COVID-19 has dramatically shifted every industry — and marketing is no exception. Overnight, budgets were cut, priorities shifted, and the media landscape as we know it might have changed forever.
As a company that has helped over 500,000 businesses grow with our marketing software, we wanted to know precisely which marketing priorities and tactics were most affected by this shift. We also wanted to discover what marketers in particular have been prioritizing in terms of content creation as well.
With these goals in mind, we launched a study to uncover trends emerging from SMB marketers during the pandemic and explore how marketers are paving new paths to customers in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Commissioned by Wistia and conducted by Qualtrics, the 2020 State of SMB Marketing & Content Creation Report surveyed more than 300 senior-level SMB marketers at B2B and B2C companies.
We quickly learned that marketers have ramped up content creation despite budget cuts, using content as a way to access new customers. We also uncovered that marketers are leveraging podcasts more than ever before. Explore our top takeaways and dig into the full report below.
“Marketers have ramped up content creation despite budget cuts, using content as a way to access new customers.”
68% of marketers indicated they have experienced budget cuts, averaging 19% across the board. Despite this, marketers are creating and prioritizing more content across platforms.
“68% of marketers indicated they had experienced budget cuts, averaging 19% across the board.”
Notably, video content was the most popular form of content created before the pandemic, with 51% of respondents indicating that they had produced a video, like a product walkthrough or webinar. Video has remained a vital tool during the pandemic, with 59% of respondents now exploring video as a way to connect with their audiences.
Given the shareable nature of video and the length of time marketers can spend with the customer through video, this popular tactic makes sense for SMBs, and we have the numbers to prove it. Our recent report looked at Wistia data and found that since early March 2020, the year over year increase in video uploads has jumped 120%. We’re now seeing an average of 280K videos uploaded to Wistia each week.
“Since early March 2020, the year over year increase in video uploads has jumped 120%.”
The SMB survey also revealed that marketers are getting creative and considering new channels, like virtual events and podcasts. In fact, podcast launches have more than doubled during the pandemic; only 14% of respondents reported creating a podcast pre-pandemic, which has increased to 29% who now have a podcast.
“Podcast launches have more than doubled during the pandemic.”
Creative marketers are looking beyond video to new content channels as well. While video can be an effective storytelling tool, podcasts have a much lower barrier to entry and are easier to execute in a remote environment.
Almost all respondents (87%) noted that they are considering launching a podcast in the next 12 months. Common reasons for initiating a podcast included increasing brand recognition, highlighting company culture, and reaching a specific audience.
“Almost all respondents (87%) noted that they are considering launching a podcast in the next 12 months.”
Marketers have been using video to tell meaningful stories that build connections with their audiences for years. And while video will continue to play an essential role in the marketing mix, podcasting has emerged as a new way to tell stories and engage audiences.
Wistia understands the challenges of creating a podcast and crafting engaging audio content, which is why we’ve launched a full suite of podcast hosting and marketing features on our platform. This new functionality will enable marketers to host and share engaging podcast content, streamline distribution, and understand and grow their audience. The platform also provides performance insights to track each episode’s engagement to help marketers make informed spending and creation decisions moving forward.
When asked to rank priorities over the next 12 months, increasing organic traffic, customer lifetime value, and overall digital presence topped the list.
What were the top challenges facing marketers in pursuit of these goals? Well, 59% of respondents said finding new ways to reach new customers was the top challenge, followed by 51% of respondents who said it was expanding their customer base.
Marketers have been tasked with expanding their digital footprint and increasing existing customer value while also finding innovative ways to reach net-new customers — all under extraordinary circumstances.
While the pandemic has created new challenges and constraints for SMB marketers, it has also forced marketers to get scrappy, ensuring the industry is more creative than ever. With the amplification of existing owned channels, increased digital content creation, and a new focus on podcasts, SMBs have the power to share their stories and attract new customers.
5 Companies Using Wistia to Host Their Podcast
2020 was a big year for Wistia. In case you missed it — we added podcasting to our platform! This new feature allows companies to beautifully showcase audio content, distribute their podcast to all the major listening platforms, and unlock insights that’ll help them understand what’s resonating with their audiences.
This all sounds great, but how does the look and feel of Wistia podcasting compare to other podcast experiences?
