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If your aim is to drive LOTS of traffic to your lovely videos you should be making growing your mailing list a priority. In fact, sending your content out to an engaged email list can bring you up to 24 times as much traffic as pushing out through your social media channels (DIYthemes).

The best way to grow your mailing list? Umm, well… just ask your audience for their emails. Sending out your emails to an audience who’ve actually opted in (rather than buying a list, for example) will mean you can be sure the recipients have at least some kind of interest in who you are and what you do. And there’s no time like the present – you can start to collect your viewers email addresses today.

Good news, then, we’ve just launched our Mail Catcher feature which makes this process super easy. Add a mail capture form before, during or after your video and when a viewer enters their email address we’ll automatically sync this to your existing email list (MailChimp, Aweber or Google Drive).

Step 1: Integrate your email provider

First you’ll need to sync up your vzaar account with your email account, so we can input the emails onto the list for you (say goodbye to manual imports – hooray!). This is simple. So simple, in fact we can tell you how in about…ohhh ten seconds.

Step 2: Manage Mail Catcher settings

It’s then just a case of choosing which lists you want to use as default and whether you want to have your Mail Catcher form appear at the beginning, middle, or end of your video.

The help document here has more details, or of course you can always get in touch with any questions.

Login to your vzaar account, or sign up for 30 day free trial, to get started.

Happy Mail Catching :)

Meet Sally. Sally is interested in learning more about the housing market/buying a car/caring for her new Golden Retriever (whatever product or service you offer) so she Googles it and up pops your video, answering her specific questions and promoting your offering.

And yet what happens at the end of your video? She goes away again and you’ve missed a golden opportunity to connect with her.

So how can you find – and build relationships with – more people like Sally?

Well, you could always buy an email list. Specify your target demographic – female dog owners perhaps – buy a list of names and start blasting out all your latest news. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, MailChimp did some research, and turns out it’s not.

MailChimp Email List Statistics Source: MailChimp

Purchased email lists have virtually non-existent open and click through rates. You’re sending your important messages to an audience who just aren’t listening.

Far better then, to create a mailing list of people who are actually seeking your solution. And the only way to do that is to capture email addresses from the source. Let’s go back to Sally. She’s your perfect customer – actively researching the solution to a problem you solve. So what if you could find a way of collecting her email address? You could then reach out to her next time you’re running a promotion on dog brushes, for instance, and you know that she’s actually interested in what you have to say.

That’s where Mail Catcher comes in.

Mail Catcher makes it easy to identify just who your viewers are and gives you a way to stay in touch with them. By inserting an email capture form into the beginning, middle or end of your video you can collect leads and grow your mailing list. Even better, with integrations with MailChimp, Aweber and Google Drive we’ll automatically send email addresses to your existing mailing list so you don’t need to juggle different lists – it’s all done for you.

But, to get the most out of Mail Catcher it’s important to think strategically about when you use it.

Getting the most out of Mail Catcher

Mail Catcher makes it possible for you to gate your content by placing the mail capture form at the beginning of the video. That is, before anyone can watch it they must enter their email address. You can also have the form pop up part way through, or let your content roam free and have the form appear right at the end.

How do you decide where your form should be?

Well, it really depends on the aim of your video and the type of content you have…

1. Lead generation

If the aim of the game is to generate sales leads you should gate your content (by inserting Mail Catcher right at the beginning of your video).

You need to craft videos that are of high value to your audience. Think about the types of questions they are asking and create a video that answers them. It’s essential here to get a good fit between your video topic and your audience. It needs to be valuable enough to them that they want to leave their email address.

Uberflip have a fantastic flow diagram to help you decide whether your content is gate-worthy. If it is, set your Mail Catcher to appear before video playback and the leads will come flowing in.

Experiment: Try adding your Mail Catcher form during the video. That way you can introduce your concept, establish yourself as the expert and then, just before you make your killer point, Mail Catcher shows up. This can bring you some very high quality leads since your audience have watched your video and appreciated the pre-gate content enough to reward you with their contact information.

2. Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is really about getting your message out to a wide audience. If you’re gating your content you limit this somewhat. Any gate you put in place will act as a barrier to your viewers and reduce the likelihood that they’ll watch your video.

Instead offer free content to encourage views. Here your Mail Catcher form can then appear right at the end of the video. It’s unobtrusive so won’t deter viewers but it will also reel in some extra leads, without damaging the high view count you’re shooting for.

In Summary…

Providing high quality content that addresses consumer pain points is a fantastic way to grow your mailing list because it “catches” the email addresses of an already engaged audience. By adding an opt in email form to your videos (a la Mail Catcher) you can stay in touch with your viewers and start to build relationships. It’s these relationships that build brand loyalty and ultimately amount to more business for you in the long run.

Placing your mail catcher at the beginning of your video is a sure fire way to collect the most email addresses. But, it will probably reduce your view count. You need to work out what it is your trying to achieve with your video and act appropriately. Mail Catchers at the end, or during, playback are less intrusive and will mean your view count stays in tact, while netting some higher quality leads too (since they’ve already seen your content and are still interested in learning more from you.)

Login to your vzaar account, or sign up for 30 day free trial, to get started.

Video Hosting For Marketing

With the recent news that Google is now using HTTPS as a ranking signal and boosting search engine ranking for those sites that use it, you may be planning to make the change and add SSL security to your site.

HTTPS is a website protocol which delivers pages using SSL encryption. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer which is the technical stuff that keeps your website secure. When using a HTTPS website you also need to make sure you’ve got a HTTPS video embed code, otherwise you’ll run into mixed content warnings on your website and video playback could be blocked.

That’s why we’ve always provided two types of embed code: HTTP and HTTPS.

But not anymore.

One embed code to rule them all

vzaar now uses protocol relative embed codes which is just a fancy way of saying that your video embed is compatible with both HTTP and HTTPS websites.

So there’s no need to worry about running into playback issues. The embed code just works. No matter what.

A little bit of housekeeping…

This update doesn’t impact videos you previously had embedded. So, if your old embed codes include the protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) like this:

https video embed code

You can update them to the new style:

relative protocol

And then you’re all set!

You can read more about this update in our help document, or otherwise just get in touch – happy to help :)

Categories vzaar updates
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gamejam2014TL;DR: We made games and you can play them here!

You can't think about online video 24/7. Well, I mean you can try. But unless you prefer your breakfast served in capsule form by a kindly lady wearing white whilst you whimper softly about aspect ratios, it's good to take a break once in a while. Which is why, every month or so, we on the vzaar dev team take a break and get together for a good, old-fashioned code challenge to slow down the inevitable descent into fatuity. It mainly works.

A burned-out programmer has his opinions about text editors medically realigned

In the past, we've come up against some pretty varied challenges. We've refactored code. We've written programs to encrypt and decrypt messages using Bruce Schneier's Solitaire Cipher. We've even created DSLs, and if that made you snigger then grow up, because I'm talking about Domain-Specific Languages. Yeah.

When the opportunity finally fell on me to set the next challenge, I wanted it to be a bit different to the previous exercises. And I wanted it to be fun. It ended up being at least one of those things. That's because I remembered what it was that got me into programming in the first place: playing games on my rubber-keyed ZX Spectrum, and the joyful revelation that I could make my own, simply by writing millions of lines of code that become infinitesimally less incomprehensible as time goes on, until maybe one day you sort of understand what you're doing.

The challenge, then, was obvious. The dev team must Make Dan A Game. Some of them took this more literally than others. These were the rules:

  1. Use any language you like.
  2. It can be any sort of game. Dan does not mind.
  3. Console, browser, or even GUI. Your choice.
  4. The game can be small or large. Or somewhere in between.
  5. The game must be fun.

Simple, right? Well, yes and no. As I should have remembered from my early attempts, making games is hard. During my idyllic youth, the most accessible method of making a game would be to copy out hundreds of lines of BASIC, and pray that you didn't make a mistake.

