If you’re anything like most business owners and employees out there, you’ve been looking forward to 2021 for quite some time. 2020 was a challenging year for all of us. Yet despite all the hardships and changes we’ve had to face, one thing remained constant: the prevalence of digital mediums as escapism platforms, as well as their power to bring people together.
For e-merchants all over the world, 2020 actually came with an increase in sales, brand awareness, and distribution, skyrocketing the industry 10 years into the future. With half of the global shopping power moving online, shops had to find new innovative ways to engage with and keep their customers happy, as well as bring new ones on board.
Engaging in omnichannel strategies, using social media advertising, and getting on board of the sustainable practices train are among the few strategies e-merchants followed in 2020. With the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short form digital messages, one candidate proved itself to be quite successful: video.
Video as Marketing Sovereign
“Video is king”. Marketers and business owners alike are used to hearing this mantra, and for good reason. About 78% of internet users watch videos every week, with 55% of them watching videos every day. Websites are 53% more likely to hit Google’s top page in search results when it includes a video. Some research even suggests video can increase organic traffic by up to 157%. Finally, 64% of consumers report buying something after watching a branded video from a company.
This data doesn’t come as a surprise. Videos are great tools to:
- Grab users’ attention and engage them
- Drive traffic to a website
- Increase the average time spent on a website
- Add the necessary personal touch
- Convey a message in short and clear ways
- Increase click-through and open rates
- Ultimately convert!
While written content (such as this post, funnily enough), infographics, or other types of visual media are still reliable in e-merchants’ marketing strategies, they aren’t as malleable to create and easy to digest as video is.
That being said, 2021 will bring a whole new take on video for e-commerce. Let’s have a look at the 3 main themes to follow this year:
Video Trends for 2021
Humanized Videos in the Customer Journey
Personalization is a key element in a successful e-commerce marketing strategy. Especially since 2020 witnessed an increase of 15% in online sales, sellers needed to reframe the way customers interact with their products and brand. Most of these efforts went to live-streaming or personalized ads. Yet there is an ongrowing need for “humanized” touchpoints all throughout the customer journey.
In 2021, it won’t be enough to use chatbots or 24/7 customer support. You need support to be available across all your social media channels too. As this can be tedious, you can use a support tool like DelightChat that brings all your social media channels together. Also, e-merchants will have to differentiate themselves by creating visual, human touch points to attract and engage their leads and customers.
The best way to achieve this is with humanized videos. People want to see other people, they want to relate to the experience or product they are purchasing.
Think, for example, of a women’s clothing store. Women are more likely to purchase a product when they see it worn by someone their size. E-merchants took action and now use models from xxs to xxl sizes (or higher) to present clothing. Not only is it great to have an idea of how that product would look on someone with a similar silhouette, but there’s the human aspect of an actual person wearing the clothes, as opposed to being on a mannequin.
The same train of thought should be used with website videos. Apps like Vidjet enable e-merchants to display videos on any of the customer journey steps, according to their actions on an online shop. You could say hello to a customer once they enter your shop (website), show them around, answer their questions, use videos of customer reviews, or even present a product to them, just like in real life! If they decide to purchase something, you can thank them with a personalized video and even offer them a discount for the next time.
Either way you choose to go about your video strategy for 2021, human touch points will be essential to succeed.
People are becoming more and more conscious of their consumption choices. From equal opportunities to sustainability practices, they expect companies, especially ones they shop from, to be transparent with the ways they conduct business.
It’s not enough to claim you’re using environmentally friendly materials or engage in racial diversity practices; you need to show them.
While blog articles, social media posts, or podcasts can be efficient ways to be transparent, videos have some advantages over them. When intentionally made and targeted to specific paths, they can increase brand awareness as well as encourage users to finalize a purchase.
One way in which e-shops have tried to use transparency through video is via Youtube (or any other video-hosting platform) and social media live-streams/ stories/ reels. Live-streams have had immense success in 2020 - yet not everyone can tune in whenever they happen. Youtube is great for long-form videos - yet not everyone will watch them until the end. And despite reels or TikTok-like videos being top hits, they can easily get lost in a sea of other “more-fun” content.
To make the most out of educating your audience via video, you should create humanized content to upload on both social media and your website. Record yourself while you speak about your shop, the industry, as you give transparent information about a product, walk around your factory, or speak with employees.
And, if you don’t like recording yourself or are camera-shy, you can use some stock videos or pictures, add subtitles, and use your voice as narration. Making use of AI tools is especially useful here, with companies like Synthesia offering a wide array of video possibilities. Then, you can upload them on social media as stories and pin them to your profile.
Your customers will be happy to have transparent information about your company or feel like they have learned something new from your educational material. Moreover, they might share these videos with their friends or followers and bring you a few more customers in the process.
