If a picture paints a thousand words then a video must need the entire dictionary. We all respond much better to visual prompting compared with text, and even better to moving images. After all, life is lived in video.
The video revolution has been enabled by cheaper, better equipment combined with ubiquitous faster download speeds and moves an E-Commerce store much closer to being interactive by putting the consumer in charge. In addition, videos will help to keep people at your site, creating a rise in “stickiness”.
Hosting video can be free. The often cited disadvantage of hosting on third party sites is that it diverts traffic from your site, but this need not be the case. In addition, YouTube and MySpace have most video formats installed and use them to convert your video to their generic FLV format which is pretty much available to everyone, eliminating the biggest technical challenge.
Videos can be used in conjunction with other marketing as a call to action, for instance by putting a link to a video in an email, and can potentially change other touch points into further marketing opportunities. In addition, Google increases the rating of pages containing video – not surprisingly, given that they own YouTube.
With this all in mind, here are some tips on building online sales and improving customer relations using videos.
It has become very cheap to shoot and display videos on the web site. Showing products in use can be help tremendously in the decision to buy, so don’t disappoint your customers.
There’s the potential for new prospects to find you after they see your videos on YouTube or other specialist sites. For this reason it’s important both to embed your URL in the video and also to make it easy for viewers to forward a link to friends or other interested parties.
Done right, a video can cause people who wouldn’t have bought anyway to drop out earlier, avoiding wasted sales effort. Ensuring that people know what they are buying can reduce returns with an immediate positive impact on profitability.
It’s great to introduce your company, untangle complex ideas, explain products and show them in-situ using video. And the whole process will be generally more enjoyable for your prospects. A product demonstration showing exactly how problems are solved will sell where other media will fail.
Education can still have a surprisingly positive impact on sales. Hesitation arises from uncertainty. A customer who has had this uncertainty removed will be more confident and therefore more likely to make a decision. As the provider of the education you are likely to be trusted and to get the deal.
One question is whether videos should be professionally produced or home-grown. This will be impacted by your size and budget and it’s true that generally you get what you pay for. However, YouTube has made amateur footage more acceptable so with care (and a steady hand) you can produce a low budget video which still has business legs.
Video case studies of customers recommending you, generally produce a positive emotional response. A person explaining exactly how they were helped has more weight than any sales pitch.
Whichever approach that you take, deciding what you are trying to achieve is critical. Then you need to plan the content - the subject, critical messages and how you will present them. These must all support your objective. So the questions to ask are whether you want to simply enhance the image of the business, provide technical information, help close the sale, or educate your prospects while cutting the number of calls. You decide.
Once you know what you are trying to achieve, it’s time to act. You should be ruthless in limiting the length of the video, probably three minutes maximum. You also need to try to grab people in the first twenty seconds, so concentrate the most creativity on that part, and ensure you explain the benefits the viewer will gain. Remember that the image that YouTube will use will come from the first few frames, so try to make them relevant. You need to decide on the style – chatting, testimonial, demo etc. Make it interesting but relevant, e.g. someone who is highly photogenic may be a positive for some people, but a turn-off for others. You need to be consistent with your brand.
If you are making your own video then the equipment list obviously includes a video camera, maybe a Flip as it is cheap or the latest iPhone as both are easy to use. Also important are lights and a good microphone, both of which will have a major impact on quality.
To keep costs down ask staff or friends to audition and use those who do the best. Obviously if you have the budget, professional actors are likely to produce a more polished result.
Then comes shooting, editing and the addition of a music track. Movie Maker, pre-installed with Windows, is probably good enough to make a low cost video. Be careful of copyright issues and remember that music can hinder as well as help. It may be worth spending the money on a professional voice-over. You’re not necessarily making a work of art but it must be both visually and audibly clear.
There’s choice between hosting them on your own site, or on another web site with YouTube the clear favourite. If you use YouTube, you should establish your own dedicated channel in the form www.youtube.com/user/YourChannel">www.youtube.com/user/YourChannel. It’s also possible to embed YouTube videos so that they can be viewed on your site. The good news about YouTube is that it provides the bandwidth for nothing and the speed is great, while solving the problem of which video format to use.
You can maximise traffic from YouTube itself by adding a title, keyword tags and descriptions to all of your videos. By mentioning and linking to your videos from blog posts, a Twitter feed and similar you can also help the rankings, and you should also link back to your own site from the YouTube description. Essentially the same guidelines to optimisation apply to YouTube as to Google generally. You can also use YouTube’s Insight reports to find how traffic is finding your videos and then optimize around this.
In some vertical markets there are also specialist sites showcasing videos relevant to your business, so it’s well worth looking out for them too.
It’s great to present product information by showing it in real life use. It will save mistakes in assembling and usage, improving service and reducing cost. Video can prove that a problem can be solved. If customers can find videos that enable them to solve their problem, you will both improve service and reduce costs.