Internet Video - for more customers and revenues
A website tells the story of your company and its products and services. More people are inclined to watch TV or go out to see a film than to pick up a good book to read. Similarly, more people are inclined to watch a website video than read its content, or even to skim it by scrolling down, let alone downloading a pdf file. To be successful, to capture and hold someone's attention, the same criterion applies to both the movie/video, the book -- and to your website.
The story needs to capture and hold interest, as Scheherazade does with her story of Aladin and the Genie in the Arabian Nights.
"Scheherazade went on with her story." *
Part I begins with some introductory video questions.
Part II sets these in the context of on-line marketing. The completely feasible do-it-yourself video option is briefly discussed.
Part III briefly presents the Alladin website video services, including an SEO option billed on the basis of results (CPA, cost per action).
Part IV gives some technical video information.
Part V discusses eight video launching pads, including sample lists of sites to submit a video to.
I. Introductory Video Questions
1st Question - Why Video?
The impact of a video on the landing page and for sales is widely accepted, but not yet widely spread. The proliferation of highspeed Internet access since 2009 has made viewing videos on one's computer practical for most. Yet as soon as one leaves the Fortune 500, the majority of businesses do not use website videos. One estimate is that less than 10% of on-line marketing incorporates a video. Another estimate, specifically for the U.S., is that as of 2011 ony 3 of 7 companies use website videos. Why doesn't every website use videos?
1) Viewed as complicated, do not even know how to load a video onto the website.
2) Concerned that an amateurish video would detract from the professional appearing website.
3) Do not know all that much about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the website in general and nothing at all about SEO for a video on it.
4) Assume a professional video would be exorbitantly expensive.
Therefore many companies view a website video as a "nice to have" someday, but not as a priority. No formal analysis of the options is ever made. Interestingly, this attitude is similar to what businesses had when the telephone was introduced, the computer, websites, and now, website videos. Therefore an opportunity exists to get a step ahead of one's competitiors.
Take a hard look at the different options to improve one`s website, specifically including the use of video. Looking at video in the context of on-line marketing is treated in Section 2 of that name below.
2nd Question - Capturing Attention
The classic U.S. sales acronym is AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. How long does one have to catch someone's attention, ten minutes, one minute? What really gets the attention of customers nowadays anyways?
Before the industrial revolution and mass media, the pace of life was slower, attention spans longer. People on a farm in Western cultures have been estimated to have had attention spans of 15 minutes or more. With radio, TV and now the web, attention spans have become shorter and shorter. As far as Internet surfing is concerned, our attention spans have been reduced from that of a curious cow to about that of a goldfish.
Quandary: How do I best get customers' attention?
Sally Hogshead explains how long a goldfish's attention span is and the implications for your marketing campaigns, in "How to Fascinate," a presentation at TED.1 Her thoughts make an excellent point of departure for considering one's marketing campaigns and how best to use an advertising and PR budget in general, and one for the web in particular.
Note that in 2008 Google was estimated to have one trillion web pages indexed. Let us make a high estimate for YouTube of 10 billion videos. For the purposes of simplicity, assume equal traffic. In this case a video is faced, compared to reading a webpage, with only 1% as much competition for a viewer's attention.
3rd Question - Have video, will travel?
You have read that a video is a powerful sales tool for two reasons. First, it captures people's attention, drawing them into your website. Second, it can be set up to be an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) magnet, attracting viewers to the website.
Your story needs to be told to a receptive audience. In other words, you need to put your website in front of people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. They already want to buy. Therefore you do not sell them. Rather you help them make an informed purchase that meets their needs.
Quandary: how exactly do you make your video travel to your targeted customers locally, and all over the world if you are selling on line?
The Short Answer
Optimizing SEO for the video(s) on your website entails a little more than downloading to YouTube. One needs to use (1) Video Sharing Sites, followed by script entry with backlinks to the video(s) at: (2) Social Media, (3) Blogs, (4) Article Directories, (5) Bookmarking Sites, (6) Forums, and (7) Press Release sites.
