vzaar - The professional video platform blog Min vzaar site
vzaar is an online video hosting service with fantastic features that are designed for business. Deliver to mobile or the web straight from your site.
 

Archive for Video Marketing

GC_Med As the online video market matures, like any technology, it becomes more segmented. Online video platforms (OVPs) are like a full set of tools. Whereas as recently as five years ago, the question businesses were asking themselves was whether to use on-line video, now the question is about choosing the right combination of tools to achieve the desired business objective.

The best-known OVPs are those that command huge audiences, first and foremost being YouTube, of course with over a billion visitors a month. Platforms like YouTube have opened the floodgates to creative talent that used to be tightly controlled by tv or newspaper and magazine commissioning editors. They also bring audience sizes bigger than anything previously conceived of in publishing or broadcasting. But, as Mark Suster at Upfront Capital warns us all, these are challenging businesses to succeed in, not just because so much of the income has to be shared with the platform, but because they require a daunting combination of top creative, technical and commercial skills (Both Sides Of The Table).

Most businesses are using video to market something, not producing creative content to captivate large audiences. For most of us, platforms like YouTube are incredibly cost-effective lead generation channels. Suster observes, “YouTube is a distribution and marketing channel like any other.” Except that it delivers vaster audiences, more cost-effectively than any in history, and for some content, it even shares revenue while it does it. However, YouTube is optimised to make money for YouTube. As Suster concludes, “YouTube is simply the top end of your profit funnel.”

YouTube Sits At The Top Of The Funnel

Many of us have read with interest the story that the fashion eCommerce business Bottica posted about their Christmas campaign. They published a brand-building video on YouTube combined with targeted remarketing to those who watched the video but didn’t click through to their site. The original click-through was pretty standard for YouTube, about 0.7% of viewers clicked through to the Bottica site. But combined with the remarketing, the click-through rate was above 10%. For less than $5,000 direct marketing cost, Bottica attracted almost half a million views, and the campaign was undoubtedly profitable and a success on its own terms. This is YouTube doing its job as a phenomenal lead generation tool. So far so good.

But this is not the whole business story, what about further down “the profit funnel”? Because, as Bottica themselves observe, the conversion rate to sales was lower on this campaign than they normally get from their website. In fact, less than 1% of those who viewed the video went on to purchase. This could be in part because the video itself was a beautiful, high-level branding video; visitors were not moved on to more specific sales or product content. And it is also probably because even on the website, the video is hosted on YouTube, so the audience is always being drawn back into the YouTube world optimised to make money for YouTube. If you come to the webpage or video via Google search, you are back on the YouTube video with 0.7% click-through.

Brilliant lead generation is just a cost until and unless it leads to the acquisition of customers.

The Right Tool For The Right Job

The video platform tools needed to convert and retain leads, or to sell and deliver products and services are as different as is a hammer from a chisel. Businesses with specialised and tightly targeted audiences, of which the world of video publishing and online tv is full, need tools to market tightly to a known audience.

MoneyWeek, the UK’s best selling financial publication, are a good example of a company that recognised that “a lot of YouTube views go to waste. After watching our videos a huge chunk of people head off into the rest of YouTube. As our viewing figures mounted we weren’t seeing a difference in our bottom line.”

They want to draw interested parties to their website, keep them there, share valuable informational or educational content with them securely and convert as many as possible to paying customers who they retain. MoneyWeek’s Andrew Williams explains, “We still post a lot of our videos to YouTube. But we annotate those videos, advertising one exclusive video on MoneyWeek each week. Because we have secure video hosting at vzaar, we ensure that the videos we embed on our site cannot be made available anywhere else.”

The “narrow neck” of the marketing funnel needs video platforms that are integral parts of the the business’s website, over which they have much more control over branding and playback, and greater security over their proprietary content.

Categories Video Marketing, Wider World
Comments (0)

Real People On VideoFor a long time now, we’ve been big fans of showing the real people behind our company. In fact, I think pretty much every member of our team has made some sort of appearance on camera. Not only in our videos, but right the way through our site. We want to show the personality behind our brand.

