other accounts. No sense in contacting them there if they never check it!
Someone else might also run their account.
Be aware that someone else might also be managing an executive’s Twitter or Instagram. Although that’s more pro athletes than anyone. You can say the same about a LinkedIn profile. Regardless, if you make something creative enough, it should cut through all the noise. I’ve only tried one Twitter video before, and it was a contest entry for winning some money from Vitamin Water. While it was unsuccessful, it did get me into putting a video on the platform.
Key Insights on Selling With Twitter and Instagram
Hopefully, you took a look at some of the resources mentioned above for making video hooks. The data points to the same strategies working for making compelling videos on Twitter and Instagram, too. Creating an eye-catching thumbnail and title are both pivotal in getting someone to start the video. Planning a striking visual in the first 3 seconds that doesn’t rely on sound is equally important. Consider all the places people browse these apps where they can’t hear sound anyway.
Not so surprisingly, 90% of Twitter video views were happening on mobile soon after the feature was added. When Instagram first introduced videos, over 5 million were shared in the first 24 hours. Since then, it’s only grown more as the preferred way people consume content. In 2019, 93% of brands were able to acquire a new customer on social media through video. Don’t let your company be in the 7% that leaves scrolling customers in the dark about your product. Remember, it can be as simple as propping up the smartphone camera for filming a 30-second message.
Tying It All Together
The longstanding advice for selling anything is taking a multi-pronged approach of exploring every avenue (phone, email, social, etc.). This plan of attack will almost always yield results, assuming you keep diligently following up and maintain a laser-like focus. As new tech opens up more ways to fill your pipeline, don’t be afraid to dig in and try them. They could make the difference between hitting a number or not if you can get on the right person’s radar at the right time by sticking out from the crowd. In choosing B2B selling strategies, a video should make your final cut.
Bob is a freelance writer and the founder of thiscollegelife.com, a blog for student success.