Content marketing has become an integral part of the B2B landscape. Interactive and video content are gaining significant traction as marketers seek more engaging alternatives to standard white papers and E-books. According to the 2013 Demand Gen Report B2B Content Preferences Survey, 50% of respondents said they had viewed a video to research a B2B purchasing decision in the past year.

Video and interactive content offer a rich set of metrics and the ability to add more compelling calls to action based on how the buyer engages with the video or interactive content. If, for example, a buyer exhibits an interest in a segment of a video on a particular feature of your offering, they can be directed to a white paper for more detailed information.

This makes them among the most appealing types of content at the B2B marketer’s disposal. More interactive content formats also provide marketers with valuable data about how and when content is consumed. This let marketers quickly discern what content is resonating with viewers.

“The cool thing about video content is that when a user clicks the ‘play’ button, you take them on a journey that is very linear,” said Michael Litt, Co-Founder and CEO of Vidyard. “When someone opens a blog post, they can skip around and read what they want, but video is a more immersive experience and you know exactly what that user has viewed.”

Litt added: “From the analytics side of video content, you know exactly what they viewed based off of how long the video has been playing. Did they re-watch a section? Did they skip a section? As a marketer, you learn much more about your prospective customer’s digital body language through video views than you do with how much time they spent on a blog post.”

Calling For Action

Online video also allows marketers to create simple calls-to-action — such as participating in polls and surveys, and downloading other pieces of content — that inspire interactivity. When a viewer is more engaged with the content, they are more receptive to the message.

“Having an email gate on your videos lets you know exactly who’s watching because the user has to input their name and contact details before they can view the video,” said David Gibbons, VP of Marketing at Ustream. “It’s a common technique with many different types of content, but when it’s built into the video so it shows up wherever the video is embedded, you will still be able to capture that data. That gives you a powerful way to syndicate your content while also extending your reach and number of leads.”

Video and interactive content can be personalized, which is another benefit over other types of content. Users can respond to questions about their industry, role or pain points, for example, which will lead them to the appropriate segments of a video or interactive content.

“There needs to be a back-and-forth between the user and the content that adds value to the user’s experience,” said Russell Franks, COO at SnapApp. “You have to make the user feel like they’re in a dialogue, get them to share information, and then deliver value back to them based off of that information. Without interactive content, all you can hope for is a big resource library with a lot of content in it, and hope that the user finds the content that answers their pain points.”

Buyers often consume video and interactive content outside of standard business hours, according to Nick Edouard, EVP Business Development and Marketing at LookBookHQ. Therefore, it should be entertaining in a way that connects with the audience — something at which many B2C organizations have excelled.

“So why has the B2B space been slow to adopt enormously successful behaviors from B2C companies?” Edouard asked. “One of the things that B2B organizations have been told — ad nauseam — for the past couple of years is that they need to be more like publishers. There is definitely some merit to that, as long as you have an understanding of your buyer personas, the content map to those buyer personas, and many other factors.”

Effective In The Early Buying Stages

Like every piece of content, one of the major factors marketers need to consider while creating interactive content is the buyer’s journey. Video and interactive content are powerful tools in the early stage of the buying cycle, especially if a business is trying to generate awareness for a new product or service, according to Ustream’s Gibbons.

“You can do very engaging live events with online video, while expanding your reach to a global audience in a much easier way compared to other live events,” Gibbons said. “The initial awareness phase is where video and interactive content is really effective in educating existing and prospective customers regarding what your business has to offer.”

Vidyard’s Litt added: “Video belongs in every stage of the buying cycle; but because video is such a great way of engaging viewers and staying to-the-point, it is often the most effective at the top of the funnel to educate viewers about your company’s passion for the industry they work in.”

While video and interactive content have advantages, they can have the potential to be overused.

“Video content is great, but you need to have a little bit of context for it and you need to integrate it within your marketing plan in a very strategic way,” said Hana Abaza, Director of Marketing at Uberflip. “This is because video content is a premium form of content, and it does take time and resources to put it all together. But at the same time, it can also pay off a lot better than a simple blog post or something that is not as interactive.”