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Join The Video Revolution

Tom Ruwitch speaks on the importance of strategy in successful email marketing campaigns and more

Have you seen the cool video on my web site about internet marketing? If not, you can watch it at www.marketvolt.com/video.

Many people who read that opening paragraph will follow my suggestion and watch the video. In fact, some who read this column at a computer may have jumped to the video before even reading this far.

How do I know? Because video works. The promise of video drives people to web sites, and the presence of video converts prospects to customers. If you want to drive traffic and convert prospects (what business doesn’t?), it’s time for you to join the video revolution.

“But, Tom, I can barely get text and pictures on my web site. How can you expect me to create and post online videos?” cry the naysayers.

It’s far easier than you may think to produce and distribute effective online video. To demonstrate this, I’ll share a story about my son, the budding rock star.

Jacob, 12, has spent most of his summer at Dave Simon’s Rock School. Roughly 15 kids attend each summer camp session, and they are split into three bands that receive private and group instruction. On the final day of each camp session the bands perform live for adoring audiences (a.k.a. parents and other relatives).

One week before Jacob’s concert, I bought an iPhone, the new model with a built-in video camera. When Jacob and his mates took the stage, I pulled the iPhone from my pocket, tapped once to open the video camera application, tapped again to start recording, and pointed the phone at the band.

Fifteen minutes and three songs later, I had a phone full of ear-splitting, bone-jarring, rock-and-roll video. I then clicked the “Send Video to YouTube” button on the iPhone. Five minutes later the videos were on YouTube, ready for the world to see. Twenty minutes later, the videos were on my web site. I would have had the videos on my site sooner, but I had to drive 10 minutes from the camp to my office.

In well under one hour (including a 10-minute drive), I shot 15 minutes of video, posted it on YouTube, and embedded it in a page on my web site.

If you still think this is too hard for you, if you would prefer to wait, consider these facts: Apple sold 5.2 million iPhones in the last quarter. In 2008, pocket-sized video cameras—led by Pure Digital’s Flip camera—accounted for more than 20 percent of all video cameras sold. The Flip costs about $125. And while it can’t transmit video to YouTube wirelessly, it plugs directly into the USB port of your computer (no cables required) and comes with software that makes it easy to edit and post your videos online.

Rest assured, many of your competitors are walking around town with video-enabled iPhones or another tiny video camera in their pockets—ready to shoot and post traffic-generating, sales-converting video.

The day after I bought the iPhone, I met with a prospect who had attended an internet marketing seminar I hosted the previous week. He told me he enjoyed the seminar and learned a lot.

My response: “We’re planning to have more seminars in the months ahead. Would you mind repeating what you said and elaborating on video so I can have a video testimonial when I market future events.”

“Sure,” he said. “When do you want to do that?”

“How about now?” I said, pulling the iPhone from my pocket.

His testimonial and others I collect will be part of a video I post to promote the seminars. Go to www.marketvolt.com/seminars for more information.

What should you know before hopping aboard the iPhone bandwagon or buying a pocket-sized video camera? Here are some guiding principles:

You don’t need to be Spielberg—Don’t fret over the quality of your videos. If you can hold the camera with a steady hand, be concise, and get to the point, your video will work. You’re not competing for an Oscar. You’re promoting your business.

Promote your videos in emails by linking to them, not embedding them. Insert a picture (a screen shot from the video) in the email and link that to a web page where the video will play. It is technically feasible to embed a video inside an email so it will play immediately inside the recipient’s email software. But this is ill-advised. Many people have email software that will not properly display videos.

Include direct calls to action in your video. Your videos should have a purpose tied to specific business goals. We see countless television ads that build brand awareness without having specific calls to action. That’s OK for big corporations with multi-million dollar ad budgets. But in your videos, you need to ask viewers to act—now! Register for the event. Visit our site to download the coupon. Visit our store today—the first 100 people to respond to this offer will get a special bonus. You have their attention. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Distribute your video to multiple sites and link back to your web site from the video. YouTube is the big one, but there are many other sites where you can post your videos. TubeMogul (www.tubemogul.com) is on online service that will distribute your video to multiple sites with one click. By doing this, you will expose the video to a wider audience, drive more traffic to your site, and improve your site’s rankings with the search engines.

Track who watches your videos. My company, MarketVolt, has partnered with Flimp, a company that hosts your videos and can track who watches them. Send an email that links to your video on the Flimp site. When a recipient clicks through, Flimp records that person’s email address and tracks how long that person viewed the video. Imagine sending 1000 prospects an email promoting your new product or service, and then being able to tell which prospects watched the video from start to finish versus which ones quit watching after 15 seconds. That takes prospecting to a new level.

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This article originally appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly. Tom Ruwitch writes a monthly column called High-Voltage Marketing. You can read these columns and other great content for small businesses at www.sbmon.com.

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