According to Brainshark, a leading e-commerce video marketing and technology company, 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the content type with the best ROI. This, along with a laundry-list of other encouraging video statistics, should whet the appetite of any e-commerce marketer. In this article, we explore four steps to utilizing video as part of your overall e-commerce marketing strategy:
Planning Your Video
One of the first decisions to make with regards to e-commerce video marketing is the theme or focus of your video. Video, just as writing, is a storytelling device that can be used in a multitude of ways. That being said, we've seen five video themes in particular as the most popular and effective for e-commerce companies. We've broken them down into the following five questions:
What is the Product?
When it comes to shopping online, some customers just want the basic facts on the product they're considering buying. Perhaps it's a new product category that they're unfamiliar with or a highly technical category where in-depth feature analysis/comparison is part of their buying process. Regardless, offering up videos that explain the nuts-and-bolts of your product can be a particularly effective strategy for e-commerce companies. Individual product pages can be enhanced with not just high-quality photos of a product but videos explaining the product in detail.
A great example of this video theme in action comes from an e-commerce company known for introducing totally unique product categories, The Grommet. Their entire e-commerce experience is built around high-quality video demonstrations and founder interviews of unique products spanning from household goods to office tools. For one of their products, the Green Cycler, they provide an engaging overview in the form of a video:
How Does the Product Work?
While highlighting the features and benefits of a product is a great way of educating customers during their buying journey, some products require a bit more education before customers are ready to purchase. Products that require any sort of setup or application process could benefit from 'how to' videos demonstrating the exact method of using the product. These videos could be used to not only educate customers on how to use the product, helpful in reducing customer service demands, but also in demonstrating the potential simplicity of what could be a perceived complicated product and therefore reducing barriers to purchase.
A great example of this video theme in action comes from Luxy Hair. The company sells premium hair extensions in a variety of colors. Naturally, this product requires the right selection regarding color, length and weight. Luxy Hair has put together a video library that addresses all of the 'how to' aspects of their product customers would expect answered, such as:
How Is the Product Made?
Some consumers value the genesis story of their product purchases as highly as they do the features, benefits and applications. Those who place a lot of weight into material sourcing and manufacturing methods, value increased transparency into the production of their goods. Companies who differentiate their brand on these elements can utilize video to help educate customers on their exact operational practices as a business.
A great example of this video theme in action comes from American Giant. Their company produces American-made clothing with a strong focus on the fabrics, fit and quality of their goods. They've built out a video library with a variety of content but particularly featuring videos detailing how products, such as their hoodie, actually get made. This type of content helps to reinforce their emphasis on American manufacturing and demonstrates the quality of their goods:
What Do Other People Think of This Product?
One aspect of many consumers' buying process that shouldn't be overlooked is the notion of 'social proof'. Social proof is the idea of utilizing reviews, comments, activity and testimonials from past customers to help reinforce the validity of products in the eyes of new potential customers. Many e-commerce websites tap into social proof by featuring written customer reviews, comments and activity from Facebook pages and recent customer images from Instagram. Some companies have also started utilizing video to enhance their social proof, particularly in the regards to customer reviews.
A great example of this video theme in action comes from ExpoTV. This company boosts a network of consumer-generated product review videos, such as this one, and has actually been in the space for quite some time. Although the videos are hosted by ExpoTV directly, e-commerce companies who have found their products reviewed on this website could easily embed those reviews in their own sites to reinforce individual product pages:
Watch this video here: http://www.expotv.com/videos/reviews/3/40/COVERGIRL-Instaglam-Light-Kit/638761
How Does This Product Fit Into My Life?
The last theme that we've seen effective, although a bit less directly tied to specific products, is the idea of 'lifestyle videos'. These videos are often produced at Hollywood-caliber levels and sometimes only briefly feature the actual product that's intended to be sold. They'll have their own stories that could be entirely separate from the parent brand, but with the idea of the videos showcasing how the company's products fit into the ideal lifestyle of their target customer.
A great example of this video theme in action comes from Patagonia. Patagonia, for the small few unfamiliar with the brand, sells high-end active apparel, targeting climbers, runners, skiers, surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. They've produced an extensive library of videos, mostly from their brand ambassadors, that highlight the lifestyle their products support in a fun and entertaining fashion:
Producing Your Video
Once you've figured out the theme you'll be using for your e-commerce video marketing strategy, it's time to get to work and actually start production. This article is not intended for the seasoned Hollywood pro with a multi-million dollar equipment budget, but rather for brands looking for a cost-effective means of experimenting with video. For some, that means keeping the budget at $100 or less, while others might be able to jump into the several thousand dollar range. As such, here are a few recommendations on equipment, for both scenarios, to get your production underway:
Naturally the first piece of equipment to consider is the device you'll use to capture video. Here are two options to consider:
The easiest (and cheapest) option for many companies is to grab an employee's iPhone and get to work. The iPhone 6 boosts a 1080p HD quality, not bad for not having to make an additional investment.
For those able and willing to pony up a bit more cash for their equipment, you might consider a professional-grade camera such as Sony's NEX-FS100U. You'll quickly find yourself purchasing a few additions such as lenses, mounts and adapters, to get fully setup, so expect the cost to easily be in the mid-thousands.
Often cited as one of the primary aspects amateur filmmakers overlook, lighting is key component to producing high quality video. Here are two options to consider:
The folks at Wistia put together a great tutorial on how to assemble a DIY lighting rig for less than $100 at your local Home Depot.
Once you start talking about serious professional lighting, you're likely going to want to work with . . . a professional. Investing in a proper rig might be an upfront cost better handled by renting or finding a freelance videographer via a website such as Videopixie.