The Long Answer
Some comments about each of the above seven with lists of starter sites are given below at V. Seven Launching Pads for Your Video. Naturally these steps need to be in congruence with the SEO for the website itself. For further information about SEO, see the Website Audit in the preceding subpage.
II. On-line Marketing Comments
Internet marketing has become increasingly important for just about all businesses. The on-going transition from "bricks and mortar" to "bricks and clicks" is global. The single most powerful entity in the on-line world is Google, referred to by many an Internet guru as The People's Democratic Republic of North Google. They whisper in awe of its dreaded neutron bombs, nicknamed "the Google slap." These are launched with cause, but also arbitrarily, apparently at mere whim. A single "slap" can vaporize a thousand, or ten thousand, websites -- or, if not making them disappear completely, banish them to page 50, 100 or even lower in the rankings on a Google search.
Multinational corporations have the resources to negotiate with the politicians of North Korea and the managers of North Google. However even they are wary of the effort it will take. Smaller companies that venture into the domains of these power mongers are pretty much at their mercy.
Three on-line sub-categories rapidly gaining momentum are (1) social media, (2) mobile clicks and (3) website videos.
1) Facebook now has over 700 million users (2011), and with other similar sites, such as Twitter, and also Linked-In, is an advertising medium that should not be overlooked. Associated with that is the popularity of group purchasing, such as via Groupon.
2) Mobile clicks refers to the increasing amount of Internet surfing done on smart phones. Searches for local businesses are especially common. The offers of electronic coupons by local businesses are increasing correspondingly.
3) Websites have become ubiquitous, as common, and as necessary, as having a business card. Most business cards are o.k., get the job done. Some are pretty bad, and a few are really great, elegant and memorable. The same three categories of bad, o.k. and great apply to websites. However the percentage of websites that really "get the job done" is much smaller than for business cards. First, there is a little more involved in designing a website than a business card. Second, most websites serve a much larger purpose than merely providing contact information. The website is a key sales driver. That is true for both B2B and B2C sales.
A key requirement for a website which does, in fact, "get the job done," is that it capture the visitor`s attention -- and then holds it. The initial "accept or reject" decision takes place in less than a minute, in fact, in much less (cf. the video by Sally Hogsworth, linked above). Accept means the visitor (prospective customer) decides to stay on the website and learn more. Reject means he leaves the website. "Bounces" is the term used in website analytics.
The empirical evidence from sources such as Google Analytics supports the statement repeated by a variety of Internet gurus: a short, well-done video on the landing page, front and center, is by far the best introduction, best attention-getter, a website can have. Just as the website has become a key marketing tool for bricks and mortar businesses, in the transition to "bricks and clicks," videos have become a key driver for a successful website, i.e. one to which visitors "stick." The "stickier" the website, the more likely a visitor is to become a customer, or, if already a customer, to make another purchase -- and to recommend the website, forward a link, mention it on Facebook or Twitter.
The Do It Yourself Video Option
This option is absolutely legitimate and viable. It can lead to excellent results, not, however, through "point and shoot" with your smart phone camera. Yes, one can "point and shoot" a video for friends and family, but it is unlikely to be adequate for a TV documentary, or a website either. Of course amateurs can do much more than "point and shoot."
An analogy is to a serious hobby photographer with good equipment and experience. He too can take award-winning photographs. Naturally there is a little more involved to shooting a video, let alone a film, than a still photograph. That is why the admissions for a leading film school, such New York University (NYU's Tisch School and Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television) is so fiercely competitive, even though the six years from freshman to a graduate degree will run you, just for tuition, $47,000 a year. (Furthermore living expenses in New York City are high, and the course materials are not cheap either.)
