SUMMARY: Looking for new source of traffic beyond the fierce battleground of the search engine results page? The combination of video content and social media can create a powerful new channel to reach potential customers.
See the six strategies an online guitar accessory retailer used to create product demonstration videos and share that content with blogs, video sharing sites and other third parties. The strategy captures 65,000 video views a day, and has doubled annual sales.
In late 2007, ProGuitarShop.com was primarily an eBay retailer struggling to build traffic to their website. Miller’s team created a new strategy that avoided focusing on search engines. Instead, they built traffic through social networks, mostly by video marketing through YouTube.
Two years and more than 550 videos later, the team captures about 45,000 unique video views daily on YouTube and between 15,000 and 20,000 on their website — all from a niche audience. Sales have doubled each year since the effort began.
“Two years ago, our website was nothing. It was not a viable revenue source,” Miller says. “Our growth is all because of the videos.”
To help other marketers do more with online video, we asked Miller to share six strategies that brought ProGuitarShop.com that growth:
Strategy #1. Use videos to highlight product features
Video offers an ideal way to explore product features and benefits that aren’t conveyed through photos or text. Consider creating videos that guide visitors through a product’s key features or demonstrate how it works.
For example, the team’s videos showcase the sounds and features that each guitar pedal offers. The demonstrations are not objective reviews — they carefully highlight a product’s good points and avoid its drawbacks.
“We don’t approach them as commercials, but we do approach them as marketing,” Miller says.
For musicians, the videos provide vital information on whether a product is right for them. It would be difficult to know if a pedal would give customers a desired result without first hearing and seeing it in action.
– Create a library
The team hosts its videos in a website library, even after they stop selling a product. There aren’t many free resources for this information, which positions ProGuitarShop.com as an industry resource.
– Use third-party social sites
The videos are posted to the team’s YouTube channel, website and on third-party sites (more on this below). Each YouTube page allows commenting, and the videos can be easily embedded into other websites or forums.
The team does not offer social features at their website. Instead, videos are featured on the homepage, product pages and in a video library without commentary.
Strategy #2. Consistently generate content
Providing a large library of content that appeals to a wide range of customers requires a regular stream of new videos. Miller considers this a vital tactic to his success. He estimates that ProGuitarShop.com posts at least one new video each day.
“We need to continually feed our audience consistent, relevant information in order to maintain our traffic.”
Posting at least one video per day, rather than five per week, is important.
“If you dump a bunch of videos at once, or only add them sporadically, you’ll lose your audience. You’ll lose everything. Or you won’t build anything,” he says.
Strategy #3. Select products carefully
Miller’s team does not create a video for every product they sell. Instead, products are chosen based on several factors, including:
– Business impact
Products that will likely provide a strong return on investment are given priority.
– Time in market
The team is more likely to create a video for a product they are the first to offer.
– Buzz and hype
Highly anticipated and demanded products are more likely to have videos. This strategy is part of the team’s social media focus. By showcasing a new product in video, they’re more likely generate traffic and later sales, Miller says.
“I might not necessarily make money on that product, but I might have lots of people talking about me online and my company’s name becomes better known, rather than just a result in a search engine.”
Strategy #4. Answer questions and interact
Commenting is a significant activity on social video sites like YouTube. Marketers should embrace the interactive nature of these channels.
Miller’s team captures the majority of their video views on YouTube. Although the ProGuitarShop.com website does not offer commenting or a forum, YouTube viewers are free to comment on the videos.
The team makes an effort to interact with people who comment. They often answer questions about products directly on YouTube.
This effort is less about customer service and marketing and more about encouraging discussion around the team’s videos and products.
“These guys that write comments are forum users,” Miller says. “We want people to talk about this all over the place.”
Strategy #5. Send videos to third parties
Sharing video content with other sites helps generate leads and brand awareness for your site.
Miller’s team regularly features their videos on more than 50% of their product manufacturers’ websites. These arrangements offer a great opportunity for the team, as the videos are branded through graphics and audio.
Smaller manufacturers such as Pigtronix, alongside larger companies such as Blackheart, host the videos on their websites. Some larger companies supplement the team’s costs or pay for videos to be made, Miller says.
Keeping with their social media strategy, the team maintains a network of bloggers to whom they send videos. Miller says that bloggers often use them because they’re free content, and content creation is labor intensive.
“It’s a marketing effort on our part, but we’re also scratching their backs,” Miller says.
Strategy #6. Maintain high quality
Make sure the videos you create are both valuable to customers, and strong enough to convince other sites to host the content.
Miller’s team would not have achieved as much success if the videos were not high-quality. Manufacturers would be less likely to use them, and consumers would be less likely to share them.
To ensure quality, the team’s video demos are conducted by experienced professionals who take their time to:
o Pick a pedal
o Determine what type(s) of music it applies to
o Research its unique sounds
o Video tape the demo
o Write a script to describe the product
o Edit and upload