In the past, we’ve shared how companies are using Wistia Channels to showcase their video content, so we wanted to do the same for our new podcasting feature. Keep reading to see how some brands are telling their stories, their way, using Wistia Channels for their podcasts.
1. Marketing Showrunners
Marketing Showrunners is a media and education company that helps businesses create shows to build their brand affinity. On their latest podcast, 3 Clips, Marketing Showrunners’ Founder, Jay Acunzo, hosts the show with co-host Molly Donovan to deconstruct some of the world’s most creative branded podcasts.
Each episode, you’ll hear from podcasters behind podcasts like Song Exploder, You’re Wrong About, and REI’s Camp Monsters, as they examine their production techniques, decision-making processes, and the highs and lows that go into making their podcasts unique.
Using a Wistia Channel, Marketing Showrunners has its podcast embedded on their website. We think it elegantly showcases their podcast’s brand with their show art and design elements. They’ve also provided detailed descriptions for every episode and action items with links for listeners to learn more about the guests and subscribe to the show.
Another company using Wistia podcasting features is a Dallas, Texas-based marketing firm and publisher called MarketScale. In the past, they’ve created their own original long-form episodic series to support their brand. Today, they continue to produce videos for their clients across a myriad of industries.
Besides video content, they’re also creating audio content with their two podcasts Dirt Work and Business Casual. Dirt Work is a monthly podcast interviewing global leaders about ideas and innovations guiding the construction and civil engineering industries into the future. And Business Casual is a B2B morning radio show talking about all things trends, tech, culture, news, and unique perspectives in our dynamic global economy.
In their content strategy, they’re using Wistia to embed an audio player on each of their podcasts’ landing pages for every episode alongside the episode’s summaries. Take a look at how MarketScale embedded the player on this landing page for Dirt Work’s episode “The Resiliency of the Hospitality Industry.” We love how they’ve customized the color to compliment their branding.
Looks pretty snazzy if we do say so ourselves! Plus, by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the player, their audience can choose to listen and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
3. Opes Partners
Even a group of property investors, coaches, and analysts at Opes Partners in New Zealand have created a podcast called The Property Academy. The company provides property investment coaching for first-time investors in NZ.
The Property Academy is hosted by Ed McKnight, an economist and self-professed data nerd, and Andrew Nicol, who’s worked with investors for 15 years. On this daily podcast, they teach folks everything they know about property investing and present the most honest and up to date information about the New Zealand property market.
Even with over 400 episodes already produced, they seamlessly migrated all of their existing episodes into Wistia. On their site, they’ve embedded a Wistia Channel showcasing all of their episodes for visitors to binge every episode at their leisure. They’ve also included a video trailer instead of an audio-only trailer, which provides a special brand touch and puts faces to the names before people dive into listening.
SmartTab, a wireless drug delivery platform, also created a podcast to reach their niche audience. Their show Who Would Have Thought is about digital health innovation exploring digital health leaders’ perspectives today and inquiring into digital technologies of tomorrow.
Using a Wistia Channel for their audio content, they’ve displayed their show art and episodes in a striking fashion — we totally dig it! They’ve also included links for folks to listen on their preferred platforms, Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
We love how their landing page includes additional details about their podcast below the Channel, like short bios introducing their show hosts, links to more of their content, and a Call to Action to subscribe to their podcast newsletter. Be sure to check out the page and see for yourself!
Ventricle, a media company helping businesses grow by building lifelong audiences for their brands with video series, is also in on the podcast game. From 2015–2018, they produced The Utah Foodie Podcast, where they interviewed the state’s top chefs, restaurateurs, and culinary entrepreneurs to showcase the Utah food scene.
Although their podcast has run its course, it’s still a valuable piece of evergreen content that lives on their site. Ventricle directs curious listeners to “The Utah Foodie Podcast Complete Episode Archive” where they’ll find every episode presented in — you guessed it — a super sleek Wistia Channel!
All 76 episodes about Utah’s greatest bars, beer, breakfast spots, coffee stops, farmers markets, and more are ready to stream on Ventricle Presents, Ventricle’s collection of short-form series and films that celebrate the spirit of building community.
Bonus: Buffer’s Built to Last Audio Conference
Last on our list, we have Buffer’s Built to Last Audio Conference, the first-ever audio conference for brand builders. We partnered with Buffer, a software solution for building your audience and growing your brand on social media, to bring marketers exclusive podcast episodes from folks behind some of the world’s most-loved brands like Recess, Red Antler, and Haus.
