Is video content the future for business websites?

On what basis do I make such claims? On a simple level think about when you go into a shop see the queue and realise you have a long wait for any service. If you’re like me you’ll leave thinking you’ll pop in on the way back – but of course that rarely happens.

Its exactly the same when customers visit your website. If they cant see what they want in the first few moments they can easily get distracted and leave never to return! Customers need the human touch and that’s what video content allows you to add to your website.

Now lets look at the hard facts – here are the latest stats from the US which leads business website development.

In a recent study more than 75 percent of U.S. Internet users watched an online video during November 2007! We can conclude that when people are on the web, watching videos is a natural part of what they do – and we’re not talking pornography anymore! Why is that? People respond best to different senses – visual, oral or a combination – and only rich content like video can provide this online.

In the same report online viewers were found to have watched on average 3.25 hours of video per person per month – growing 30% year on year. This may not sound like a lot but in fact that’s around 25% of the time spent by the average punter watching TV.

We learn that 138 million Americans viewed 9.5 billion online videos in Nov07 alone, that the average online video duration was 2.8 minutes and the average viewer consumed 69 videos! That’s 46% of the US population and shows that online videos are increasingly mainstream.

Online video, which has only really been easily accessible in the last 2 years, is winning a significant share of people’s attention vs the box in the corner. And don’t forget that as an average this hides the fact that some age groups watch a lot more than this and others less – possibly because they haven’t found video relevant to them. 
 
However the mode of consumption is very different from TV. People at their computers lean forwards intensely focused on their screen. They are surfing the web, snacking on bite size chunks of content.

Business websites should reflect this and break down their content into easily digested chunks.

As for stats about the sales impact of video content, I have seen recent case studies showing up to 300% increases in enquiries and sales through using online videos to support the sales process.

Why does this work? The reason is simple: a video is more compelling, more immediate, and less demanding than traditional web pages. A video presents your key proposition in seconds, saving the user precious time.  It stands to reason that this format gets better results.  It’s short.  It’s sharp.  It’s simple. As the Internet Advertising Bureau says "Web videos are… the catalyst for keeping customers online for longer."

For more insights into how videos can drive your sales see www.webvideos.co.uk <http://www.webvideos.co.uk>

 
2. How can I generate more sales with online video?

In the first part of this article I talked about why video is increasingly a must for business websites and took a look at the latest stats from the US that for me prove beyond doubt that:

•    video content represents the future for business websites and
•    video content online is compelling, attracts more customers and drives more sales.

OK you say, of course we all want more sales and more customers online and if video content online will do that then hooray! But where do we start?

Does it mean a TV ad is needed… we know those cost a fortune! Or do we mean a kind of remake of ‘The Office’ with my colleagues playing star roles? Should the video content be hilarious like the Cadburys gorilla video and if so where do I get my gorilla suit?

Thank goodness for small to mid sized businesses it’s none of the above!

As always it starts with the basics – what is the objective?

We all want to sell more products and services! How do we achieve that? Well, primarily by attracting and converting more customers! This is done by catching their attention and explaining clearly the benefits. In essence that is all you are doing – incorporating video into your website allows you to retain consumers attention with a human and compelling story. But even so it’s not easy for non-professionals to conceive and produce an effective piece of video for your own site.  Here are a few principles we think are key …

•    Keep it short – i.e., a maximum 2 minutes and usually shorter. As mentioned above people consume snack-sized chunks of content online so your videos should be easily digestible!
•    Quality – it’s not surprising that the quality of video content reflects on your business. So it’s worth spending time to get it right – you don’t want to look like an episode of ‘You’ve been Framed.’ It’s like making a very short film but quicker and much much cheaper. A professional with commercial writing experience should write a storyline with you to communicate your product benefits in a lively and relevant way. Always use a professional presenter – it’s surprising how difficult it is for the average person to appear comfortable and natural onscreen. Get the video professionally shot. This rarely takes more than a day. Your video is then edited to highlight product benefits and at this point you can add headlines e.g., SPECIAL OFFER, BEST EVER etc. The film is then uploaded to your website often within a few days! Job done – then stand back and watch the conversions arrive! 

For more insights into how videos can drive your sales see www.webvideos.co.uk <http://www.webvideos.co.uk>

3. Help! My website looks dull – how can I bring it to life?

We have been discussing the surge in video content online and how that can be harnessed to drive more customers and sales to your website.

