Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ten Ways to Drive Consumer Action With Online Video

I came across this great article on on how to drive consumer action using video content. This is very appropriate considering our emphasis on social media and the propensity to utilize YouTube as part of a comprehensive social media strategy. Bud Rosenthal is the author of this article and the CEO of, which provides broadcast-quality online video advertising and Web distribution for companies in a wide range of industries.

Ten Tips

There's no question that online video is fast becoming a favorite of Internet users around the world. In fact, online video views have surpassed core search queries, and YouTube has become a top search engine.

But this shift in consumption has left marketers searching for the best ways to incorporate online video in their campaigns. The hit-or-miss nature of viral video, the brand quality considerations of user-generated content, and the general disdain for television commercials online have left marketers wondering, "How do I make video work for me?"

Video advertising is known for its powerful branding ability, but it can also be a great direct-response vehicle that drives measurable actions that result in sales when used properly on the Web. And with new production methods, quality online video can be produced for as little as $1,000 to $5,000 per piece, making video a marketing tool that can be used in multiples across Web campaigns while driving high return on investment.

In this article I highlight 10 ways that marketers can drive consumer action with online video.

1. Tell a compelling story

With users in control and limitless options available to them at the click of their mouse, your video must be compelling. Once users click play, you have 5-10 seconds to engage them and keep them watching.

Use a compelling narrative to captivate them for the duration of the video. The narrative storytelling format presents the information in a compelling and useful manner and ensures that the viewer remains engaged and absorbs the key messages in the video.

2. Be authentic

Online users are skeptical of the high-pressure sales pitch. And with so many choices online, they're looking for reasons to eliminate you from consideration in their search for the product or service that meets their needs. The fastest way to turn off online viewers is to bombard them with inauthentic sales pitches and weak emotional brand appeals.

Online viewers are looking for content that accurately and honestly provides information about a product or service to aid them in their decision-making process. A successful video will demonstrate value and relevance in an authentic manner that doesn't alienate the viewer with an over-the-top sales pitch.

3. Provide useful information

When users are in decision-making mode online, the last thing they want is an irrelevant branding commercial that mimics a traditional television advertising spot. At that point, they want to get beyond the sales pitch to features and benefits to determine whether your product or service will meet their needs.

If you fail to meet that deeper information need, you will lose the viewers' interest and the opportunity to turn them into customers. Your video should demonstrate products, features, and expertise in a manner that compels viewers to learn more by taking an action such as clicking a link for more information, filling out an inquiry form, or picking up the phone to talk to one of your representatives.

4. Use a call to action

Without a strong call to action, your viewers won't know what you want them to do once they've watched your video. Your video should create a clear action path, and the surrounding Web content should make executing that action easy.

Decide what action you want your viewers to take before shooting the video. Do you want them to fill out an inquiry form, forward the video to a friend, mention a coupon code, or click a link to learn more about a particular product or service? Whatever the action, make it clear in the video and easy to find, and execute on the surrounding Web page.

5. Don't over-produce

With the small player size of online video, user bandwidth considerations, and the audience's demand for authenticity, over-producing a video is simply throwing away good money. Professional production is important for maintaining brand standards, but fancy graphics, expensive effects, and other high-end production efforts will be mostly lost online. Worse, some of these effects may muddle the video, making the content and information difficult to comprehend, which can lead the viewer to abandon the video.

Maximize your ROI by finding the right balance between production value and delivering a clear, meaningful message considering the current limitations of online video.

6. Don't oversell

The user is firmly in control of the online video viewing experience. Users decide whether your message and content is worth watching or whether they'll click away to more relevant information. Respect that dynamic by using your video to inform, educate, and build preference rather than going for the hard sell.

You're not recreating late-night infomercials with Web video, you're looking to assist and aid in the decision-making process by providing authentic, relevant information and a clear call to action.

7. Measure and test

Affordable online video means that marketers can test messages, formats, and the call to action to see which mix resonates best with their audience. Try testing different offers, highlighting different product benefits and features, and using your video at different points in the decision-making process to determine the optimal use of your video in creating your desired consumer action. Provide a unique coupon code or URL, or other identifier, to let you track the impact of video on your online marketing initiatives.

8. Make it shareable

YouTube taught us all that video is a portable medium on the Web that starts conversations and spreads among friends and their social networks. Make sure your video facilitates tha natural phenomenon. Provide links and functionality to make it easy for people to email your video to friends, embed on Web pages and blogs, and post to their various social networking profiles.

By making your video portable, you increase its reach while gaining a tacit recommendation of your product or service with each person who forwards your video.

9. Place it at key decision points

According to a recent eMarketer report, video can often be the final push customers need to complete a purchase online. Video has also been shown to improve customer satisfaction and reduce product returns and abandoned shopping carts. No wonder, then, that e-commerce sites have increased their use of video.

By placing video at key decision points in your purchase funnel, you can create greater confidence and retain customers who might otherwise abandon their purchase.

10. Make it search-engine friendly

The advent of Google's Universal Search has made video an important part of the results returned in a user's search query. Companies can now gain visibility in the search engines quickly by providing video content that is search-engine friendly.

Do so by properly naming your video files, using proper keywords and titles, and surrounding them with keyword-rich Web content. Other best practices include keeping your videos in one video directory on your Web site, providing an MRSS (Media RSS) feed for all of your published videos, and publishing your videos to third-party sites such as YouTube.

Video is a Powerful Online Marketing Tool

By combining the above 10 best practices, marketers can drive consumer action using online video.

Keeping production costs inline with the realities of the online channel will ensure that the return on investment remains high, while creating a compelling story to help drive conversions and reduce abandonment in the purchase cycle.

As bandwidth continues to improve and more of the online audience makes video an important part of their online experience, successful marketers will understand how to incorporate video marketing in their online campaigns to drive favorable consumer action.

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