And in the January issue of Figaro Digital I was pleased to see that the experts agree…

“People still respond best to people” – Georgia Marshall-Brown, Origin.

“Nobody likes a faceless brand – employees have a vital role to play, whether in the physical retail environment or within your digital spaces.” – Alex Murray, Waitrose.

Hear hear.

If you’re looking to bring the personal touch to your own website, video makes the perfect medium. Why? Well, it’s very good for connecting on an emotional level with your consumer. And neuroscience can back me up on this. Dr. Susan Weinschenk gives 4 key reasons we’re programmed to respond to video on an emotional level:

    1. Our brains pay attention to faces
    2. Voices convey rich information
    3. Emotions are contagious
    4. Movement is attention grabbing

(I won’t go into all the science she mentions here, but if that kind of thing is your bag you can read (and watch!) more here.)

So I thought this week I’d take a page out of Figaro Digital’s book magazine, and discuss this whole “being human” thing. How can you maximise it’s potential?

What Do You Want To Say?

Before you rush into making your video stop and take a step back. It’s important to be sure that you’re making the video for the right reasons. Not just because it’s the latest buzzword. But because you’ve got a message for your audience and this is the best medium in which to tell it (which it probably is if you’re going for that emotional connection I mentioned above). Skip Fedura of Dotmailer has some sage advice,

“Imagine your customer was right there in the room and ask yourself, ‘What should I say to this customer?’”

You’re really looking to identify those situations where the online consumer would normally be helped along by someone on the shop floor.

Form Follows Function

It can be quite tempting to produce a very glossy, over produced video. And that’s fine – if it aligns with your video goals (I’m thinking for instance, if you’re going for raising brand awareness). If, however, your goal is to connect on that emotional level, you don’t have to spend mega bucks. The value of your video does not lie in how many special effects you cram in there.

Instead, a friendly face and a compelling message can pay dividends. Of course, it isn’t always easy for people who have never been on camera to relax and act natural. And it’s an issue we’ve faced ourselves. If this is something you’re also struggling with, here are a few tips that have really worked for us.

Get Video Delivery Right

The real area you have to invest in is making sure the streaming experience is smooth. Consumers may be forgiving if you haven’t got high production values. They won’t forgive long loading times and buffering. Be sure your videos will play anywhere in the world, on any device (and yes vzaar can help with this). Shameless plug over.

Seriously, though, the viewing experience is all important. A study by Conviva found that videos with long buffering times can have a catastrophic impact on engagement. In most cases viewers will abandon the video before the one minute mark (ReelSEO). So if you haven’t got a reliable video host you may find that the content you spent time and effort creating, just isn’t reaching its potential.

Final Thoughts…

“Humans are designed to have interpersonal relationships. In a socially connected world that values conversation over one-way marketing messages, bringing the personality of your brand to life through your people is increasingly important.” – Alex Murray, Waitrose.

Thanks Alex, couldn’t have said it better myself :)

Think Strategically When Video Marketing

I heard something this week. Something that got me more than a little frustrated. A friend asked me for some video hosting advice, “Our agency told us the best way to get video on our website was to use YouTube”

Hmm, well, maybe. But I dived a little deeper.

My first question was to ask what the business was aiming to achieve with the video. The response? Lead generation. Cue the frustration. Not at my friend. At the agency. It just bamboozles me to hear advice like this. Stick with me, I’ll explain why…

A lot of people hear the words “online video” and immediately jump to YouTube. This is a knee jerk reaction. It isn’t a video marketing strategy. And your video marketing efforts will amount to nothing if you haven’t gotten your strategy straight first.

I want to make this very clear: every decision you make when you’re creating a video is determined by your goal. The content, the distribution, the various different tools your use. Everything.

