What Online Videos Can Do for Your Business

Online videos used to be a novelty, but today are a requirement for any small business that wants to drive traffic to its site and turn clicks into sales.

“Video is the most precious technology on the planet,” said Pam Strayer, president of WebVideoMarketingClub.com, a California company that teaches businesses how to make (and improve) online videos.

According to Strayer, more than 50% of people take action after viewing an online video advertisement, while 55% of users reportedly go to a company’s Web site after watching a business profile video. “They increase the chances of someone making a transaction as opposed to just browsing,” she said.

Making an online video doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process or cost a small business a slew of money. Follow these tips for a headache-free foray into the world of online videos.

Get a Video on Your Own Site, Too

The goal of many businesses when it comes to making an online video is getting it up on YouTube.com and having it go viral. But, according to Strayer, the number of videos that actually get millions of views is few and far between.

“That’s the dirty little secret. Most videos (on YouTube) are seen less than 100 times,” she said.

That doesn’t mean it’s not important to have a video on YouTube or other social networking sites like Facebook.com, but it’s equally important to have that video on a small business’ homepage.

Ju-Ju-Be, the Los Angeles-based maker of diaper bags, is just one example of a small company that’s embraced Internet video. On its Web site, www.ju-ju-be.com, the company offers a series of product-demonstration videos. Online shoe-retailer Zappos.com offers the same type of how-to videos -- featuring company employees -- and posts the demos on YouTube.com and other blogs.

“It's not some stick-thin model talking about her Seven jeans, it’s real people talking about the attributes of the product,” said Aaron Magness, director of brand marketing and business development at Zappos.com. The Las-Vegas-based online retailer has seen a resulting spike in sales for products that now have video descriptions.

E-mail Videos to Customers

Having a video on the site is a step in the right direction, but then sending the link or embedding it into an e-mail is also a powerful way to reach existing and potential customers, said Strayer. Even just one video per month could go a long way, she said.

Keep the videos relevant and short, said Strayer. For a tree-cutting service, as an example, a video should be as simple as photos of recent and most well-done jobs.

“Most people [overestimate] how much work video editing is and pretty quickly get bogged down,” said Strayer. “Keep it short with no editing. Editing is where people fall down.”

Create a Series

Once a small business has its introduction video up on the Web site, Strayer said the company should start putting up a series of videos on everything from what the business does, to how its products and services work, to a video blog from the owner. Any Web site needs fresh content to be able to bring back visitors.

Strayer pointed to Lynda.com, the online training company, as one example of a firm that uses video effectively. On its homepage visitors can find an online tutorial, as well as testimonial and informational videos. A small business should offer three to four types of videos, said Strayer.

It Pays, But What Does it Cost?

If you want to launch online videos without spending a fortune, here are two avenues to consider.

One way, for the do-it-yourself crowd, is to use online services like animoto.com. For $249 a year, a business can in minutes create full-length videos by uploading video and photos. The flat rate gets a small business unlimited DVD quality videos, a call to action button on its Web site and access to a library of music.

For those looking for a more professionally produced video, sites like TurnHere or a local video producer is the way to go, said Strayer. For less than $899, TurnHere comes on site and shoots your video. You can then make changes to the 60-second segment before publishing it. TurnHere will also distribute the video on its network of Web sites.