Digital Commerce Now Demands Rich Media

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One-third of B2B technology buyers already make their initial purchases through digital channels, and now they are demanding more compelling advertising from companies hoping to win their business. Simple blocks of text and PDFs on their commerce sites will not do it any longer, Forrester Research concludes in a recent report.

Offering rich media in advertising their products will be critical for companies, enabling sellers to make stronger connections with buyers, the firm maintains.

Forrester cites Volvo Trucks as an example, highlighting the company’s two-minute video showing truckers having their backs cracked by a chiropractor to promote Volvo’s dynamic steering option, which has been designed to reduce neck and back strain.

“Such short-form videos, as well as animations, can bring your product’s benefits to life,” says Joe Cicman, a Forrester senior analyst. Search videos, he adds, can also help companies convert prospects into buyers better than simple product description pages.

When Allied Electronics began promoting 10,000 of its products via short-form videos, those products outsold other Allied Electronics products not supported by rich media.

Rich media could also include instructional videos, helping buyers determine the correct replacement parts for a variety of products, ultimately ensuring that buyers select the right items the first time and thereby eliminating costly wrong orders and returns. Service technicians called to work on products could also find short videos helpful, Cicman says.

A big challenge to offering this kind of messaging has been the fact that many B2B companies lacked the in-house talent to produce quality short-form videos. But now, video production is becoming a core competency at 72 percent of firms with in-house creative groups, Forrester found.

For those that still don’t have the resources, there is plenty of third-party help available.

In selecting such a partner, Forrester recommends looking first for an entity that will help companies improve their understanding of their audiences.

Companies that opt to produce their own short-form videos are finding it less costly than it used to be, particularly as equipment costs have come down significantly over the past few years, Forrester notes. Some videos can even be made using smartphones.

Forrester also points out that a blended approach, using a combination of inside resources and outside creative help, is often the best solution for many companies.

But regardless of who produces the videos, Forrester recommends using rich media to build buyer trust in their purchasing decisions to create loyalty and lower support costs.

Forrester also recommends ensuring that the content is appropriate before releasing any short-form video. Having the wrong images or incorrect content can cause customers to purchase the wrong product, resulting in a potentially costly return for the company and the loss of buyer trust.

Forrester also endorses 3-D video in place of complex photo shoots. Some camera operators can charge $5,000 or more for a single day’s work, and then they still own the rights to the images. 3-D objects, on the other hand, can be used in a variety of formats and are much easier and less expensive to edit than to reshoot basic videos using different backgrounds, set designs, etc., Cicman says.

Cicman further recommended that companies pair their videos with podcasts and other media formats to inspire a wider variety of audiences to consider purchases.

And when looking to measure the effectiveness of these campaigns, Forrester says, conversion metrics should not be focused solely on buy button clicks. B2B purchases tend to have longer, more complex customer journeys with many more touchpoints where companies can try to influence purchase decisions. 

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