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Why video can boost your customer engagement

17th Mar 2017
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Millennials have a radically different relationship with video than their parents did. Instead of passively absorbing information in a lean back experience, they see video – particularly that available through user generated content (UGC) sites like YouTube – as a way to find practical information and instruction on everything from Minecraft walkthroughs to hair braiding and the latest dance moves. When they do take a more lean back approach, it’s often more likely to watch a YouTube star with a following built through personal engagement than anything resembling a traditional three-camera sitcom. This enhanced level of engagement is an opportunity for brands to build video into their customer engagement services.


The growing power of video

In a recent white paper, venture capital firm Foundation Capital updated a report it had issued a year earlier about the “keys to unlocking the decade of the CMO.” In addition to familiar themes like ROI, automation, authentic content, personalisation, and conversion, the firm added a sixth key – video.

With the explosion of mobile and internet usage, video streaming has become a core facet of daily life with consumers able to watch and share the latest viral content, unsurprising given more than half of YouTube videos are watched from mobile devices. The reason video is proving to be such a compelling form of content consumption is its ability to convey a large amount of information in just a few seconds, changing the question brands should be asking themselves from whether to make video part of their customer engagement strategy to how to do it.


Learn from customers – and kids!

To harness the unique power of video to engage and influence, retailers have to know what users really want to see, and when rather than providing disruptive auto play videos that don’t actually serve a need. To make it an effective tool, retailers need to first consider the way today’s viewers use and interact with online video.

While the viewing behaviours of the youngest consumers will have disproportionate importance in the future, they’re not the only ones thinking about video in different ways. Consumers of all ages now turn to their connected devices for step-by-step tutorials, product reviews and so on. There’s also an element of personal connection to consider. Children don’t watch just anyone play Minecraft online, they follow their favourite personalities on platforms like to find out how to create various items. The same applies to adults. Once you found a video on the right topic and with the right level of detail, it’s a natural habit to go back to that site for further advice.

These behaviours can serve as lessons to create compelling customer engagement videos. Delivering the right content at the right time and place can make a fundamental difference to building and maintaining a relationship with the customer. By inserting these interactive experiences into the buying process, retailers can provide information the way people prefer to consume it today, and help push them further along the funnel from consideration to purchase and ongoing brand loyalty. Video offers a uniquely effective way to interact with customers who might not be ready to initiate a call or chat, but do want quick access to relevant information.


Give self-service the human touch

Video makes it possible to combine self-service with human connection, giving brands a face that people can relate to and built trust with. Alternatively, there is a growing pool of celebrities which many consumers already trust, such as YouTube reviewers. By engaging with them and turning them into brand ambassadors, retailers can tap into a wealth of already engaged viewers.

That personal touch also extends to knowing when it’s the right time to offer video, and which to offer. Brands will have plenty of data to work with, from the paths visitors have taken to get to the site and the time spent on each page to the device used and location. Logged in customers can offer even more information, including past purchases and enquiries. That contextual information can fuel analytics to determine the right way to use video to on the site – just as social media analytics curate which videos to surface in an individual’s feed.

We’re still in the early days of weaving video into the online customer experience, but a handful of companies – such as American Eagle Outfitters – are already demonstrating best practice. As customers browse the pages of these brands, they are served a knowledgebase with a range of items, such as lifestyle tips, product comparisons, and how-to guides. It’s the same way a clerk might help a customer in a retail aisle to answer questions or offer advice—and it can be just as effective for helping the customer make a decision and close a purchase. It’s the difference between being a source and a resource.

Any parent knows how hard it can be to drag their children away from their favourite YouTube channels. That’s the kind of loyalty and engagement that brands should strive for. Now there’s a way to get it.

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