Using a custom-branded web video player to help you sell more products online
When I'm not busy running the WVZ, I can sometimes be found over at Ken Evoy's incredibly busy SiteSell.com user forums, helping out with questions about web video as "Joe the Web Video Guy."
Ken and I were recently talking about web video (as we frequently do). We realized there is much confusion about the different ways you can incorporate video into a web site, especially when it comes to using the free services of sites such as YouTube.
Ken asked me to write a short article for his members explaining when you should use a free video community site like YouTube to show off your videos, and when it's important that you not rely upon these kinds of sites. Here is the result, with an interesting "before and after" example...
When deciding how you should add video to your web site...
You basically have three main options to consider:
- Do-It-Yourself - Host the video yourself, and find, develop or hire someone to create your own video player solution.
- Freebie Site - Rely upon the services of a free web video hosting site (e.g., Google Video or YouTube).
- Web Video Service - Subscribe to a service that will host and serve your video and provide you with a video player.
In this article, we're going to take a closer look at the pros and cons of each one, and help you decide which option is right for you.
First, ask yourself these questions...
Before we get into the choices available to you, there are three important things you should ask yourself. The answers to these questions will help you choose the right solution:
1. "What am I trying to accomplish by putting video on my web site?"
What is your goal? Do you simply want to entertain your audience? Or, will you be using your web videos to encourage your visitors to take action and buy something?
2. "How much time and effort am I willing to put into this to get it to look right?"
How involved do you want to be in this? Are you a "do-it-yourselfer" who likes to get your hands a little dirty? Or, perhaps you'd rather just have a fast and easy solution, and leave the complicated programming and technical stuff to others?
3. "Is quality and professionalism important to you and your audience?"
Are you concerned about how the video player will look on your site? Would you mind having distracting advertisements displayed before, during and/or after your videos? Are you concerned that your visitors would click on these ads and abandon your site to visit a potential competitor?
Since I don't know your answers to the above questions, I'm going to assume that you're like most ecommerce web site owners and...
- You want to use your web videos for a business purposes (e.g., to help you sell something, encourage subscribers to join your email list, etc.). This isn't the time or place for silly videos.
- You're already busy enough, and you don't want to waste your time trying to figure things out. You want a simple solution, quickly.
- You want your web video presentations to look classy and professional.
So now that we know what your goals are and what's important to you, we're ready to evaluate your options...
Choosing a Solution
First, since quick and easy is important, there really isn't any good reason to take a closer option #1 (the custom/do-it-yourself route). As this can be a frustrating, time-consuming and costly process, it gets ruled out immediately. However, we will take a closer look at option #2, using the free video hosting sites...
The Freebie Sites
YouTube accounts for 60 percent of all videos delivered online. And now that Google owns YouTube, 75% of all web video delivery now goes through the GooTube juggernaut. And there are a few good reasons for their immense popularity:
- They host and serve your videos for free.
- They make it easy for you to add videos to your site. Simply create an account, upload your video, add the code they give you to your site, and you're in business.
- Videos added to these sites can result in some extra traffic finding its way to your web site.
But despite some of the apparent benefits, many businesses are making a big mistake by relying too heavily upon these freebie sites. While uploading videos to YouTube to grab some extra traffic can be smart, if you're counting on these free services to also host and serve the videos for your own web site, you may be asking for trouble. Here are five reasons why...
1. Web Video Advertising
These video sharing sites need to make money to pay those enormous bandwidth bills. We're going to slowly start seeing advertisements popping up in, after and/or next to videos hosted by the freebie sites. These ads are going to distract viewers, likely leading them to visit another web site.
2. Poor Video Quality
Videos uploaded to video sharing sites such as Google or YouTube are compressed and converted to the Flash 7 FLV format. While compression itself isn't a problem, these video sites are not overly concerned about the playback quality of your video. In order to keep bandwidth costs down, they shrink the videos to the smallest acceptable size, which affects the quality of your presentation.
3. Free Advertising (for them)
Embedding a video hosted by a video sharing site into your web pages is the equivalent of free advertising for the video site. Clicks on these branded video players takes your visitors away from you. When this happens, what you're doing is trading your hard-earned web site visitor for some low quality free video hosting.
4. Downloading / Display Problems
As these sites struggle to keep up with the heavy loads placed upon their servers and resources, it is not uncommon to experience choppy, slow-loading or even non-loading videos. The amazing popularity of these sites may actually be their Achilles' heel. When millions of people visit a new, growing web site every day, you can expect problems.
5. No Control
Because these are free services, you have limited control over how your video and the player itself appear on a web page. For example, these sites don't let you choose what displays in the video player before your video starts, or what happens once it's done. They control everything.
You should look at video sharing sites such as YouTube and Google Video as important tools in your internet marketing arsenal. But you need to be careful how you use them. I recommend you upload any videos you have to these sites, as their traffic is phenomenal, and you stand to gain extra exposure by making your videos available there. I recently had a video in Google Video's Top 20 for a few days, and on average, 36,000 people watched my video - each day.
However, if professionalism, quality, and control are important to you, GooTube is simply not the right solution for displaying videos on your own site. In this case, you'll want to take a closer look at option #3...
Web Video Service Providers
There are several web video service providers who will host your videos and provide you with a variety of additional services (e.g., video player, viewing statistics, etc.) for a fee. The costs for these services vary, depending upon factors such as bandwidth allowance, storage space, and player features.
When you use a third party video player/hosting solution such as the one we offer at The WebVideoZone, you have the ability to quickly add high-quality, customizable, interactive video presentations to your web site.
Leaving the Freebie Solution Behind - "Before and After"
Now we're going to take a look at a real world example of someone who made the switch from a using the freebie solution, to a more professional, customized and branded video player solution...
Nori is a WVZ member who was originally using a combination of approximately forty YouTube and Google Video players to display Anguilla video tours on her site, Anguilla-Beaches.com. However, she recently updated her site, and is now excited to be using our Web Video Player™ exclusively.
Here's a snapshot of the "before" and "after" of the video players on Nori's web site...
See the difference? Nori has customized her video players so that:
- The colors she chose make them blend in with the look and feel of her site.
- The enticing Click to Play images compel her visitors to watch her videos.
- The clickable player Branding Text Link at the bottom of the player ("Please buy my Anguilla Tour DVD") redirects visitors to a page where she sells her DVD.
- The "add to site" and "share" Viral Buttons encourage people to tell others about her videos.
- A clickable Exit Image displays after her video has finished, encouraging her viewers take action and buy her DVD.
Below is a live, working example of one of the Web Video Players currently playing on Nori's site. Watch the video to see how it works...
If that were a YouTube video player, her visitors would be lured away to the YouTube site. Instead, those people who came to Nori's site looking for more information on travelling to Anguilla now have the opportunity to buy a product that is of interest to them. This is made possible by the well-placed "call to action" messages added by Nori.
Choosing a Web Video Player - Summary
Remember, one of the main reasons for having video on your site is to get your viewers to take action (e.g., buy, subscribe, click, etc.). You want your videos to get a result. Whether it's to educate, motivate or close the sale - web video should help you accomplish something.
But the bottom line is that the freebie sites aren't interested in helping you do that. Their goal is to acquire as much free content as possible (e.g., your videos), which will in turn help them increase their advertising revenues.
You need to look at a site like YouTube simply as a tool. And just like with any other tool, it's how you use it that counts. YouTube can certainly help you to get free traffic to your site. And it's a great solution for displaying less formal videos, especially in situations where you're not concerned about presentation quality.
But if you want to use video to create a professional impression on your web site - and get results from your videos - you need to use a professional solution.