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It’s hard to overstate the importance of video. It’s literally taking over the internet – Cisco estimates that by 2018, 79% of all global internet traffic will be video.

This is actually great news for retailers, but it requires a pivot in your content marketing. Based on ample research and a slew of case studies, video can be a game changer. Consider just a few of the stats:

  • Video makes people more likely to buy: “Viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video,” according to KissMetrics.
  • Video gets people to buy more: “Sites with video on the majority of product pages had a 68% higher average order value than sites with video on only a few product pages.” From Invodo’s 2016 Video Statistics report.

 

While video marketing can be effective, there’s no denying it can also be a challenge. But video really isn’t harder than anything else you’re doing – it’s just different. If you’re used to creating only words and static images, setting up a video shoot for the first time can be intimidating.

Then there’s the cost issue with video, plus the need for smart strategy. And don’t dismiss the distribution aspect of this either. Your videos need to get on the right sites, in the right formats, in front of the right people.

Phew! But again – none of that is impossible, or even exceptionally hard. It’s just different.

If you’re on the fence about committing to video, or you’ve dipped your toe in but want better results, this article can help. We’re going to walk through everything from strategy to video formats, with a focus on how to weave video into your existing content marketing – from emails and SEO, to customer service and even recruiting. There are even some personalization opportunities along the way.

Just so you know what you’re getting into, let’s start with the most common challenges video marketers face. The chart below is from Ascend2’s latest Video Marketing Strategy report.

common video marketing challenges

 

Strategy leads the list, followed by lack of compelling content, limited budgets, and lack of production resources. Those last three are all signs of what I mentioned before – video requires a pivot. That pivot requires new skills. Like how to create engaging videos, in an affordable way, using new tools. But again – none of that is particularly hard. It’s just different.

Let’s get back to strategy. Any time there’s a problem with strategy, look to your goals. Either your strategy isn’t well enough aligned with your goals, or your goals aren’t well enough defined.

Of course, the obvious goal for any online retailer is ultimately to make more sales. That’s absolutely something video can help with, but it’s actually not what most marketers name as their primary goal for their video marketing. Instead, they’re focused on brand awareness, online engagement, customer education and increasing leads – in that order. Increasing sales revenue comes in way down on the list. Increasing website traffic comes dead last.

video marketing objectives

 

With goals like this defined, it becomes pretty easy to define the scope of the strategy, and to see which type of videos to create. To build brand awareness, you’ll want top of the funnel, broad interest videos. They’ll need to do well on social media, where most companies’ brand awareness efforts start. Finally, if you want to to keep the attention of those viewers (who don’t know you, and who may not be ready to buy yet) you’ll want to keep the sales pitches soft, and the branding almost invisible.

Sounds like a strategy, eh?

Reducing the sales pitch and the branding also means your videos are more likely to be used as content all over the web. For example, if the branding in your videos is quiet enough and you’ve created a really nice how-to video, an influential blogger may use that video in one of their posts. But put in too much branding and they won’t.

Want an example of this in action? Look to Birchbox. They’ve done such a good job of creating instructional videos about popular beauty topics that AOL syndicates their content – for free. Across the entire AOL network of sites.

Birchbox has a proven video marketing strategy

Birchbox’s videos like “How to French Braid” do a great job at building brand awareness. This is the first step to getting people to notice and trust your content, and eventually, your brand.

So there’s your first action step for a brand awareness strategy: Come up with a list of at least 10-15 how to videos that are

  • connected to what your company offers
  • consistent with your brand

 

Make them as useful as possible, and as high quality as possible. But still get them done! Keep the branding and the sales pitch to an absolutely minimum – no more than a little logo in the corner, and a mention of who made the video. Any more than that, and you’re damaging the potential reach of your videos.

Not sure you can pull that off in house? No problem. Find an influencer who can.

How to get maximum results from your first video marketing investment

1) Create each video in multiple formats.

You’ll need this for distribution, and it needs to be planned upfront. For example, videos on YouTube can be a bit longer, like up to 3-5 minutes. But on Facebook, any much more than 30 seconds and engagement will tank. And for Instagram, the max is usually 15 seconds.

Also consider audio – Facebook videos get played without it, so you’ll want to add captions or text. Make sure that text is big enough to be read on a phone… most videos on social media will be viewed on mobile devices.

For more specifics on the optimal formats for videos on every platform, see Conductor’s fab infographic, 7 Channels for a Killer Video Distribution Strategy (excerpted below).

Conductors tips for optimal video distribution

2) Think about which product pages you could put these videos on as related videos.

Now we’re getting closer to actual sales. For Birchbox, just having a video on product pages increases the odds of purchase by 40%. And if people watch the video? The odds go up another 24%.

This gets even better when you consider that those top-of-the-funnel videos could potentially be added to multiple product pages. So think carefully about which how-to videos you decide to create. Every one of them should fit as a “related video” for at least one of your products. If those products happen to be best sellers, all the better.

It’s a bit of a cheat, but you can also make a video for a particular product line or brand you sell. Then use that video on every individual product page, like Chewy has done here.

a product page that has a video on it

3) Reuse those videos once again for your email marketing.

Things get really interesting once you hook video marketing up with email marketing.

You already know how effective email is. But add a video? That can double click-through rates. You can increase that even more if you use an animated gif for the video image, instead of the usual static shot.

Your new batch of how to videos can also be great content for welcome emails (aka “onboarding emails”) or even re-engagement emails for subscribers who have become inactive for a certain period of time.

a welcome email that uses ecommerce video marketing strategy
Unstuck’s welcome email includes a link to an explainer video that also works as a top-of-funnel pep talk for anyone who’s feeling stuck. Note that the video is not embedded in the email – what you see is just an image with the video symbol. Click it, and you’re brought to a landing page where the video automatically plays.