However, many of us have spent sizable sums building our existing websites, first in the ‘dot com’ era and now again as we upgrade for broadband web. Unsurprisingly we’re reluctant to change everything again to incorporate a load of video content.

You’ll be relieved to hear that rebuilding your website is not necessary. The modern systems for playing videos in different parts of your website integrate easily to most existing website management systems. In fact in the best case all you need to do is paste some HTML code provided by your video supplier wherever you want the video to appear and the video immediately starts playing!

That allows you to focus on where could your website be improved by video content and how should that video content include. I believe most small to mid sized business websites can use video content highly effectively in several ways.

1.    Add a human touch to your home page – the majority of traffic online bounces straight off your homepage – a video presenter there grabs and retains attention and immediately delivers compelling sales messages.
2.    Support your customer services – people hate trawling through endless text FAQs struggling to understand the answers they’re getting. Many companies find its much more effective to offer a video FAQ for the top questions (80% of consumers ask the same 20% of the questions) which also greatly reduces call centre load and costs.
3.    Sales process videos – people bounce out of online transactions up to 60% of the time, so adding short videos along this process to reassure and support has to lead to higher sales and fewer dropped shopping carts – often its just a case of reassuring the buyer regarding things like returns policy which in fact rarely used afterwards.   

The best systems today are based on what’s called open source software that is free, so you don’t need to pay license fees, which greatly reduces costs. What’s more there are thousands of software developers throughout the world who work to improve this type of software so you get constant free upgrades and improvements.

The video management system then enables you to post your video content wherever you need it, using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor that will be familiar to anyone using Microsoft Word.

Because its so easy to use it means you get more time to focus on the content instead and can spend the time creating different sales videos to appeal to different consumers. This system then functions as effectively as a fully featured website system, comparable to those costing tens of thousands from the industry giants. And no more dull and dreary business websites!

For more insights into how videos can drive your sales see www.webvideos.co.uk <http://www.webvideos.co.uk>

4. How can I find new customers using video content online?

In the paragraphs above we’ve been discussing why video is the future for business websites and how incorporating video into your website is remarkably easy and efficient at driving new sales.

Ok, so suppose you’ve bitten the bullet, quickly and effectively filmed some great new video content and easily added it to your website which looks fresh and dynamic.

But isn’t there a problem? As a typical small to mid sized B2B website your website traffic figures probably aren’t as high as you’d like – maybe hundreds per month for example and hardly the hundreds of thousands that flock to sites like youtube every day.

So how can you and your company cut yourself a piece of this action? Well let’s think sensibly about it – when you want to meet a lot of people you don’t go a desert island do you? No you go to the centre of the nearest big city because that’s where everybody is! Well, we need to do exactly the same with our video website content i.e. take it beyond the website and into online communities where your consumers spending time surfing, chatting and buying.
So how is this done and how do you cut through the noise of everyone shouting for attention – especially without big budget advertising?

We call this seeding your content across the web and its all about planting links to your video content in high traffic relevant areas communities online where potential customers are likely to find it! Where are these places? Well think about your consumer’s lifestyles and areas of interest and you’ll find them in online communities around these topics – whether its youngsters chatting each other up on My Space or Global Grannies planning their next backpacking holiday on Trip Advisor. Also to maximise the power of your video content there are certain tactics you can use which are outlined below. Please note, all tactics MUST be ethical and follow the policy guidelines of the communities your are approaching … so when you are posting links to your videos in online communities:

•    Use teaser videos of up to 30-60 seconds or less to draw people in i.e., less is more in this case as people’s attention spans are extremely short!
•    Use every hook you can, e.g., catchy titles (NB also make sure the exact middle frame of your video is interesting as sites like YouTube use this as a thumbnail to grab attention!)
•    Get onto recommended pages e.g., with YouTube by getting mentions on blogs and in forums (e.g., Linkedin or Ecademy)  and even formenting controversial debate which attracts attention!
•    Don’t forget to share – send to all your contacts and incentivise them to pass on and recommend
•    Use Calls to Action to direct the viewer to what they need to do next
•    Always keep things simple. Unless we’re reading a novel most of us like plain and simple English
•    Use unique tag words to keep your videos together i.e., this way they appear all together on key sites like YouTube.

These are just a few initial suggestions that will get your video content going with a bang and attract lots of new traffic to your site – so tell you sales team to stand by.

For more insights into how videos can drive your sales and reduce service costs – www.webvideos.co.uk

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