Taking Online Video Beyond YouTube


ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — The majority of conversations I’ve engaged in lately at industry events like ad:tech San Francisco centered on one topic: video. One of those chats actually started with, “I can create a home video and slap it up on YouTube. What’s different about your video marketing service?”

My initial thought was this guy really doesn’t get it. However, after a few minutes of discussion, I realized he was simply relegating video to the same track most people do. The majority of coverage on video marketing to date has either focused on pre/post roll video advertising or viral video. Both forms are not ideal for the direct marketer looking to sell products or services online. Video advertising is largely a branding play and your odds of ever getting a viral campaign to catch fire are such that you would be better off putting it all on black!

There’s a whole different play on online video marketing. Companies that aren’t hip enough for YouTube or rich enough for expensive video-branding campaigns are tapping video to increase conversions and turn Web site visitors into customers. It’s all about ROI. Accountable, measurable and quite effective!

Creating a video strategy to increase conversions requires three key components:
1. Know your metrics
2. Know your customer
3. Don’t forget to test

Know your metrics

The goal, remember, is to improve your Web site’s conversion rate, thus leading to increased sales, higher profits and better ROI. This mandates a keen understanding of what is right and wrong within your online marketplace. Any video project, from my standpoint, must start with an analytical site evaluation to look for improvement opportunities. For our clients, we’ve leveraged Google Analytics and/or Omniture to track users’ paths from entry to exit looking for opportunities to improve the numbers. From there, we analyze a client’s buy funnel and evaluate key landing pages to establish benchmark metrics which become the foundation for a video campaign.

This process also begins to expose the type and quantity of videos needed to improve conversion rates. As an example, for one of our e-commerce clients, we found that credibility was a major issue. We recommended an intro video with testimonial footage and third-party credibility boosters on the home page to overcome the obstacle. Beyond that, key products required their own videos to help differentiate them from competitors’ products a few clicks away. The goal is to inject video content on key pages of your site that can benefit from clearer, more concise messaging, and ultimately produce improved conversion rates.

Know your customer

I know this second component sounds obvious. For those of you who manage a brand, it might even sound a little condescending. However, I’m talking about your online customer – your Web site visitor. While I realize your offline and online customers are often the same people, their habits and expectations vary. They require certain things from you and you must be responsive to their needs. Creating video content is about getting your value proposition in front of them in a way you control and they absorb more easily. Understanding how your offline and online customers differ is critical to developing compelling and appropriate video content.

Testing modalities including multivariate testing are often recommended on certain key pages within a site as a precursor to the video project. This will allow you to test different messages, images, and page layouts. The goal is to discover what your customers will react to best. This step sets the stage for the visuals and messages your video must convey in order to reap incremental gains from your video investment.

Don’t forget to test

While I just mentioned multivariate testing on specific pages as part of getting to know your customer, this last key component is about testing the video. When you’re in the pre-production stages of a video content project, working on the scripts, visuals and messages you want to convey, you want to build into the process the opportunity to test alternatives. For about the same budget, using the same talent, you can create multiple variations of your videos as A/B tests. It can be as simple as having your host read two different scripts, or reordering the elements in a video to establish the optimal flow.

You can also test different visuals through the post-production process. You can swap hero or product shots, test different B-roll footage, switch out the track and create different supporting and motion graphics to highlight key points of differentiation.

Once the initial tests have been conducted, you can use your field tapes to go back into production as often as called for. In the end, if you can keep pushing your conversion rate up, while learning more and more about the concepts and messages that cause your visitors to convert, you win!

Clearly, video is powerful. Bandwidth is basically a non-issue. The landscape is fertile for those who are willing to go beyond the basics and leverage not just what the Web has been, but what it is becoming. Beyond this strategy, once you have these video assets, a new world of opportunities open up to you. Video content has shown up in Google’s natural rankings, let alone sites like YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video. As our various “screens” merge over time, content formats will grow increasingly more dynamic. Astute marketers are making their moves now!


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