Getting smart with video distribution part II: intelligent channel enablement

In my last post on video distribution, I outlined the foundations of a smart e-commerce video distribution strategy.  Today, we’ll build upon those lessons by further detailing something I call “smart channel enablement.”  We’ll look at video+SEO best practices but branch beyond search to show how to maximize the value of video distribution regardless of channel.

To start, I’ll posit the three pillars of a successful video commerce distribution strategy are as follows:

1.  Interactive Opportunities: your off-site e-commerce videos must embrace interactivity to drive purchases.  Without interactivity, it’s difficult to connect shoppers with e-commerce opportunities.

2.  Broad Reach: a large enough audience must see your e-commerce videos, or top line revenues will suffer.

3.  Rich Relevance: your e-commerce videos must be seen by the right audience, or not enough people will buy to make the program worth its while.

If any of these pillars are missing in your video distribution strategy, it is destined to fail.  Learn why and read tips to ensure your strategy pays off:

Interactive Video

Video distribution to video sharing services can help with video discovery and SEO, but unless your videos are driving viewers to your site, the value for online retailers remains limited to  branding (awareness, consideration).  In addition, it’s important for marketers to realize that videos distributed for SEO purposes can actually cannibalize product page search rankings if programs are not well managed.  Killing product page SEO has ROI implications and needs to be factored into video distribution decisions.  Here are concrete steps marketers can take to maximize the opportunity of interactive video across channels:

1.  Let consumers share interactive videos over Facebook and to blogs and other 3rd party site embeds.

2.  Participate in YouTube’s CPC program w/overlays.  Despite the hype around YouTube being the 2nd largest search engine, I’ve yet to meet a marketer that’s driving meaningful revenue from YouTube even with this program.  However, with a  CPC model it might be worth a try.

3.  Link videos in your email campaigns to your site.  In-house email distribution provides built-in reach, another of the key pillars behind successful video distribution.

4.  Allow affiliates to share your interactive videos.  Just make sure affiliates are still able to collect commissions.

5.  Video-enable your ad retargeting program.  Make sure people can click through your videos to your site!

6.  Make interactivity obvious regardless of channel.  Strong calls to action in-video let consumers know they’re expected to click.

Achieve Broad Reach

Beyond making video interactive, marketers need to consider the issue of reach.  Reach is a concept all online advertising professionals understand.  You can create a video with the coolest creative and the most whiz-bang interactivity, but if no one watches, who cares?  This is especially challenging with e-commerce video because most e-commerce videos are NOT viral; they’re persuasive messages describing products, services, and merchant selling propositions.  Here are some ideas to help with reach:

1.  Use your in-house email list with video.  It’s simple, doesn’t require technical integration, and in many cases can allow your video to reach a large audience that’s already receptive to your message.  Just make sure you understand some of the limitations that still exist with in-email video.

2.  Take control of your video SEO:

  • Include relevant permalinks for all videos
  • Include transcripts with your videos (services are cheap)
  • Link to your video pages from other reputable sites that feature relevant content
  • Feature relevant meta descriptions and keywords for all pages featuring video
  • Make your videos downloadable
  • Show only one video player per page
  • Show related and featured products on your video pages
  • Use Ping-O-Matic when you publish new videos
  • Create mRSS feeds for your videos
  • Publish Google Video Sitemaps
  • Include relevant, keyword-rich descriptions for your video content
  • Ensure *all* your videos are interactive – as long as they aren’t on the product page
  • Measure site traffic from syndicated videos.
  • Measure your page rank for videos vs. product pages.  Monitor video SEO closely to determine objectively if cannibalization is occurring.
  • If cannibalization happens, compare site traffic from the relevant videos vs. organic search for product pages to see if syndication efforts should be fine-tuned
  • Use your own domain for video SEO efforts when possible
  • Don’t ignore video SEO if you are stuck on needing to implement product page changes.  Set up a video SEO program around video (e.g. buy.com/tv, kiddicare.tv)

3.  Consider video advertising.  Most retailers are ROI-driven as opposed to brands which tend to make ad spend decisions based more on awareness or consideration concerns (this isn’t always the case obviously, I’m generalizing here).  To drive reach without sacrificing ROI, consider video retargeting to broaden the impact of your videos.

4.  Share your videos to the right video sharing services.  The “right” services are the ones that support interactivity and allow videos to linking to your site.   While there are many video sharing services beyond YouTube where online retailers can share videos, carefully consider if the benefit of added reach is going to do anything to help ROI.  Potentially broader reach can also cannibalize SEO.

5.  Promote videos to your affiliates.  Affiliates are attracted to offers that perform well.  Studies have shown videos drive higher clickthrough than static ads.

Create Rich Relevance:

Video commerce is still in early stages of development, but combining reach with relevance will drive up response rates and total video program revenues.  Here are some tips to make video more relevant:

1.  Feature video on your product pages.  Shoppers on the product page are already pre-qualified to some extent.  Video can be used to tip the purchase decision.

2.  Serve video to people who view products that have video associated with them.  This can be done through behavioral targeting via email or retargeting.

3.  Use video to cross-sell related products.  This can be done without creating new video content by incorporating related product descriptions and images into the video player to drive shopping behavior.

4.  Use site personas in conjunction with automated video production to vary the order and presentation of video content to drive higher response rates (note this is just now emerging as a trend, we’ll cover it more in the coming months).

5.  Implement video where your customers shop.  This is one of  the easiest tactics to implement yet many in video commerce overlook it.  Be honest with yourself – are your customers going to YouTube to buy your products?  Maybe they are.  For most e-commerce sites, I’d argue they’re not.  Video on your own site or retail destination is more likely to prompt shopping behavior.  Measure the results and find out.

6.  Discover what drives video engagement with your core customers.  Video platforms and web analytics tools are becoming more sophisticated at measuring engagement to go beyond simple falloff cliffs.  Now marketers can measure how interactive elements perform v. one another, benchmark video content site wide, brand-wide, category-wide, etc.  Look for patterns and use information discovered to create content that converts.

Until next time –
Happy Selling!

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