Business Technology

Connecting to an online audience with video will take British SMEs into the future

11 min read

16 December 2015

According to Cisco, video will account for 69 per cent of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. As 2016 fast approaches, time is running out for businesses to harness the medium of video to connect with their audiences online.

In order to provide insights to entrepreneurs and small businesses on the possibilities of video as a means of engaging with your online audience, as well as details on how to use this medium successfully, we have spoken with UK startups and SMEs in order to find out how you are engaging with your online audience using video content.

First up we have advice from Dave Furness, the director and co-founder of UnderstandingE, which creates educational video tutorials that show businesses how to use a Magento website in order to sell on multi-channels such as eBay and Amazon.

How important is engaging with your online audience to your business?

Engaging with our audience is crucial to our business. Over the past three years we have built a high level of trust with our audience through a variety of mediums whether it be blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars or emails.

We find that this helps humanise our business and create a much more personal feel. It also encourages a two-way engagement with our audience. They get to tell us what their main struggles or problems might be and in turn this allows us to respond with our expertise to try and help them.

The beauty of using a video for this automatically takes this one-to-one style consulting and turns it into one-to-many. It means others facing the same problems get their answer or suggestion on how to fix them too.

How do you use video content to engage with your online audience?

Video plays a huge part of our content strategy. We create educational tutorials using video as well as many quicker ‘How To’ videos. When dealing online the limitations of not being able to physically grab or speak to someone in person is a limitation which video is helping to answer.

Instead of reading a how to article, a video makes the whole experience much easier. The viewer can follow along by watching what you do. But video isn’t just a two-way street. We receive comments and emails from our audience which we can then go and record them a video for to answer them.

If one person has asked this question, chances are another member of your audience has been thinking the same question. We see video as a fantastic tool which greatly helps with the scalability of whatever it is you are delivering.

Read more on video marketing:

How does this form of content differ compared to other mediums you use for engagement?

Put simply, video makes the whole engagement piece feel much more personal. It takes the engagement from customer to seller or from human to business to one of human to human. Everybody wants to feel important and that’s what video enables you to do with your audience, engage on a much more personal basis.

We see much greater interaction when we appear in videos physically but also just doing a voiceover can also endear you greater than an email or written content.

Another bonus worth mentioning about video content is its ‘sticky’ nature. What we have seen is that online audiences have horrendously short attention spans these days, but if you can keep their attention on a web page for a period of time whilst they watch a video they feel more ‘invested’ in the site and are much more likely to take progressive action, whether that be adding a product to a basket or whatever action it is you want them to take. The conversion rate is much higher on pages with videos over those without.

What advice do you have for startups looking to grow their business by connecting with their target audience online?

My biggest piece of advice would be to look at your business and find opportunities for you to get in front of the camera. Most online businesses will have an about us page – and if you don’t, you should – and that is a perfect place to introduce yourself to your customers. Do your FAQ section in a video format is another possibility.

If you sell products, then product review videos are perfect, show them the key features and benefits of what it is you are selling. I know it might seem daunting at first but look around at your competition. I guarantee not many of them are doing video, or doing it well, and that is where you can stand out from them in the market.

Finally, don’t be scared of letting your personality shine through, let your enthusiasm show and don’t be scared of adding in some humour where appropriate. In my experience, people do business with people they like, and video is the perfect place to let your audience get to know you.

On the next page, we hear from James Nicholson of Rocket Marketing Hub, who says that video generates 300 per cent better results than text emails. Find out how you can embrace the trend.

Image: Shutterstock

Next we have insights from James Nicholson, the founder of Rocket Marketing Hub, which provides businesses with step-by-step tutorials on how to grow, from increasing traffic to improving conversions.

How important is engaging with your online audience to your business?

It’s vital to engage with your audience online, but not just in one place. Gone are the days when you could just send an email to your database. We engage with our audience using video is lots of places, such as our blog and social media profiles.

We use the same content in all of these locations, this is because different people hang out in different places. By being everywhere you are sure to catch most of your audience.

Without online engagement Rocket Marketing Hub would not exist, it’s our chance to reach the masses. The online video we produce raises our credibility in the market, people become familiar with our style and the value we provide in each video.

We rarely sell in these videos, our goal is to provide massive value so the viewer sees us as the expert and wants to work with us.

How do you use video content to engage with your online audience?

Each week we create our mini TV series called Rocket TV, we post these on our website and all the social channels our users hang out on. Each Rocket TV is 2-3 minutes long and provides hints/tips and ideas on how a small business owners can grow their business using Digital Marketing.

How does this form of content differ compared to other mediums you use for engagement?

Video gets us 300 per cent better results than standard text emails, people look forward to watching our videos and if we send them out late we often get emails asking if it’s coming.

Video gives us the chance to capture the viewer for a number of minutes, rather than just a few seconds if they were reading an email, text or flyer. It builds trust as they see a person rather than just a text based email.

What advice do you have for startups looking to grow their business by connecting with their target audience online?

Start using video on a regular basis, we all have a smartphone in our pocket that is suitable to create great video. Too many business owners fear the video not looking professional or slick, but the user is not concerned with that. If the content in your video is providing massive value that is all that matters.

Post the same video in multiple places, don’t just put it on your website I would also put the same video on a blog, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and any other social network you use. The first few videos you make might not be amazing but you will keep getting better and better the more you produce them.

Garth Haley is corporate videographer, editor and animator at Hyperfine Media. If you’re an entrepreneur or startup looking to grow your business by connecting with their target audience online, take on board the experience and advice shared by these successful businesses above.