While the games had exciting titles like ROCKET, they were a far cry from the games we played in amusement arcades. In most, the general flow of gameplay required you to enter a number, after which you'd be told that you'd died. If you're part of the generation before me, you were even less lucky. If you even had access to a computer, the best you could do would be to put a punchcard in it, which would come back out several days later with some extra holes that would inform you you'd died.

"The goblin does not like the number 3, so he has eaten your face. Would you like to play again? Y/N"

Thankfully for us, though, making a game is way easier nowadays. Frameworks like Phaser take all the hassle out of such trifles as physics and collision detection, so that you can explode stuff and inform the player that they've died with just a few lines of JavaScript.

So, now we're all up to speed with my meandering, subjective take on computing history, let's take a look at some of the "highlights" of the pioneering vzaar game jam!

Lawrence - Virtual Startup Party
screenshot does not represent actual gameplay

very heideggerian

As we all know, Lawrence loves support. And he loves the warm glow of doing a good job. Not everyone in support holds themselves to such high standards though, and to illustrate this, Lawrence's game was based around the existential ennui of dealing with a company that only responds to one email a day. He achieved this by making a text adventure that would only allow you to make one move a day. It's a brave mechanic; maybe what you'd even call an anti-game. On the plus side, this gives you plenty of time in between turns to sit outside Parisian cafes smoking Gauloises and generally being a 19th century hipster.

The game's score is worth noting: an 8-bit version of Get Lucky on a permanent loop, which I'm pretty sure is what Heidegger was listening to when he wrote that "profound boredom, drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference."

Dan's rating: A+ for inventing a new genre, D for making me think
Play Lawrence's game here!

Terry - PONG
screenshot does not represent actual gameplay

screenshot does not represent actual gameplay

Just to remind us of how far Moore's Law has taken us - or possibly because he'd only left himself an hour to complete the task - Terry wrote a PONG clone in JavaScript. For any younger readers, PONG was one of the first arcade games to reach mass popularity, and was ostensibly a tennis simulation, if you imagined the players as featureless white rectangles floating in a black void. Pretty much like Andy Murray, in fact.

Terry was so old-skool in his implementation that he somehow made a version even less feature-packed than the original. Nonetheless, the power of a truly iconic game shone through and we all ooh-ed and aah-ed as Andy inched shakily up and down the screen, uttering a strangulated beep of excitement when he successfully volleyed the white square towards the other white rectangle.

Dan's rating: A for nostalgia, C- for effort
Play Terry's game here!

Alan - Flappy Dan
a typical scoreboard

a typical scoreboard

Yes, Alan went there. He made a Flappy Bird clone. And despite the topical appeal of a flap-like, it's actually a pretty ancient game mechanic so it fits in with our retro theme nicely, kind of like if your grandparents used snapchat. There isn't a great deal to say about Flappy Dan that hasn't already been said about its avian precursor, except that it is testament to both Alan's skills as a programmer and the Phaser framework that you can knock out a clone like this in such a short time. Either that or it's testament to how bad of a game Flappy Bird is.

Most notably, it was the most popular game amongst the vzaar staff, and I can honestly say I never expected people to be so passionate about avoiding smashing my face into a Mario pipe.

Dan's rating: A++ for quality, E- for the very crude pixel rendition of my face.
Play Alan's game here!

Dan - Space Invaders By Candlelight
what a dashing gent

what a dashing gent

"It's the dead of night. You hear a deafening cacophony outside, and as your instinct to protect your family is the first to take hold, you rush outside with only your trusty candle and laser gun. You can see missiles raining from the sky, but where they are coming from? What could be happening?" This is how I should have begun my presentation. With a story about how my game was some sort of conceptual piece about the nature of the unknown.

But in reality, I didn't have much time, so I stole a space invaders demo and added a lighting effect that would obscure everything but the player itself. Feeling that this was slightly unfair, I added levels and made the candle's radius increase each time, so that you might gain a glimpse of your unseen nemeses. Feeling that this was slightly too fair, I then made the aliens stronger and more trigger-happy each level until it reached just the right amount of early-video-game-impossibility.

Dan's rating: A++++++
Everyone else: "I don't get it"
Play Dan's game here!

