Tools for Video Marketing: Flimp and VisibleGains

If you’re a business that has decided to make a promotional video, the easiest thing to do is to post it to your website. That’s simple, and hosting the video is also easy whether you use Vimeo or YouTube (my take here).

Yet, if you’ve got 1) lots of website traffic; and/or 2) a large email list; and/or 3) a mental commitment to using video to grow your sales, there are at least two interesting tools for going beyond the simple embed-video-on-website approach.

For those of you who don’t have a video (i.e. finished footage), understand now that it takes thousands of dollars to make video look professional. The lighting, the audio, the postproduction… It’s a lot harder than a brochure, and comparable in effort to building a simple website. There are a handful of exceptions: “Business casual talking head” video can be done effectively in house, and the cinema verite approach can work for some people like Jim the Realtor.

Flimp

Flimp is a paid service that you use to embed your video into a custom-made “microsite”, i.e. a standalone website with just a little content. You get to lay out and add your own text and images to the microsite, using an online click-drag-and-type editor. Most important, you add links from this microsite to your company’s website. Then, you upload a list of prospect (or customer) email addresses into their system, and they send out an email blast. You then see who has clicked into the site, and who has clicked over to your main website.
flimp-logoSee a sample here (opens new window). Note that the video is set to auto-play once opened, which may lift conversion but will annoy a few people along the way.

The sample microsite, incidentally, is cluttered with copy that competes with the video.

The Flimp team is positioning their tool as an quick and less-technical way to get video out in front of your prospects and customers. Yet you need someone with design talent to avoid having a homemade look — which usually degrades your conversion rate. Moreover, they use the term “video brochure” to describe their microsites, which is an overstatement since their microsites are apparently a single page.

Where does it fit into the sales cyles? Flimp is a lead development tool, aiming to convert cold leads into warm. It’s not a lead generation tool, since without email addresses you won’t get any additional benefit over simply placing the video on your website. Moreover, there is no incremental SEO benefit to Flimp.

Do temper your expectations when you hear “video” and “email” in the same sentence. Your prospects won’t see video right in their email program — not with Flimp or anyone else. Email clients, from Outlook to web-based email programs to mobile, hardly show images in their default view. Below are screen shots of 1) a Flimp email as it appears in Gmail with the default display options, and then 2) after permissioning Gmail to show images. No video, just a link to the microsite.

flimp-email-no-images
Flip’s email blast – not too exciting…

flimp-email-images
Now images are displayed, which invites the click.

 

Flimp is about $1800 a year, with addon usage fees kicking in at a high volume. It makes the most sense for businesses with 1) a large email list; 2) low video production costs; and 3) a marketer with moderate technical and design talents, and an appetite for testing. Here’s their website.

VisibleGains

The VisibleGains product is different than Flimp, technically and in the role it plays in the sales cycle.
vg-logoTo explain how, let’s take a step back. When someone comes to your website, they have a task — usually to learn more about who you are and what your products do. Typically, people navigate through your site’s text and images to get to their answer. Along the way, they might lose interest, get frustrated, or get lost.

VisibleGains makes your video part of the user’s site navigation experience, and counts on the more engaging nature of video to retain more people on the site as they seek their answer.

The VisibleGains innovation is addition of built-in calls to action after the video stops (which is comparable to the “related video suggestions” you see after a YouTube video).

Take a look at their site now. They really really want you to play that video in the middle of the age, right? And then they steer you in several directions.

Knowledge of the customer’s needs is critical with this tool. You need to script the video and the calls to action to answer the most questions, and best develop leads.

That last point is a big difference between our two tools. Flimp helps your conversion from email to website, and VisibleGains helps your conversion on the website. Thus, companies with a lot of offline, PR, and SEO in their marketing mix would be better off with the VisibleGains product.

VisibleGains runs about $3600 per year, with the price stepping up with the number of custom videos running on your site. Logically, then, this is a tool best suited for companies with few big-ticket products, instead of many low-margin products. Also, service companies benefit more from the VisibleGains product since people per se are part of the product.

Does it Make Sense?

Before you commit to these tools, think about:

  • Is your web traffic high enough, or your email list large enough, to offset the large fixed costs of these tools?
  • Can you sell more by improving your conversion from email, or converstion of onsite visitors? (Or is it something else?)
  • Do you know well enough which video creative will really engage your customers? That is, can you make something they’ll watch?
  • Is your house email list straightened up enough, and segmented?
  • Is the person who would run these programs hungry to test different online promotions? It’s uncommon to get things totally right on the first try.

 

Video hosting: The YouTube vs. Vimeo choice, about control and mobile distribution

What makes a marketing video successful? Most of the big factors have little to do with the technology, and instead are editorial and promotional in nature: The script, production, talent, and promotion/distribution.

My focus here is on a more mundane issue: where to host the video. That is, where does the video file “live”. A video can be embedded into your website, but be hosted by another company like YouTube or Vimeo. (Nearly all of your customers won’t notice the difference, and those that do won’t care.)

First off, don’t host video yourself. The difference in functionality between your own homegrown video player and service level versus Vimeo vastly exceeds the minimal cost of hosting.

There are some key differences between the two best hosting services, YouTube and Vimeo. I’m a fan of the latter for most B2B situations.

YouTube vs. Vimeo

Branding. If you embed a YouTube video on your site, you’ll see the YouTube watermark in the lower-right hand corner. That’s a bit of a distraction for your customers, and can cheapen the look somewhat. Vimeo offers a paid tier of service permitting you to remove their “V” logo.

