Mainstream video content and distribution platform YouTube estimates that more than 1 billion unique users visit it each month. In addition, some 4 billion hours of video per month are streamed through the company's platform.
There is no question that creating quality video content is increasingly becoming one of the most engaging ways for brands and businesses to connect with customers and reach a wider audience of viewers. YouTube has become the quintessential platform to do this.
Video can provide alternative ways for companies to assist throughout the customer journey, says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research Group and The Bullpen Group. For instance, in a vendor-to-customer interaction, "a high-level video describing a product or service might be used early in a sales process, but it might also be used during the close if [an] evaluator has to brief a more senior person who has budget [authority]." Video adds a layer of transparency that has "become the smart way to go" for different stages of the buying process for e-commerce and online sites, and now even brick-and-mortar retailers, he notes.
But, according to Digiday, Kantar Media Intelligence, a provider of strategic advertisting information to advertisers, has found that only 24 percent of national brands are actually using online video to market to consumers.
"Not all brands have caught on," says Martin Gill, principal analyst at Forrester Research. But thanks to mobile devices, he adds, "the technology for consumers to consume this content now is easier than ever before."
Mobility presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges for brands when it comes to video. YouTube estimates that 25 percent of its global views occur on mobile devices today, with more than 1 billion views taking place on tablets and smartphones per day. That means traffic has nearly tripled from 2011.
Early movers are recognizing some benefits. Popular eyewear company Warby Parker, for instance, mainly operated stores-within-a-store until recently, when it opened Boston and New York boutique stores. To bridge the gap between the offline consumer and the brand's digital site, a virtual showroom is provided and customers are encouraged to "try on" their glasses using the camera on their computers.
The hallmark of Warby Parker's e-business strategy is the home try-on program, enabling customers to select five pairs of glasses, have them shipped free of charge, and return them within five days. Via its Facebook page, customers can upload videos of their samples to seek opinions from Warby employees and other shoppers. A customer support team also manages a WarbyParkerHelp channel on YouTube. When this article was written, the channel had garnered more than 63,000 views for its video responses to tweets and Facebook posts that require more of a personal response.