Trending >

Vidyard helps usher in the post cold-call era of sales

Vidyard's Michael Litt and Devon Galloway.


Vidyard’s Michael Litt and Devon Galloway. In April 2012 a party was thrown, complete with cake, in Vidyard’s fourth-floor downtown Kitchener office to celebrate a milestone.

The reason for the event was the website’s millionth hit, which it had taken the company from September of the previous year to achieve. The company now surpasses this milestone, 1-million site views, each and every day. No word on whether they now celebrate every day with a cake.

Vidyard was founded in 2010 by Devon Galloway and Michael Litt, a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s engineering program, where the two met as students. Initially, the pair gravitated towards video production. In short order, however, it became clear that doing a particular thing well, video analytics, was the way forward.

In much the same way that Ottawa’s Shopify began as an online snowboard retailer with, oh, by the way, a well designed shopping widget, Vidyard’s model quickly became all about measuring how viewers engage with video. At what point does the viewer lose interest? Where do they stop watching? When do they fast-forward? What parts do they watch again? This ROI snapshot could not be more valuable to creators of online content, for whom each online second counts.

If we can have people look at videos roughly 33,000 times per day it equates to roughly 217 hyper-efficient sales reps.

Knowing that they both could have worked for any number of American companies, the pair submitted Vidyard to the harsh scrutiny of Paul Graham’s tutelage at Y Combinator in Silicon Valley, after which they returned home with $1.65 million in seed money. And contrary to escaping with a “We attended Y Combinator and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” souvenir, they came away with the advice printed on every T-shirt that Y Combinator hands to its graduates: “Build something people want.”

That’s good advice, but at this moment in “content marketing” history, it’s not so much a want as a need that Vidyard fulfills. Research firm Forrester, pointing out that U.S. online ad spend in 2012 was $12.7 billion, forecasts 17% growth over the next five years, pegging total online advertising spend in the U.S. at $28 billion by 2017, led primarily by growth in video and rich media content. Meanwhile in Europe, video and rich media advertising accounted for 59% of online advertising spend in 2011, and is forecast to rise to 73% by 2016, with total spend rising from €4.8 billion ($6.2 billion U.S.) in 2012 to €7.7 billion in 2016.

Sensing this future, most companies’ approach to online advertising has been to put some video, any video, on their website. What Vidyard is proving is that this approach can be a costly waste of everyone’s time. The old SEO gurus will swap the flags of convenience on their ships, signalling a new loyalty to video. But views are not enough. Victories will be handed to those companies that handle the deployment of video and rich media content marketing most intelligently.

With consumers actively seeking information for themselves, rather than passively accepting the broadcast model, with their BS detectors set maximally high, the challenge for marketers now is to engage the consumer through distinctly non-sales related techniques, through narrative strategies that verge on entertainment and storytelling. Therefore, video.

The challenge in content marketing (marketing that doesn’t seem like marketing) consists of more than writing blog posts or tweeting regularly. It’s essentially a challenge to frame what it is that you can do for each person who engages with your content in narrative terms. People respond to, and are compelled to interact with and to share with others, a narrative.

With consumers actively seeking information for themselves, rather than passively accepting the broadcast model, with their BS detectors set maximally high, the challenge for marketers now is to engage the consumer through distinctly non-sales related techniques, through narrative strategies that verge on entertainment and storytelling. Therefore, video.

As this marketing paradigm shifts, you can think of the person whose job it is to manage content marketing less as an adman and more as a storyteller-in-chief.

Participating in a recent content marketing webinar, Vidyard’s Community Marketing Manager, John Spencely, offered the following takeaway from a Space Camp the company staged in Toronto. “If we can have people look at videos roughly 33,000 times per day,” he said, “it equates to roughly 217 hyper-efficient sales reps.”

Even an artificially amped up human sales rep is no match for an online video, but its main claim to efficacy can’t be merely that it never sleeps. It has to draw the viewer in. “If people are engaged with your video content,” Spencely continues, “make sure they’ve got somewhere to go afterwards. Start trying out video in new and unique ways. Even if you’ve got a 30-second explainer video, there’s still half a dozen cool ways you can use it, whether it’s social, email, landing pages, or any of the above.”

Now counting 35 staff, Vidyard hopes to employ 50 by the end of the year, and currently counts Eloqua, Salesforce.com, and McAfee among its customers. In March, the company landed $6 million in Series A funding, and in August they were added to HootSuite’s social media management dashboard.

Today, 57% of consumer engagement is driven by video. By 2017, that’s projected to reach 92%.

So with videos telling the stories that used to fall upon sales reps, do technology solutions like Vidyard spell the absolute end of the traditional sales guy? Not exactly, says Forbes contributor Mark Fidelman, who believes technology has given rise to a new brand of digitally connected front person he dubs “social salespeople”.

“Communication has changed selling and the way we sell for years,” he says. “Mail ended the carnival pitchman and catalogues were created. The phone put an end to the door-to-door sales, and cold calling was born. Now, social media is changing communication and how sales are made – yet again. “

Put Vidyard in the same social tool box as Twitter and Linkedin , which together are replacing the cold-call forever. Your sales guy probably isn’t going to miss it.

______________

  •  
  •  
  •  

About The Author /

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RELATED POSTS