Goal 1: Leads/ Conversions

Video Content: You need to create a video that matches the content on your page. Are you trying to sell a product? Include a product review video. Are you pushing a new online course? Show how amazing your subject matter experts are with a teaser trailer.

Video Hosting Platform: Embed on your website using a secure video hosting platform.

Why not just upload to YouTube and embed that video on site? Well, a few reasons.

  • Traffic. Embedding video on site is good for your search rankings. Google likes quality content, and video is an important ranking factor here (SearchMetrics). But, if you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube you’ll actually find that the video drives traffic to YouTube, instead of your site. And once your customer hits YouTube you’ve basically lost them to the black hole that is cute cat videos. In fact, click through rates from YouTube are just 0.72% ( Optimizing Videos For Engines)

  • Control. In order to convert a viewer you need them to visit your site, and stay on it. You need to reduce the leaking points on your page, that is links that take visitors away from you. And the youTube player has a very big one – just hit the logo and off you go back to those cat videos.

Video Tools:

  • Video Sitemap: Yes, there’s been some changes recently to how Google shows videos in the search results. Gone are the heydays of beautiful rich snippet content (sob). But video SEO is still important. Be sure to tell Google there’s a video on your page, and what it’s about, so that your pages start to rank for a given search query.

  • Speechpad: Including a video transcript on your page will mean you’ve got lots of keyword rich copy. Hello search results :) Speechpad is an inexpensive way to do this.

  • End Screen Text: Use a call to action and link to a page of your choice (could be an add to basket, for example) and you could increase conversions by 144% (Quick Sprout)

Goal 2: Links & Social Shares

Video Content: For people to share something they need to feel something. Emotions that work particularly well here are hilarity, exhilaration and personal triumph (The Science of Video Sharing)

Video Hosting Platform: Embed on your website using a secure video hosting platform.

When someone shares your video you want them to be sharing the link to your specific site – not YouTube. You’ve put time and effort into creating shareable content so make sure it’s your site that’s getting the lovely linky goodness.

Video Tools:

  • Social Sharing: Make sure you’ve got social sharing buttons within the video player itself. This will act as a prompt for your viewers to share, and also just makes it super easy for them to do so.

  • Branded Video: It’s also a good idea to overlay a brand logo or text onto your video. This means that every time the content gets shared everyone knows which business lies behind that fantastic content.

Goal 3: Brand Awareness

Video Content: Think about the business videos that have gotten the most views in recent years. Dollar Shave Club and BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” Series instantly jump to mind. They were humorous, they took an interesting angle. They weren’t your regular corporate videos. Entertainment is key here.

Video Hosting Platform: YouTube really comes into its own here.

YouTube has a huge global audience. If the aim of your business game is to get as many eyeballs on your video as possible, it’s a great choice. Just make sure you’ve produced the aforementioned entertaining content, of course. Uploading a very dry client testimonial (for instance) isn’t likely to get you the huge viewing figures that YouTube is capable of.

Video Tools:

Optimize for YouTube. Make sure your video gets found among the countless others. Using keywords in titles and tags is key.

In Summary…

Stop thinking of YouTube as the one stop shop for business video marketing. Instead use your video content intelligently. Create content suitable for different stages of the funnel, and then host it in the place that makes sense for your goals:

  • Top of funnel content aimed at raising awareness of your brand – YouTube.

  • Bottom of the funnel content aimed at conversion – secure video hosting platform.

Happy video-ing :)

Dont_Waste_Your_Money_On_Bad_Video_png

Categories Video Marketing
Comments (0)

Help With Video ConversionDid you ever launch your video only not to see the same conversion rates that you were expecting? You may conclude “well, video just doesn’t work for us” but it may be that you haven’t implemented it properly. Sometimes when something isn’t working, it’s hard to understand why. Online video is still something a lot of businesses are grappling with; best practices are still emerging and it can be tough to do video well.

As a video hosting company we see all sorts of companies doing all sorts of things with their videos. So we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.

