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How to put your video online, and measure its effect

Home Depot found some success by posting informational videos that mirrored common search terms on Google.


What do you look for when buying a trampoline? Bounciness? Size? Safety? If a company – say, Springfree Trampoline Inc. based in Markham, Ont. – wants to sell you a new kind of trampoline, you probably want to try it out first. But if you can't…

"Video is often the second-best way to experience our product," says Katherine Langdon, communications manager for Springfree, which makes – you guessed it – trampolines without springs.

Springfree has already found some success with video online, but this spring it's launching a new Web video strategy, some of which will feature Canada's Olympic trampoline athletes. The company says its research indicates products with videos are 95 per cent more likely to be bought.

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In the final instalment of this series on having a video strategy, we'll look at how to broadcast your video content on the Internet and how to measure its effect.

Broadcasting on social media

You've made your video, now you need to get it out there. We'll get to your website in a moment (it's very important), but first, YouTube.

YouTube is one of the most popular places for businesses to host their videos, and for good reason. Most important, it's free. It's also relatively easy to upload your video to the site, and offers an instant platform for viewers.

Vimeo, a similar service aimed more at artists, only allows promotional videos to be posted if a user pays for a $199 per year account.

YouTube's popularity means you have a good chance of finding viewers, if you write keyword-rich descriptions, fill out tags and provide descriptive titles.

Home Depot found some success by posting informational videos (like " How to replace or install a toilet") that mirrored common search terms on Google. Google Adwords can help you find what keywords or search terms are commonly associated with your product.

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This option works well because people often share YouTube videos, which will also show up easily through YouTube's search, Google or the site's recommendation feature, says Michael Litt, chief executive officer of VidYard, a company that hosts and tracks video for businesses.

The downsides for a business are what make the site so engrossing for viewers: lots of outbound links that keep you watching cat videos long after you expected to, but likely to bounce off a business's video before it's over.

Posting on your website

Once your video is on YouTube, you can grab html coding (embed code) that will let you post it on your website.

When posting videos, you have options to display it inline (right on the page, with text around it), full-screen or, with some platforms, in lightbox mode (where the rest of the screen blacks out while the video plays).

According to Mr. Litt's research, viewers are much more likely to watch all of a video the bigger it is, and with fewer distractions around it.

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There are other technical issues with posting video that are better to talk to your website developer about, if you have one. Mr. Litt suggests making sure your video is included in your sitemap – the page that describes the architecture of your site – so that search engine robots can index your site better and you'll show up higher in Google results.

If you're communicating with clients in other ways, such as through e-mail newsletters, don't forget to attach links to the videos you're producing. Use every opportunity you can to direct consumers to what you've produced.

Tracking your performance

Now that your content is out there, you need to be able to track it. Your video strategy should be linked with your social media campaigns, so you can look at numbers like Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

For engagement, watch how many people comment on your posts or retweet you. One tip: Asking questions and talking back to readers helps.

You can tap into services like Klout (also see a past Web strategy series on the best ways to measure your influence online).

Google Analytics is a powerful free tool for tracking how readers move around your site. You can use it to see how readers travel around, what pages they stay on and for how long. You can test if your video is catching and keeping viewers longer – and most research indicates it does.

If you posted your video on YouTube, you can check not only how many people watched it but if they sat through the whole thing. That's useful for figuring out if your video is, captivating or boring. Remember, attention spans are notoriously small on YouTube, and shorter is better.

Other services let you see more detail in tracking viewers. Mr. Litt's company, VidYard, is devoted to hosting and tracking videos with every metric it can, promising more granularity than you get from YouTube's own numbers.

When you're using these tools, make sure not to rush to any judgments based on your first week. You'll get the best information on viewers with a larger sample size.

"You have to take a look over a long time, not just one day," says Susan Murphy, co-owner of Jester Creative, a Web, video, training and marketing agency in Ottawa.

Setting and meeting goals

Now to the trickiest part : measuring the return on investment. Is video worth producing for a small business?

Like many advertising campaigns, it can be hard to immediately see the benefits and directly attribute any increase in sales to the videos you've posted.

But for the measures you can easily take, most analysis shows that video content is very good at making your website "sticky." That is, viewers and potential customers are much more likely to stay on your website longer if there is video content, which gives your business more exposure.

Mr. Litt has experimented and found that, at least in one case study, viewers were twice as likely to sign up for an e-mail newsletter if the website had a video on the landing page.

"The play button is the best call to action on the Web," Mr. Litt says. That gives the viewer instant engagement with the site.

Increased sales aren't the only measure of a video's success. Springfree's first use of video was to explain its trampoline's special safety features, which not only worked to attract potential clients but also made its customer service more efficient, Ms. Langdon says.

When customers call with questions, "sometimes it's easier to e-mail them a link to the video than explain it over the phone," Ms. Langdon says.

A small business's best bet is to set attainable goals and have realistic expectations. It's not possible to plan for a viral video – the Internet zeitgeist is unpredictable.

All a business making videos can do is to make the best videos that it can.

Other stories can be found on the Web Strategy section of the Report on Small Business website .

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