The Three Types of Online Video for Business

The Three Types of Online Video for Business

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So much has changed about the way we absorb information in the past few years. Can you even remember what accessing the Internet was like ten years ago? In 1999 one of the most used features in Netscape’s Navigator was the ability to uncheck Autoload Images. Once you did that you would only get text, no pictures. Page load times were crucial as users were often paying per minute to their phone service provider in addition to whatever they were paying their Internet service provider.

Jump forward to 2004 and everyone was starting to sign up for broadband, but no one was watching video online (especially business videos) it was still too heavy. Short clips would be distributed via email inevitably resulting in your inbox getting clogged up trying to download 5 Mb attachments from the server.

Then in early 2006, things started to change – instead of video being attached to emails people started sending links to a mysterious new site called YouTube. Even more exciting was when people started sending links to sites and blogs other than YouTube that had embedded videos that were hosted by YouTube.

By the time YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in September 2006, everyone who used the Internet regularly had seen one of their videos. Once it became common practice for people to watch video online, it was only a short time before it became an essential part of the experience. As the commercial world started to exploit the power of the Internet for business, it became clear that online business video would be co-opted into that fight and made available by almost every business with an online presence which, by 2009, meant every business.

Why Video for Business

Brightcove recently published their “Top 6 Reasons B-to-B Marketers Need Videos” as follows:

  1. Grab people’s attention instantly
  2. Tell your story in less time
  3. Bring your ideas to life
  4. Make your site stickier
  5. Create a buzz with viral video
  6. Bring your website into the 21st century

Parsing that list into three types of video based on their natural homes – embedded offsite, on the site’s homepage and within the site – helped to identify the three kinds of online video for business:

  • Viral Video
  • Conversion Video
  • Educational Video


Business Video #1 – Viral Video

If online video got its first big break with the advent of YouTube, then Viral Video was the first breakout star for the medium. It’s a classic case of business noticing what’s going on in the real world and then trying hard to catch up.

Viral videos were the natural result of the culture of sharing that began once everyone you knew and/or did business with went online. Before there were viral videos, people shared jokes or inspirational PowerPoint presentations. The first viral videos were just evolved versions of the same.

As the demand for content grew, people started crafting video with one eye on making them go viral. There were several factors to consider. In order for a video to have a chance at becoming viral it needed to be most of the following:

  • Original
  • Unusual
  • Unexpected
  • Funny / Mysterious / Sexy

In addition there was one more ingredient, a compound of timing, luck and Internet serendipity, that was required for true online ubiquity. Almost impossible to fabricate, this elusive quality is still the thing that prevents most attempts at creating a viral video from succeeding. Nevertheless businesses leapt at the chance of promoting themselves through video usually by replicating a formula that had already achieved some success or notoriety.

Viral video differs from the other types of video in terms of its location. Viral video is at its best when it is found outside the company’s site. Viral video is all about distribution and promotion. The company’s aim is for the video to be embedded in many different sites to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is not always a good thing. Once a video can be embedded outside the company’s site the company loses control over the surrounding text and, perhaps more worryingly, the surrounding pictures and ads. If you allow your video to be watched anywhere, you have to consider that viewers may see your logo and messaging juxtaposed with less savory images.

Metrics for Success

How do you measure the success of a viral video? It’s not enough to consider the number of views only, although this is important. If you are looking at views, you need decide “how much is enough?” The most popular videos on YouTube have been seen tens of millions of times. In order for your video to be considered a viral success, you might not need anywhere near those kinds of numbers. It depends who your products are targeting and whether or not you were noticed by the right kind of audience. If the video is hosted on a video sharing site like YouTube, you might want to look at the number of comments your video receives to get an idea of the level of “buzz” you have created.

You can use a company like TubeMogul to upload and track your video across the internet but you probably need to combine that with your existing site analytics to judge whether or not it has an impact on your traffic. If you’re aiming for a success metric that is even more intangible such as brand-building or buzz-making you will have to work out your own metric for success.

Creating a viral video is a bit like catching a fish… with your hands. It’s slippery and almost impossible, but if you manage it, you’ll feel fantastic.

Business Video #2 – Conversion Video

With all the uncertainty surrounding viral video, it seems much safer to manage video with more tangible goals. There are a number of reasons why site owners would want to place a video on their site. Video is a great way of engaging site visitors. Engaged visitors spend more time on websites. More time spent on websites means more opportunities to make money.

