From small business to the freelance portfolio to the aspiring teen pop star, video is an important component of a good marketing strategy. Without a doubt, websurfers like watching stuff online. According to a recent Cisco whitepaper, "Internet video...will account for 57 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2014." And even more relevant for businesses, video has a strong potential to convert viewers into customers. A study from Internet video provider Treeopedia found that, "Visitors who watch product page videos convert [buy something] more than twice as often then those who don’t." And while there aren't any hard facts or figures to point to, some SEO experts believe that embedded video (if it's done right) is a great tool to increase your site's search engine rankings.
While web video is an important business tool, it's not a silver bullet. You've got to implement it with care, making sure the videos posted fit your site, are embedded properly and follow a pre-determined marketing strategy. (Important note: you've also got to make sure you own the copyright to whatever you post! For more info on copyright laws, check out this past article from our blog.) Here's some tips and tools for taking yourself from a text-only site to small business Hollywood:
Choose Your Genre: A creative and dynamic web commercial is a powerful marketing tool. But it's not the only category of online video. There's other, potentially more effective options for you to consider:
- Instructional/How-To: A quick way to position yourself as an expert to your customers is by offering instructional videos. Take a quick survey of your friends, neighbors and customers to find out what questions they have about your field of expertise. Then produce a short instructional video to answer their questions! A great example of a company using this technique to establish a loyal fan base is Gary Vaynerchuk's WineTV. In an interview with Inc. Magazine, he pointed out that, "...with the show, my intent isn't to sell our wine. It's to educate people about wine. There's a big difference...I have an audience that trusts me. It's about building a global brand—not selling four more bottles of Pinot Grigio."
- Podcasts: Are you a regular blogger? Do you enjoy talking to people? Do you have something to say? If so, consider adding a video podcast (aka, vodcast) to your company blog. This will give a face to your business, allow people to connect with you in a more personal way and as mentioned previously, possibly increase site rankings by increasing the time viewers spend on your blog.
- Live Event Streaming: Do you ever hold live events or conferences? Increase your audience by allowing online viewers to attend the event virtually. You can sell tickets ahead of time, then give a special access code to customers. If your content is evergreen, consider packaging the video, along with any related handouts or PowerPoint, as a product offering after the event. UStream offers ad-supported streaming at no cost or ad-free live streaming for $99/month.
Embed Your Production: Once you decide on what types of video content to offer, the next step (once it's produced) is to make it a part of your site. YouTube is one of the most popular web video hosts, but some companies don't like the "anything goes" feel of the site, as well as the fact they have little control over what other videos might be advertised alongside theirs. Here's some other video hosting sites to consider:
- ecorpTV ($49/month for basic package): Banning all user generated or consumer posted content (ie, no Justin Bieber music video spoofs) is one of the key selling points to ecorpTV's service. Also, you don't have to worry that if your video goes viral, other companies will have ads placed on top if it. You're in complete control of the content and all pre-roll or overlays surrounding it.
- Vzaar (Free trial; $49/month for basic package): Vzaar has been compared to BrightCove, but this hosting site only costs a fraction of that big business alternative. HD video, customizable player, analytics and various distribution tools are some of the features they offer. Unlike YouTube, Vzaar doesn't cap video length, just video file size.
- Amazon Cloudfront (Based off usage; 1st 10 TB are .15 cents per month): If you don't have a large video library and don't have a large video hosting budget, then consider using Amazon Cloudfront as your content distribution service, alongside a standalone player such as JW Player. Warning - this approach is not for the faint of heart. It does require some technical savvy, but if you follow this excellent tutorial from Atomic Spin Weblog, you'll be up and running in no time (fingers crossed!).
Optimize the Experience: A video is only as useful to your business as the viewers you can attract to watch it. Here's some ways to draw them:
- SEO Tags: Keywords aren't just for a static webpage. They're also for web video. It's important to tag your videos with keywords so that search engines can rank the pages on which they appear. For more information, check out this article on making video SEO friendly.
- Share Them: Get the word out about the videos you post. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn - post links to the video on all of them! Also make sure your video player provides sharing options so that viewers can easily send a link to their friends. Shared media translates into watched media.
Have you incorporated video into your website? What were the results? And what about oDesk? What kinds of videos could we offer that would be useful to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.