 

vimeoViewership Control. All YouTube videos, if clicked when playing, sends the user to the video’s page at YouTube.com. That’s another potential distraction. If you’re using video on a landing page, where conversion is essential, don’t give prospects this kind of side door. Vimeo’s paid tier doesn’t have this click-away feature.

Privacy. Sometimes you want only a selection of people to see a video, if you’re sharing proprietary or competitive information. Examples include videos for an intranet, or an outside sales force extranet. Vimeo is the way to go here; you can prevent anyone from seeing a video except if they’re on a certain site. YouTube’s methods for limiting access are imperfect for business use.

Virality. Generally, YouTube is the choice for consumer-facing videos, since their reach is 10X that of Vimeo. Your video is much more likely to be encountered by people watching related videos, which means more traffic.

Cost. YouTube is free but has one set of features for everyone. Vimeo’s paid tier is $60 per year.

Mobile. Until last week, this was a major competitive difference between the two hosts. YouTube’s market power earned it perfect integration in the iPhone from Day 1. Vimeo, whose video player was Flash-based and thus nonfunctional on the iPhone, was left out in the cold. Yet on August 17, Vimeo finally upgraded their player code; now their videos work on iPhones and Android devices.


youtubeVideo Duration
. YouTube videos are limited to 10 minutes (July 2010 UPDATE: It’s now 15 minutes. Dec 2010 UPDATE - Now even longer…), which won’t work for long presentations or training material. Vimeo has a rather commodious filesize limit, so you can do very long videos.

Measurement. Both hosts have a solid set of metrics. Vimeo counts the number of times a video is watched in its entirety.

Takeaway

At the risk of oversimplifying, B2B companies are generally better off hosting their videos at Vimeo, and firms selling to consumers should probably start with YouTube.

Video and Credibility in Marketing

A business partner who helps a Connecticut real estate firm told me her client wanted “virtual tours” for their website.

Now, “virtual tours” can mean two things. First, those wizzy 360-degree pictures, with tiny counterintuitive pan-and-scan controls and that need a web browser plugin. To get those done, you need an “interactive agency” with a special camera.

I hate those.

The other kind of tour is a simple video like those done by Jim the Realtor, called by James Lileks ”our Virgil on our tour of the housing market”.

Let’s go to Solana Beach:

Despite the DIY aesthetic, this is riveting — especially compared to the cookie-cutter pan-and-scans.

Jim’s videos have been seen about a million times in the two years of his cinema verite period, and he’s gotten great regional PR for it.

His total cost for this marketing effort was probably $300 for a camera, an hour a day, and $0 for a YouTube account.

It’s a massive success. Why? What’s going on here?

Let’s go to Jim for the beginning of an answer. A correspondent from ABC’s Nightline asked him about… virtual tours!

“I think that virtual tours …  are canned, only showing the pictures they want you to see.”

“The unvarnished truth is what sells. People want … to see it the way it is. If you just give them that, that alone is a draw.”

Here is the bottom line: Your customers are interested in credible opinions about future purchases.

Jim exudes natural credibility, and uses the video medium sensibly to deliver it.

Can video fit into your selling process?

Today on TechCrunch, Ashkan Karbasfrooshan writes, “Search captures intent, video captures interest. Intent offers advertisers a short-term benefit, interest a more long-term value.”

The rest of the article is about how people can monetize their videos, but it’s good advice for anyone in sales and marketing.

Even though people and business aren’t buying as before the recession, they are still looking and evaluating. Their buying process continues, it’s just stretched out. Provide your customers something interesting and believable, and you are creating long-term value. That means future sales.

Teaching the Fishermen

We go back to real estate for another example.

A client of mine (let’s call him Mike) has a business doing some specialized work in real estate. Mike was asked by a realtor group to speak to their members, and give those people a seminar on how to do that work themselves. He declined, thinking he’d lose potential business.

I think Mike lost out on some upside. Imagine being asked to teach a room full of fishermen how to bait hooks! That’s a badge of honor in your customers’ eyes.

Chances are, 75% of those realtors in the seminar would have tried doing the work themselves and failed. Billybob Realtor would have thought, who could do this specialized work for me? Then they call Mike. Who would Billybob refer if someone else needed this specialized work?

Mike. He would be the expert.

Just like Jim the Realtor.

To bring it back to video: Mike could have gone one step further — by having his realtor seminar filmed, edited down to three minutes, and then distributed on his company’s website.

This doesn’t mean Mike is committing to a timesink like video blogging. Text content is about 5X easier and cheaper.

Karbasfrooshan would agree. “Unlike articles, you can’t fool audiences as easily with videos.  It’s easier to get away with a slapdash article than with a slapdash video.  Thus, most of the existing online video content relies on ‘talking head’ footage and Q&A formats which are relatively simple to produce. Most of the videos that pass for professionally produced videos should be articles.”

That said, video is great evergreen content and helps conversions. Maybe a 5:1 ratio is about right. (Of course, the consultant’s answer is, “it depends.”)

Is Mike giving away his trade secrets with his three-minute seminar video? Maybe a few, but that is an incentive to view and thus drives traffic. Doing so broadens your market, and offsets the potential loss.

So when is video right for you?

If you can demonstrate your company’s credibility on a screen for four minutes, then do it.