In our continued preliminary coverage of the Internet Retailer 2010 Conference & Exhibition, I interviewed senior eMarketer analyst Jeffrey Grau, author of the recently report, Video E-Commerce, Innovative Models Drive Sales. Jeffrey shares with us how Video SEO also plays a big factor in driving e-commerce for retailers, and talks about the importance of understanding certain key variables before deciding upon on a video e-commerce strategy.
In your report, you mentioned "video optimization." But I didn't find anything in there specifically about Video SEO. Was that an intentional omission?
"Oh no, It's a brief report, so I might not have addressed it. But absolutely video SEO does play a big factor. Those sites where syndication and distribution is very important, they depend on SEO. Sites like Karmaloop.com– they got their own channel on YouTube. Anytime the videos are syndicated, they show up on YouTube, or DailyMotion, or another popular video sharing site – that improves the optimization of the videos in the search engines. Another case study – BeautyChoice.com relies heavily on YouTube personalities who have already really enjoyed a lot of viral success… It's probably something you would find on doing a regular search. The main point is that when Video SEO is part of the retailers strategy to distribute their video, then they get the most bang for their buck as far as SEO goes.”
Your report highlights the case study of Beautychoice.com as a successful approach to video and e-commerce. What would say is the key takeaway from this case study?
I think the key takeaway from the BeautyChoice.com story is that really, with all of them, one of the points is that each retailer has a unique problem that they're trying to solve, and video is a creative way of solving it. In the case of BeautyChoice, they're a start-up company in a very competitive area where a lot of beauty sites already are much better funded and have a lot of content already up on their sites. So at first, BeautyChoice wanted to use video to drive people to their site. They thought they would make their own compelling videos, and people would discover them and spread their existence by by word-of-mouth, and people would come to their site.
In reality, there's no guarantee that your videos are going to achieve viral success. It requires a big outlay of production costs to produce a professional video, and it takes time. So when they first went up that path, they later decided that it wasn't going to work. Or what they realized is when they started doing more research, there were people on YouTube doing makeup videos that already had large followings. BeautyChoice got rid of the idea that their videos could only be made in-house, and decided it would be a much faster and better way to drive traffic to their website if they formed relationships with these people, these YouTube celebrities. That was a good fit for them, but the whole point is that its not the right approach for everybody, but it did solve their problem.
Does a successful E-commerce video strategy vary by industry?
Yes. If BeautyChoice was in another business, like say, consumer electronics, I'm not sure what their strategy might instead be. It might be much more difficult to find these kind of celebrities on YouTube that attract large followings by making videos how cameras work, or why to buy a digital camera. So the same video strategy may not have the same success across different industries. But what BeautyChoice did discover is that there were already a lot of people, these young women, doing their own makeup videos, and they had a lot of followers. But there's no guarantee that you're going to find another product category with a similar level of activity.
What are some factors to consider in order to achieve an equivalent level of success?
Part of the challenge is getting users to create videos for your own company or brand, and that may have to mean employing a different type of strategy than what BeautyChoice arrived at. So there is a number of different decision points involved. What is the product you're selling? How likely will it be for customers to make their own videos for that product? It may also be that in some categories, people feel more comfortable watching and responding to professionally made videos than amateur-made videos. If it's a product that's complicated technically, then you may feel more comfortable if the video has a look of expertise and professionalism, giving the impression that the person making the professional-quality video is also an expert in the actual product. Whereas if its an amateur-quality video, people might be much more apt to question how much the person making that video really knows about the product they're featuring? (Take cars, for instance.) So there's a number of variables you first need to consider.
My Thoughts on eMarketer's Video E-Commerce Report
It's good that eMarketer has produced this report which should help many retailers become familiar with what video e-commerce strategies have been successful, showcasing many actual case studies and surveys. The report offers a blend of exclusive interviews from Top 500 Internet Retailer companies along with research gathered and sifted from the public domain. Jeff talked to the fact that any retailer looking to get involved with video should take care to customize their strategy for their own particular product, industry, audience and business model. Of course, I would add that even after all that research, you should always be testing and refining that strategy. But being aware of what video e-commerce strategies have been successful for some businesses, and being made aware of what variables drove that success, is something this report has managed to showcase; and that makes for an excellent starting point.