Granted, one learns much more than one needs to know to shoot a website video. A more relevant option would be the excellent course for website videos periodically offered by Andy Jenkins. A graduate of the NYU film school, he has worked on Hollywood films. The on-line courses he offers as The Video Boss run 9 weeks and cost $2,000. (The one for 2011 is sold out.) They are considered the best value for money in the U.S., quite possibly world-wide. Someone already interested in photography and film who takes that course (or an equivalent one) and follows up with "learning by doing" should definitely be able to shoot high quality videos for your firm. Furthermore, he will also know a good deal about SEO for videos.
Do It Yourself Hints and Tips
A smart phone is not adequate for shooting a website video. A full-blown professional video camera easily runs over 1.000 €. Furthermore it requires some expertise to take advantage of all its features. Two good compromises are given below at (1) Camera.
Generally, one should shoot a video in HD (high definition). A significant advantage of HD is that picture quality is not lost when one compresses the FHD (full high definition) 1400 by 2900 format to, say, 720 by 576, to use on a standard DVD player. The latter format is the standard one for TV. If you have cable TV with an Internet bandwidth of 15,000 you can receive FHD. On a website FHD is irrelevant. However it is preferable for a presentation projected on to a screen for a large audience, for instance at a trade fair.
1.1 - The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 video camera new is about 200 Euro. It is available used at amazon.com for about 125 € and, with some luck, on E-bay for perhaps 100 €. The link is to a review of the camera in German on YouTube. A number of other reviews of it are also on YouTube in English.
It is small, light, easy to use, and can hold its own with cameras up to 800 €. Actually, a significant difference in quality really comes with the over 1.000 € professional cameras. Because the camera is light, it is best used with a tripod. Or just set it on a table and let it run automatically.
One would also want to purchase a back-up battery, about 30 €, and probably an expanded memory card as well. A nice feature of the camera is that it is pre-programmed for downloading a video onto YouTube. One negative not mentioned in the review is that the internal loudspeaker is quite weak. One needs to attach earphones to it to hear the audio playback.
1.2 - The Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera costs about $180. The link is to an English language review. A negative is that you also have to buy an SDHC memory card, which costs about $100. Attractive features are a) the size, about that of a full screen smart phone, b) external microphone slot, c) supports SDHC, d) a macro mode for close-ups and e) three HD recording modes. (Using 30 fps/720p makes sense for videos that will be shown on YouTube.)
A good microphone is the Logitech ClearChat Comfortable USB Headset, for about $40.
3.1 - Hardware
Your computer needs to have at least 2 Gigabyte storage capacity and 4 Gigabyte is better. (If you were going to edit a Hollywood film, you would need 300 Gigabytes!) You can open two windows on your computer screen. However life will be a lot easier if you use two computer screens. A good way to get a second, large computer screen is to buy an old flat screen TV. Of course you first have to make sure about its compatibility - the ease of connecting it with your computer.
3.2 - Software
There are two low budget alternatives. The first is to get editing software and learn how to use it. Good video editing software is offered by the U.S. firm Magix. The link is to the German language version of the website. With the software one should buy a manual. A "minimum cost" alternative would be to look for an older (but completely adequate) version, such as Magix Video deluxe 2006/2007. Note that Magix takes up a lot of space. A clear, well written German manual of the same title has been written by Ingo Lackerbauer, Markt + Technik Verlag, 16 €.
The second alternative is to look for a professional editor offshore. Given the huge Bollywood film industry in India, there will certainly be competent professionals there. One can look for them over sites such as Elance. (The link is to the German version of the site.) Before submitting an RFQ (Request for Quote), one needs to do some research on how best to choose and manage an offshore engagement. References need verification and payments should be as milestones are reached.
There are also good video products from Adobe, Vegas, Pinnacle. Leading providers of screencasting software are:
- Camstudio - Jing
- Camtasia - Quick Time X
- iShowU HD - Screenflow
A nice feature of Camtasia is that one can edit at pauses, setting input and output. The iShowU HD product is available at www.shinywhitebox.com.
Sources include (all are .com): animation, digitaljuice, gema, musicbakery and royaltyfree.
