This post is the first in a three-part series about the usage of YouTube regarding video commerce. First, we will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Internet Retailer Top 500 companies and the way in which they are currently leveraging YouTube. Next, we will delve into YouTube’s optimal place within a video commerce program. Last, we will explain the advantages of graduating from YouTube to a video commerce solution like Liveclicker.
Part One – Usage of YouTube by Internet Retailer Top 500 companies
Since August of 2008, when it surpassed Yahoo’s traffic numbers, YouTube has been the 2nd most popular search engine in the world. By May of 2011, the site was tallying 3 billion video views per day and its Promoted Videos program was developing into a formidable advertising strategy.
In the days when Yahoo was the #2 search engine, online retailers routinely devoted significant search engine optimization and pay-per-click management resources toward ensuring their products were easily found on both Google and Yahoo. Now, in this next generation of search, many retailers seem to be dropping the ball completely when it comes to leveraging the second most popular search engine to drive traffic back to their product pages. A 2009 Forrester Research study found that “less than 20% of marketers were inserting keywords in the filenames of the videos on their site,” but Liveclicker’s 2011 study of YouTube usage by the Internet Retailer Top 500 found three additional systemic issues for ecommerce organizations to improve. (We will make the full study available on Liveclicker.com next month.)
1. Lack of video content
There are certainly some anomalies among the Internet Retailer Top 500, with media-rich organizations like the National Football League, Public Broadcasting Service, the National Basketball League, Home Shopping Network, QVC and World Wrestling Entertainment on the list. However, even after we filter out those companies, we find that the average member of the Internet Retailer Top 500 has posted 96 videos on YouTube. Yet, more than half of the IR Top 500 companies have a product catalog consisting of over 10,000 SKU’s. Clearly, product videos have not been as big a priority for these retail giants as expected.
The chart below breaks the Internet Retailer Top 500 companies into ranges based on the number of videos posted on their YouTube channels. 160 of them (32%) are sharing less than 10 videos, 76 of which have no YouTube channel at all. Of the retailers without a YouTube channel, a few are ranked among the top 100 and they have well-developed and well-funded search optimization programs for Google. We found that a couple of these companies actually had video content posted on their Facebook pages, meaning that they had not taken the mere 30 minutes needed to set up a YouTube account and post those same videos in order to earn some traction on the world’s #2 search engine.
2. Lack of promotion
Our analysis also found that many Internet Retailer Top 500 companies have done a poor job of optimizing and promoting their videos. For example, 17 of the top 100 retailers on the Internet have 20 or fewer YouTube subscribers and 32 of the IR Top 500 have accumulated less than 1,000 views since their channel was created. Compare that to YouTube superstars like Tiger Direct (more than 86,000,000 views), ThinkGeek (more than 35,000,000 views), Apple Computer (more than 29,000,000 views) and Lowes (almost 16,000,000 views), and the lack of video marketing is highlighted.
Another way to analyze the data is to look at average views per video. It is in this category where 25 IR Top 500 companies have tallied less than 100 views per video while retailers like Tiffany & Company (more than 207,000 views per video), Folica (more than 192,000 views per video), Forever21 (more than 178,000 views per video) and LEGO (more than 119,000 views per video) have excelled.
What makes the difference between these retailers? Video content needs to be optimized for search, a tactic which can yield results 53 times more effective than traditional search engine optimization. Retailers with a handful of videos can easily manage this process manually, whereas companies with more developed video programs will need to leverage a video commerce partner to automate their optimization.
Retailers also need to directly promote their video library (whether it is hosted on YouTube or elsewhere) from their website, on their Facebook page, in their email newsletter, etc. They can also leverage YouTube’s Promoted Videos program, which works exactly like Google’s AdWords, but with much lower bid amounts. Consider the search phrase “Rolex watch,” which has 10 expensive pay-per-click ads on Google, but only 8 less expensive Promoted Videos on YouTube. Allocating a percentage of the search engine management budget for YouTube testing could pay off in dividends.
Engaging consumers to subscribe, view and share video content is not as simple as merely posting it online. The basic principles of marketing apply to video as much as for other types of content.
3. Not enough calls to action
Aside from brand awareness and educational programs, the primary purpose of a retail video program is to drive consumers to product pages. Unfortunately, most retailers are missing the mark in this area. Of the companies with the most widely-developed YouTube channels, very few are leveraging YouTube’s interactive features to point viewers back to their store. Even a simple watermark can prevent a competitor from repurposing video content which has been produced.
More importantly, there is a severe shortage of product-specific video content being leveraged by top retailers. Of course, many product videos are created and hosted by the product manufacturers rather than their retail partners, but too many of the videos being produced by retailers do not effectively drive conversions.
Consider the DC Shoes Gymkhana Two infomercial:
The Gymkhana brand awareness video accrued more than 26,000,000 views due to its cool-factor, but it offers only brand awareness and no product information about the shoes that are shown (except for just a few seconds).
In contrast, look at Kiddicare’s Baby Weavers Shuffle video:
The Baby Weavers Shuffle product video consistently earns an industry-leading conversion rate and it took far fewer resources to produce.
With most retailers working with limited 2011 video budgets, are highly produced brand awareness videos where they should be focusing their dollars? Or should focused, product-explanation videos be the foundation of their program? We recommend the latter.