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How to Use Video to Engage with Your Customers, Members, and Prospects

Video for driving traffic and salesDo you like to watch videos? Who doesn’t?! 74 million Internet users watched online video content for an average of 14.8 hours per viewer, according to comScore. And that’s just in the United States. People are watching video everywhere, both figuratively and literally: Mobile video viewing is up 41%, according to numbers from Nielsen.

In this blog, we’ll share with you why your business or organization should be leveraging online video in your marketing efforts, give you a few ideas for getting started, and provide a few tips for shooting a quality video without breaking the bank or looking like The Blair Witch Project.

Show It, Don’t Tell It

Video engages people in a way that photos and text alone can’t. For small business owners and nonprofit managers, using video in your marketing can bring faces, voices, personality, and heart to your operation, while also demonstrating your authenticity. To top that, video in email is said to be able to boost conversion rates by as much as 50 percent.

If that kind of conversion boost isn’t enough to convince you, here are five more reasons to add video to your marketing mix:

1. Tell your story quickly.
People don’t have a lot of time, so you want to get your message across quickly. Video can communicate a lot of information in a short amount of time. Inexpensive software tools such as Apple iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker can be used to easily edit your video, add titles, music, and get it ready for uploading to a video hosting site.

2. Put a face to your business or organization.
A video helps bring your business or organization to life, and it makes your communications more personal. Putting people on camera makes you and your team real to your customers and members.

3. Get your readers to remember your message.
Let’s face it: In general, we remember little of what we read. Our retention of a message is much better (estimates are three times better) when it includes pictures, sound, and motion. Your readers can only take action if they remember what you said.

4. People enjoy video.
People like to read, but they really like video. We watch TV, go to the movies, stream video content to our computers and mobile phones, and more.

5. Videos are easy and inexpensive to create.
The great myth is that video is hard and expensive to create. Yes, the ads you see during the Super Bowl cost a lot, but you don’t have to spend much to get good video. Video cameras are cheap to buy (many cost less than $125) and easy to use. Look at a video camera such as the Kodak Zi8 (our videos featuring Red Oak Properties and the Currier Museum of Art were shot with the Zi8 and a simple clip-on microphone) or Sony Bloggie Duo HD Camera. They both allow you to shoot with one button. If you have an iPhone or some other mobile devices, you already have a video camera. You can also just use images and add a voiceover.

Plus, it’s free to host video on sites such as YouTube, Blip.tv, and Vimeo, making your videos easily accessible, easily shared through social media, and easily embeded on web sites and in blog posts. Not only that, videos hosted on these sites can help your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts as they give sites like Google and Bing yet another piece of content associated with your brand to crawl and serve up to the masses.

Customer Spotlight: Video Works for Fourword Marketing

As an author and speaker, and the owner of Fourword Marketing in Toronto, video has become an effective way for Marc Gordon to market himself and his company in a way that he believes cannot be accomplished with words alone.

“The impact of video is far beyond what you can do in a written blog.” As an author and speaker, and the owner of Fourword Marketing in Toronto, video has become an effective way for Marc Gordon to market himself and his company in a way that he believes cannot be accomplished with words alone.

“The impact of video is far beyond what you can do in a written blog,” Marc explains. “You can present things on so many different levels and illustrate examples in settings that people can visually understand, which can be challenging to do in a written blog.”

Since March 2010, Marc has produced MarcTV, a bi-weekly six minute program that covers topics ranging from how to create a killer press release to good business networking practices. Marc shoots the videos in his “studio” — i.e., his office when filled with a few lights and a backdrop — and out and about in his native Canada. Once posted to his Vimeo account and embedded in a blog post, Marc promotes the videos across multiple channels, including his Constant Contact–based email list and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Marc uses a single camera and a wireless microphone for each shoot. When on location, Marc has a colleague shoot the video, but in the office, a tripod acts as the lone cameraman. Editing is done with Apple’s iMovie software. “A lot of people put in a lot of transitions and effects,” says Marc, who does all the editing himself. “You don’t need that. It’s all about simple, clean transitions that keep the video nice and clean. Let the content be the draw.”