So that's how the first ever vzaar game jam went down. If you're interested in making games, it's easier than ever so give it a try! Feel free to look at our source code, but please bear in mind our games were the result of frantic - rather than responsible - hacking. And please leave us a comment to tell us which game you liked best! Especially if it was mine.

Categories Community, Tech, vzaar updates
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There’s all sorts of stats floating around that tell us that product videos work: they engage consumers and websites that add videos to their product pages typically sell more than those that don’t.

But, just like with any piece of content, you need to give your product videos the tools they need to perform. Here’s what I recommend.

1. Video SEO

You first need to make sure that people can find your product video. This is where good video SEO comes in. Videos have a much higher click through rate in the search results than their plain text counterparts. But how do you make sure your videos appear for a given query?

A video sitemap.

Google (currently!) has no way of watching your video. So it doesn’t know that when someone types “how do I apply foundation” (for instance), that your video provides the perfect answer to this.

A video sitemap is how you tell Google what your video is about. Once Google has this information, it then knows whether to display your video for a given search term.

Let’s work through an example of how to do this with vzaar.

1. Turn on video sitemaps:

By default all of your videos will be included in your sitemap. If you wish to exclude any of them you can, just head to their individual settings page.

It’s also a good idea to turn on auto sitemap generation. This just means that instead of you having to manually regenerate your sitemap every time you make a change, we will do it for you (one thing worth noting here: we regenerate the sitemaps once per day if you want your change to go live immediately you will still need to manually regenerate).

vzaar video sitemap options

2. Copy & paste into robots.txt

You’ll then notice we’ve generated a line of code for you, copy and paste this into your robots.txt file on your site. Check you’ve done everything properly at this stage, you can verify your robots.txt file:

how to verify your video sitemap in vzaar

3. Check your sitemap statistics

Now, you’ll notice just below all this there’s a sitemap statistics section. This tells you which videos will be indexed by Google. It will also flag any errors. It’s really, really important that your sitemap doesn’t contain errors as these will actually harm your SEO.

Don’t worry though, we automatically detect errors and exclude those videos, until you fix them.

An error usually occurs when you are missing some of the information the sitemap needs: the video title, description and URL it’s embedded on. Fixing these errors is easy. Just hit edit and enter all the information.

vzaar sitemap statistics

You can also enter this information on each individual’s video page.

If you want to find out more about this take a look at our video demos or read through the help document. Oh, and don’t forget to check out these tips from Moneyweek which saw them grow site traffic 136%.

2. Playback Control

Once you’ve started to drive traffic to your product videos you need to make sure they’re performing properly. To make your videos a buffer-free zone be sure that you’ve got progressive download turned on. This will mean your video loads ahead of time so it streams nice and smoothly.

You should also test out different bitrates. If you encode your video at too high a bitrate you’ll wind up with a huge file size that has difficulty getting through to slower Internet connections. We typically suggest you encode at 2,000 or smaller, this is the speed of the average Internet connection so this should work for the vast majority of people.

vzaar account encoding options

If you still want to give those with fast Internet connections HD quality – you can. Just enable dual encoding. As the name suggests this will render two versions of your video. The fast Internet connections get the high quality, while the slow Internet connections get a smaller file size and less buffering.

Find this whole bitrate thing confusing? Help is at hand check out this blog post or get in touch and we’ll walk you through it.

3. Customize Your Video Player

You should also be sure to give your product video that professional touch with your own customized video player. Use the color picker in your account, or enter the HEX code of your existing brand colors and hey presto – a video player that looks like you made it in house :)

4. Include a call to action

How do you get your viewers to buy your product?

Ask them to!

You should make it really, really clear what action you want your viewers to take after they’ve watched your product video. Using end screen text you can craft a compelling call to action at the end of your video to encourage conversions.

And again, it’s really just a matter of a few clicks to get going with this. Under the branding tab you’ll see an option for end screen text. Just fill in the copy you want to appear and the page you want to link it to (the shopping cart for example).

Add video call to action in vzaar account

Check out the video demo here for a quick walk through.

Happy selling!