Four online video production agencies for small businesses shared their perspectives and tips for small businesses at the Search Engine Strategies conference on the panel, Using Video in Small Business Marketing, moderated by The Kelsey Group's Michael Boland.
John McIntyre, CEO, PIXELFISH
- Answer your audience's question. "People who are searching have a question to be answered. Make sure you understand the question your viewers are asking, and that your video answers that question.”
- Don't copy television. "Traditional TV commercials are not the kind of videos that they have found to be most successful in the search and directory market. A lot of the pre-roll video that you see today is really just re-produced re-purposed video from advertising.”
- Include a call-to-action. "The video content can be optimized not only for the search but for response itself. Your call to action within the video can be a discount, monthly coupon, etc. If you see a 10% response rate from your video, this can only be determined if that video is trackable.”
- Don't get tricky, fancy or too cute. "You're looking for efficient transfer of information. Instead, look for direct response types of videos – where again, you're answering a question, and you're quickly giving a call to action.”
- Limit pre-produced ads for comparative businesses. "This is most effective in multi-location advertisers where the same story is shown but tweaked with local images or the particular establishment or location.”
- Make it portable. "Give people the opportunity to be advertisers for your business. Enable them to embed your video in their blog or website." IYPs such as YellowPages.com are now embracing mobile video, and "we are now seeing the ability for people to sve a video to Outlook (email).”
- Don't trust SMBs to Do-it-yourself (DIY) tools - Before his current position, John ran Affinity Internet, one of the largest web hosting companies in the U.S. He said that he has seen that small to mid-sized businesses do not have the time, confidence or the knowledge to create an effective ad because they are too busy focusing on their core business. "They haven't been able to take advantage of these tools.”
Jared Simon, TurnHere
- Tell a story with your video. "What kinds of businesses profit from videos? Anyone with a story to tell. Videos convey a story, passion, and authoritative nature of what you do. The process of shooting that video is not intrusive. They are short, authentic shoots catching the business owner at his most normal time.”
- (Again) portability. "Video should be portable for email insertion, You Tube, video search engines, vertical-oriented sites and more. An example – let's say you're a flower shop… How-to sites are starving for content. Give them your video showing how to arrange flowers. And don't just make one video – create a series of videos. And put those videos on unique pages of your site, linking them all together. This will help with your rank, and be sure to use 'video' as a keyword itself.”
- Work with the local directories and portals. CitySearch, Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), Google Maps/Local, and Yahoo Local all have the ability the embed video into your local listing.
Steve Espinosa, eLocal Listing
- Use Google Website Optimizer and Analytics – they are free tools which let you test videos and determine which ones generate the most response. "Create three versions of each video and put them on different pages of your website. Set up goals on Google Analytics. Determine if your video is too long, if it is generating leads for your website.”
- Optimize a landing page for each video. "If you have multiple locations, then put that video on each location/page. Surround the video with the same description, as you will when distributing the video for Yahoo Video, YouTube and Google Video. Use that link and anchor text and point that link to YouTube video and Yahoo video. Give each one link-support, with some anchor tag/text.”
- Direct-response metadata. "Include keywords in the title of the video – NOT your business name. In the video description, insert the phone number of your business. This will serve as a web reference for Google/local listing. Giving the phone number in the business description helps with Yahoo Local.”
- Have the call-to-action appear in the thumbnail image. "Thumbnails with YouTube are made at a ¼, ½ or 3/4's the way through, so make sure your call to action in your video is at that point.
- Know your audience's attention span. "Verticals are watched usually as home/cars/retail 20 seconds, 40 seconds for medical/dental; and food/restaurants – people usually watch for much longer – for 1 minute or more.”
Frank Rocco, AdFare
- Existing content still needs custom production work to be effective. AdFare uses either their content or the customers' content to create original video ads with existing images, video footage and sound in a 48-hour turnaround time and for only $17/month including hosting on the Adfare server. "We will write the script, add voiceover & music. We then copy from the script and links for the client are part of the 'wrapper' that surrounds the client's video ad.”
Do-it-Yourself, or use an Agency?
Their response: For software, they can choose a Mac, use Final Cut Pro for 5 or $600 (author's note: Express is available for $200) or Adobe Premier Elements if you have Windows.
However, even though video production technologies have come down dramatically in cost, there is still a learning curve. The cost of professionally-produced, quality videos customized for online audiences has dropped dramatically in recent years. PixelFish, Turnhere, Adfare, Mixpo, Spotmixer, Spotrunner, etc. – all have reseller programs that allow you to make them your internal production rather than get into the investment, going through all the learning. If you're an online marketing specialist looking to add video solutions to your business, you may find it significantly lower cost and better margins to have someone who does thousands of videos on an annual basis working for you.
Special thanks to our guest reporter, Erika Blackwell, for her on-site coverage of this event.