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Online Video Fundamentals for E-Commerce

Posted on 7.31.2008

By Darin Ingalls

It’s hard not to notice the impact online video is having, from turning the broadcast market on its head to making instant celebrities out of John and Jane Doe. And while the challenge of joining the online video revolution might seem daunting, it has created opportunities for businesses not seen since before the dot com bust that cannot be ignored.

Let’s examine two strategies from the retail sales playbook: customer service and the up-sell.

One aspect so often missing from many e-commerce sites is a true sense of customer service. When I walk into a physical store I have the luxury of interacting with a real salesperson to learn more about a product and receive recommendations. In short, a sales representative is a value-added service of a brick-and-mortar store. However, if not properly engaged by a store employee I can easily leave and go to the competition. The same is true with an e-commerce site, if not even more pronounced. If I have difficulty finding what I am looking for on a website — whether a product or some information on related products and services — who can I ask for direction? Without a readily available solution, it’s very easy to hit the back button and navigate to another site.

This is where creating video FAQs, interactive sales people, product demos and customer testimonials comes into play.

A Video FAQ can be a great way to help educate your customers in a more dynamic and engaging manner than text alone. An actual representative of your company answering questions and “talking” directly with website visitors helps establish personality, adds a social aspect to your brand experience and replicates a live shopping environment. In addition, with the right information the FAQ can actually save money by reducing redundant inquires and creating better qualified sales calls.

Interactive Sales People have become popular navigation tools across many successful e-commerce sites. When it comes to getting the attention of your site visitors, nothing says “Hello!” like an actual person. Interactive sales people give you the ability to guide users through your site, demonstrate products as well as inform and educate. And having an actual salesperson greet and interact with your visitors in real-time is not as far off as you might think. In fact, in some instances it’s already happening. There are also several pre-recorded, interactive video options available today to engage visitors, including solutions from Rovion and SitePal.

Product Demos have never been easier with online video. While professional photographs remain an effective way to showcase a product, video can do things that a still image cannot — through motion, audio and multiple real-time angles. And while viewers can not only see and hear how a product works, they also can better visualize themselves using it. Product demos also provide a great opportunity to incorporate additional product placements and up-sell related services or products. It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. What about a targeted informational video that speaks to people?

Customer Testimonials and Case Studies are powerful ways to add instant credibility to your product or service. And transforming them into video will only add to the experience. Most people believe they are good judges of character — with video, a level of sincerity can be conveyed on a much higher level than text alone. A well-done testimonial will make an emotional connection with the viewer and help solidify the sale. As you can imagine, interviews or testimonials that appear crudely staged or insincere can actually damage your brand, so finding the right on-camera subject is important.

Now that you have all your video content, what else can you do? Much of it can be repurposed and used within a rich media piece that can be distributed across ad networks — a form of advertising that can be targeted and highly effective. Also, the numerous social networks (when properly facilitated) can produce a great return. And don’t underestimate what people search for on sites like YouTube.

These are just a few examples how video, when used thoughtfully, can benefit your online efforts. Just be careful not to force your customers down a media path. New customers may require more information while existing customers may just want to get to the checkout line. So, optional participation or utilizing cookies so a repeat visitor doesn’t see the same “welcome” message are important aspects of your video and rich media messaging.

Once you add the SEM components of fresh, exclusive content and rich media distribution across ad networks, you have a truly dynamic medium — one that is changing not just our industry but defining how we communicate and market in the online world.

About the Author: Darin Ingalls brings 15 years of broadcast and online video marketing expertise to his role at Blue Hue Interactive.

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