Would you watch a video of two dull people talking in a studio for 30 minutes? How about a video of a PowerPoint presentation? Or a video of a guy in a cluttered office, in front of a bright window, flanked by bags of garbage? These real life examples are just a few of the horrible videos retailers and wholesalers are putting on their ecommerce sites. While it is absolutely true that good videos can serve to boost online sales, bad video, on the other hand, is worse than no video.
Online merchants who research the topic will find a lot of voices out on the Internet, highlighting video as the "Next Big Thing" in ecommerce. Consider Yaniv Axen, the cofounder of video services company SundaySky, who offers, "8 Reasons Every eCommerce Site Should Get Serious About Video." Axen says video drives traffic and conversions, increases customer loyalty, and more. Axen's company generates video out of animated photos, text and graphics based on a template. The company has generated and sold over eight million videos in the first six months of 2011 alone. However, if you don't believe the guy who is in the business of convincing etailers to use his services, how about the Wall Street Journal? The newspaper's reporter, Geoffrey A. Fowler, says that online retailers are adding some "glam" with video, keeping visitors on sites longer. "As the costs of producing video drops, some 43 percent of U.S. online retailers plan to add it to their sites over the coming year," according to a January survey conducted by Knowledge Marketing.
Joel Lederhause from DiscountRamps.com has devoted considerable resources to online video, according to Ina Steiner of AuctionBytes.com. Lederhause hired a full time staffer to create videos and manage the company's YouTube channel. Sales are up 25 percent, due to increased numbers of shoppers and products. Video works for this company because high quality clips of vehicles accelerating up ramps and leaping into the air are pretty compelling to watch. That suggests an axiom for would-be video producers: create compelling content. Justin Foster of Practical Ecommerce hits this point hard. It helps if you are shooting video that is inherently exciting, but there are ways to avoid the pitfalls of two heads talking for 30 minutes. Among them are, "varying the order of elements presented within a video (for example, highlighting product features before price), adding or removing music, swapping hosts, changing voiceovers, adjusting lighting, or switching the set," according to Foster.
But sophisticated trickery is not enough. Grant Crowell writes the "Web Videos That Suck" column for ReelSeo.com. He thinks that video, because it is a new media for businesses, suffers from a glut of amateur quality and ignorance. "The amount of time professionals have had for producing and promoting professional web videos, however, is still fairly small, and a lot is left to be desired." Among the things Crowell looks for in high quality video are:
- Intro and concluding graphics, and appropriate transitions.
- Attractive, or at least unobtrusive, backgrounds.
- Speakers who come across as authentic, not like people reading from a teleprompter.
- Standard accents rather than thick regional accents.
- Captions to identify the people speaking in the video.
- Finally, most of all, something unique.
Unique content is especially important if the products you sell are unusual or unfamiliar to your customers. Sometimes a product needs space or special requirements to show off effectively, but vendors can meet that challenge with a video demonstration of the product in action. For example, Waboba Inc.'s Waboba Ball is a water toy that skips over lakes, seas, and pools, making it great for games of catch. "The products are easy to sell," says Waboba president Jeff Newkirk. "They are also a lot of fun, and there is a wow factor with them." However, the balls are not exactly easy to explain to shoppers. Since a key part of selling the product is seeing it in action, Waboba offers video to merchants selling the item. "With a minimum purchase we can ship vendors a counter video display," says Newkirk. "Or we can send them a DVD, which has our videos with the product in action. The video helps the sale. It's as easy as that."
Another wholesaler, Cajole, is using video to sell its innovative Neck Art jewelry. This line of necklaces allows the wearer to bend and twist them into amazing shapes. The company uses a wholesale site to sell the line to retailer customers, as well as an informational site that includes videos, illustrating how to combine, twist, and bend the necklaces into appealing shapes. "The retail site for our Neck Art is very important in letting the customer see what they can do with it, see how to wear it. We could not do that in any other way, so the site is essential," says Cajole's Jason Barlow. NeckArtStyle.com is really a support site for trade customers. "Retailers send their customers to the site," says Barlow, "and then they come back to the retailer to order. The retailers themselves go to our wholesale site, CajoleOnline.com, to order," adds Barlow.
Web shoppers will not watch videos with boring content, poor production values, or bad sound. Creating good video requires an investment, and for ecommerce retailers who need to show something to their customers, that investment can pay off.
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