All smart entrepreneurs know that in order to compete today you need a robust Web presence. But not everyone has yet embraced online video, which (according to many Web gurus) can increase your site’s traffic and boost your sales. To learn more, I talked to Benjamin Wayne, president and CEO of Fliqz.com, a company that helps small and mid-sized businesses integrate video on their Web sites.
Rieva Lesonsky: It’s quickly becoming a YouTube world. How can adding video to their sites better help entrepreneurs compete and grow?
Benjamin Wayne: Video can help businesses in three ways: drive increased traffic, drive more interactivity and page views, and drive increased [sales] conversion.
Lesonsky: Let’s talk about boosting traffic. What are the best ways to do this?
Wayne: The three primary ways are through site placement, search engine syndication, and viral propagation. When you add video to your site, consider using the home page, your galleries, and calls to action. Video on the home page will attract clicks from more than 50 percent of your users, and can be a great tool to draw visitors deeper into the site. The videos should be instructional in nature, or include a message from your company that provides an immersive introduction for new visitors.
Galleries are another good way to draw users into the site and encourage deeper interaction. Make sure that [videos within your product] galleries have a means to drive viewers back to a specific product or to purchase, and keep the videos short to encourage high completion rates. Finally, combine videos with a call to action. Videos are incredibly effective in driving user conversion [to sales], and should be featured prominently next to products as a means of driving purchase behavior.
Lesonsky: Everyone is concerned about lifting search results. You said videos work well here, too?
Wayne: Search engines remain one of the great untapped opportunities for traffic generation. Most businesses today understand the importance of SEO [search engine optimization], but few realize that search crawlers are incapable of reading Flash tags. In other words, despite the fact that search engines now feature videos in their results, most videos fail to actually appear there. In order to take advantage of SEO opportunities in video, you need to submit your video via MRSS, a service provided by many video-hosting providers. Since the pool of videos currently indexed is small, this is an opportunity all retailers should explore.
Don’t neglect viral propagation. Viral reposting of video puts your brand, your video, and a click to your site into locations, blogs, wikis, and forums that you could never reach on your own. Some Web businesses get over 50 percent of their video viewership through viral propagation, making it one of their most powerful means of brand dissemination.
Lesonsky: Is it expensive to add video?
Wayne: Implementing a video strategy doesn’t have to be expensive. Sites should avoid burning money on expensive, professionally produced video content. Today’s Web visitors are looking for clips that help them understand a product or service, not a lengthy infomercial or short film. Businesses can take advantage of the power of today’s digital cameras to produce inexpensive content that can be posted quickly.
Your users can contribute to your video library, helping to increase your content and create new page views at a minimal cost to the hosting site. Plug-and-play tools allow video uploading directly from within your page, and contests or other promotions help encourage your members to contribute.
Lesonsky: Should business owners do this themselves? Or should they outsource it?
Wayne: Building your own video solution is an expensive proposition. Businesses should turn instead to a plug-and-play provider. With solutions starting at $100 a month, it’s much more cost-effective, and they handle all of the management, encoding, streaming, analytics, and syndication, leaving you free to focus on growing your business.
Once videos have been created, getting them onto a Web site is the next important step. Business should avoid using consumer sites [since they] encourage visitors to leave your site. Instead, take advantage of cost-effective professional solutions that allow site owners to easily upload, manage, and integrate videos while providing a high-quality user experience. These sites range in cost from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a month, and offer features and quality unmatched by consumer sites.
Uploading videos is as easy as uploading a photo. The whole process takes a few moments while the video uploads, and then takes a few minutes while the video is encoded to Flash, which allows it to be seen by all users, without downloading, regardless of platform (Mac or PC) or browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari).
Lesonsky: Does video only appeal to a narrow demographic?
Wayne: Video appeals to a broad-based demographic, with the majority of viewers [today] falling into the magic 25- to 35-year-old group.
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