In the first post of this series we saw how moving from static images to dynamic media will generate better conversion rates for your campaigns and free up your creative team to focus on innovation instead of administrative tasks. Now let’s look at video. Video is a highly popular and effective medium to drive conversion and marketers should be leveraging its power in all of their campaigns. In this post I’ll show you how to kick your campaigns up to a new level with best practices to deliver custom branded video and multi-media experiences optimized for any device.
Marketing videos are not just for YouTube
YouTube is a great channel for broad awareness and is an inexpensive vehicle for distributing content. However, you cannot customize your video player and you do not get SEO credit to drive traffic back to your page. Furthermore, there are limitations on the size and quality of the video, and it is difficult to optimize your site experience for mobile devices. As the demand for marketing video increases to support brand awareness, product demonstrations, training and customer support initiatives, businesses need a way to centrally manage and distribute videos and ensure that the video quality is optimized for streaming to the plethora of devices in the market today.
Online video platform technology available today allows you to publish video directly on your site or mobile app, and it allows you to control the settings to create the best viewing experience no matter what device or bandwidth is used to watch the video. This is easier than it sounds: when using some of our latest dynamic media technology it is as simple as uploading your video, selecting a video viewer, adding custom elements where desired, selecting video encoding presets and publishing a URL or embed code that can be added to your site or app within minutes. Let’s take a look at some considerations to ensure your site video experience is exceptional.
- Best practices for video encoding
Your master marketing asset should have the highest possible image quality and smoothest playback in the smallest possible file size. You achieve this with best practices in producing the source video and optimal settings at the time of encoding the marketing assets.
While shooting, keep in mind that every time a pixel changes it has to be re-encoded. Keep changes such as fast pans, zooms, fades, and dissolves to a minimum, using them only when they add to the story that the video tells.
Encoding involves finding the optimal mix of settings. These include resolution, aspect ratio, and bit rate. Start with a high quality source video that has not already been encoded.
Encode your marketing asset at the same aspect ratio as the source video file. If you must reduce the resolution, the encoded video should be exactly one half, one third, one fourth, etc., of the source.
Bit rate (or data rate) is the most important setting. Decreasing this setting or setting it too low will degrade the quality of the video. Higher resolutions require higher bit rates to maintain the viewing quality. Generally you choose either the resolution or bit rate and then adjust the other setting to optimize the final video.
Is this sounding complicated? Are you thinking, “Do I need to figure this out for every device this video will play on?” With dynamic media, the answer is “no.” You only have to figure out how to encode for the highest-quality target you will need, usually the highest resolution screen with the corresponding maximum bit rate. The dynamic media delivery engine takes care of the rest. It will detect the device requesting a video and its bandwidth and then instantly adapt the streaming according to the highest bit rate available. Dynamic media also includes best practice video encoding profiles that are pre-configured to meet most standard device types. So, you can leverage these preset encoding profiles with one click or create custom profiles as needed.
- Optimize video playback for mobile devices
Your video viewer also needs to be responsive and adaptive (automatically adjusting the video viewer size, layout and streaming based on detection of page breaks and device OS, browser, and bandwidth). A best practice is to design your video-viewing experience in HTML5 and use CSS for customization of button controls, poster image, etc., where desired. The adaptive streaming technology embedded in dynamic media video viewers will automatically detect the device type that is being used and use Flash or Apple streaming where it is available and HTML5 progressive streaming where appropriate for the best video experience. In this way you can design once and have an asset that is ready for mobile as well as desktop. By making the right design choices and using the right tools it is automatically rolled into one master workflow leaving you prepared for all platforms with one design step.
- Mixed-media viewers: add 360 spin for a complete product tour.
Once you add video to your site, it is time to take it up a notch with complete 360 spin views of your product to give customers a complete product tour. This will require shooting the product from more angles (at least 12 are recommended for the spin effect). The asset management tool can then automatically assemble and deliver each spin set into a viewer on demand based on pre-defined settings. The payoff is high as customers become very familiar with the product and are more inclined to buy.
Once you have a variety of rich media assets, you are ready to organize them inside a mixed media viewer. This is a highly customizable media player that will display your video, zoom views, and spins in one compact window. A series of icons below the window shows the shopper the views that are available. Leading retailers have found that putting video in the first position will increase conversions.
A typical product page at Dell shows a good example. The image gallery has zoom and clickable hotspots to show product details. There is a 360 spin with zoom capability. The video comes up in a sleek in-line player with full user controls and a social sharing button.
Responsive design optimized mixed-media viewers are available out of the box and can be customized to include branding preferences.
In our next post in this series, we’ll deep dive on new technology to further optimize your site experiences.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community