On July 8th, I posted the details of a study I conducted on the YouTube practices of Internet Retailer Top 500 companies. Then, on July 14th, I posted a follow-up article explaining where YouTube fits in a video commerce program. Both posts make one point clear: YouTube is a valuable resource which should be leveraged by all retailers. The way in which the world’s biggest video site should be used, though, will evolve as an eCommerce organization becomes more sophisticated over time.
In both Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series, I mentioned that each retailer will eventually need to graduate to a third generation of YouTube usage, one where YouTube is just one of many video tools being leveraged. In this third generation, various video strategies are employed, including social media integration, affiliate network integration, ecommerce player interactivity, automated distribution, search engine optimization, in-depth analytics, etc. Within a comprehensive video program, YouTube is one of many important components that combine for maximum results.
YouTube is an excellent solution for the hosting and serving of videos, and it offers some basic video player functionality like annotations, comments, sharing and multi-platform compatibility. However, it is not a solution tailored for retailers, and there are many missing features which can boost site traffic, conversion rates and average order size. Let’s delve into some of the areas where a video commerce solution like Liveclicker can be an important upgrade from a YouTube-centric approach:
“Shoppable” Video Player
The YouTube video player provides some basic functionality which allows users to overlay annotations on a video, but it lacks many ecommerce-specific capabilities such as Buy Now buttons which direct viewers to product pages, integrated product ratings/reviews, pricing integration with the ecommerce platform, integrated cross-selling suggestions, integrated Facebook commenting, static/moving hotspots, and interactive product thumbnails. By bringing the entire shopping experience into the video player itself, conversion rates, average order size and total revenues are boosted. By stepping up to a video commerce solution like Liveclicker, retailers can integrate their video program with their ecommerce efforts.
As explained in Part One of this series, YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, which makes it a very important place to distribute video. However, by leveraging multiple distribution channels, an ecommerce organization is able to draw more traffic back to its product pages. These additional channels include video sites (like Vimeo, Viddler and Google Video), affiliate networks (like Commission Junction and Linkshare), social media (like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, MySpace, Digg and StumbleUpon), comparison shopping engines, mobile and QR destinations, additional websites/blogs, video libraries, etc. With a comprehensive approach to video distribution, site traffic should rise by 2-5%. Liveclicker’s Video Commerce Suite distributes videos to all of the aforementioned destinations, including YouTube.
Search Engine Optimization
Simply posting videos on YouTube is not enough to maintain an effective video SEO strategy. Search engines like Google require an indexible video library, optimized titles/keywords/metatags, video players embedded on web pages and the submission of a video sitemap. In a recent study, Forrester Research reported that less than 20% of retailers are aware of best practices for video SEO, which makes it an area where significant returns can be made (the report found that video SEO can yield 53 times as much traction as traditional SEO). A video commerce solution like Liveclicker will automate and manage the process of optimizing each video for search engines like Google and YouTube. A good illustration of an optimized search phrase can be seen by typing “Saucony Kinvara” (the popular running shoe) into the Google search box and then typing in “Kinvara video.” The first search phrase returns zero video results and the second one returns many.
YouTube’s sister-company relationship with Google’s Gmail allows the two services to integrate with each other to embed YouTube videos inside of Gmail inboxes. This is a very powerful strategy which has been known to improve click-through rates by 50%+, but Gmail users represent less than 10% of possible email recipients. By leveraging Liveclicker’s Video Email Express solution, retailers gain the ability to embed videos into almost any email client or mobile phone, such as iPad, Hotmail, Yahoo, Blackberry, Android and Gmail.
YouTube provides some basic analytics on video view counts, geotargeting, viewer demographics and viewer engagement which are interesting to marketers. However, retailers need to be able to drill down on ecommerce-specific metrics which allow them to assess the value of their video program. Liveclicker’s Video Commerce Suite displays actionable analytics such as:
- Conversion rate after a video is viewed
- Lifetime value of a particular video in dollars earned upon viewing
- Point during the video at which viewers become distracted and move their cursor
- Search engine phrases which drive visitors to a particular video
- A/B testing of video thumbnails to determine which one drives the most plays
- Video views by distribution channel (Facebook vs. YouTube vs. QR codes, etc)
- Diagnostics on the video’s sound quality, play/pause button usage, etc
- Rate at which a video is shared via email or social media
- Clicks on interactive links, hotspots, “Buy Now” buttons, etc
- Custom charting, time ranges, export to Excel/PDF
- Direct integration with Omniture, Coremetrics and Google Analytics
YouTube is the world’s most popular video site, but it offers no assistance with the production or sourcing of video content. Liveclicker’s Video Commerce solution allows retailers to exchange videos directly with product manufacturers, leverage a database of hundreds of thousands of user-generated videos, search for pre-produced videos, create their own videos with the “Liveclicker Studio” software, or outsource the video production completely. YouTube is certainly a useful tool once a video library has been assembled, but it takes a comprehensive video commerce solution to help a retailer accumulate and create video content in the first place.
I don’t want to make any Second Generation retailers feel inadequate for having chosen YouTube as their sole video solution. It is definitely a big step in the right direction as compared to the unrepresented retailers I pointed out in Part 1 of this series. By leveraging YouTube, an ecommerce organization is making the choice to at least try to provide its customers with a valuable experience. However, YouTube should be a transitory step in the development of a retailer’s video program. Eventually, all serious marketers need to look ahead to a third generation program which employs a video commerce solution like Liveclicker while still leveraging the power of YouTube as a part of that strategy.
While the cost of a video commerce solution might seem like a big step from a YouTube-centric program, it is very easy to calculate and justify the return on investment. There is no shortage of case studies showing revenue improvements of 10-15% when a video program comprehensively includes interactivity, distribution, search optimization, email, analytics and sourcing/production. Still, each retailer is a bit different. Thus, Liveclicker has built an ROI calculator which will help an organization anticipate the exact increase in conversions, revenue and profit they can anticipate when moving from a Second Generation program to a Third Generation one. Please feel free to contact us to learn more.