Alright, folks, let's talk about long-form video content in the B2B world. I know it may seem like niche stuff that's complex and time-consuming, but hear me out. The customer journey in B2B is changing, and business buyers are acting differently now.
In this article, you will read about long form video content strategy, and how you can use it in your B2B digital marketing strategy.
As I previously stated, B2B customer journey is changing, and this is why business buyers are acting differently.
They want to conduct their own research and only reach out to sales reps when they're ready to purchase. That's why we see stats like:
“81% of business buyers believe they'd make better decisions if B2B advertising did a better job of engaging them.” also “A vast majority (82%) wish B2B advertising had the creativity associated with B2C advertising.”
Why the sudden demand for creativity in B2B advertising, you ask? Well, let's put ourselves in the shoes of a B2B buyer who, during their research, watches an average of 2 hours of online video every week. That's about 40, 3-minute explainer videos per week or 8 videos per working day.
That's a lot of videos! And we all know how B2B videos tend to look and sound the same, with similar imagery and messaging. Yeah, boring!
No wonder current B2B buyers want, nay demand, better engagement from marketing videos. So, is long-form video the silver bullet to fix all B2B comms problems? Let's find out.
First, let's define long-form video.
So, what's long-form video content? According to Google, it's any video over 10 minutes long, but I want to add to that definition. In my opinion, long-form video is any asset that's at least 10 minutes long, so it could even be a series of 11 videos, each 60 seconds long.
The series has its own purpose and fits into the overall b2b marketing strategy (or at least it should), whereas the individual video is just a tiny part of it. It's the entire series that engages and adds value to the audience.
And speaking of engagement, that's one of the critical features of long-form video. It just has to be way more engaging than a 15-second LinkedIn video. To accomplish that, it has to deliver excellent storytelling to lead the viewer and reinforce their attention.
Take a look at this cool chart. Sure, the best engagement is with a video up to 2 minutes, after which there is a huge plunge. But the interesting thing is that after 6 minutes, engagement stays the same to practically 13 minutes.
Why is that? It's because the audience that finds long-form attractive is very specific, niche, and heavily invested in either the story and characters or the topic of the video. For example, it could be a long podcast with an interesting guest, and the viewer wants to listen to the interview until the end. Or they may want to learn something particular, and the video explains how to achieve it in detail.
Long-form video content can come in many forms, such as podcasts (individual episodes or a series), webinars, brand and customer documentaries (testimonials), keynote and trade show content, training, and product videos, and of course, brand entertainment content.
Now, when you hear "long-form" you probably think “top of funnel.”
And you are right… partially. It can work great throughout the customer journey, amplifying specific messages and answering their needs. Initially, you build brand awareness and authority with thought leadership content.
Then throughout their journey, you can have different educational content, not just about your products but also your brand, what it stands for, and how it operates. Later, for example, social proof with documentaries showcasing your customers' success.
So, how do we measure the effectiveness of long-form content? It's not likely that someone will jump straight in and purchase a product after watching 60 minutes of video. In my humble opinion, long-form content is most effective in "Dark Social" which encompasses all customer interactions with your brand and content that analytics software cannot track.
This includes word-of-mouth, referrals, and the cumulative effect of engaging with your brand over time across various platforms. If you want to go deep into Dark Social, I recommend following Nemanja Zivkovic and Chris Walker.
Now, let me inspire you with some examples of amazing long-form video content.
This brand has never been afraid to stand up for its eco-friendly values, and they infuse that personality into all its content, including videos. They use video in various applications, from product demos to corporate responsibility to customer success stories.
One example of their long-form content is the "Care and Repair" series, which helps viewers care for their Patagonia products.
Another great piece of content is the "Worn Wear" stories, which feature documentaries augmented with text articles... and vice versa. They present people passionate about the outdoors and how they use Patagonia clothing in their journey through life.
Is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service for small and medium businesses, has an impressive amount of video content. Their media platform, "Mailchimp Presents" aims to inspire and educate entrepreneurs and business owners. If you want to dig deeper into their strategy, check out this great talk with Mailchimp CMO.
They have a wide range of podcasts, including an interview series with Bjork on how she created each of her albums or “Partners” showcasing stories of extraordinary business and art collaborations.
One of their best projects is "Essentials," co-produced with VICE, which delves into the lives of essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mailchimp wanted to show its key audience that they understood what they were going through.
Noticeably, the content does not mention the brand, which is a bold yet effective approach.
On the flip side, Webflow University provides hours of tutorial videos for their platform that lets you create websites without coding. Now, you can imagine that someone watching is already invested, but Webflow went further and made the videos high-quality and enjoyable to watch through a peculiar sense of humor.
