For a long time, retailers held back from adding video content on their eCommerce sites. This delay was due to high production and hosting costs, inept distribution and marketing channels, and few optimization opportunities. All in all, there was no clear ROI for the investment. Today, technology advancement has cleared most of these roadblocks. About 68% of top 50 US online retailers offered some kind of video content on their site in 2009 (eMarketer). This number is growing rapidly as adding video content has now become the second-highest priority of multichannel retailers. According to a recent Forrester Research study, videos are 53 times more likely to generate a first-page ranking than traditional SEO techniques.
Let’s first look at some of the benefits of adding video content to a retail site:
· Better product display
· Visual appeal
· Shopper engagement
· Time spent on site
· Search Engine Optimization
· Effective marketing tool
· Improved conversion rates
· Low cart abandonment
· Increase in average order size
Higher customer satisfaction
· Lower return rates
· Lower support costs
Of course, not every retailer can achieve all these benefits. But, it should not be difficult to accomplish at least a sub-set. Though, simply adding video content does not produce intended results. Like SEO and other marketing tactics, video programs require planning and dedicated resources that are able to create and optimize video content. Here are some important factors to consider when adding video content to your eCommerce site:
80-20 rule (or whatever rule works for you)
Every retailer has a certain percentage of top performing products. You have to put videos first on these product pages that are driving most of your sales. This limits the amount of effort you require and maximizes ROI.
Content that connects
As with any type of marketing, it is essential to understand what motivates your shoppers. One of the best things about video is that it enables an emotional connection. You want to promote yourself as a friendly and trustworthy business. Don’t try to simply put out marketing messages. Rather, add some entertainment value and try to connect with your customers.
Videos should be short
Attention span of online shoppers is very short. Videos should be made accordingly. Depending on the product, video length can range from 15 seconds to 5 mins. But, anything beyond that is wasted effort. I mention 5 mins because some videos can go beyond products into actual usage information, learning and other facts.
Don’t completely rely on voice! You need informational text that shoppers can read while watching the video. It may sound weird, but there are users who watch video on mute.
Include Interactive Elements
Adding interactive elements such as overlays, links, polls, discount alerts, hotspots and call to action buttons improves engagement. This is important because an engaged user has a much higher chance of converting. Moreover, you can collect insights when users interact with videos.
Integrate Social Elements
Include ratings, reviews, Like and Share buttons, and links to your social presence such as Facebook Fan pages and Twitter. Also, allow users to comment on your videos.
There are 2 basic choices: either you host your own videos or host them on a third-party site like YouTube. What you choose depends on your objectives. The general rule is as follows:
· If you want to maximize number of views and product exposure, then go with a third-party site.
· If you want to attract more shoppers to your site, then it is best to host your video yourself. This can be done via a video service that streams video to a page on your site.
There are also other considerations when making a decision on hosting such as video quality, length, size, player customization, integration capabilities, etc.
Placement, page layout and video presentation have a big impact on overall effectiveness of your videos. Simple things such as putting videos above the fold or replacing the product image with product video increases consumption. Based on your requirements, you may need to test thumbnail options and player sizes. Adding callouts that encourage shoppers to watch the video also have a positive impact. In short, it is important to make it easy and convenient for shoppers to access and watch videos on your site.
Testing is Crucial
Different types of videos would perform differently with different product categories and shoppers. Besides testing, there is no good way to know which videos would perform well for your specific need. Upload different versions for limited number of products and analyze the performance to hone down on videos that are most effective. You will also need to test videos for various content elements to understand what works and the order in which these elements should be presented. These elements include product features, price, music, images, voiceovers, lighting, length, links, etc.
Integrate with search
Depending on specific needs of your customer, it may be beneficial to indicate that a video is available when search results are shown. Display a direct link to the video next to the product search result. This increases the probability that user would watch the video and ultimately buy that product.
Video SEO is Key
Add keywords and phrases to the title and write good descriptions or transcripts for each video to achieve best SEO results. Once this is done, submit the video using XML tools to Google and the other search engines. You also need to create a good video sitemap that includes video file, a thumbnail image, and title and description text.
If your goal is to reach a widespread audience for your videos, you should syndicate and distribute your video content. Video syndication is an effective way of popularizing your videos (and products). You can use services like TubeMogul that automatically submit videos to all major video sharing sites. Though, stay away from syndication if your goal is to drive search traffic to your own site.
Incorporate in Marketing
Where valuable, include links to videos in your digital marketing efforts such as Display ads, Rich-Media ads and Paid search (Google SiteLinks, etc.). Another must have is a social media plan for your video content. Whether it is running your own YouTube channel or marketing your videos on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, you should make best use of what social media has to offer. It is a cheap and intimate way of reaching out and making a connection with your customers. Also, send video content links to your mailing list to increase engagement and informational quality of your emails.
It is important to measure the value-add received from implementing video content. The most important thing to measure is conversion rate. Other useful things that you can measure are cart abandonment, overall site or page traffic and view-thru rate. If numbers don’t show an effective ROI, you will need to re-think your approach.
Video is fast becoming a must-have for any eCommerce site. It is a common perception that video is only effective for expensive and complex products that require a lot of research effort on shopper’s end. In reality, video can be effective for any retailer even if it sells inexpensive products. The simplest and most powerful use of video is to connect and engage your shoppers; eCommerce sites cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity.