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3 Mistakes Companies Make with Online Video

by Bill Lake
Published on February 20, 2010

We hear it all the time: "Online video is exploding." And it's true, viewers streamed over 11 billion videos in January 2010 . Most of these videos were for entertainment, such as television shows and sports streams. However, consumers want video on business sites as well. In fact, simply having relevant video available for viewing on a company website, regardless of whether or not viewers choose to watch it, can increase conversion rate over 40%.

Such positive results from video tell us that marketing leaders will continue to invest in video, and we are going to see even more online video over these next few years. And because I spend a lot of time reviewing corporate online videos and observing their rhetorical implications, I often see the same mistakes made over and over again. In the spirit of sharing information and improving online video for all, here are the top 3 mistakes companies make with online video today.

1. Not using proven approaches.

With so much money spent on creating video, I'm often surprised by how few sites apply the techniques that successfully pull in viewers. For example, neglecting to include the play button on a video. In a lecture on how Youtube got Viral, Youtube co-founder Jawed Karim highlights the external video player and the play button: people would see the play button, they knew it would play a video, so they would click it. The play button remains the most compelling icon today, with users 3x more likely to click on a play button than any other link on a page. If you have video, be sure to let your users know by layering the play button on top of the video.

Using a non-standard aspect ratio also diminishes the quality of the online video appeal. Common aspect ratios today are 16:9 or 4:3, and while seeing letterboxes (horizontal mattes) or pillarboxes (vertical mattes) might be acceptable for watching DVDs on a big screen, websites do not have the luxury of committing a healthy amount of their space to mattes and users do not want to squint to see content. When creating video, it would be beneficial to reach out to a company with a firm understanding of web video production.

Finally, adding interactivity has demonstrated the ability to improve click-through rates over 200%. With the growth of interactive platforms, it is time to explore making the video experience an engaging one for viewers. This point actually brings me to the next biggest mistake I see with online video.

2. Not Engaging Viewers.

A TubeMogul report shows that 54% of viewers click away before viewing a video for a full minute. People value their time, and as more and more video becomes available online, it becomes increasingly important to ensure video is engaging. The easiest way to make a video engaging is to add interactivity. Much like users perceive websites that offer interactivity as more attractive , video that offers machine interactivity and person interactivity is also seen as increasingly attractive. The interactivity allows users to control what information they receive which ensures the content they see is relevant. This control often results in spending more time on the video. Additionally, when users can control the pacing and flow of video information, they retain information better, which translates into brand building. Early adopters of interactive video are seeing drastically improved engagement times, with one association's informative interactive video boasting a viewing average of well over four minutes. Interactive elements such asking users questions, displaying menus and providing instant feedback keep users engaged.

3. Going for the gold.

It may sound bizarre, but going for the gold, or in the case of video, hoping to create a viral video, is an exercise in futility. There is no recipe for creating an instant hit, it's expensive, and placing a video on Youtube, amongst millions of other videos is not an ideal way to target your buyers. In fact, the odds of your video breaking as few as 1,000 views is only 3% and decreasing every day as more and more users upload video. It is smarter to use approaches leading online retailers, who average conversion rates between 9% and 13%, use to increase conversion. For example: put the video on your website. Enable viewers to share the video, and embed the video on other sites as well, but most importantly, present the video on your company's website. This way, your site visitors know you invest in improving their user experience. Also ? websites with video rank higher in search engines. Video on your site also improves the perception of an even more interactive site, which studies have shown increase purchase intent and positive brand arousal.

Another proven approach is to make the video relevant to the product and service offering. Effective uses of video include:

  • Product demos
  • User testimonials
  • Discovering needs
  • Training the visitor

Providing information that is useful to your site visitor will not only engage viewers, it will also build brand appreciation and buyer intent. Making the video interactive and including qualifying questions and calls-to-action also makes it possible to measure ROI more effectively than with a video designed primarily to be viral.

Online video is persuasive, people like to click on video, and it is an effective marketing tool. To learn more about how to effectively add online video to your site, contact me: info@hravatar.com

Bill Lake is EVP of HR Avatar (www.hravatar.com), a provider of an advanced interactive video platform featuring a unique intelligent-branching technology that marketers use to create videos that interact with viewers to uncover needs and deliver a targeted message in a true one-to-one marketing experience. He can be reached anytime at bill.lake@hravatar.com.

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