5) Uploading Your Video
You will want your video on YouTube (at the very least) as well as on the website. There is good guidance at "How to upload a video" to YouTube, a 2 and 1/2 minute video with screenshots. If you want to upload a longer video, say from a webinar, the best way to do this is to break it up into a series of short videos of 9 or 10 minutes each. (Also some of the video sharing sites, such as blip.tv, accomodate longer videos. Sample sites are listed below at "V. Seven Video Launching Pads.") After having uploaded at YouTube, click on its Share button. Then click on the Embed button that appears below the link. Copy the code and paste it into your website HTML code where you want the video to appear.
The Professional Option
The obvious advantage is known quality -- one can view samples of the firm's work on its website. The obvious disadvantage is cost.
Hollywood films cost millions. Twenty hours of film simultaneously shot by 10 to 20 cameras (for different perspectives) can be edited down by a team in a week at a studio to a 5 minute scene -- or eliminated entirely, just cut and discarded. There is a trickle down effect for videos for business as well. Four hours of film shot by two cameras can be edited (e.g. with Magix software) into a 5 minute video in two days. That is not the millions of a Hollywood film, but can still easily run in the thousands.
Before one goes down the video road, whether it be a simple dirt path or an eight-laned superhighway, one should consider the marketing, branding and sales objectives.
- How does the video reflect marketing strategy?
- How does it support branding?
- How can one make it a useful tool for the sales force?
- What other purposes could it serve, for instance in support of the business plan in seeking debt or equity capital?
In the preceding link using a video instead of a written business plan is suggested by Jeffery Gitomer is probably te leading sales trainer in the U.S. (The link is to further information about him at "Eminent Referrals" at About Us.) In the following YouTube link, he suggests using a video of key sales calls instead of a business plan. The idea has merit. However if one goes to the trouble of organizing it as he suggests, taking the further step of quality shooting (not with a smart phone camera) seems reasonable.
All too often videos are created in a marketing void. After the video is produced, one then decides how to incorporate it into the existing strategy and campaigns. (1st - "Fire!" 2nd - "Aim!" 3rd - "Check to see if it's loaded???") Examine some of the questions associated with A. The Q3 Strategy Audit as a catalyst to your own review.
III. The Bridges Approach
First, one builds a bridge to cross the gap between the video as "idea" to its being a practical, powerful image and sales tool. This marketing dialogue is among Bridges, the client and a "bridge architect," viz. web designer. Revising a website often raises larger questions about marketing strategy. The initial dialogue is based on first considering the W´s, as elaborated upon below.
The W's: Why, What, Who, Where, When, Wherewithal
The video project should be planned in the context of one's marketing strategy.
- "Why do you want to shoot this video?"
- "What are you trying to accomplish?"
- "Who is the audience, the targeted viewers?"
- "Where are they - culture (language)/country?"
These are the strategic questions: the video goals and how they fit into the overall marketing strategy. Note that implicit to these questions is the role of SEO. A wonderful advertising campaign or compelling video is irrelevant if only a handful of people view it, having stumbled onto it by accident.
The strategic questions are followed by tactical ones: how best to make -- and distribute -- the video.
- "When should the video - as part of the on-line marketing campaign - be ready?"
- "Wherewithal - which marketing resources (management time, budget) should be allocated?"
IV. Some Technical Terminology
- aspect ratios - FLV
- bit rates - frame rates
- blue/green compositing - H.264
- Codecs (compressor/decompressor) - kHz
- encoding software (& mistakes) - Mp4
- Amazon's CDN distribution - output formats
- white balance - muslin & seamless backgrounds
- contrast ratios - B-roll
- Dutch angles - timeline edit tools
- keyframe effects - Audio Suite Plug-in FX
- audio mixdowns - color correction wizards
- exploring the Avid - the clipboard monitor
- nesting videos - sync locks
- eye line performance line readings - lighting (Tungsten vs. Fluorescent vs. LED)
The two main options for uploading videos are a) 640 wide by 480 tall and b) 1280 wide by 720 tall. The bandwidth or bit rate for the video is 1500 kb, and for audio 128 kb. These specs are for external distribution. They are about double of those for doing your own hosting.
