The Emerging Importance of Online Video
As incorporating video onto the Web becomes easier and the quality of video gets better and better, consumers are expecting its presence on Web sites more and more. Video offers so many opportunities for marketers to get their messages across in a more compelling, and more informative, way.
But what are consumers looking for in online marketing videos, and how do you go about implementing them for your online communications? Target Marketing spoke with three Web video experts, who offer their insights.
What Customers Look For
“First and foremost, consumers want to, absent of video, know as much about the product or service as they can,” says Matt DeLoca, senior vice president of sales and marketing for The FeedRoom, a New York-based online streaming video and digital asset management provider. “If they go to a Web site that’s very well-structured, has a logical flow, and they can easily search and find what they want, that’s a great starting point, but video is then a richer media type that is easier to comprehend and can go into more depth in terms of the individual nuance of who’s presenting the information.” Essentially, customers want video for its ease of use and ability to inform in a more hands-on matter than text or images can. But they aren’t just looking for a TV commercial plopped on your site.
“I can tell you from research that just posting a 30-second DRTV commercial online is nowhere near as effective as doing a custom video specifically about a subject matter,” says Frank Pournelle, president of Las Vegas-based direct marketing and media brokerage Last Second Media. “… [Consumers] want to see specialization.”
DeLoca explains that The FeedRoom asks its clients, “What do you find to be the hardest support topic you deal with on a regular basis?” That’s the content you should focus your video efforts on. “It could be as simple as a common question about a product, or it could be something as complicated as what the state and future of the financial health of the company is.”
Pippa Nutt, director of online at Northern Lights Direct Response, a direct response agency with offices in Toronto and Chicago, finds video content that walks viewers through a process, such as how to fill out a tax form, ideal for marketing applications. DeLoca and Pournelle agree, saying the more complex the process, the better-suited it is for video. Anything that is difficult to explain or demonstrate in text or images alone should be considered for video.
DeLoca also adds that the use of live video on a Web site offers tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach consumers, putting a spin on the traditional webcast. Instead of simply having webcast registrants viewing PowerPoint slides and listening to audio, adding live streaming video of the presenters enhances the user experience.
Note that video content can be obtained from the growing sector of custom publishing services, which includes companies like Pluck and MindBlazer.
How to Implement It
With sites like YouTube and many Web video companies out there, creating an online video strategy is a very doable proposition. The FeedRoom encourages its clients to use their Web sites as the central distribution hub, placing videos directly on the homepage and throughout the site that then can be disseminated around the Web from there. Nutt and Pournelle agree, and also suggest posting videos you own directly on YouTube or other social media sites can be effective as well. The key is to integrate video across all online communications.
When posting on a third-party site or blog, it’s crucial to have backlinks to your site and to make sure your video is keyword-targeted for the terms consumers search for. This ensures better rankings with search engines and drives browsers back to your site. And that’s increasingly important with unviersal seach, where videos seem to be getting better rankings and video thumbnails are showing up on the first page of search engine results. On your site itself, it’s important to not simply have a video section, but to embed single video clips throughout the site. For instance, on product pages, have video that shows the product in use with more information so consumers get a better understanding before making purchasing decisions.
DeLoca and Nutt stress that it’s important to track everything, using digital asset management and optimization strategies/tools to see what type of video is most effective—and what video can be added that consumers are searching for.
Who Does It Well
DeLoca says two standouts in online video are General Motors and Barnes & Noble. GM uses video for all its online communications: public relations, internal communications, marketing. The entire Web site leverages video, from the pressroom, where it has the latest news from new CEO Chris Henderson and updates on individual brands—such as the shuttering of Pontiac—to live video webcasts, sometimes open to the public, like when GM announced its re-emergence from bankruptcy.
Barnes & Noble, known primarily as a store retailer, has been using video to build a sense of community. Right on the homepage, there is a set of video clips browsers can watch. From there, Barnes & Noble creates product-specific video content, including video as part of the buying process. And it’s more than just reviews. The videos on the product pages often explain more about the selected book or DVD, even providing interviews with the author in some cases, giving the customer much more insight into the product.
What makes both companies so effective with Web video is the integration across their entire Web presence, giving consumers deeper and richer online experiences. The use of online video is quickly becoming an expected feature. Have a strategy in place to leverage this emerging technology to enhance your online marketing efforts.