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How to use video to promote your business

A director's chairHave you thought about creating videos to promote your business? Video can help your SEO on your website and is an effective way to boost customer engagement. But how do you go about making a video? Sarah Orchard investigates.

Did you know that YouTube accounts for 20 per cent of all visits to social media sites in the UK? It’s an impressive statistic for a site that has only been in existence since 2005, but perhaps even more impressive is YouTube’s status as an internet search engine, ranking second only to the mighty Google.

And as if those statistics aren’t enough, then try these: over 48 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, and in May of 2011, YouTube reported that the site received over three billion views every day.

Wow!

Time to jump on the bandwagon

My point — because I’m not just singing the praises of YouTube — is that video has become a hugely powerful medium. Dig a little deeper, past the plethora of cute fluffy kittens, extracts from TV shows and stomach-churning skateboarding accidents, and you’ll find that businesses everywhere are incorporating video into their marketing strategies.

Here’s an example. A couple of months ago a friend of mine decided it was time to buy a new tent and intended to buy one that was reasonably priced (okay, cheap!). But she found herself consistently veering towards the Outwell brand — it meant going over budget but she soon figured out how to persuade her other half. How? She showed him Outwell’s website and played him the videos so that he could see all the clever features and understand why it was worth paying more — and, indeed, that her choice of tent actually offered excellent value for money. It’s a perfect example of a business that really understands what information customers want in order to make a purchasing decision and how best to communicate it. Happy campers all round!

Video is known as rich media content and has the power to boost customer engagement, increases the time spent on a site and undoubtedly helps to convert sales. Used cleverly and with a purpose, the inclusion of video can transform any static website into a dynamic interactive site that will attract more and repeat visits.

But what can I put in my video?

How you use video will be very dependent on your type of business and the services or products you offer.

Here are just a few ideas for starters:

  • Demonstrate a new product or how to do something. A picture paints a thousand words and showing how a product works will always be more convincing and rewarding than a wordy description. My camping friend was over the moon to find video instruction on how to pitch her new tent, so when it came to the first trip she and the other half had a large eight-man tent erected in just forty minutes. Having access to that video was far more valuable than a page of written instructions and further strengthened my friend’s perception that the manufacturer cares about it customer service. That kind of attention to detail builds belief in a brand, customer loyalty and more sales.
  • Bring your customer testimonials to life. Interview people that you know are advocates for your products or services. Or invite new customers to upload their own videos of them using your product. This kind of activity generates interest and excitement about a brand and encourages a high degree of engagement that a written testimonial could never achieve.
  • Encourage repeat visits to your site by regularly updating your video content so that there is always something new to discover. Weekly podcasts, news about recent activities or promotions all work well.
  • Give your business the personal touch. Welcome visitors to your site, introduce key members of staff or film a “day in the life” feature. This type of content will add personality and bring your business to life. Seeing something like this could be all it takes for a customer to decide that they’d like to do business with “people like that” rather than one of your competitors.
  • Incorporate music into your video. There are various sites that can help, such as Ricall Express, a service specifically aimed at video producers creating content for small businesses and not-for-profits. It offers well-known songs by popular artists and emerging acts, pre-priced and pre-cleared.
  • Share your expertise. Use video to provide in-depth information about your industry, information that customers will value and respect. Your reputation will then begin to grow.
  • Advertise special events or run a competition and share the link to the video on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for maximum exposure.

Easy to create and inexpensive

Making a video is no longer the preserve of professionals (although professionals can produce more sophisticated and polished videos for a very reasonable investment, from around £250 a video). And nor is it a costly exercise. There are all kinds of video sites on the internet that make uploading, embedding and sharing video content incredibly easy. I used Animoto to create the video on my home page and couldn’t believe just how little technical knowledge was needed. Cheap video cameras such as Flip are great for capturing footage and they come complete with all the software you need to edit and upload content.

Search engines love video, so adding video content to your site will increase web traffic. Make sure you use relevant keywords when you title and tag your video and use several video sharing sites to increase links back to your website. So don’t just upload it to your site, put it on YouTube, Vimeo and so on. If your business is included in online directories you can also add video to your listing. And encourage viewers to share and embed your video so that the information is spread virally.

Sarah Orchard is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

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