For Marc, the message is important, but humor is a key aspect of his video effort. For instance, in a Halloween episode, Marc went shopping dressed as Wonder Woman. He also likes to use edgier titles on his videos to draw attention to certain clips — a tactic that seems to be working: Views of his videos have grown steadily and his email list has grown 29% since he started MarcTV.

“My initial goal was use MarcTV as a marketing tool to promote myself as an expert and personality,” Marc says. “But the popularity of the show has really given it a life of its own. People  from all kinds of industries are now reaching out to me as a result of the videos.”

Video Ideas for One and All

As with any type of marketing content, it may be difficult to think of video topics that apply to your business or organization. But there are plenty of simple ideas out there that can help jump-start your video efforts. Among them:

Thank your customers for their business or your volunteers for their support. Film yourself or a few of your staff members giving their well wishes, and stitch the clips together as fun way to say “thanks” to all those who support your business or organization.

Feature a customer raving about your company, product, or service. Catch people when they’re happy: getting ready to leave your restaurant after a great meal, just taking their first bites of that ice cream cone, or if they stop by to express their happiness with your service.

Share a cool company milestone. For example, when Constant Contact’s logo went up on our building, we filmed it. Any time your organization celebrates an achievement, film the celebration and put snippets up to share with your customers and members.

Include footage from a recent speaking engagement. If you’re invited to speak at the local chamber of commerce meeting, have someone run the camera for you. If your organization gets an award, film the ceremony.

Ask for feedback from your subscribers. We put a video in a recent #CTCT Social newsletter issue asking readers for their feedback and directing them to an online survey. We received more responses than our average because people watched the video and made a connection with our managing editor.

Share your expertise or provide tips for using your products.
• A mechanic could show what he looks for when examining various parts for wear
• Sales folks can demonstrate how their products work together
• Any business can introduce a new website and its features

Put the spotlight on your team to highlight your weird or wacky culture.

Review a book that your members or customers may enjoy.

Share highlights from a past year’s event to promote an upcoming gathering.

Have your staff wish customers and members a happy holidays.

Your video content doesn’t even have to be 30 frames-per-second of moving pictures. You could also:

Use Images with voiceover. Pictures or images are a great way to communicate. If you like, you can easily use what is known as voiceover on an image. This combines a narrative that you can record over the image. String a set of these together to tell your story.
• Your pictures: Using any camera, take pictures of your building, product, people, etc.
• Images: There are lots of places on the web to get images, either for free or for a relatively small investment. A few examples include Google Images, iStockphoto,Flickr, and stock.xchng.

Note: As with any media, be careful you’re abiding by copyright law.
Create a Screencast. Capturing a demonstration of your product or a walkthrough of your business or organization using your website is another way to create engaging video. Screencast software runs on your computer and captures what takes place on the screen. You can also record your voice speaking at the same time or add music. The combination makes for an informative and engaging experience.

There are many software tools that enable you to take an image and add a voiceover. Examples are Microsoft’s PowerPoint (10.0 or greater), Apple’s Keynote, TechSmith’s Camtasia, and iMovie.

4 Tips for Shooting Quality Video

It doesn’t take thousands of dollars in gear to make a great video, but paying attention to a few details will make your final product that much better:

Whenever possible, use a tripod.
Keeping the camera steady will make for better picture quality when you upload your video to a service like YouTube. Plus, your viewers won’t get seasick while watching.

Film in a quiet area.
This is particularly important if the only mic you have is the one built-in to the camera as those tend to pick up all the ambient noise as well as the speaker. In these cases, the less ambient noise, the better.

Bright light is good.
Cameras have come a long way when it comes to the ability to record in low light, but the more light you can provide, the better the video quality. When filming, have the subject facing the main source of light, not in front it:

Orientation is key.
When shooting on an iPhone, Android, or other video-capable smartphone, make sure to hold the device in a landscape (horizontal) mode and not vertically. Holding it vertically makes for a messy editing process as you crop the video to fit a standard size video window.

Video Is a Great Marketing Tool
Video is a fun and effective marketing tool that’s accessible to any business or organization — even those who are on a tight budget. Think about which of your marketing messages could benefit most by the color that video brings to the mix. If a picture says 1,000 words, a video can say it bigger, brighter, and better.

