MarTech Interview with Chris Knowlton, Chief Evangelist at Panopto

Chris Knowlton, Chief Evangelist at Panopto chats about the growing demand for video content and how video marketing will be more prominent in the overall marketing and advertising mix:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Chris, tell us about your time in the tech/B2B market and more about your role at Panopto…

After two years at NetApp on the Microsoft alliance team, I joined Microsoft in 2002 to work on Windows Media streaming. In 2007, I founded the IIS Media Services team, which first commoditized HTTP adaptive video delivery as Smooth Streaming and later became Azure Media Services.

In 2011, I went to Wowza Media Systems to build the product management team, and later created the role of streaming industry evangelist to raise visibility for the increasing ease and quality of streaming.

I joined BlueFrame Technology, an ascendant sports streaming solution for high schools and colleges, in 2017. After a year as chief strategy officer I returned to Microsoft to join the Stream product management team, focusing on meeting the expanding needs of enterprise and education organizations.

In my new role as Chief Evangelist at Panopto, I’ll offer research, analysis, industry trends, and insights to educate and inspire customers and the higher education, financial services, and technology industries on the opportunity, impact, and best practices of asynchronous video communication and knowledge sharing.

Video is now crucial to sales-marketing initiatives, we’d love to hear from you about some of the most interesting ways in which you’ve seen brands utilize video to drive marketing and sales goals?

There are many great ways to use video in sales-marketing initiatives. Here are three customer use cases that come to mind.

Create a personalized teaser campaign for a product update: Your marketing team creates a 1–2-minute product update video showing soon-to-be-released functionality. As the video ends, an embedded call-to-action webpage appears in the player, containing a thank you message and a multi-select poll listing key functionality in the upgrade. They share this video with the sales team. Account managers then record a personalized 30-second intro video for each of their accounts, append the marketing video, and share the consolidated video with each customer. Customers receive their email, click the video preview image, and watch the combined intro and product upgrade video, ending on the interactive webpage. Customers tick the poll boxes to indicate which new functionality they’re interested in learning more about. This provides their account manager an opportunity to engage in a conversation with them and provide additional information about the upcoming release.

Simplify and personalize meeting follow-ups: Live videoconference meetings are often recorded, then automatically saved and processed by a video content management system. This enables on-demand viewing and consumption of presentations and transcripts. This makes it easy to stay present in the call rather than trying to capture detailed notes—later you can recall details from the call by simply searching for keywords in the video or reviewing the transcript. Go one step further by recording a 1–2-minute meeting recap video, including next steps, and send the customer a link. Bonus: if you’re using a customer relationship management (CRM) application that has a robust integration for videos, the meeting recording, transcript, presentation, search functionality, and meeting summary video will be viewable in the CRM with the rest of the customer account information.

Use video to enhance lead-scoring:  One way you can use video to your benefit doesn’t necessarily involve the sales team creating new video at all. Instead, leverage analytics from your existing product marketing videos for valuable insights on prospect and customer trends. With proper web tracking and lead monitoring technology in place, your team can use video analytics to see which videos a prospect viewed; when, how many times, and the length of time a prospect viewed the video; where in the video they stopped watching; and which interactive features they tried. With information like this, sales teams can determine the interest level of their prospects, as well as which use cases and features attract them the most. Video statistics can also allow salespeople to prioritize prospects to focus on, as well as schedule smarter follow-ups to previous communications.

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For teams that are still tightening their video outreach process – what top thoughts would you share with them?

Changing processes and culture can take time. If you’re still early in your video outreach process, start with some basic video best practices as the foundation for where you want to go. Here are just a few examples.

Get your organization comfortable with video: To increase your chances of success with a video outreach process, first you’re going to need to get your sales, marketing, and product management teams comfortable with creating videos. The good news is: whether Bill is recording a one-minute video to show his team how to fill out the new cover sheets for TPS reports, or Sandy is creating a 30-second outreach video for a customer, the videos don’t have to be fancy productions at all. What they do need to be is clearly communicated, concise, well-lit, with clear audio. To create videos, team members can simply use their mobile phone, webcam, or a free screen recording app.

Keep the sales team updated on products, best practices, and success stories: Once your teams are fairly comfortable creating and sharing videos and storing them in your video library, start building new video-centric processes. Begin by having the marketing team create videos on a frequent cadence that inform your sales team of what your product team is releasing soon, product positioning, customer personas, and how to demo the functionality to customers. At the same time, get your sales team engaged by 1) having them continually identify best practices, both in customer engagement and the way they see customers using your products, and 2) asking them to make a short video (usually no more than a few minutes long) for internal sharing with the team of each new best practice they identify.

Make changes one step at a time: As you start to build your video outreach process, have your sales team members use basic video analytics to figure out what works and what doesn’t. For each new outreach video, did the customer start to watch it, and if so, did they play it to the end? If the number of people who start to watch a salesperson’s outreach videos is a significant subset of those who receive the emails, that’s a great start. Full-length viewing durations, and even better, repeat views, suggest a video is both relevant and engaging. Ultimately, if customers are responding better to a call to action after receiving a video message than they would with just an email, you know video is having a positive impact. If you’re not seeing the desired reactions, have team members get feedback on their videos from each other and start making small changes, then keep monitoring to determine if the changes were effective. Rinse and repeat.

As digital consumers get accustomed to these newer tactics used by marketers and even salespeople, it will be harder for teams to get the right kind of attention from the right audience. What would you share to help teams with this?

The novelty of receiving a personalized video will wear off after a while. And yet, at the end of the day, customers are also consumers and consumer use of video will continue to accelerate. To make sure prospects and customers keep watching and responding to your videos, consider these guidelines.