We took the concept of an in-person conference and delivered it as a podcast. Throughout the event, attendees received exclusive access to a private podcast feed where we released six episodes over the two-day conference. Each episode featured lessons and key insights that can be applied for crafting memorable content and campaigns that build engaged audiences. Once the conference was over, Built to Last attendees could replay episodes at any time after.
We’re huge fans of how these brands are elevating their audio content using Wistia to host their podcasts. If you want to learn more about how to set up a podcast on a Wistia Channel, be sure to head on over to this post. Or, if you’re simply inspired by the stories these companies are telling to reach their niche audiences, we encourage you to produce your very own podcast to support your brand!
Can I Turn off Ads on My YouTube Videos? What YouTube’s Right to Monetize Means for Businesses
YouTube recently announced that it’s adding the Right to Monetize to its Terms of Service. What does that mean, exactly? Well, the update is just what it sounds like — YouTube can now show ads on all videos across all Channels, even if you’re not enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program. In other words, if you have videos on YouTube, there will be ads in front of them. Not only will they be able to profit off these ads, but notably, they’ll be retaining 100% of that profit.
“YouTube can now show ads on all videos across all Channels, even if you’re not enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program.”
Be sure to read the full release notes for all the details, but in the meantime, here are some quick answers to the questions we bet you’ve been mulling over these past few days. Here’s how YouTube’s update will affect videos hosted on the platform and what it means for your business.
To put it simply, it means that if you upload any video content to YouTube, Google — the platform’s parent company — can do with it as they see fit. Primarily, this means selling ads against it. What types of ads? And from what companies? This is left to YouTube’s discretion. So, your competitors (or really anyone willing to pay the price to access your audience) can run ads on your content.
“So, your competitors (or really anyone willing to pay the price to access your audience) can run ads on your content.”
Because users of the platform no longer have the ability to turn off ads on their content, those that use YouTube to embed videos on their site, for example, have no control over what the experience is like for viewers. A site visitor may navigate to your product page, click to watch your product overview video, and then get served an ad from your competitor instead.
Regardless of who advertises on your content, if you’re using YouTube embeds on your site, the experience is still less than ideal for the audience you worked so hard to drive there. Not only is the experience distracting, but the lack of control over who can advertise there means you can unknowingly create some pretty off-brand experiences on your site.
Ads can be displayed before, during, or after any content hosted on the platform. And with this update, YouTube can monetize any video, as long as it meets its ad-friendly guidelines. For those trying to build an audience on their YouTube Channel, this change to YouTube’s Terms of Service means you no longer own or control your content.
If your business is just getting started with building an audience on the platform, your videos will now be disrupted by ads that interrupt and often annoy your viewers. Showcasing ad-free content as you try to grow your audience can be a big plus for creators with small audiences — after all, what viewer doesn’t love free content that truly feels free? Without ads, you can spend more time focusing on making the content the best it can be, encouraging viewers to continue to watch more of your content.
YouTube is great for uploading clips, trailers, and other secondary content types where you can benefit from the platform’s reach without giving everything away. For businesses, in particular, uploading the valuable content you create to YouTube in full means seceding total control to the platform.
“For businesses, in particular, uploading the valuable content you create to YouTube in full means seceding total control to the platform.”
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room — YouTube is free. There are costs that come with running the business, and YouTube is continuing to look for ways to monetize their platform.
If you’re unfamiliar with the YouTube Partner Program, this was a way for YouTube creators to receive revenue shares from the platform based on ads shown on their content. Google would keep 45 percent of all YouTube advertising, with the remaining 55 percent going to the creators themselves. To qualify, creators needed to have more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of video content consumed on the platform in the last 12 months.
Why does this matter? According to a recent report from Pex, almost 90% of content uploaded to YouTube never surpasses 1,000 views (see chart below). Clearly, YouTube is looking for a way to monetize all of this low hanging fruit. Right now, the profit from all of that content is left on the table.
Now, let’s take a look at how 1,000 views — where 90% of content tends to hover on the platform — relates to the 4,000 hours of video consumption needed to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program.
Zach Snyder breaks this down in his medium article from a few years ago.
“We know that 4,000 hours of Watch Time is equal to 240,000 minutes. Technically you could put out 1 video every 2 weeks and end up with 24 videos by the end of the year. If you can get each of these videos up to 1,000 views apiece, then you’ll be able to make the required amount of Watch Time.”
