I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
In just a few years, video has taken the internet landscape by storm, changing the way users think about and consume online content. The implications for Web-based and Web-enabled businesses are staggering, and represent a fundamental sea change in the ways in which businesses generate traffic, create leads, drive conversion and create community online. Only cost and technical complexity have held back the widespread adoption of video by businesses, and with the recent removal of these obstacles, video is suddenly within the grasp of companies of all sizes. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> During a turbulent economy, cost sensitivities can get in the way of a robust marketing plan, but there are options available to those looking to save money by investing more time. Today video service providers offer soup-to-nuts solutions freeing you from highly technical implementations and allowing you to spend your time more effectively on your core business. How then, should businesses best take advantage of these video technologies, and how can they deploy them to maximum effect while minimizing the associated costs and overhead? <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>1. Find a partner. </b>Building your own video solution is an expensive proposition. Turn instead to a plug-and-play provider. With solutions starting at $100 a month, you’ll find it much more cost-effective, and they'll handle all of the management, encoding, streaming, analytics and syndication, leaving you free to focus on growing your business. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>2. Don't skimp on quality. </b>It's tempting to use consumer video sites as a free alternative to a commercial solution, but you're unlikely to be satisfied with the results. Consumer sites ratchet down the quality of video as a means of controlling their costs, which helps their bottom lines, but produces an image quality that's sub-optimal for business use. They're also likely to put their own watermark on the video, with a click away to their site, as well as reserving the right to run advertising over or before your videos. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>3. Brand is critical.</b> In the crowded online marketplace, brand counts for everything. Make sure yours is front and center by choosing a solution that allows you to customize the video player, uploader, and other elements of the video solution. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>4. Syndication is gold. </b>Most companies understand that SEO is a critical aspect of their marketing strategy, but often neglect to make sure their videos appear in search engine results. Since most search crawlers can’t read Flash tags, the only way to appear in a video search result is to publish your video assets via MRSS feed. All major search engines then allow you to submit the MRSS URL which ensures your results show up. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>5. Think viral.</b> Be sure not to neglect viral propagation. Viral reposting of video puts your brand, your watermark, your video, and a click to your site into locations, blogs, wikis and forums that you could never reach on your own. Some publishers see that over 50% of their video viewership occurs through viral propagation, making it one of their most powerful means of brand dissemination. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>6. Conversion is what counts. </b>Too many marketers think of video in terms of engagement, and not enough in terms of conversion. Until things change in the advertising landscape, video is unlikely to produce real revenue for most businesses. However, it is extremely effective in terms of driving call-to-action responses. Make sure that videos are always paired with a call to action, either directly within the video in the form of a watermark, start or end screen, or closely associated with the video on the page itself. Successful video initiatives can pay for themselves in 90 days or less, and this is a useful yardstick for evaluating video programs. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Video is a powerful form of new media that all marketers and publishers should be adopting. Following these guidelines will help to ensure a successful video experience. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Benjamin Wayne is CEO of Fliqz</i>