Smart Video Increases Customer Engagement

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 31 May, 2012

Consumers are looking for engaging and personal experiences at every stage of their relationship with an online brand. As a result, marketers, advertisers, customer advocate and ecommerce executives are seeking more meaningful ways to engage with customers at each stage of that journey. They need to deliver each customer and prospect with a differentiated, compelling experience that balances information and entertainment, user empowerment and satisfaction.

Due to the customer experience demands, the use of online video has shifted in recent years from a novelty to a strategic imperative. However, implementing online video requires a comprehensive strategy to ensure that your brand is reaping the maximum potential value.

Attracting new customers with video SEO
Today, Google rewards pages and sites that include video, ranking video results higher than text results on search results pages and including a thumbnail for more search page real estate.

One of the most effective and widely used methods for winning customers from competitors is employing comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. With a thorough video SEO strategy, companies can complement, if not decrease, their paid search investments. Many Web businesses also experience a significant increase in their organic search results after video-enabling products on their websites.

Simply put: Video helps businesses get found online.

Target potential customers with pre-roll video ads
According to eMarketer, growth for U.S. online ad spending will maintain double-digit growth through 2014, but not all brands are getting the most out of their ad investments.

In recent years, targeting technology has become part of a business' ad spend, as it is effective in reaching the right audiences with a specific message, based on demographics, purchase history, observed behavior and other traits. However, the reality of attracting a prospect to a website does not guarantee a sale, not to mention that the average consumer will interact with your brand several times before the conversion.

That's why retargeting abandoners and bringing them back to the site is an ideal way of recouping otherwise lost investment in traffic, thereby increasing sales. An effective way of doing this is with retargeted ads that re-engage visitors who left the website without converting based on their previous Internet actions.

New smart video technology takes targeted advertising a step further by presenting qualified prospects and abandoners with video pre-roll ads that are personalized and generated in real time. This targeting presents a tailored message, featuring relevant products and current deals based on their browsing history, to each prospect when they watch an online video.

Since the pre-roll ads are relevant to each viewer, the audience is captivated, leading to higher view-through rates, conversion rates, and often above-average order values, than traditional targeted banner ads.

Increase conversion rates with online video
Online video commands higher attention and recall from viewers, as opposed to TV ads, and as a result, brands realize significant lift in terms of incremental buying. It's no wonder why.

Instead of requiring the user to navigate, scroll and click to access information, smart online video is a one-stop shop for information. It takes less time to engage the consumer than reading and he is engaged until ready to follow an embedded call-to-action.

Product videos have been proven to generate more time spent by consumers on a site, more return visits, and greater click-through rates. Manual video production is timely and costly, however, and can rarely be updated with ever-changing website content, such as prices, seasonal deals and last-minute offers.

Automated creation of smart videos for whole product catalogues, on the other hand, supports regeneration of the videos whenever the website data changes. They also offer viewers the personal attention and service associated with the in-store shopping experience.

Improve customer support with online video
Successful customer relationship strategies start with the first contact an organization has with a consumer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of the relationship. It is commonly accepted today that a company's ability to attract and retain new customers is not only related to its product line, but to the way it services customers and the reputation it creates within the marketplace.

Video can enrich customer service and increase stickiness. Online businesses that have video-enabled their sites have experienced customers making more informed purchases, resulting in fewer product returns, decreased merchandising and support costs, greater trust and credibility, and generally higher customer satisfaction.

These factors can also be boosted with first-rate relationship management: Satisfied customers build your reputation and recommend you to their friends. To that end, the effectiveness of best nurturing practices, including email campaigns, newsletters, loyalty programs and customer portals, is often enhanced with personalization features to engage the customer with offerings that would resonate with him based on his profile, shopping history and browsing trail.

Implementing smart videos that are personalized based on the individual's shopping history within standard relationship marketing activities can significantly enhance nurturing and retention efforts. Video newsletter open rates, for example, are two to three times higher than a static one. Personalization could be a personal greeting with their name and even promotional offerings based on their browsing history, geography or preference segmentation.

New smart video technology addresses the growing need for online personalization to bridge the gap between live and virtual experiences. Videos deepen relationships, increase upsell revenue and cause customers to become brand advocates, encouraging potential prospects to begin their user journey.

The bottom line: Online video creates better experiences for the consumer and offers the most streamlined way to present information in all of their touch points with your company. It allows the viewer to relax while the information is delivered professionally and without clicks and browsing through various sections of a website. For companies that lead the way in adopting a new, personalized approach to engaging customers with video, the benefits promise to be vast.

About the author: Jim Dicso is the president and chief revenue officer of online video solutions provider SundaySky.