How many businesses that upload content to the platform would be able to sustain this level of content creation? How many companies could guarantee 1,000 views on each video every two weeks? Chances are, for small to medium-sized businesses, you probably won’t qualify for the YouTube Partner Program, where you could at least get a piece of that ad revenue. Now, YouTube is ensuring they make money off your content, regardless.
These changes are currently being rolled out for US channels, while the terms of service will apply in all other territories from mid-2021. It’s important to remember that YouTube is a social media platform as much (if not more so) as it is a video hosting platform.
As YouTube continues to look for ways to monetize, we have to take a closer look at how those efforts impact the content hosted on that platform, and subsequently, the content that’s embedded on business’ websites. Use the platform strategically as part of a broader marketing strategy, and remember — the answer to the question, “Who should own my content?” should be you.
6 Actionable Tips for Improving Emails with Video
Email is still one of the most effective ways for marketers to reach their audiences. Adding video into the mix can improve open and click-through rates and encourage deeper engagement with your content.
We teamed up with the team at Keap — a software company that offers a CRM and marketing automation platform geared toward small businesses — to offer you six tactics that you can start using to better engage your audience with video and email.
Video is the best tool for showing your customers who you really are. Don’t be afraid to loosen up and let your personality shine. This doesn’t mean that you have to be silly or strange. It simply means that you just have to be you.
If you’re an in-house video producer trying to get your coworkers to deliver authentic takes, check out some of these tried-and-true tips for directing non-actors. If you’re just starting out with using video for your business, remember that a well-thought-out script, a smile, and some quality lights can go a long way.
Create a clickable thumbnail
When it comes to using video in email, video thumbnails serve as the gateway or invitation to your video content. Let’s be honest – we all know that people judge books by their covers all the time. Similarly, people judge videos by their thumbnails.
Make sure to customize your video thumbnails to boost your click-through rates. Even something as simple as a friendly human waving is more enticing than a blurry office scene or overlaid text on a graph.
Here at Wistia, we’re passionate about helping our customers use video to better market their business. With our Thumbnail Editor, you can add text or use a looping video to take that brand touch to the next level!
Using custom GIFs to tease video content is also a brilliant strategy for enticing your recipients to click.
Creating a GIF from a video is not as complicated as it may sound. If you haven’t created GIFs from your videos before, you can use apps like GIF Brewery to get up and running quickly.
Once you create your GIF, you can add it to any email, link it to a blog post or landing page, and watch that click-through rate skyrocket. We’d hypothesize that a dynamic preview of what’s to come will perform better than a static image in an email, but you’ll have to run some tests with your own audience to find out.
If you’ve got content that could work well as a video series, try integrating it into an email campaign. Email courses and campaigns can benefit from this approach, especially if each piece of video content points to the next one. It’s like a suspenseful Netflix drama, except with marketing emails.
Because you can track who clicks on what video and how much of each video they watch, you can quickly assess which of your leads are most interested in your content. Plus, if you’re using a marketing automation platform, you can use video-centric campaigns like this to efficiently qualify leads.
With Wistia, we’ve made it super easy to showcase your video content in a sleek and binge-worthy way with our product feature called Channels. Instead of creating an email marketing campaign with several emails, you can upload all of your videos to a Wistia Channel, and link directly to your Channel in one email. Your videos will appear in a Netflix-style format when you embed a Channel to your website.
Additionally, you can collect subscribers from your Channel, easily sync your subscribers to your marketing automation platform or CRM for better lead tracking, and schedule email notifications when you publish new videos.
This sounds simple because it is. Once you’ve created an email that includes a video thumbnail, try testing out two subject lines – one that includes “[VIDEO]” and one that doesn’t.
A. How to direct non-actors [VIDEO]
B. How to direct non-actors
Track their respective performances, and learn whether or not your audience is more apt to open an email that includes a video. Sometimes it pays to be explicit.
Subtle uses of emojis in subject lines or body copy of your email can also help draw attention to your content. Just be aware that emoji render differently in different environments.
If video is already baked into your content strategy, you’re probably rolling out videos on a consistent basis. If this is the case, you should consider creating videos catered toward different segments. While this approach requires more time and energy to execute, producing a video with a specific segment in mind will make the content more relevant and personalized to your viewers.
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