Visual content is making a splash in the online user experience, and for good reason. Video offers the ability to inform and entertain at the same time. Reflecting this trend, new studies show marketers are investing heavily in video content.

According to a March 2012 survey by the Custom Content Council and ContentWise, 52 percent of North American companies invested in video for content marketing in 2011, compared with just 37 percent in 2009.

Not only is the number of companies using video for content marketing growing, it’s representing a bigger portion of budgets. The survey reveals that 54 percent of companies planning to invest more in video.

Additionally, the latest report from Social Media Explorer shows that 76 percent of marketers are increasing use of YouTube and video marketing.

But it’s not dreams of being the latest viral Internet sensation that is driving marketing investment on video. Video offers many benefits. First, video is easy to share across social media platforms and distribute across devices. Second, video allows marketers to create custom content throughout the customer life cycle. Third, and perhaps most important to many marketers, video offers a demonstrable ROI.

Easy Syndication

When published on major platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, videos can easily be embedded in blog posts — anyone’s blog posts. If you were to write text content and someone wanted to link back to it, they might just reproduce a short quote, but a video can be reproduced in full. It also cannot be reworded or summarized, so the message is highly portable. No matter if users are on mobile phones, tablets or behind computers — video is always a good experience.

Customer Life Cycle

Video can build each step of the customer life cycle. Product demo videos and branded video channels attract customers in the early stages, driving interest. The next step, trial, can be encouraged by case study videos, which build trust. Purchases are made more convenient with a video on the sales landing page. Even customer service is streamlined with videos that detail how to best use the product and its features, promoting loyalty. As with any inbound marketing, video will allow potential customers to discover you even before you are able to target them.

Demonstrable ROI

Marketers are beginning to develop measures of video ROI that show it’s a worthwhile use of their content marketing dollars. The difficulty in video ROI is that the best results from video aren’t at the top of the funnel, or public relations and marketing results. Video is best at educating, entertaining or supporting customers. Therefore, video ROI affects not just monetary purchases, but also customer advocacy, such as introducing your brand to friends and other relationship building activities. And the ROI doesn’t end with a sale driven by the video — it continues through the whole customer life cycle.

More good news for marketers is that video is still in its infancy — if few competitors are using it, you have a huge advantage to connect with consumers in a unique way. The tools for making videos are becoming more approachable for beginners and costs are minimized. One last reason video is becoming more emphasized in brands’ content marketing suites is authenticity. It takes exposure to several text articles or posts for new members of your audience to perceive your personality, but a video, with music, narration and visuals, can accomplish that on the first try.