Be concise and authentic: Overly long, canned-sounding videos aren’t going to keep customers’ attention: it’s the video equivalent of receiving a multi-page form letter in the mail. Instead, opt for the following: 1) Keep outreach messages short, preferably no more than 30-60 seconds. 2) Don’t read a script—viewers can tell. Choose a few key points you want to convey, then just speak to them. 3) Relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, minor imperfections in a video keeps the message authentic and personal, so try to do each video in a single take.

Make it personal: The more personalization you do, the more responsive customers will be. 1) Include both the word “video” and the recipient’s name in the subject line, such as “Introductory video, created personally for Kristine.” 2) Hold up a small whiteboard or piece of paper that says “Hello, [customer’s first name]!” on it at the start of the video. The preview image a viewer sees before clicking Play usually comes from the first moment of the video. Customers seeing their name there will know it’s personalized for them and are much more likely to click Play. 3) Make sure to use the person’s first name in the first line of the email body.

Go where your customers are: Many of us are overwhelmed with a burgeoning email inbox that we struggle to keep up with, and external emails are more likely to get caught by a filter and put somewhere else. If you’re not getting a response, find other channels the customer might use, such as LinkedIn, Microsoft Teams, or a social media platform, and directly send them a quick message and video link there.

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Your views on the future of video in enterprise business and across other industries?

Every week in customer conversations, a number of recurring challenges come up across industries that can be summarized into these three topics: time lost seeking information, the opportunity cost of not getting information in a timely manner, and employee turnover due in part to feeling isolated from key information and company mission or culture. These problems are exacerbated by remote and hybrid work—technology-supported collaboration between remote and in-office workers—that became pervasive in March 2020. Hybrid work will continue to evolve as more employees choose to continue working remotely and companies try to eliminate “proximity bias,” the preferential treatment towards workers who are physically closer to their managers. Here are three ways to help address these symptoms.

Increase the effectiveness of meetings:  Unlike popular video aggregation sites, the goal of an organization should be for viewers to watch only as much video as needed to be effective. Few areas are more ripe for this than meetings, town halls, and important leadership presentations. Once recorded, a video content management system can provide meeting intelligence by transforming the videos into dynamic, searchable contents; creating a meeting table of contents; and making quick work of generating meeting summaries and identifying action items and key takeaways. Key benefits include less time spent in meetings, more effective sharing of information, equal employee opportunity to engage with the material asynchronously, and reduced employee frustration.

Save institutional knowledge and reduce onboarding time: Organizations invest a lot of time and money into providing recurring live training sessions, whether in person or remote, especially for employee onboarding. Don’t ask your trainers and other subject matter experts to repeatedly train a class or new hires. Instead, record those experts teaching other employees, preferably in small or 1:1 training sessions, store those recordings in your searchable video library, and then point subsequent learners to that content to learn aspects of their job. Key benefits include reduced onboarding time, reduced training and travel costs, consistency of training, freed-up time for subject matter experts, and anytime access to the recorded knowledge.

Make it easier to find and apply needed information: This builds on the previous paragraph: where possible, switch the focus from long-form training recordings to creating very short (“snackable”) how-to videos that can be consumed by employees just in time (“at the speed of need”) on their computers and mobile devices when they have to learn a new task or skill. As consumers, we’re used to being able to watch a quick how-to or informational video on our mobile phone or computer, and that same model works very well for many areas of business. Key benefits include reduced time to find information, faster and more consistent responses to customers, and reduced employee frustration.

We’d love to hear a few predictions you have in mind for the future of martech and B2B marketing!

I’ll chat about how video will be used in martech and new opportunities for B2B marketing with video.

Video will become a major focus of B2B demand-generation strategy, and will therefore garner an increased percentage of the marketing budget. As video continues to merge with the rest of the marketing tech stack, video will become more automated while also becoming more personalized. The automation will decrease the customer acquisition cost while the personalization will drive improved results, leading to even greater ROI.

Personalized outreach video will dominate B2B brand marketing. Following the trends of social media video and broadcast advertising video, we’ll see easily-applied interactivity becoming more commercially available, allowing brands to engage with customers directly through engagement layers on top of video, like polling, quizzing, and the ability to react with emojis. This will make B2B brands look and feel more human, as the engagement drives greater connection with customers.

Account-based marketing will become a video-first strategy, as marketers orchestrate integrated plays with sales, with both teams leveraging quick, snackable video to reach and engage prospects in a personalized way.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!

For a while, the work-from-home environment that we found ourselves in was temporary. Then it was “until further notice.” But it’s very clear now that many workers will not return to the office, and because of our new hybrid working model, how we’ll connect with customers and our fellow employees has fundamentally changed. This presents an interesting challenge for engaging with prospects and existing customers, but it’s also an exciting opportunity!

Video outreach was already being adopted before the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s different now is that we know we won’t always have the in-person opportunities to naturally build personal connections, so we need new and improved ways to connect with our customers. For that, personalized video outreach can be a critical tool in your toolbox, and it may even open up new customer opportunities that weren’t accessible before.

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Panopto was founded in 2007. Its video management system is utilized by thousands of colleges, universities, and enterprise businesses, with more than 10 million unique end users.

Chris Knowlton is the Chief Evangelist of Panopto, where he educates organizations and industries about the opportunity and impact of asynchronous video communication and knowledge sharing. A veteran of Microsoft, Wowza Media Systems, and BlueFrame Technology, Knowlton has over two decades of expertise in strategic video solutions for schools and businesses of all sizes, and he holds several patents for streaming software technologies.

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