Let’s face it. Online retail is getting awfully competitive out there. With the proliferation of new tools and technologies, you’re always looking for every possible advantage in presenting the best shopping experience for your visitors. In the past we’ve discussed social networking assets and enhancements to product review sections and images as ways to increase traffic and customer retention. But today we’ve got another question for you.
Have you tried video yet?
Incorporating online videos into your e-commerce operation is a low-risk, low-cost, high reward strategy. Videos educate and inform shoppers about products and features in a way that text, images and audio cannot, while also entertaining consumers to raise brand awareness. Many retailers have embarked on video marketing already and if you’ve wondered how you can do the same, we’re going to outline some of the most important factors you’ll need to consider.
You might be a little overwhelmed at the prospect of creating and displaying web videos as part of your operation. Don’t be. There are companies out there that can get videos up and running for you, handling every aspect of the process along the way. If you’ve got the extra money, they might be worth a look, particularly because they can give you some insight and tips on the best ways to maximize the effects of your videos from an SEO perspective. But if cost is a factor, you can still produce and distribute high-quality videos on your own.
The first tech hurdle you’ll need to overcome is making sure that your site can handle hosting these videos so that users aren’t stuck waiting for them to buffer or load. From there, you can set up your own in-house video studio for as little as a few thousand dollars. Most PCs and Macs come with video editing software already installed, but even if they don’t, you can pick up Windows Movie Maker or iMovie inexpensively to give you the foundation for creating your videos. Add a high-definition video camera and Photoshop and you’re pretty much all set.
Once you have the tools and bandwidth to get your site video-friendly, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas for content. This is no small matter. Some retailers and merchants may have products, or customer bases, that don’t lend themselves to video at all. Still others may need to focus their video work on small target areas and shoppers. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your video work and what kind of videos you think your customers want. That will go a long way towards leading your planning.
New shopping features on your site, opening storefronts on social networking sites, new products, contests, and product demonstrations are among the most popular content ideas for videos, but don’t stop there. Get creative! We read a story about one merchant who started a campaign of videos that showed a guy using a blender on all sorts of different household items from wood planks to golf balls. These videos attracted literally millions of hits across the web and resulted in an astronomical increase in blender sales for that particular merchant. We’ve all see enough crazy YouTube videos to know that people are attracted to the creative, and sometimes, the strange. Don’t be afraid to get a little zany.
You can also use video to help promote you company overall. Create a 3-5 minute video on your store, staff and operations and then use it as part of your press and marketing materials. If you’ve got an online press kit, including a company background video sends the message that you’re modern and tech savvy.
As for posting videos, the sky’s the limit. Start a video section on your site with all of your videos and make sure it’s easily accessible from your homepage. Always post all of your videos to YouTube, making sure that your company name and contact information is available in the About section. You can take it a step further and create your own channel on YouTube, then encourage customers to subscribe to it, further expanding your online network.
Videos can also easily be added to Myspace and Facebook fan pages or any customer or company blogs you operate. AOL, Yahoo, and Google all offer video hosting as well, just a few of the infinite possibilities available to you.
We think that once you get the ball rolling and get a few videos under your belt, you’ll realize justhow valuable a resource this can be. As always, leave us your thoughts, ideas and comments below!