This week there was a good post by Michael Kolowich of ChannelOne Marketing titled, "Ten Ways Marketers Drop the Ball in Video Marketing." Michael offers some advice as far as what not to do upon deploying a web video marketing project. I thought it would be a good idea to summarize and elaborate a bit.
You've either made these mistakes in the past or seen others make them. Let hope that if you are a reader of ReelSEO, you aren't making too many of these web video marketing mistakes ;-)
Common Web Video Marketing Mistakes Marketers Make
Here is a my summary of the 10 common mistakes that marketers make deploying an online video or web video project:
1.) Video Deployment as an Afterthought
As Kolowich writes, "Very often, the production of a video is driven by a big live event, a trade show, a product launch, or a live presentation... Only after the event is over does the attention shift to distributing the video on the Internet. That's too late."
Ill add here that another common mistake I see related to this is what I call, deploying video for video sake. Yes, online video is HOT... But don't just produce and deploy videos online without a video marketing and video deployment strategy. Not only will this not work, but this just adds to all the crap video content that is out there these days, and I, for one, am sick of seeing it...
2.) Using Outdated Video File Formats
All too often folks deploy web video by merely posting a video file up on their site such as a WMV, MOV, or even a RealMedia file format. I've seen many times folks save a video as an SWF by itself rather than using an SWF player to play a video file. That is better for usability vs. posting a WMV since flash swf's are basically ubiquitous and can be played everywhere. However, the better method is to use Flash swf as a video file container for playback. FLVs, MP4 (M4V), etc.. are all great formats and can showcase video in excellent quality (assuming you don't make mistake #3). If you want to get even more advanced and take a look at what some folks think will be the future of web video deployment, check out our article on Ogg Theora and HTML5
3.) Failure to Have Videos Properly Encoded
As stated above, FLVs and MPEG4 .H264 can help to showcase your video online in excellent quality - IF the video file has been encoded properly. The right combination of resolution, bit rate, frame rate, keyframe frequency, and deinterlacing methods are required to encode your video properly for the web. Add to that the fact that there are various applications available for video encoding with many different settings and the fact that users are watching your video with different connection speeds, and it is crucial that you encode your video properly.
4.) Not Using a Video Host or CDN
Most web servers are just not optimized for video playback. Additionally, the bandwidth required to play a video, especially one that is popular, can cause issues with sites run on that web server. There are many different solutions available to host videos these days. I wont go into all the solutions here as we tend to cover these on a daily basis at ReelSEO. However, your best bet is to leverage a CDN or a video hosting provider for deploying video on your site. Depending on your budget, CMS, and strategy, some solutions may be better than others.
5.) Failing to Optimize Videos for Search
Do we really need to go into this one? Well, this is the reason that I started ReelSEO. I cant tell you how many times I spoken with companies and individuals that have spend tremendous effort and resources deploying online video only to ask one of the most important questions in terms of strategy, last. Namely, "How do I get users that would be interested in watching my videos to find them." Oops. That's one reason why we are here. If you want some tips to start, we've collected a ton of Video SEO tips here.
6.) Using YouTube the Wrong Way
We all know that YouTube in many cases is an excellent vehicle for increasing reach with your videos. That being said, there are many best practices to keep in mind when distributing your videos to YouTube, especially if you expect to drive traffic back to your own website (see mistake #7). We'll be featuring some tips in the near future from our friend and expert, Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR, who is currently finishing up a powerful book on the subject of YouTube Marketing.
Additionally, using YouTube as your video host has all sorts of implications even though it is "free." We will talk about this another time but one potentially negative implication that immediately comes to mind is with regard to ranking. If you put the video up on YouTube (owned by Google, with a PR of 9), guess who will outrank your site in Google for that video?
7.) Not Leveraging Calls to Action
Calls to action are an effective way to leverage your video when your purpose extends beyond branding alone. As Michael puts it
"Once you've engaged and touched a viewer with your message, they often are left asking, 'So what do I do next?'"
What purpose do you have with your video marketing if it isn't to have entice viewers to follow up with you in some way? Issuing a call to action is extremely important, especially if you are posting your video to video sharing sites like YouTube. Even when you do post to video sharing sites, there are effective ways to issue calls to action within your video and in the case of YouTube, within your Youtube user channel.
Consider creating creative calls to action within your video. How you do this will of course depend on the goal that you have in mind as well as the type of business that you might be promoting. If you are selling a product or service, try including a unique promo code in your video that you can track when users make a purchase. This is not only an incentive to get the viewer to inquire more, but is a good way to track and measure the ROI of your video marketing effort. Other ideas include teasers, contests, etc... Even a call tracking number within the video sometimes works.
If you have control over the video player, consider including interactive features within the video player. For example, the ability to fill out a quick email inquiry from within the video, hyperlink overlays, etc...
Beyond calls to action, dint forget the importance of showing your brand within the video. This can be done with watermarks or even just showing your website URL in a lower-third.
8.) Failing to Take Advantage of Social Media
How you seed a video is important and using social media is one great way to kick start your video marketing effort, especially your video appeals to a special-interest community. Even YouTube sees the importance of this and recently launched the ability for users to notify twitter and facebook accounts when a new video is uploaded to their account (see YouTwitFace).
" Tweeters, bloggers, and Facebookers love to be the first to talk about new video programs in their area of intere.st" - states Kolowich
In addition to proactively notifying social communities, don't forget to allow viewers of your video to do the same (see mistake #10)
9.) Failing to Leverage Email Marketing in Conjunction
Michael includes this as a common mistake for web video marketing and I hate to say it, but... Ive made this mistake. I suppose it is time for me to take the time to dive into this.... There are even options available these days to directly include a video within your email marketing message.
Video messages can inherently lift click-through rates for email campaigns. And email campaigns can have a profound effect on the distribution of a video. There is a growing body of knowledge about what to put in your email message to encourage click through. Hint: plain text links saying "watch our video" are not the answer.
10.) Failing to Enable Interaction & Sharing
Just as it is important to seed your video using social networking, it is just as important to allow users to spread your video to their social network. The easiest way to do this is to allow users to share your video using viral sharing widgets and tools that are embedded within the video player. Again, you can look at the way some of the major video player and video sharing sites already do this. There is a reason why they have included this functionality. They know that it helps to increase views, which then helps to increase their own visibility, pages views, monetization, etc... Let users email, digg, tweet, share on facebook, etc...
As we've covered before, allowing sharing and interactivity is also a best practice when it comes to search engine optimization of video content.
Additionally, unless you have a really good reason not to allow users to embed your video (perhaps there are legal restrictions on the content) let users embed the video..
Lastly, let users comment on your videos. There are many reasons that this is important. One reason in particular is the fact that it can help to add additional relevant on-page text to your video landing page which will assist with search engine indexing.
Conclusion - Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
"With the web video landscape changing literally month by month, it's nearly impossible for any marketer to keep up with the options and optimal choices for video preparation, hosting, and promotion," Kolowich said in an interview. "Increasingly, it's important for marketers to work with production partners who not only are great visual storytellers but also have mastered the process of creating and distributing highly effective video-based interactive web experiences."
And here is my favorite quote from:
"And the next time your webmaster says "I've got it covered" with respect to web video, make sure he knows what he's talking about."
Let's take it one step further. You are better off at this point in assuming that your webmaster doesn't have it covered. Not that I have anything against webmasters, I'm one myself. But keep in mind what Kolowich states above in that it is next to impossible to stay up to date completely with all that is going on in the web video marketing space. Get yourself an expert or partner who specializes in this quickly growing field, and more than anything, try to avoid the common mistakes covered in this post. Good luck!