American Marketer


Five reasons why your ecommerce site needs video

November 22, 2010

Yaniv Axen is cofounder and chief technology officer of SundaySky


By Yaniv Axen

In a rapidly evolving industry such as ecommerce, it is not unusual for a feature that starts off as a frill to quickly morph into an essential element. That is certainly what has happened with video.

Last year, Forrester Research released a report noting that 68 percent of retailers use videos in their online efforts. Clearly, the market has gotten the message that video matters.

Today, video is a must-have for e-businesses concerned with search engine optimization, conversion rates and brand identification – essentially, any company with an online presence and intent to succeed.

Furthermore, the barriers to video are coming down. It is easier than ever before to create high-quality videos that automatically update on the fly using existing Web content.

Offering video as part of your online marketing mix makes strong business sense. Here are five reasons why:

1) Videos strengthen customer loyalty. For luxury brands, in particular, it is vital to create a close relationship with the customer, and video supports that goal with a familiar delivery mechanism for brand identification and loyalty building.

Video provides customers with a detailed, realistic look at products and enhances a customer’s ability to relate to a company on a more personal level. When customers feel comfortable, they tend to spend more.

2) Videos keep visitors on your site longer. The dynamic, interactive experience videos deliver increases your Web site’s stickiness factor.

E-businesses can use video to highlight promotions, provide tutorials and show customers how products operate.

The engaging nature of this medium spurs users to spend more time on a page, which contributes to the likelihood of conversion.

3) Videos provide opportunities to upsell. When we think of online video, it is tempting to equate it with television.

However, unlike the passive broadcasts we consume from our sofas, Web site videos can be interactive and customer-manipulated.

For example, videos with clickable links provide easy paths to critical pages such as the shopping cart mechanism.

Links within videos enable users to navigate appropriate paths through the Web site or find other video selections, providing additional opportunities for you to cross- and upsell.

4) Videos drive search engine optimization. Integrated search results now include video and sites that do not offer it can harm their search engine optimization results.

Pages with video are, on average, ranked much higher than those without.

In its 2009 report, Forrester Research said, “Video stands about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.”

This is because Google presents video-powered search results as part of its universal search result pages – the standard search that most people use.

Those searches are much more appealing and eye-catching than their textual counterparts because they have video properties and a video thumbnail attached, taking up more page real estate.

Therefore, optimized videos can drive traffic to your Web site that might otherwise be directed elsewhere.

5) Smart video deployment increases competitive advantage. Video usage is still in the realm of early adoption.

Forty-two percent of the top retailer sites, for example, have no significant video presence, with less than 10 videos on their sites.

Of those retailers who have deployed a significant number of videos, surprisingly few seem to be following established search engine optimization practice when it comes to video.

This leaves the door open for savvy brands – those who embrace video and optimize their efforts with proper search engine optimization practices and multichannel content syndication – to take over the traffic generated by video viewers and dominate their markets online.

THE EFFORT and required expertise involved in creating video content for Web sites is often noted as a reason for not embracing video.

However, this has been fertile ground for a variety of vendors to emerge with manual production and automatic video generation solutions.

There is now an ecosystem around online retail videos that focuses on providing retailers with high-quality, cost-effective video content to use on their Web sites.

It is now possible to have video for large portions of retailer catalogs, and the effectiveness of video as a marketing and sales tool for ecommerce has been recognized and discussed in many arenas.

Once an optional add-on, video is now an essential element in ecommerce.

Yaniv Axen is cofounder and chief technology officer of SundaySky, New York. Reach him