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Enterprises across every industry have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by producing significantly more videos, according to the 2021 Video in Business Benchmark Report from Vidyard.

Researchers with Vidyard examined data from more than 750,000 videos published by more than 1,500 businesses during 2020, finding a 135% increase in videos produced compared to 2019. The number of videos created and published doubled in 2020, according to the report.

The financial services industry was particularly keen to take advantage of video, with companies producing 129% more videos in 2020. The education industry was even higher, with a 209% increase in 2020.

SEE: Gartner’s top tech predictions for 2021 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Vidyard researchers found a massive surge in April 2020 as the pandemic became a reality for everyone and every company. Enterprises had to make do and adapt to the pandemic by making sales remotely and pioneering digital-first marketing strategies. Vidyard’s chief video strategist, Tyler Lessard, also noted in an interview that the majority of the videos were recorded and sent by sales and customer service professionals.

“In 2020 we saw a significant shift in how videos are being used within business and where it’s having the greatest impact. While brands are continuing to produce more content for online publishing, 60% of the videos shared were user-generated using webcam, screen share and mobile recording tools,” Lessard said.

“Additionally, we saw a significant leap in the use of both produced videos and user-generated videos in industries that have traditionally relied on face-to-face interactions, such as Financial Services, Education and Retail. Video is now being used in these industries not just for online promotions, but for educating clients, communicating key messages, and maintaining the human connection.”

The report notes that there has been an increase both in professionally produced videos and user-generated ones. Client-facing sales and customer service professionals, according to the study, used webcams or screen recordings to create more user-generated videos, with that category representing 60% of all videos shared by businesses studied in the report.

Those in the tech industry created the most user-generated videos but people in financial services, professional services, entertainment and education also created a significant amount of user-generated videos.

High Tech created an average of 583 new videos per business over the 12-month period and 75% of videos created by companies with under 200 employees were user-generated, while only 45% of the videos created within organizations with greater than 600 employees were user-generated.

Eric Hansen, senior vice president at Advisor Group, said in an interview that his company began producing more videos in 2018 for its live events as a way to promote the proceeding to their existing customers as opposed to simply emailing people.

“Emails that featured videos had open rates of 60+% v. 30% from text based. Now fast forward to 2020 when we introduced the ability for our sales teams and select financial professionals to produce their own personalized video and we’re seeing response rates up 4x v. that of text based emails. Looking at our data we recognized people wanted video and introducing that ability into our sales process has already had huge benefit and we expect that to grow more as more teams within Advisor Group embrace the technology,” Hansen said via email.

Hansen noted that while Advisor Group started years ago, the adoption of video takes time. But the pandemic has forced everyone into a more video-based culture, leading the way to an increase in videos produced.

“There is no doubt that personalized video has tremendous benefit, but it’s a cultural change for people to record a video v. Writing an email. Lessons we’ve learned are: It takes time. You need internal advocates. Focus on training a vocal small group and it will spread like wildfire,” he added.

There was also an increase in the average length of videos on the platform. The report cites a 50% increase in average video length compared to 2019, finding that in 2020 the average length of all videos analyzed was roughly six minutes.

Vidyard’s researchers have been putting the report together since 2016 and 2020 is the first year where video length increased compared to the previous year. More than 60% of videos published in 2020 were less than two minutes but more than 10% were also more than 20 minutes, a steep increase compared to the 6% in 2019.

The Vidyard report attributes the increase to the release of more long-form webinars and presentations that became important during the pandemic.

Lessard said he expects video publishing to continue increasing even as people return to work, as it has now been established as a content format that is easy to create and share at scale.

“The types of benefits being realized from video are changing and expanding as the use-cases evolve. For sales teams, a recent report from SalesLoft indicated that sales outreach that included user-generated videos had a 26% higher response rate on average, resulting in a sharp increase in the use of video in sales in 2020 (471% increase year-over-year in those reporting the use of user generated videos for sales),” Lessard said

Lessard explained that the most popular types of videos created included Product Demos, How-To’s, Explainers and Webinars, while the average cost of an Explainer Video is roughly $10,000. The other videos were produced at a much lower cost or were effectively free to produce through in-house tools. The report notes that there was a 50% increase in How-To video creation.

But most importantly, Lessard said, was the idea that marketers and other business professionals were forced to realize that video offers a significant amount of benefits and can be applied in multiple use cases. More than 90% of marketers reported to Vidyard that video converts as well, or better, than other forms of content.

“In 2020 we saw more marketing teams develop competencies for creating video content in-house, while many individual sales and customer service reps have now adopted and learned user-generated video creation tools,” Lessard added.

“The need to deliver more visual, personal, and engaging content via digital channels will not slow down in the months and years ahead, and the pandemic proved to be an accelerant for both digital transformation and video creation competency in business.”