The most important thing for a commercial website is to identify the goals of the site. As you build multiple points of entry to your site you should carefully define the conversion goal for each. These are some of the most commonly seen conversion goals for commercial websites:

  • Enter Your Details – the aim of the site is to get visitors to give you contact details that can be used immediately or later to contact the customer and initiate business
  • Download This File – installing the file may be the first stage in turning the site visitor into a customer
  • Buy This Product – a direct inducement to the site visitor to pay money in return for a product or service
  • Deposit Now –used by companies to establish the financial relationship that turns browsers into committed customers

2009-11-25_1319Once you have a clear conversion goal for your landing page, a good conversion video should focus on driving users to that goal. Video does that in a number of ways. To begin with, a conversion video, like any other kind of video, should be an engaging experience drawing viewers in and helping them to spend more time on the site. A successful conversion video should carry a clear call to action. This can be part of the script, part of the visual, part of the player or any combination of the three. The call to action in the video must be aligned with the conversion goal for the page the video sits in to ensure that there is a clear path for the viewer to follow.

A brief review of the available material on the Internet throws up an abundance of lists of tips for making your corporate video. If you have questions about any aspect of video making from the perfect duration to the perfect volume, you will find someone with an opinion on the subject. The best thing you can do is to start with what you think makes sense and to test it on your site.

But before you can test the effectiveness of your video, you need to make sure people are watching. There are many ways to promote the viewing of your video on your site. Once you have produced a video that you are happy with, you owe it to yourself to exploit as many of these methods as you can. First of all you want to ensure that people can find your video. Make it visible and accessible. If the video is a key part of your conversion strategy for a page then make sure people know where it is. Once you are happy with its location on the page, you should consider having the video autoplay. If autoplay seems too aggressive there are variations you can try such as having the video autoplay without sound (but with subtitles) until the viewer opts in to listening as well as watching.

Metrics for Success

2009-11-25_1319_001If the goal for your conversion video is to increase conversions then the metric for success should be easy. When the number, or the percentage, of your conversions rises then the video is a success. Depending on the conversion goal, increased conversion can have a direct impact on the revenues of your company. It is no wonder that more and more companies are focusing on conversion video as the most likely to provide a return on their investment.

Business Video #3 – Educational Video

Educational video probably doesn’t sit on your homepage. There are a number of reasons for adding educational videos to your site and, unlike viral and conversion videos your educational video can help you achieve multiple goals without detracting from the video’s success. That means your educational video doesn’t have to be quite as tightly focused on a single goal. With educational video you have the freedom to build towards a number of achievements.

Primarily an educational video is there to educate. But, educational video can also help to establish trust and thought-leadership. Visitors to your site who move beyond the landing page and begin to delve deeper into everything your site has to offer may be looking for more information. We know that video is an excellent medium for distilling information and enquiring visitors can find much to satisfy their curiosity in a well made video.

Good video can be a real differentiator for your company against your competitors. You can use the videos to do things that other people in your market are failing to do well. If a visitor learns everything he needs from you, he’s more likely to come back when he’s ready to become a consumer.

Educational video can also take the strain away from your customer support team. Linking your videos to an FAQ or any other part of your online support can help answer some of the questions and pain points that would otherwise make their way to a customer representative. The interaction can often be even more satisfying with the customer feeling they were able to get the answer they wanted in a format they are at ease with.

Educational videos can guide viewers through a difficult process and help to ease the concerns of nervous browsers. Educational videos can help to build a mentor-mentee relationship between the site and its visitors which must have a positive impact.

There are fewer restrictions in Educational video in terms of duration and messaging. It’s probably not smart to load your Educational videos with sales messaging, but beyond that there is a freedom to communicate clearly knowing that anyone watching is doing so with less enticement that other forms of video.

Metrics for Success

Educational video may be one of the hardest types of video to manage in terms of ROI. The production costs are as high as other forms of video but success should not be measured by the number of views. There are other metrics that should be captured such as ‘time spent on video’ or how many chapters of your video were viewed. Not every player will provide you with this kind of data, but it can be invaluable for establishing ROI.

viewer engagementEducational videos are less likely to be promoted than other kinds of videos. They are more correctly positioned and targeted to specific customers at different stages in the sales cycle. Educational videos are designed to prevent customer confusion and deliver clarity.

If your Educational video is aimed at reducing the number of referrals to customer support then, then a clear reduction is the best measure of success. Beyond that tangible proof, the success of educational videos is notoriously difficult to determine.


Once you are committed to making video part of your corporate marketing strategy, there are still a number of questions to be asked. Choosing which kind of video you want to produce may depend on how you measure the return on your marketing spend. There are risks and rewards for each kind of video, but there is no denying the potential impact of the medium. Harnessing that impact and using it to your advantage is one of the key challenges facing online marketers today.

About our Guest Author:

Daniel Sevitt spent several years at Metacafe heading the content division and working with online video creators from independent producers to established Hollywood heavyweights. He worked on content acquisition and development, helped create branded entertainment experiences well suited to the short-form video environment and oversaw Metacafe’s content standards and copyright policies. Daniel joined EyeView in May 2009 to discover that there was more to life than “unmanageable UGC, unimpressive CPM and unaccountable ROI”.


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