The cost of producing and deploying a reasonably high-quality video has dropped dramatically. Most every ecommerce business owner would therefore be smart to consider working video into his or her marketing mix. Assuming you can overcome the initial hurdles of video creation, let's look at how to turn your video presence into a driver of quality traffic.
Deployment Options: Share Baby, Share
A key question to consider is whether to host your own video or take advantage of one of the big video hosting and sharing sites, such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Viddler. There are a few reasons you might decide to host your own, including having total control over your content, eliminating any third-party branding on your video (like a YouTube watermark), or having the tightest integration possible with your website.
But in the social media world we live in, there are big benefits to sharing. By deploying a video on major video hubs, such as YouTube, the video can help bring interested buyers to your site. The potential loss of control of your video is more than made up for by the ability to build your brand identity and expertise.
Here are some of the steps you can take to gain traction with your videos.
Deploy via multiple locations. According to recent data from HitWise.com, YouTube is the 5th most visited domain on the Web. Building a YouTube presence makes sense, but there are many other videos hubs to consider. Not to mention the likes of Facebook and some of the niche venues like Howcast.com or GrindTV.com. A service like TubeMogul can simplify the process of deploying your videos to a group of video websites where you maintain accounts.
Build your channels. A channel is a great way to develop your presence and allow fans to track your video updates. YouTube allows you to create a channel for your videos and others can subscribe to your channel via RSS to receive notifications of your latest video creations. YouTube's latest redesign encourages users to subscribe to channels.
Embed videos on your own site. Let's not forget your own website. Most video hosting sites allow you to embed some simple code to play the hosted video from within your own web pages. The user will never need to leave your site to view your video content. Definitely take advantage of this capability. Having videos on your site can help a customer through the buying decision and contribute to your overall credibility.
Encourage sharing. As with all your content, keep on reminding your visitors to spread the word. On your own site, use social bookmarks and re-tweet links. If you post a video on other sites and receive comments, take the time to monitor and respond when appropriate.
The major search engines realize the importance of video. And a newer class of search engines, like Truveo.com, is geared specifically to indexing video. So after you have worked hard to spread your video around, you want to be sure to utilize good optimization practices. Because video content is difficult for engines to crawl, you need to fine-tune the descriptive information, or metadata, that goes along with your video.
As with traditional web page SEO, you want to develop a clearly focused set of keywords. Most video hosting sites allow you to supply a title, description, and tags for each video. Work your keywords into each of these fields. Ideally, begin with your important phrases. An example of good keywords would be "Pond Algae Treatment - Products and Tips." Conversely, "SmithPondStore.com Video 1" would not be so good because there are no descriptive terms there.
On your site, create a distinct, well-optimized page for each video. Don't just display your video in a pop-up window that search engines can't index. Include the word "video" in your on-page description as you want to attract searchers and video search engines that are looking for video content.
Any content you put on the web should be VIE-able: valuable, interesting, and/or entertaining. If you can capture all three, you might have a viral hit on your hands. For an ecommerce owner, video is well suited for product demos, building your thought-leadership in your industry, or promoting the value of your products in a fun way. Here are some specifics to keep in mind.
Your thumbnail image is key. A thumbnail is often the first thing visitors will see to determine whether they click to view your video. Put some attention into the thumbnail you use.
Use a watermark or specific messaging. To drive traffic to your website, make sure that at the end of each video there is a clear invitation for users to visit your website and learn more or see your products.
Tag you links. Take the time to tag your links from the video sites that lead back to your main website so you can measure the effectiveness of your video sharing efforts. I've addressed that previously here at "Tagging URLs for Better Tracking in Google Analytics."
Keep your videos short. One-to-two minute videos are ideal. Don't feel like you need to develop a professional quality production. With simple techniques you can connect strongly with your users.
Seek subscribers and ratings. As with most web marketing ventures, it takes time and work to gain readership. Encouraging others to comment on your videos and engaging with them is the first step in building a critical mass of users.
Sometimes it is intimidating to enter a new arena like video production. To jump into the game, create your own YouTube channel and put up a short, trial video. You will see how easy it is. If you are worried that someone might actually see your sample, you can always delete it until you are ready to do something more polished. But, be brave and get over your stage fright. There is money to be made with video.