Fully Leveraging Product Video

In my previous post regarding Product Video ROI I spoke to the need for video to be accompanied by a plan to drive traffic to that video – page views by far have the strongest impact on positive video ROI. We often speak of the ‘conversion lift’ video provides, but let’s not forget we’re talking about converting visitors to customers. ‘Visitors’ are the foundation of that equation. Video may lift your average conversion an astounding 200%, but 200% of nothing is nothing.  In order to have your video contribute to the bottom line, you need eyeballs on that video.

The good news is that of all the factors that contribute to video ROI, page views are the easiest for retailers to influence. There are two primary ways to achieve this.

First, put the video in the path of your customer. Just as brick and mortar retailers like Blockbuster or Best Buy force you to weave through a product-laden maze on your way to the checkout counter, online retailers have an opportunity to place video in multiple places throughout their sites and leverage existing customer traffic:

Home Page: Many retailers use the primary real estate on their home page to display a large graphic or Flash ‘promotion’ featuring specific product or a promotional theme (e.g. Spring Fling). The content of this promotional real estate often features high quality product imagery. Why not take that product imagery to the next level? Leveraging video in this space not only puts that video in front of a high number of visitors, but also provides the opportunity to create a ‘wow moment’ for first time and repeat visitors.

Search Results: With a high percentage of users navigating to product via search, the search results page represents a great opportunity to engage users with video content.  Many savvy retailers already display  ‘product ratings’ along with product thumbnails and provide a sort option that allows rated products to float to the top of search results. Why not provide a similar video indicator and ‘sort by products with video’ option? You could even take it  a step further and offer a search result set that returns a grid of small video players. While this approach is somewhat radical, it would allow the user to compare and explore product from the search results page, saving them the drudgery of constantly switching back and forth between search results and product detail pages. One of Drugstore.com’s top performing affiliates, Spreety is trying this already approach (http://www.spreety.com/Fun-Beauty-Infomercials.aspx)

Product Details Page: This is the most obvious, common, and valuable location for product video, but why is it that many sites with video only provide an often too-subtle  ‘watch video’ link that spawns a pop-up window or layer? If product video provides better conversion than static product photos, shouldn’t the video serve as the default product imagery? If you’re not ready to have the video as the centerpiece, at the very least make the video link as obvious and intuitive as possible.

Category Pages: Similar to the home page, category pages often include several ‘featured products’ or category-level promotions. If your ‘featured products’ are important enough to promote on a category page, why not maximize the experience with video of those featured products?

Landing Pages: If you are utilizing landing pages for paid or natural search, you’re likely going to attract both first time visitors and/or highly targeted visitors looking for a specific type of merchandise. This presents an excellent opportunity to not only set a great first impression, but to provide engaging video content targeted to a users specific area of interest.

Sweepstakes: Many retailers use sweepstakes to help drive email collection and customer engagement. In a typical sweepstakes experience, the user is willing to pay some ‘price’ for the chance to win something, usually by providing their email address or demographic data. Why not use that willingness to have them interact with your product video, and potentially pick up some video-related sales? Since most videos are already delivered in Flash format, it’s easy to couple them with Flash functionality. For instance, imagine a sweepstakes for a Jewelry retailer where users get to ‘pick an assortment’ from a collection of 20 products, each with their own product video. Only one winner will be selected, but hundreds if not thousands of users would interact with your video content.

Product Recommendations / Related Items: If you’re offering product recommendations or related items, consider including a ‘watch video’ link for each recommended product, and giving products with video a higher relevance ranking.

Other On-Site Destinations: There are a number of other on-site areas to consider for video content integration or ‘watch video’ links: confirmation emails, order history, RSS feeds, product wish lists, email a friend, product comparison, and the shopping cart to name just a few. Think about every place you show a product image or thumbnail. Each of those locations is a potential candidate for video content. Also consider looking at the most popular ‘paths’ people take through your site and placing video content accordingly.

Second, push your video assets out to every external channel available! Up until now we’ve discussed leveraging video content once the customer has already ‘entered the store’, but what about reaching potential customers where they ‘live’?

Email: You can’t get much closer to a customer than their email inbox. By providing you their email address, they have given you permission to put your content and brand right next to messages from family, friends, and coworkers. It’s no surprise then that well executed email campaigns that leverage proven best practices perform extremely well. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense to include links to video content in every email you can. Provide video thumbnails and a prominent ‘play video’ link, and you will get increased click-through and email-related conversion. Combine that with a strong segmentation and/or targeting approach, and your results will be even better.

Affiliates: It always makes sense to provide your affiliates with the best product information possible. This definitely includes any video content you have. Unfortunately not all of the leading Affiliate natively support the provisioning of video to your affiliates, but with a little effort and outreach, solutions can be found to make your video assets available.

Video Sharing Sites (i.e. YouTube): This approach is already well known but worth repeating. Sites like YouTube are a great destination for your video. Assuming you tag the content appropriately, you create the opportunity for potential customers to find your video content, click through to your site, and make a purchase. Just make sure to include a watermark, video open, or video close with your URL and include a link to your site in the video description.

Social Networks: Also fairly well known but worth repeating, social network sites like Facebook or MySpace are a good destination for your video assets. “Fans” of your brand will visit your profile, watch the videos, and may be enticed to visit your site and make a purchase. Also consider reaching out to advocates of your brand and providing them URL-branded video content for their blogs or “Brand Fan Sites”.