Essential Web Directories to List Your Business for Free

Submit your website to article directories for free publicity The number of online business successes are testimony to the fact that low budget internet marketing campaigns guarantee HIGH exposure at extremely LOW costs. To take advantage of the internet marketing opportunities, you need to use the correct tools to keep costs down. Listing your website on free directories’ is a sure-shot means to guarantee quality traffic!

Is your online business looking to:

  • Drive more quality traffic to your website?
  • Capture visitors as leads?
  • Convert leads into customers?

Try posting your website on these free directories today!

  1. Yahoo: With a Google PR of 9, it is a great place to submit non-commercial sites. [It does not accept commercial sites]
  2. Jayde is a quality link source. They are quick at adding submissions and you have a good chance of getting on getting on a decent listing page too! It is the internet's largest B2B Search Engine and one of the web's oldest business directories. Jayde was founded in 1996. It is an entirely human reviewed directory. According to the site, “The fast growing Jayde may be the most unique search engine on the internet. Are we better than Google? If you are a college student trying to find a research paper on mosquito's in the Amazon, probably not. It may take perusing thousands of search results to find that specific paper and that's not the way Jayde works. However, if you're a sales professional tying to efficiently find contacts within businesses, Jayde is better than Google!”
  3. WorldSiteIndex.com is a search-able web directory of English language sites organized by subject. However, you must note that free submissions are disabled from close of business on Fridays to start of business on Tuesdays.
  4. SoMuch is a SEO friendly free link directory where you can find the best human edited links sorted by topic and category. Their policy is to make it easy for you to find quality sites that aren't just filled with Google AdSense advertisements. They try to add web sites that ultimately have something to offer, and are constantly checking their links to meet that challenge.
  5. Info-Listings are sorted categorically to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. If you cannot find an appropriate category for your listing, you can e-mail and suggest a new one.
  6. WWW Virtual Library is the oldest catalog of the Web, started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of HTML and of the Web itself, in 1991 at CERN in Geneva. Unlike commercial catalogs, it is run by a loose confederation of volunteers, who compile pages of key links for particular areas in which they are expert; even though it isn't the biggest index of the Web, the VL pages are widely recognized as being amongst the highest-quality guides to particular sections of the Web.

Website directories are a great way for businesses to promote their websites. They help build back links, increase exposure and traffic too!

How Your Business Can Benefit From a Yelp Listing

yelpDid you know that many people rely on Yelp for advice on dry cleaners, restaurants, retailers, service providers, gardeners, handymen, and so on as they assume Yelp to be a reliable site that supports all comments without bias, irrespective of whether they are good or bad. In fact, according to the Yelp blog, the second quarter of 2018 witnessed a whopping 74 million unique visitors on an average every month, while 72 million unique mobile devices users utilized Yelp's mobile application on a monthly average basis. With more than 163 million reviews submitted by Yelpers, Yelp is surely a dominant force when you consider social review sites that help customers decide on anything from the city's most renowned lawyer to its tastiest burger.

In case you own a local business, your online presence can be effectively enhanced with a Yelp listing. Many restaurant owners have used Yelp to bring great benefits to their business, and are constantly trying to improve their star ratings on Yelp. However, it doesn’t mean that Yelp can help only restaurateurs. In fact, 75% of the Yelp listings include other businesses, which show why customers turn to this site before making decisions for anything related to local businesses.

Whether you have an existing business that needs to attract new customers from the neighborhood, or plan to launch a new venture that would need the patronage of local consumers, the ever-increasing audience on Yelp can help. So, almost everyone from a web designer, SEO specialist, restaurateur, and lawyer, to a physician, chiropractor, plumber, and gardener can benefit from Yelp listings.

Why use Yelp

If you are still apprehensive about using Yelp, here are some of the benefits of Yelp listings:

Being found online easily: Many people may not even know that your business exists. A yelp listing can not only help your business being found by people searching Yelp but can also appear on search engine results, thus increasing your online visibility.

Boost SEO efforts: Your Yelp listing gives you the chance to add description of your business, get reviews, and link your listing back to your website. By choosing relevant keywords and listing back to the right page of your website, you can boost your business’s SEO efforts. This would also mean that your Yelp listing starts appearing in the top few pages of major search engine results, which in turn will help boost your business.

