Video marketing to boost your business

How to use video marketing to boost your business

In Depth From Vines to videoconferencing, film can move you company forward

By David Howell November 13th

Whatever the size of your business, it’s time to take video seriously. Video is shared more than any other kind of online content, meaning that if you get it right, it’s the most efficient way to spread your message. It’s also effective: research by video marketing strategist Invodo reveals that over half of consumers feel more confident about buying a product or service after watching a video.

That means that if you’re not doing video, you’re missing out on sales.

The fall in the cost of the necessary equipment means that businesses of all kinds can make their own videos. An excellent recent example of video marketing is the Dollar Shave Club, which uses humour to promote its product. EuroLuxAntiques takes a more factual approach, using video to explain the world of antique collecting to potential customers.

Videos don’t have to be long or complex to make an impact, as Instagram has shown with its 15-second video hosting and Twitter has proven with Vine. This format is being embraced by many of the world’s largest brands including Nike and Virgin America. Often short video bursts can be highly effective and easy to share.

Businesses in the service industry can also make great use of video for their marketing. Systems such as My Web Presenters offers an effective way to place video content onto a website. Whether your business wants to showcase a new product or service, teach customers new skills, or enhance customer service, video is the ideal medium.

Lights, camera, action!

Creating video is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. Any of today’s camcorders can record in high definition. Video cameras including the Flip and most of the compact digital cameras such as the Lumix range from Panasonic (including the Panasonic Lumix GF6) or Sony’s CyberShot can also record video. Smartphones and tablets also have video capability. The new Nokia Lumia 1020 sports a massive 41-megapixel camera.

Tools including Jing and ScreenFlow let you can create videos that capture your computer’s desktop for software demonstrations. And your business doesn’t have to record its own live video: services like iStockphoto and Getty have huge stocks of video to choose from.

The next stage is editing. Low cost desktop tools are available including iMovie for the Mac and Movie Maker for Windows. It’s even possible to edit your video on a tablet PC or a smartphone with apps such as Splice.

Alternatively, you could turn to an online animation service such as Wideo, GoAnimate or FlixPress. And if you need more support, Vimeo, one of the leading video hosting services, even has a school where you can learn to make professional videos now.

James Hakesley, COO of Nideo has this advice: “Keep your videos as short and professional as possible. On a landing page you want a video between one and one-and-a-half minutes that sums up the what, why and who of your business. These can be of real people or an animation explainer, [which is] becoming popular and cheaper to commission.”

Video dos and don’ts

Do:

think about series of videos.
ask customers what they would find useful.
check viewer stats.
think about branding and production values.
take your time – don’t rush, get it right.

Don’t:

autoplay video. This can be very annoying.
put the boss on screen if they’re not the best presenter.
waffle. Get to the point.

Source: Sarah Platt at Kinura

Hakesley suggests that it’s a good idea to look for video concepts that can work as series, to keep viewers coming back. Sarah Platt, Managing Director at webcasting serving Kinura offers another option. “Many companies are also using webinars, which can be fairly simple to put together,” she says. “You can livestream audio or video with many platforms including Google Hangouts, YouTubeLive, or Livestream.com.”

The webinar approach can be a way to establish a strong reputation for expertise, Platt explain: “A regular livestream with a Q&A via a twitter hashtag can be really good for building up an audience and positioning yourself as a knowledgeable person in your field.”

The main problem in hosting video is that there has never been a standard video format supported by all browsers. In all cases, today’s browsers use a number of plug-ins (for example, Flash) to show video content. However, this is about to change with the arrival of HTML5, which allows embedding on webpages within all the major browsers. HTML5 looks set to be the standard for the future.

You could develop your own video player, but there are a number already available that your website could use to embed HTML5 video into its a pages: VideoJS, JW Player, MediaElement.js, FlareVideo and SublimeVideo are all options worth looking at.

It is also a good idea to have a fallback, by formatting your video in Flash. If your visitor is using a browser that isn’t supported by the video player you have chosen, it will automatically look for any other formats the video is available in. Flash is still widely supported, so ensure your video is also available in this format as well.

You can’t ignore smartphones and tablets. Video on these devices needs to be handled carefully to ensure it is delivered at the highest quality. In most cases you’ll want to use H.264 standards and MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) to encode your video so it can be played on all mobile devices.

And there is a way to bypass the problem altogether. Platt says: “Most video sites like YouTube and Vimeo support video streaming to devices, so if you use one of these, you don’t really need to worry about formats.”

Spread the word

Data from Unruly shows that video is more influential when it’s encountered by recommendation rather than through browsing. That’s why businesses need a balance between investing in quality and distribution: good video is useless if you can’t reach the people who would enjoy it.

One vital thing to consider when approaching video is how your company’s social media strategy will support it. Video technology company Unruly reports that viewers who find videos through recommendations are much more likely to act than people who find them by browsing.

Helpfully, social media services are making video an integral part of their service, and that’s making it easier for brands to share their videos. For instance, GoPro uses Vine video to highlight videos made with its cameras. The publisher Simon & Schuster fills its Twitter feed with visual cues to promote current books. And HubSpot invites its customers into its offices with stylish short films.

Rob Crombie, Head of Video at Sneak (the dedicated video production arm of Group FMG) says: “Video is one of the most versatile and valuable marketing tools. Craft a message you’re happy with, told in the way you’d want to tell it and publish it everywhere.” Making effective videos, uploading them and getting people to talk about them takes planning and creativity, but the rewards for your work can be huge.

Read on to learn more about how video streaming works.

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