One of the most common video goals is conversion. And in general there’s 3 traps that can catch people out. If you’re finding your video isn’t converting, don’t immediately write it off. Spending time working at video, researching and experiementing can pay dividends. When done right, video can really pack a punch (all the stats here).

To help you troubleshoot what’s going wrong with your video strategy, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Where is your video hosted?

First things first, since your goal here is conversions, do not upload your video to YouTube. YouTube is great if you want to raise brand awareness, but it’s not great at sending traffic to your site. Phil Nottingham of Distilled actually did some research into this and found that the average CTR from YouTube is a measly 0.72% (check out his deck on optimizing video for search engines for more.)

Think about it: the YouTube audience is there to be entertained. As soon as a viewer is done watching your video they’re much more likely to click on to the next video, and the next and so on and so forth. Uploading your video to YouTube and you’ll lose your viewers to cute cats.

Instead, embed your video on your site. Only then will you have complete control over the viewer experience.

2. How long is your video?

You need people to stick around long enough to process your message and get excited about buying your product or signing up to your course. Take another look at your video content. Or, ask a friend or two who won’t mind giving you an honest, critical appraisal. To maximise your video conversions, make sure that you:

Get the the point.

Most people switch off after the first 8 seconds (National Center for Biotechnology Information) you really only have a short time frame to hook your viewer.

Tell a story.

The good news is that once you have successfully hooked your viewer, it is possible to maintain their interest. Simply by telling them a story. We as humans are hard wired to appreciate stories – they were central to our evolution. In fact, telling a good story can increase levels of Oxytocin in the brain. And it’s this chemical that makes people motivated to cooperate (Harvard Business Review). Hello extra video conversions!

Keep it snappy.

Our research shows that the average length of a promotional video is less than 60 seconds. Of course, for different types of videos different lengths may be more appropriate. But as a general rule of thumb make sure you convey your key message within that 60 second window.

Average Video Length

3. Have you used a call to action?

What happens at the end of your video? If your answer here is “nothing”, you need to fix that. It’s important to tell your viewer what they should do next. If your content has been successful at motivating them to buy, provide the “add to cart button” there and then – don’t make them hunt for it.

In fact, using a call to action can increase conversions by 144% (Quick Sprout)

It’s such a simple trick to add some end screen text to your video (check out the demo below), and yet it’s one that is very often overlooked.

Of course there’s TONS more you can do with your videos. And loads more tools you have at your disposal. To find out how vzaar can help your videos meet their business goals, sign up to a free trial or get in touch – always happy to help.

Until next time, bye for now :)

vzaar new video shoot outdoors

Virginia stars in our latest video

You may remember last month we wrote about our video mistakes and how we fixed them. Well, I’m (err kind of) pleased to announce that on our latest video shoot for Tinypass Integration – we made a few more! But it wasn’t all doom and gloom on this video shoot – we also tried out some of the techniques we learnt from our last video efforts (you can read about those here). Here’s what went right, and what we can do better next time…

What Went Right

Avid blog fans will remember that the last time we made a video we wound up having to reshoot huge chunks of it. Once we saw the actual footage we realised it just wasn’t clear what on earth was going on.

We didn’t fall into this trap again. Instead, we added a pre planning phase to our video process. The aim of this phase was to sort the wheat from the chaff. I’ll admit it; sometimes we’re guilty of becoming fixed on an idea and then just going with it (hence last month’s heavy reshoot). If you go straight into planning you often don’t realise the silly ideas – until it’s too late. The pre planning stage helped us to get over that, simply because it wasn’t the planning stage. We went through 4 stages of pre planning:

  • Video Conceptualisation

Throw a few ideas around and discuss how they work. You’re looking for any idea – no matter how crazy it sounds – so don’t create a hyper critical atmosphere. Everyone involved should feel comfortable to share. Jot all the ideas down and move on.

