Here's How Online Videos Can Help You Steal Your Competitors' Customers


Photo: otubo via Flickr

Many of today’s e-businesses find that gaining market share has more to do with winning customers from competitors than with expanding the size of the industry.With so many spaces saturated, e-tailers need to use every weapon in their arsenals to fend off competing businesses.

There are two effective venues beyond pricing, that can be used for this purpose: employing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and increasing customer loyalty and retention by improving usability. Video is the answer to both.

In the past few years, the use of online video has shifted from a novelty to a virtual requirement. Website video – which boosts search engine result standings, increases stickiness and improves conversion rates – is among the best practices for e-businesses in terms of gaining competitive advantage.

Despite this fact, few companies have deployed video in a manner that realises the full potential of the medium. They have yet to extend video and its benefits to their entire product catalogues or to apply SEO strategies to their video libraries. This will certainly change, and the companies who make the shift first will capture the greatest gains. Among those gains will be:

1. Traffic
In a 2009 report, Forrester Research stated that Google search results now heap rewards on sites with video, giving them a 50 times better chance of appearing first on results lists than text-based sites.  Simply put: video helps e-businesses get found online. Companies can increase the SEO value of their videos further by making them more accessible to site visitors, scaling videos to reach long-tail keywords, and automating production in order to have video available as soon as new products are introduced.
Once those video assets exist, they can be easily syndicated to multiple sites – including YouTube, the second largest search engine. Beyond YouTube, e-businesses can repurpose video for mobile networks, TV and in-store screens, widening their reach to countless viewers.

Those viewers are far more likely to share videos with their friends than they are to circulate text. YouBrand recently studied this phenomenon, finding that Facebook users like and engage on posts that feature pictures and video more often than they do textual posts. That increased engagement correlates to an uptick in website traffic and conversions for e-tailers who deploy video.

2. Engagement
Once traffic to a website increases, video improves the company’s ability to engage with its visitors. With a friendly user interface and compelling call-to-action options, videos hold users’ interest and guide them toward shopping carts. Studies also show that video extends a halo effect that boosts a brand’s credibility, even among consumers who haven’t viewed its videos. The mere fact that the videos are on the site can build trust among shoppers, who view video as a competitive differentiator, whether they click to watch or not.

3. personalisation
The paramount goal of e-commerce is to offer consumers all the benefits of online shopping – convenience, choice and value – while matching the personal attention and service associated with the in-store shopping experience. Video supports that goal. When prospects go to a store, they get recommendations and help from in-store staff, who may or may not understand their needs and point them to relevant products. Video delivers this experience online, with far less variability and chance. Especially with new technologies that offer personalised video created immediately, e-businesses can deliver a virtual experience that rivals in-store shopping.

Even off the site, video can increase an e-tailer’s ability to personalise the shopping experience. In e-mail newsletters, for example, video can increase the open rate by two to three times that of text newsletters. Video newsletters deliver further value through personalisation. These communications can be adapted for each recipient with individualized greetings, references to previously purchased items, or offers based on shopping history, geography and other segmentation parameters.

4. Competitive advantage through video
Online video delivers returns that translate into significant advantage in crowded markets.
Video makes a website easier for a consumer to find and helps individuals relate to companies on a more personal level. Unlike scrolling through pages of text, a short video can help a website visitor compare offerings, learn the benefits of a service or view products in action. By reducing the hassle involved in shopping, businesses decrease purchase times and increase conversions and customer loyalty. And thanks to affordable, automated production technology, video is a feasible investment for e-businesses of all sizes. For those organisations that lead their markets in deploying comprehensive online video, the benefits will be magnified.

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