Unless you're working with Charlie Chaplin, nailing the sound is just as crucial as the visual elements. Here are two options to consider:
Your iPhone will certainly capture some of the audio, but likely with significant background noise. Blue Microphones, a leader in audio equipment, has a high-quality mic that plugs right into your iPhone.
Same as with lighting, you might want to consider finding a professional to help with this aspect as the investment grows steadily as you add booms, compressors, amps, wires, etc.
Editing / Production Software
Once you've got all of your raw material, you'll need to get to work on cutting, splicing, tracking and rendering. Here are two options to consider:
Posting Your Video
So you've finished the final edits on your video and you're ready to share it with the world, now what? Before we get started marketing the video, we'll want to set up video hosting so the video can be easily accessed. Along with hosting come a few other considerations such as video analytics, video discovery and more. Let's look at a few of the top video management platforms available to e-commerce companies:
YouTube is the largest video hosting platform and infamous for all things video marketing. In addition, it also happens to be ranked as one of the top search engines (separate from Google), given the volume of search queries and video discovery inherent in the website. It's 100% free to get up-and-running, although there are some verification steps necessary for videos over 15 minutes. In addition to basic hosting, YouTube offers a suite of analytics tools to help you learn about your viewer's behavior and profile. YouTube also offers some editing capabilities, privacy control and monetization once you hit a certain view threshold.
Vimeo is similar to YouTube in many ways. They offer hosting, analytics, monetization and privacy controls. The primary difference is that Vimeo regulates these features against the subscription level you choose, Basic (Free), Plus ($59.95 / year) or Pro ($199 / year). A few things they offer that are unique from YouTube are the ability to customize your video player and an ad-free experience.
One of the first entrants in the business video hosting segment, Wistia offers both free and paid hosting, but without the 'network' aspect of YouTube and Vimeo. Their platform has many of the standard features we've seen already including analytics, privacy controls and player customization. They do, however, offer considerable amount of additional control when it comes to things such as video SEO, domain/viewer restriction, collaboration and custom call-to-action design within the player.
When it comes to enterprise-level video hosting and solutions, Brightcove is one of the leaders in the space. Their platform offers all of the features previously described and more. Likely not an option for the aspiring e-commerce company, Brightcove has worked with premier retail brands such as Puma, Macy's, and Boss.
Promoting Your Video
Now that our video is up-and-running, it's time to get it in front of customers. As proud as we might be of this beautiful video that has just been created, we need to keep in mind that our core goal is to actually drive sales from the video. So when thinking about e-commerce video marketing, we're really just thinking of how to increase the likelihood that it will get in front of customers and drive sales. In doing this, there are four things to consider:
Where to Add the Video on Your Own Website?
Before we start thinking about distributing the video externally, we'll want to make sure we're utilizing it as effectively as possible within our own website. Depending on which theme you used for your video, you might consider placing it in different areas of your website. If it's a product demo or customer review, it's a great fit for an individual product page. If it's a how-to tutorial, it might be a great piece of blog content. If it's an overview of the product manufacturing process or a lifestyle video, it might deserve more center-stage attention on the homepage or a dedicated landing page. Where you choose to promote the video within your website just comes down to where it will add the most value for your customers as they go through their buying process.
How to Optimize the Video for Potential Search Engine Indexing?
Videos, just like traditional text-based content such as blog posts, have the capability to rank for specific search terms within Google. Tactics used to increase the likelihood of this ranking is what the practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. Video has its own unique set of SEO practices that will help increase your chances of ranking. Traditionally, video was a heavily under-optimized content format and therefore quite easy to claim rankings with the proper usage of what's called Rich Snippets. Within the past year, however, Google has updated their search algorithm and now places considerable more weight on YouTube for all video search results. That's not to say you can't get your own website to rank for video, but it is worth considering YouTube as one of the core aspects of your e-commerce video marketing strategies. If you are looking to optimize your own video, you'll want set up a video sitemap and provides descriptions and transcripts with your videos wherever they appear. Moz, a leading SEO management platform, has a fantastic article detailing the evolution of video SEO.
How to Drive Traffic to the Video?
When it comes time to drive traffic to your video, things start to look like any form of content marketing. In addition to the SEO work you've already done, you'll want to explore all possible channels for content promotion including social media and paid advertising. Links to your videos can easily be shared on any social media platform, but Facebook is the only major channel (aside from YouTube) that supports uploading video directly to your profile. Twitter only supports images at the moment and Instagram and Vine can only support short-form video. Paid advertising through Google and Facebook could easily be used to drive traffic to landing pages on your own website which feature video. However, platforms such as Virool have emerged that specifically allow companies to pay to get qualified video views.
How to Best Monetize the Video?
As your video gets distributed and promoted, you'll again want to keep in mind the core goal: getting customers to make a purchase. If your video is being viewed on-site, then there is the hope that the purchase will occur as the user views the page. However, you also have the ability to create in-video calls-to-action (CTAs) that encourage viewers to click a link and take a specific action. These CTAs, sometimes referred to as annotations, allow you to have specific text and imagery appear as an 'overlay' to the video and provide viewers the ability to click-through to a corresponding offer. This could be used in videos such as product reviews where you prompt the viewer with a link to purchase the product directly once the video is complete. Building on top of this concept are companies such as Viewbix that offer conversion-focused video players to help increase the likelihood of viewers taking action.
Video is an exciting content format and provides e-commerce companies an opportunity to speak more directly with their audience. It serves as a means of making an online purchase just slightly more tangible by adding motion and audio to the buying experience. It's certainly an involved process (both in time and money) but has the opportunity to produce significant value and worth adding to the overall marketing mix.