Small Businesses, Conversion Rates, and Online Video: A Good Mix?

Can using online video adverting get your small business to quintuple traditional search engine marketing conversion rates? How about increase them sixteen-fold? While it would be irresponsible for anyone to promise results like these, there are some very interesting early indications in the marketplace about the benefits that integrating effective online video advertising can have on a search engine marketing campaign.

Our column last month generated a fair bit of buzz when we reported some stats from a recent FindLaw piece of research: That consumers typically visit an average of 4.8 web sites before deciding which attorney to select, but that when lawyers added video to their respective web sites, this number decreased fairly substantially, to 1.8.

In the weeks since that column ran we’ve been looking through various client cases to provide some more real-world snapshots of what using online video effectively is doing for businesses in the marketplace today. Coincidentally, a reporter from Inc. magazine contacted us not long ago after reading one of our articles here in Search Engine Land. She wanted to know if she could speak with a small business about their experience in using online video advertising, as she recognized correctly that a high percentage of people looking for a product or service today start with a major search engine. So what can online video advertising do to leverage this? Here’s a clip from her resulting article, including some stats from the front lines:

“What’s the best way to take advantage of this opportunity? Begin by creating ads that are low on glitz and high on content, offering real information about your product or your company rather than high production values.

That’s what Li Read did when she needed to use the Internet to reach potential customers who were mostly very far away. Read is managing broker of RE/MAX Salt Spring on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, but 80 percent of the home buyers there come from outside Canada. “My buyers for the last seven or eight years have been 100 percent non-local,” she recently told Inc. magazine. Advertising in local papers and radio stations is obviously useless, so instead she uses online video ads both to create a slide show “walk-through” of homes for sale, and to help customers get to know her. Read also uses a video ad in which she talks about herself and her home-buying philosophy.

“It’s my signature to the world,” she explains. “Ninety percent of people start their property search on the Internet, but does that mean the old values of loyalty and connecting with customers have no value? If you’re displaying who you are, that you know the inventory and you love what you do, I do think that can make them see you’re trustworthy.”

The video ads are fairly new, and Read can’t say for sure whether they’ve led to any specific sales – in large part because on her property pages, prospects had other avenues for contacting her from information surrounding the video ad – but she has sold four properties since launching video ads on her property detail pages. These facts we do know:

  • about 0.60 percent of people who see an ad for her properties click on it to play the video, and 1.70 percent of those who see the ad about herself do so. This compares with a traditional online advertising conversion rates of about 0.1 percent.
  • her VideoAds are definitely driving engagement. With over 20 VideoAds on her site, viewers are watching, on average 60% to 90% of the VideoAd, some of which are over 6 minutes long.

It is interesting to note that Ms. Read indicated to Inc. that 100% of her buyers have been non-local. So many of us in the space focus on local, but with the ubiquity of the Internet today, even locally focused business segments such as real estate would be remiss to ignore the potential of making their inventory available to interested ‘outside’ buyers.

So what accounted for the performance of Ms. Read’s campaign? Doing a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking as we sometimes do, we think some of the factors may include:

  • Stand out from other search results: Goes without saying and we’ve talked about this before. For now, as video is still relatively new for businesses, those that jump on using video early will take the lead.
  • Video helps ‘directional’ intent: Also stating the obvious, but when people are searching vs. browsing they have intent (or focus) on gathering specific information. Video augments this by presenting more information in an easily digestible and more compelling way. For Read, she is selling a dream (a dream home in this case) and video helped her site become more authentic and informative.
  • Improve interaction with the viewer: We’ve talked about how online video is a “lean forward” experience. Having direct response functionality like clickable overlays and lead generation built right into viewer experience helps performance, whether it be soliciting an email address or click to information about Salt Spring Island.
  • Importance of telling it like it is: One recent purchaser of Read’s who was coming from Europe said that he doesn’t have time to waste and given the travel time to investigate a second home, it is important that what you see is what you get. He felt Read’s site presented information ‘the way it really is’ and that helped a great deal in the purchase process.

Li Read said it perfectly when she brought up the importance of loyalty and connecting with customers in driving business: Even in this day and age of quick searches, what matters is having the ability to present what you do and how you do it in a way that differentiates you and shows that you know your stuff. Of course, the primary focus of any potential buyer is having the listings presented to them in a highly informative way. Read is tops in her area and has the mother lode of listings but she also provides a high degree of customer service. In this case, video was a very effective way to showcase the strengths of her ‘brand” and drive performance.

Glenn Pingul is VP of marketing for Mixpo, an online video advertising company dedicated to small- and medium-sized businesses. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Small Is Beautiful

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About The Author: is VP of marketing for Mixpo, an online video advertising company dedicated to small- and medium-sized businesses. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

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