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4 ways to make more money with online video

4 ways to make more money with online video Yaniv Axen

A comprehensive study of the state of video in e-commerce during the first quarter of 2011 shows several key takeaways for brands looking to capitalize on internet traffic. While there are several specific lessons marketers can take from the study's results, the overall message for e-business is this: Video is an increasingly important asset in attracting and retaining customers online.

In the first three months of the year, 32 percent of retailers scaled to more than 1,000 videos on their websites, compared to only 22 percent in the previous quarter. During the first part of the year, the threshold for making the top-10 list of video-using retailers soared from 2,500 to 3,600 videos per site. Why are so many e-tailers adding digital assets to their online properties? We found several compelling reasons:

Video represents enormous potential for profitable search engine optimization (SEO)
Researchers tested the SEO effectiveness of online video use by compiling and analyzing 34,000 keywords in 17 different categories from computer games (which had the most video results) to furniture (which had the least). Eighteen percent of those keywords generated video results in search engine result pages, and the vast majority of those results were videos posted on YouTube.

This means that the handful of online retailers who leverage videos to drive traffic directly to their sites have an enormous advantage over the competition. Companies like Zappos, HSN, and Organize.com, whose videos ranked high in search result pages, have all mass-scaled their website inventory to thousands of product videos.

These brands have also applied standard SEO best practices to their video deployments, producing mass-scale videos to cater to long tail keywords. This generates better search engine results, particularly in the more saturated categories.

Consumers want video, and brands win when they give consumers what they want
By conducting these studies every quarter, SundaySky has been able to track the rapid uptick in consumer response to video. This has grown consistently, and the first quarter of 2011 was no exception. Consumers continue to embrace e-commerce videos. The number of subscribers to online retailers' YouTube channels increased by more than 20 percent in the first part of the year. Simultaneously, the number of retailers who posted more than 100 videos to their YouTube channels jumped by 15 percent more than the previous period.

There are numerous reasons for rising visitor interest in video. When properly produced and deployed, videos captivate the user. The consumer gains an easy-to-use source of information that doesn't require the time and hassle of reading, scrolling, and clicking through multiple pages. Video engages the user until he or she is ready to follow a call-to-action, which savvy marketers embed in their media assets. Users gain information and convenience, and brands gain conversions. This makes it easy to understand why mass-scaled video usage is on the rise, increasing by nearly 50 percent in the span of one quarter.

There is still enormous opportunity to rise to the top via video usage
Despite the SEO benefits, the consumer interest, and the bottom-line benefits, a staggering 68 percent of retailers are not yet exploiting the obvious and accessible rewards of using videos on their sites. That failure to capitalize on what has become a cost-effective, automated capability leaves the door open for competitors to steal market share through comprehensive video deployment. By creating high-quality, up-to-date videos that draw on existing website content, marketers can create media to accompany every item in their product catalogues, drawing more traffic to their sites and closing more deals.

Today's video production platforms also include personalization features, which help marketers create an online shopping experience that rivals an in-store experience in terms of service and customer satisfaction.

The return on investment (ROI) in video is measurable and significant
This point might be best illustrated with a case study. Zappos has invested much of its marketing strategy in video. The company credits an increase in monthly website traffic of more than 77,000 prospects to its video usage. In terms of search engine marketing , the total value of traffic derived from the limited keyword pool tested amounts to $551,731 per year. That kind of ROI is attention-getting in any industry.

Clearly, the number of retail video views, the number of subscribers to retailer YouTube channels, and the number of videos deployed by online retailers grew considerably in the first quarter of 2011. Yet, millions of dollars in SEO value are still up for grabs. Retailers who leverage online video and video SEO as part of their marketing strategy will generate significant revenues in 2011.

Beyond SEO advantages, video delivers an enhanced user experience, customer engagement, and support for other marketing practices. These returns are measurable, as the data shows, and the results are instructive for any marketer doing business online. Evidence suggests that video also creates a halo effect, driving conversions among all users, even those who notice video files but never click to view them. The mere presence of video spurs conversion.

Yaniv Axen is the co-founder and CTO of SundaySky.

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