Online Video: Viral Isn’t Everything

By now you’ve probably seen a video of Susan Boyle’s famous performance on British TV. After all, it’s one of the most viral videos of all time. To date, downloads of the 1,000 different clips of this video have surpassed 170 million views and received over 470,000 comments, according to Visible Measure. And why not? The clip is a sweet, perfectly edited seven-minute morality tale, with a happy ending.

What can we marketers learn from this out-of-nowhere success story? Boyle’s video clips have translated to broad reach with limited media costs, have garnered lots of attention across media channels, and engaged viewers, motivating them to forward the content and leave remarks. In addition to boosting Boyle’s personal brand and creating opportunities for her, these videos have motivated marketers to consider adding viral online video to their marketing mix. They hope to leverage the relatively low price and broad reach and capitalize on the related buzz from the surge of interest.

Yet on closer examination, Boyle’s viral success hasn’t necessarily positioned her or “Britain’s Got Talent” for long-term brand or revenue growth. While these clips may have very long tails, the challenge for Susan Boyle, like most marketers, is what she does next to keep the interest going.

Getting millions of views from people who aren’t interested in your product and don’t intend to purchase it doesn’t help you move the marketing effectiveness needle. Regardless of whether your video goes viral, online video can be a strong marketing tool to add to your marketing mix. In an era where every marketing dollar invested must produce value, it’s more critical than ever to have a strong plan to maximize your online video’s impact. This is true whether or not you have any hope that your video will go viral.

Today, a five-step framework to ensure you get the most from your online video investment.

Set Marketing Goals

Your marketing goals will probably fall into one of three major categories:

  • Improve branding, since viewers are used seeing video presentations. While television advertising requires sizeable budgets, creative marketers can leverage current technologies to extend their brand cost effectively.
  • Increase sales by enticing consumers to purchase. This includes adding video to your Web site to show customers how to use products or acting like a DRTV commercial to drive sales.
  • Expand customer engagement by letting viewers add comments and use your footage to create something of their own.

Define Your Video’s Target Market

  • Describe customer attributes across demographics, psychographics that talk to customers’ interests, and their past behaviors.
  • Provide value to potential viewers. Answer the following questions:
    • Why will they watch your video?
    • How does your video relate to their needs?
  • Be where your prospects are online to make it easy for them to find your video. Consider the following:
    • Where do your customers go to get content?
    • What do they search for online and what terms do they use?

Develop a Video Content Strategy

Ensure that your video isn’t a one hit wonder by creating a plan that includes the following:

  • Craft an editorial strategy that considers these points:
    • What information will be covered, and how does it relate to your other content assets?
    • How will be the brand be represented in the video?
    • Do you have a schedule for creating content? Are there regular features?
    • What genres are you focused on?
    • Have you outlined video production logistics?
  • Create related content, such as:
    • Related video footage and other forms of content to engage viewers
    • Landing pages and keyword search buys
    • Text associated with the video and keywords to aid the video’s search ability

Support Online Video With Related Marketing

Think in terms of the following:

  • Cross-promote your online video on your Web site:
    • Promote your video on your Web site where it’s most relevant to your product offering and link to it if it doesn’t reside on your Web site.
    • Include sharing functionalities, such as forward to a friend, social bookmarking, and the like.
  • Leverage other forms of online marketing to extend your video’s reach, including:
    • Use an online press release to promote your online video.
    • Add relevant text to your video to make it search friendly.
    • Post your video on video sites, such as YouTube, to expand your reach.
    • Incorporate video or links to video in your e-mail.
    • Add relevant terms to your search marketing.
  • Utilize offline marketing to attract additional viewers by promoting the videos in your print collateral, such as catalogs and packaging.

Measure Your Results

Measure your results relative to your goals to determine your marketing effectiveness:

  • Count viewers and related actions, including the following:
    • How many people viewed your video?
    • What’s the passalong rate?
    • How many times were the videos viewed? What percentage of each video was viewed?
    • Did viewers leave comments? If so, what was the content of these comments?
    • Are viewers using the video to create new content, such as mashups?
  • Have branding metrics improved as a result of online video use?
  • Have the videos helped lead generation, sales conversion, or post-purchase support?
  • What is the expense of developing the video and related marketing support, including personnel? How does this compare to the benefits you’re realizing?

While having a viral video may be every marketer’s dream, a video’s impact isn’t just measured in views. It’s more important to attract and convert interested prospects to expand your brand and drive sales. To this end, a well thought-out plan for your online video campaign is critical.

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 11 one-day events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing. Register 30 days in advance and get a $40 discount!

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