A tremendous advantage of the Internet is that it so easily - and cheaply - allows split testing. One can target specific pages of one's website to split test, or put up parallel websites. Five of the main sites to assist with split testing are:
- google.com/ads/displaynetworks (but the templates are not easy to use)
- www.google.com/websiteoptimizer (including multivariate analysis)
- MyDisplayAdvertising.com (is a customized offering by John Arnold, one of authors, with Ian Lurie, Marty Dickinson and Elizabeth Marsten of Web Marketing, a book in the Dummies series which is linked above in IV. Resources of 2. The Website Audit.)
The U.S. is significantly behind most of Europe in mobile phones. Yet even in the U.S. about 19 out of 20 people have a mobile phone, one third of which are "smart" phones. For B2C marketing optimizing the landing page for mobile devices is therefore important. One should also consider the use of mobile coupons such as the Starbucks gift card.
V. Eight Video Launching Pads
A good system for video distribution is offered by Traffic Geyser in California. The first link at "video distribution" is to a 21 day trial version for one dollar. The second link at the firm's name is to its main website. This third link, traffic backup, is again to the trial version if the first link does not work. Use Traffic Geyser as a benchmark against (1) doing the work in house, (2) subcontracting the work to a local service, (3) considering the offers of firms competing directly with Traffic Geyser and (4) off-shoring.
The launching pads follow:
Issues to pay attention to include:
- the HD option
- getting backlinks
- using related videos to increase one's ranking
- how to switch out (for free) YouTube ads in your videos with your own
2) Other video sharing sites
YouTube accounts for about one third of all video viewing on the Internet. The other two-thirds is done over sites such as the ones below. Unless otherwise noted, all sites in this and the succeeding sections are .com ones.
- blip.tv - megavideo
- bofunk - photobucket
- daily motion - sevenload
- ecoup TV - veoh
- graspr - viddler
- kewego - viewtube
- livevideo - vimeo
N.B. The video script, with a link back to the video, should be entered at sites such as those listed in the next six categories.
3) Social media sites
One should past the script on a Facebook fan page and also feature it on Google Profile and sites such Linked In, Tweeter, Xing and Google Plus. A video can help raise your interactivity score on the Facebook algorithm, which is captured by search engines. (A facebook entry of "I had toast for breakfast" can actually hurt your rankings.)
- google profile - squido
- google site - tumblr
- livejournal - typepad
- mybloglog - wordpress.org
5) Article Directories
One should google "article directories." The link is to a vretoolbar list of the top 50 directories. (There are at least one, possibly over two, thousand.) A top ten list is:
- articlesbase - ezinearticles
- associatedcontent - hubpages
- buzzle - knol
- ehow - squidoo
- examiner - technorati
6) Bookmarking sites
- Connectedy - Spotback
- Digg - Spurl
- Feedmaker - StumbleUpon
7) Forums relevant to the video
One finds these with a Google search.
8) Press release sites
Press releases cost money; therefore the sites should be selected carefully. Be sure your choices allow video links, including double checking that the examples below still do.
- openPR - PRWeb
- PRLeap - WiredPRNews
1 The quality of Sally Hogshead's 18 minute presentation "How to Fascinate" at TED reflects the 100 hours she spent preparing and practicing it. The first TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference was held in California in 1984, and since 1990 it has been an annual event. It is run by the non-profit Sapling Foundation.
Speakers are given 18 minutes to present "ideas worth spreading." Among them have been Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and a slew of Nobel Prize winners. The events are held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S., as well as in Europe and Asia. Over 700 speeches are available for viewing on-line. These have been seen more than 500 million times (June, 2011).
*© Virginia Frances Sterret, "Scheherazade Went on with Her Story" Arabian Nights, 1928, Public Domain, age; Gyan Web Design 2010