This might be the year that video marketing is poised to take off, according to Marketing Profs, but what do small to midsize businesses and entrepreneurs need to know even before filming begins? For starters, they need to understand the value of selecting the right hosting platform. While content is important, even a great video will fail to measure up if it doesn’t align with your sales and marketing objectives, and that’s where a well-thought-out hosting strategy comes in.
The biggest name in video hosting is, of course, YouTube. It’s free, user friendly, frequently shared by viewers and widely recognized as the second largest search engine in the world, so what’s not to like? Well, to begin with, YouTube was designed to keep viewers on their site, not drive traffic to yours. At the end of every video are recommendations for other YouTube videos, often those of your competitors. No wonder it boasts six billion hours of viewing per month: it’s designed for serial viewing.
For this reason YouTube makes a great choice for instructional videos or those meant to position your product as the best in the industry or to promote you as a thought leader. In those cases it’s of little concern that, in a recent study of 95 companies using YouTube for hosting, video SEO expert Phil Nottingham found the average click through rate to be a meager .72%. With numbers like that it’s clear that YouTube is not the best tool for driving traffic to your website.
Luckily there are many other hosting options, each with its own pros and cons, but how do you choose? Take a look at these three considerations:
- Define Your Objective
Before you choose a host for your video, it’s important to define the objective for it. You may have a number of videos with various goals. When the purpose is to educate, position you as a thought leader, create brand awareness or demonstrate a product, you should be more concerned with the number of views than the click through rate.
On the other hand, when the objective is direct sales, lead generation or increased SEO for your own site, your focus is to drive traffic through the use of backlinks and calls to action. These important features should then factor into your choice of host.
It’s also important to consider analytics. Gone are the days when a video’s success was judged only by the number of views. Some hosting sites offer the ability to drill down to amazing details about individual users or to see exactly what viewers watched, re-watched or skipped. In addition, some hosting sites provide the option of capturing email addresses and will even offer analytics showing the length of viewing time associated with each one so you can treat warm leads differently than hot leads.
With the value of email data exploding, this is a huge feature for businesses looking to build out their all-important email lists. Along these lines, there are hosts that provide the option to embed video directly into email newsletters, while others provide great annotation tools to encourage viewers to subscribe to an email list, share or make a purchase.
Knowing what you want and need from a hosting site will help you determine which ones best suit your goals and objectives. Popular choices beyond YouTube include Amazon Web Services, Vimeo, Wistia, Viddler, Brightcove and Vidyard.
- Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Consider what drives viewers to a search that leads them to your video in the first place. People intent on making a purchase don’t go to YouTube, but those looking to see a demonstration of a product do. It’s important to differentiate. Again, YouTube is great for research; it’s the go-to option for DIY and instructional videos. But when the snow blower breaks down during a huge blizzard, most will seek out a brand name or product category via a Google search and you want to use a hosting option that will send them to your site, not to YouTube’s.
- Multiple Hosts
It’s not necessary to choose just one host for all your video marketing. By defining the objective of each video you are able to choose the best option for it. You may use two or more depending on your goals. You may have videos that are created simply to increase your Facebook or Twitter followers. Posting video directly to those social sites, as well as others such as Vine and Instagram, is fast becoming a popular option, and perhaps another topic for another day.
Keep in mind, this is a rapidly changing industry and, as such, information changes faster than we can complete a blog post. It’s important to consider the most recent data and stay on top of all the latest developments. Or, even better, turn to a video marketing expert who will advise you on your most up-to-date options. After all, what’s best today may not be best tomorrow.
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