Next in line is a choose-your-own-adventure video "Data Center Attack: The game" we created with Trend Micro. Aimed at engaging a very technical, niche, and elusive audience, it had over 80 distinct combinations of choices leading to 4 endings. The video is 15 minutes long, yet we had to film over 60 minutes to account for all possibilities. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this case study
Lastly, the king of long-form marketing content... Hasbro. Yup. If you are an elder millennial like me, you’ve probably been raised on GI Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony animated series. However, it may be shocking to you these tv shows (and the subsequent comic books etc.) were created to generate interest in the brand among children and create a loyal fan base for the toys.
Did it work? Hasbros' revenue quadrupled a year after the first animated series hit television in 1983 to approximately 850 million dollars.
So, are you looking to get into the long-form game? Well, let me share some tips and tricks to get you started with video marketing strategy.
Take a cue from brands like Patagonia and Mailchimp, who create content not just to promote themselves but to inspire and educate their customers. In fact, they make their audience the hero of their stories.
To do this, you must go beyond personas and understand how your audience consumes content. For instance, did you know that B2B buyers watch almost 2 hours of video content a week? Knowing this, you can create compelling content and plan your distribution accordingly.
Good storytelling drives attention. I’m sure you are aware of techniques of copywriting. For example, many LinkedIn marketing gurus suggest you use hooks in the beginning to grab attention. Then you explain etc. These rules work for posts, blogs, presentations… generally any type of content. But if you want to make an epic long-form video, you must follow the filmmakers' lead.
Your entire story should have a beginning, middle, and end. But looking deeper, you’ll see the same structure within each scene. This simple three-act structure can be used in any content you create to make it more engaging.
It’s a little trick Steven Spielberg uses when planning a story. Let’s say each act is 30 minutes. Divide THAT into 3 parts or sequences. Now go deeper and divide again, and you come up to a 3-minute scene. Each scene has a beginning, middle, and end too. Each approx 60 seconds long.
Now make sure each scene has a beginning, middle, and end, and you are on the right track.
When drafting a story, never use “AND” in between scenes. “AND” doesn’t up the ante. “AND” just connects a listing of things. Connecting dozens of scenes with "AND" will just be boring, and you’ll lose attention rapidly.
But there is a way. Crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of Southpark, it’s all about using the words “BUT” and “THEREFORE” between your scenes… paragraphs, or slides. That's what makes the story interesting. Listen to these storytelling gurus explaining the power of this technique.
Emotions are at the core of all marketing because they are at the heart of storytelling (Yes, B2B marketing too). Emotions govern what we are drawn to. You know, to what we pay attention to. Don’t be afraid of using emotions. Yes. Emotions. In B2B. Times are changing. Check out this comprehensive analysis by The LinkedIn Institute, on the use of emotions in B2B marketing.
Creating long form videos takes time, especially in terms of buy-in and development. Remember how long you convinced your bosses of needing a 60-second video? Or a 2-minute explainer video? Do you remember how many revisions and comments they had? Well, now imagine all of that 10x.
Buy-in and development easily take up 50-60% of the project's time.
And the rest? Filming is just a few days. Post-production can take up to a few months, depending on the project (podcasts are faster, live action stories take longer). The biggest long-form project we had took around 10-12 months to complete, from green-light to delivery.
Don’t be a meme and assume the world is waiting for your content to drop. It’s not. You have to promote it.
But with what? Well, you do have a loooot content, so just create dozens of edits for various purposes. You can make a few 15s vertical videos for social media platforms, 30s teaser trailers to use in your paid ad campaign, or have 2-3 minute videos on a single topic, so they are easily discoverable on youtube. Or just use screenshots to make LinkedIn posts.
All of this content should be linked to your main video asset of course. This works well for any type of content. Too much? Listen to Gary Vee and how he makes 64 pieces of content daily.
Long-form content is time-consuming, so if you plan on having your existing team execute, they'll be stretched super thin. And we all know what’s that like. So find people with long-form content experience and strong storytelling skills. They will help you make whatever you need efficiently.
If you're overwhelmed... start small with a podcast. The numbers show that consistency is key in podcasting, and it's still an area with plenty of room for growth.
So there you have it, some tips and tricks to get you started on creating epic long-form content. Happy storytelling!"
Last but not least, I want to leave you with what’s, in my opinion, the most successful long-form video of the last 12 months. Drumroll….
An anime mini-series based in the world of the game Cyberpunk 2077. Premiered on Netflix in September of 2022 and immediately had an impact on the game's sales. The average number of players on Steam rose from just shy of 19k a month to over 120k in September and October.
Additionally, CD Project Red stated in their earnings report that the long-form was responsible for buffing their revenue by 70%... and increasing their stock price.
Is this content interesting? Read how much does it cost to make B2B video content here