Ok, now you can criticise. And when I say criticise I don’t mean “that would never work!” or “that idea is a load of rubbish”. Take each one in turn and simply ask questions about it. Start off with some higher level questions:

Video Pre Planning

  • Is this relevant for my audience?
  • Will this make the viewer feel something?
  • Is this likely to meet my goal?
  • If an idea makes it through this first pass you can get into the nitty gritty:

  • What would the location be?
  • What props would we need?
  • How do we create x, y z?
  • Simply by asking the right questions you can often weed out which ideas you should scrap.

    • Test Your Concept

    Sometimes it’s difficult to see on paper how something actually looks in real life. Having the footage in front of you brings things to life in a way that words on a page can’t. It makes it easier to tell if something is a particular idea is a non-starter. We used an iPhone to just walk through a few of the shots.

    • Do Nothing

    Seriously, take a break. Enthusiasm for an idea can sometimes get the better of you. When we went back to review our test footage we scrapped the initial idea and went in a different direction. If you’d asked me before the break I would have told you I loved the idea and I was really excited to get going on the video shoot. Not so much when we went back and reassessed. If you give yourself a break and you STILL love what you’ve come up with, the chances are it’s not half bad!

    • Reassess

    Our initial idea was “cash for clicks”. Our lovely video star Virginia would set up the Tinypass integration on her vzaar videos (with a few clicks of a mouse button) and in the cash would roll. To demonstrate, we decided we would show people watching various videos. Virginia would click, and cash would appear. Still with me? If that sounds confusing, it may explain a little about why we scrapped it.

    The problem was, the cash really appears when your viewers click to pay. So in that case shouldn’t the viewers be the ones clicking? But then, we also want to show that it’s really easy to set up the pay wall so we kind of need Virginia to click as well. Maybe everyone could click? Or maybe no-one…? Or maybe…?

    We were tying ourselves into knots to try and make the clicking for cash work. This is a bad sign. If we couldn’t understand the link between the clicks and the cash, how could we expect everyone else to?

    Despite our initial enthusiasm we realised we were just forcing the concept to work. So we just came up with a new one. And then we went through our questions again until we were confident it could work: “Does it achieve our goal?”, “Does it make people feel something”…

    What Can We Do Better?

    We may have learned from past mistakes, but that didn’t stop us making a few new ones:

    1. Plan For Bad Weather

    For this video we decided we’d shoot outdoors. In the UK. In November. Perhaps not so surprisingly, on the day of the shoot we were met by very dull, gloomy skies.

    This gave us the chance to learn something new: how to brighten a shot – even when the conditions are dull. We added extra bits of colour and interest to the shot and used all the light available. Then in the edit we experimented with a bit of color grading. You can watch our in house video producer Terry explain the specifics here.

    I’m not saying that we’ll never make this mistake again. Even in the Summer it can be pretty hard to predict the British weather. But, if this does happen to us again, we know exactly what to do about it (and now so do you!)

    Take Away: if something goes wrong don’t panic. Fixing it gives you the opportunity to learn something new.Tweet this

    2. Collaborate Earlier

    Video Overlay Graphics

    In this video we decided to overlay some graphics as a way of showing what was going on on the computer screen. We spent quite a lot of time trying to fashion a good looking set of graphics to use. And then we asked our designer and she did it in less than half the time.

    It’s always great to learn new skills, but since we were editing to a deadline it would have been better to get our designer in from the get go. We would have saved time, and given her longer to prep. Lesson learned.

    Take Away: when you’re in the planning stage ask yourself who from the rest of your team needs to be involved to bring your vision to life. Tweet this

    Final Thoughts

    Analysing what went wrong in our video production efforts is helping us to make or whole process much smoother, and hopefully resulting in some much more interesting videos! I highly recommend adding an evaluation stage after you’ve created the finished product. You’d be surprised how much clarity it brings, you can really see the crinkles that need to be smoothed. By sharing our own successes (and failures!) we hope it helps you too.

    Here’s to our next video! In the meantime you can check out the final version of our Tinypass video here. Enjoy :)

    Categories Video Marketing, Video Production
    Comments (0)