There is one question that most business decisions come down to: What’s the return on investment (ROI)? It’s a legitimate question; and when you talk about the use of video content in your marketing plan, it’s bound to come up. The not-so-new news flash is that video does more than create huge lifts in convergence. In fact, it does much more than most bean counters realize.

Using video to demonstrate products is nothing new. Originally instructional/how-to videos consisted of VHS tapes that were packaged along with the products. Beyond giving the customer insight into how to use or assemble a product, they were of little additional use after the individual customer viewed them. Today, we can also use that content to find new customers, create additional search results and provide multiple entry points to your brand and product.

Social networks are a great way to syndicate your video content. They continue to increase in popularity and are becoming part of the professional toolset. The Wall Street Journal added a “Journal Community” to its site.  And Business Week reported in September that Google is working on an “influence rank” calculation for social networks.

Online television is here to stay. There are far too many factors supporting its development, including the merging of the computer and TV. Traditional TV networks do not give you additional search result listings or the ability to have the content go viral and be shared. Both are advantages of online video. And the cost of creating your own syndicated show to highlight your products and services on traditional broadcast would be astronomical, unless you get some late-night cable slot that your target audience would never watch. Free syndication services like TubeMogul add to online video efficiencies. With one upload, you can deploy your video content to the top video-sharing Web sites and have access to powerful analytics that tell you how and by whom your videos are being viewed.

Answering the ROI Question

7 Ways Online Product Videos Improve ROI

1. Point customers to your website, blod or Social Network page to make purchases any time, any day of the week.
2. Generate additional search results for your brand and products through multiple distribution channels, including social networks and RSS feeds.
3. Add validity and lift to your current site with link building and use of a video sitemap.
4. Improve targeting and click rates over static-image ads with rich-media ads.
5. Produce compelling content that builds your brand, keeps your customers coming back and provides information.
6. Expand your keyword search reach through content such as video transcripts.
7. Answer customer questions and ease pressure on customer service and call-center staff.  What questions take the most of your support personnel time?  Make a video and direct customers to there

Don't eliminate traditional TV from your media plan if you can afford to do it on a regular basis. Big brands can afford to do both. Video should be part of a comprehensive marketing plan that includes all facets of marketing including traditional TV, press and collateral materials. The advantage of creating online video content goes well beyond the expected lift in product sales.

As marketing budgets tighten during the current economic slowdown, being able to create multi-purpose content is even more critical. Video offers some of the most compelling marketing solutions, and is extremely cost effective when extrapolated across your entire business.

Using social networks to help syndicate your content is a good start, and it is currently free. But it does not come without some investment. If you are not regularly working these sites, or properly optimizing your content, the payoffs will not be as large or sustainable.  It also helps to have a viable product, a reliable and effective user interface (UI) and an e-commerce solution.

Video has becomes a vital component of search.  Start improving your search results - and your bottom line today
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