 

Being able to re-use your videos like that means you can offset some of the costs for production. In other words, your video marketing doesn’t need to be siloed, and shouldn’t be. The best video marketing strategies weave video into almost every aspect of your business, from social media to customer service, product pages to recruitment.

Once you’ve got some videos on hand, you can also weave them into some of the more advanced email marketing tactics. So when someone orders a particular product, you could automatically send a recommendation email with a related video.

It’s even possible to personalize the videos you send in emails. Combine that with all the other email personalization techniques possible, plus an automated marketing system, and the results could be downright elegant.

a personalize video inside a personalized email
This personalized video from Vidyard slips in your name, company name and email address into the video in over seven different places – including on somebody’s tattoo, on a birthday cake, and on a printed contract.

 

4) Reuse your videos yet again as magnets for search engine traffic.

Remember how I suggested making at least 5-10 videos to start? That’s for several reasons – it’ll reduce your cost per video (you’ll only have to do one big shoot, instead of all that separate filming), but it’ll also give you enough videos to have a respectable video page on your site, along with individual videos for each of those pages.

a video section on an ecommerce site
LL Bean’s video hub.

 

Why do this? ‘Cause videos are great at generating traffic. As we saw above, this may not be every video marketer’s top priority, but with just a few extra hours of work, you can leverage your video content into a nice new traffic stream. That gets you more results of course, but also offsets the costs of the video creation. The more ROI you see, the better, right?

Here are some other reasons why it’s worth your time to optimize your videos’ SEO:

  • Reduced bounce rate. According to KissMetrics, “Visitors who watch video stay on the site twice as long and visit twice as many pages versus those who don’t see video.”
  • According to Aberdeen Research, marketers who use video receive 41% more web traffic from search than non-users.
  • Adding videos to your site increase your chance of a front-page Google result by 50x.

 

Sound good? Here’s how to get that kind of results:

  • Include a video sitemap on your site.
  • Add a transcript of each video to its individual page.
  • Include a comments function on your video pages.
  • Include links back to the products (or related products) mentioned in the video.
  • Optimize each pages’ title and meta description tags – just like you would for any other piece of content.
  • Bonus: Add social sharing buttons and an email opt-in form. These aren’t for SEO per say, but they support all those other marketing channels and business goals. So if someone stumbles onto your video from search, they’ve got an easy way to sign up or to follow you. Once again, you’ve leveraged that video investment a little more…

 

5) Reuse those videos one more time… for your blog.

Videos can fit into almost any other content marketing format you’ve been using – not just emails. They can be used on your blog, in SlideShares, in webinars, and linked to in ebooks, whitepapers, and case studies. It may not be their primary purpose, but all those formats and applications are another way to leverage your new content assets. And a way to diffuse the cost of those videos.

Some retailers, like Uncommon Goods, have spun entire blog posts around the theme of one of their videos.

Here’s the video on YouTube. That annotation the arrow points to links directly to the product page!

add annotations to your YouTube videos to send people to your website
Uncommon Goods has figured out a way to use annotations in its YouTube videos so viewers can click and go to the product page. Almost every one of their 61 videos goes to a corresponding product page on their site.

 

Here’s the product page itself:

a product page with a video

And here’s a blog post about adult coloring books and why they’ve become so popular. The video is about halfway down the page. Of course, that blog post could, in turn, be content for an email message… or a social media update. Around and around it goes.

ecommerce video marketing can be done on your company blog, too
Incorporate your videos into your blog and other text-based content.

 

Beyond the instructional video

So far we’ve covered what to do with just one type of video. As you know, there are many others. Here’s just a short list:

Unboxing videos.

These have become a phenomenon unto themselves. YouTube and Instagram influencers publish dozens of unboxing videos – many brands send them free stuff just to hope to get featured in an unboxing video. Unboxing videos can also take the form of customer testimonials. Generally, unboxing videos would fit well after someone’s gotten to know you a bit. They’d be great to re-engagement emails, or if you wanted to announce new products to people who had bought similar things in the past.

Customer testimonials.

Some sources say these are the most effective types of video around. That’s what the marketers surveyed for that Ascend2 report said:

most effective types of ecommerce videos

Product instructional/demonstration videos.

These are probably the first type of videos people think of when you say “ecommerce video marketing”. And for good reason. If the idea of creating a video for everything you sell seems overwhelming, skip that. Make video for your five best selling products. Work down from there.

Videos of events.

Event marketing can be extremely effective, but it’s got one shortcoming – once the event is over, it’s over…. Unless you took a video. Videos are especially good if you want to do annual or recurring events. The videos from the last event become promotional materials for the next one.

Company culture videos.

Sometimes, there’s a second audience for your company’s videos – possible hires. Adding a few videos about your company culture can help prospective employees get a sense of what it might be like to work there. It’s also a great way to show your company’s personality to recurring customers. People have always wanted to know who they’re buying from.

Commercials.

Yep – commercials can be part of the video mix. You don’t have to save them just for TV.

Humor.

If you’re brave enough to risk offending a few people, sometimes it’s possible to delight thousands. That’s what funny videos can do. They’re ideal for brand awareness and building an audience, but don’t expect lots of direct sales. Want to see examples of funny videos? Check out Dollar Shave Club or Organic Valley’s Save the Bros series.

#maythe4thbewithyou

A video posted by Dollar Shave Club (@dollarshaveclub) on

As before, every one of these different types of videos can be used to

  • Help you promote your company and engage with existing customers on social media
  • Create awesome email marketing messages
  • Flesh out product pages
  • Beef up your blog
  • Attract free search engine traffic

 

Conclusion

Don’t fear video. It follows many of the best practices any other content format does. Also, don’t silo it – the more you can blend your video marketing into everything else you’re doing, the more effective it will be.