Free publicity: By adding your business name, address (complete with city and zip code), phone number etc, you can make it easy for people to visit your shop and buy from you. Thus, you can use the Yelp platform for free to advertise your offerings.

Understand your clients: By checking user reviews, you can understand what your customers love and loathe about your offerings. This way, you can fix things that don’t work, and focus better on the ones that work. You may even communicate with your customers both publicly and privately to understand what they want.

Using in lieu of a website: Start-ups with a cash crunch may find it difficult to invest in creating a website. Yelp listing can be used temporarily for the purpose. Your Yelp listing can easily give your company an online presence as you can add pictures, address, description etc, all of which are usually found on a website.

Tapping clientele on the go: With many people using the Yelp app on their mobile phones, it becomes easy to tap into the ever increasing brigade of smartphone device users and let them know about your business.

How to use Yelp

If your business already has some reviews on Yelp, you can claim the listing and add additional information, contact number etc. You may search your business name to find if any listing already exists or not. If you find one, you would need to click the link marked “Work here? Unlock this Business Page” to add details/contact information. In case your business doesn’t have any existence on Yelp, you may create a new business page. You can read the support page to get started. 

Once you are on Yelp, you can engage in meaningful conversations with your customers by replying to their feedback publicly or privately. This way, you can retain happy customers, and convert those not too happy with promises of better services,

You may also create deals in minutes, and get paid when Yelp visitors buy your deals. Posting check-in offers, which are showed on Yelp's Mobile Applications, is yet another method of promoting your business to users searching nearby.

Keeping an eye on your competitors, viewing business trends, analyzing the performance of your business page with charts and stats are some other things that can help you to improve your business and leverage Yelp.

So, start using Yelp to beneift your business if you aren’t already doing so.

Great Ways to Promote Your Site in a Local Market

how to promote your website locallyFor those clients that need to promote their businesses locally, here are some helpful links and networking ideas to help grow your business and increase sales. The majority of these items are of no cost.

  1. Join your local Chamber of Commerce – generally they have online links back to your site, have networking mixers and are a great source of referrals
  2. Craigslist – have an “image ad” not just text and be sure to include your website link back to your site ALWAYS. Don’t forget one of the most popular sites online, Craigslist allows you to post free classified ads, on location(s) chosen by you.
  3. Yellow pages - just like the Yellow Pages only online so you can increase hits back to your site
  4. Yahoo Local despite Google being the reigning search engine, Yahoo! remains a popular option for its loyal users. Sign up on Yahoo! Local and grab all the free exposure your website can get!
  5. Google Local Maps create an account with Google and use Google Maps or Google Local to ensure that your business shows up in the search results on Google. When Google infuses these results on its page, it increases the value of its local search and maps application.
  6. Merchant Circle, Manta and Alignable are great ways to network locally
  7. Local.com Add your listing to a well traveled site that displays local favorites, reviews, maps, movie listings, and more.
  8. Kijiji free local listings on a site much like Craigslist
  9. White Pages are the same idea as the Yellow Pages but for businesses
  10. Connect with your local Economic Development Corporation. Generally they will be able to help promote your business and even offer a link back to your site as well.
  11. Send enewsletters – Email marketing is a great way to grow your client base by encouraging people to forward the email to a friend. Include a coupon in the email to entice new clients even more.
  12. Have postcards designed and printed and use them like flyers! Lay them at coffee shops, post them on cork boards at diners, automotive places, etc. People are more likely to notice them rather than a business card because of their size and are more likely to not discard it due to the nice printing and paper stock.
  13. Start a Blog and post on other blogs related to your industry or locale
  14. Start a Facebook ad and target your specific city, demographics, etc
  15. Post on forums specific to your city
  16. Yellow Pages ensure that you are listed on the online version of the popular phone directory. A basic listing comes free of cost.
  17. Yelp is another local venue for people to locate and review your business
  18. Get vinyl lettering for your back window. Keep the message simple with your business name, a couple of your services, phone number and website address.
  19. Leave business cards or tri-fold brochures at other local businesses
  20. Get social on websites like Facebook groups for your local areas or interact with local people in Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.

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