Online retailers to major news outlets have seen the light: online video. In its recently announced reshuffling of top editors, the New York Times appointed a managing editor just for the development of video—that's how important video is to its online presence.
Shoppers, online users, news consumers, and nearly all others on the Web have a hearty appetite for video. In turn, e-commerce professionals are recognizing that video is more versatile than they had imagined.
When videos first turned up on e-commerce sites, they were seen simply as a replacement for photos. Today, however, videos are recognized as valuable marketing tools for SEO and social media programs, as well as mobile commerce.
Here's how we think video will continue to make inroads in e-commerce during 2013.
1. 'Curated commerce' hearts video
Websites such as the wildly popular Pinterest have quickly attracted huge audiences by allowing users to "curate" collections of images based on their passions—everything from home décor to crafting to celebrities. The logical next step is that those sites will increase their functionality for video "pinning."
At its launch, Pinterest limited its membership to individual users, but the site announced in November 2012 that it would offer business accounts. This year is a perfect time for marketers to create Pinterest pinboards for their brands and businesses, and to take advantage of the video capabilities of other curated commerce sites.
2. Video shakes up SEO
Smart online marketers have been adding product videos to their websites to help raise their SEO profile, since Google likely shows a preference for videos in its search rankings. However, simply adding videos to your website is only the first step toward using video in an SEO campaign.
Google and YouTube are always changing their search algorithms for video (and for everything else), seeking the best ways to present information that searchers will find relevant. In October, YouTube announced that it would rank videos based on "watch time," giving prominence to videos that are watched for a longer stretch of time than those viewed for a few seconds.
Google, YouTube, and others will continue to tinker with their search algorithms to refine how users see video-related results. Check in regularly with those sites' blogs so that you're on top of the search changes as soon as they happen.
3. Digital marketers embrace video
Videos take some time and money to create; so, naturally, you want to get as much use out of them as you can. Expect to see more online marketers extend videos beyond website product pages: They'll embed videos in email newsletters, post them more frequently to social networks, and build out YouTube or Vimeo channels.
4. Videos take off in hot e-commerce markets
Brazil's e-commerce market is on fire: It grew 26% in 2011, and it's expected to double by 2016. China's e-commerce sector is expected to triple in size over the next three years. Marketers in these regions are likely to adopt strategies in use by established markets, such as the United States.
5. Videos supplant product images
Static product images don't do much for your online marketing efforts; they don't encourage engagement with online visitors, nor do they tell much of a brand story. Photos take up space that could be used for a more engaging form of content: videos.
Even simple slideshows composed of still images and supplemented with voiceover and background music are far more engaging than a plain old image; they can deliver more information to close the sale.
6. Mobile sites embrace videos
More and more consumers are using their mobile devices to browse for products, especially when they're inside of a store. However, given the limitations of mobile screens, they don't want to do much scrolling to find the product or service information they need. Videos can bridge the gap: A properly executed marketing video can include all the details that a mobile shopper needs to make a buying decision, such as options, price, and availability.
Online marketers will find that videos are more appealing to their mobile customers.
7. User-generated videos are put to use
Videos created by customers can be more powerful than videos created by a business, since consumers place a lot of faith in what their fellow shoppers have to say. In 2013, we can expect marketers to brainstorm new ways to gather and make use of user-generated videos into their e-commerce storefronts, since those videos can help increase conversions.
In December, YouTube introduced its Capture app, which lets users share videos directly from their iPhone screens; that should drive a big uptick in user-generated video production.
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