Be with your audience, wherever it is
Being present on all the possible channels out there is not only tiring, but resource consuming as well. Given the heavy load of content that consumers are bombarded with, it’s important to make yourself relevant by going where your target audience is.
We saw that buyers want authentic content and transparency from the businesses they purchase from. All the resources invested into creating personalized and informative videos would be in vain if the relevant audience doesn’t see them.
This is where social media and influencers come into play. 2020 saw a boost in live-streaming, on one hand because of the pandemic and its restrictions, on the other due to technological evolution, like an increase in mobile usage and platforms such as Twitch.
Live-streaming is appealing because you don’t just push content forward to an audience (much like ads); rather, people take part in them because they already have an interest. Youtube is the preferred live-streaming platform by most; however Twitch is the biggest live-streaming platform worldwide.
Influencer marketing is also on the rise, with such campaigns proving to be effective in increasing brand awareness and sales. Encourage influencers you collaborate with to create video content using your products, or give a review, and then publish it on their platform. You could even use their review and upload it on your shop as a testimonial.
Find out where your audience spends the most time and observe the level of video engagement on that platform. Then, create humanized and informative videos to share with them or invite them to live-streams to increase engagement rates.
Video Types for 2021
Taking into consideration the 3 main themes for e-commerce videos, let’s have a more in-depth look at the types of videos you can use.
2020 was the year of live-stream videos and TikTok views. Regardless of where the pandemic will take us, live-streams will remain popular in 2021.
There are various platforms on which you can do such video content, from Twitch to Youtube, from Instagram to Facebook. The right platform for you is the one where most of your buyer persona, or target audience, spends their time on. For a more e-commerce tailored platform, we recommend Spockee. The app enables customers to have live video conversations with employees and even host live-streams for online customers.
After you establish this, the next step is figuring out what content you will explore during your live-stream. Is it a Q&A session about your company? Educational content? A run around the daily activities of your business? A shopping party with Spockee? Or maybe an invitation for an influencer or customer to host a live-stream on your account? The opportunities are endless.
Before and during the stream, familiarise yourself with the app and how it works. Ensure all your technology is functional and that you have all the props you need. When it’s over, don’t forget to make it available for as long as you wish and promote it on other platforms as well.
Influencer videos are quite malleable in terms of theme, with the added benefit of reaching the right audience.
The trick lies in working with people that have similar interests and following as your shop, as well as attitudes and values that align with your brand.
Ask your influencers to film themselves as they either:
- give a review or talk about the product;
- use the product, by themselves or with friends;
- gift it to someone they’re close to;
- give information about the product or other topic you want to educate your audience with;
- other such use cases!
After they publish the video, upload it on your website or other digital mediums.
The short-form video era started with Vine (remember that?), followed by Snapchat, Instagram Stories & Reels, and others.
Yet 2020 was the year of TikTok, who became so popular in the past couple of years that it partnered with Shopify to make buying products from a TikTok video as easy as clicking Buy Now.
To create successful e-commerce marketing campaigns, you should leverage 10 to 60 second long videos. These are great to:
- Generate brand awareness - one often sees TikTok videos being shared on Instagram or other platforms, thus increasing reach.
- Keep your audience engaged - 90 % of internet users report to watch at least 1 video a month, while Vidyard reports that only 68% watch videos until the end if they’re under 1 min long. The shorter the video, the likelier it is they will watch it till the end.
- Convert - 64% of people said they purchased something after watching a brand video. You should pay special attention to the voiceover, as 75% consumers decided not to buy a product because of an annoying voice. When you make videos short, fun, or informative, your chances of conversion go even higher!
Short-form videos aren’t only about what can be published on social. Having one on your main page to welcome new visitors or give thanks to someone who’s purchased something are other ways to leverage this medium.
No matter which type of video (short, influencer, in-house etc.) you choose for company related feats, it’s essential that you are transparent and honest.
As mentioned before, customers have become increasingly conscious of the shops they purchase products from and the brands they interact with. Some might be able to call out your bluff and make their opinions public, which will only damage your business.
If you’re ashamed or reluctant to be transparent with the way you make your products or conduct your company, then it might be time to reassess these aspects before you start promoting your videos.
In 2021, the 2 most important aspects consumers will want to know about your company are sustainability (how environmentally conscious are your products?) and inclusivity (how racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse are your employees?).
Company videos go under humanization and education themes. Use stock videos and other resources you can find online to create videos about your shop. Some helpful tools are Kapwing and Veed.io.
Interview your employees and C-levels, have conversations with specialists in their field (for example, diversity managers), record the production process or create illustrations of it (as long as there’s no sensitive information competitors would steal), and ask customers about their opinions via a short call.
Product videos + customer testimonials
Almost all e-merchants have pictures of the products they sell, as well as a description with details and identifiers. But videos of the product have the potential to significantly up your conversion rates.
For example, having someone wear the clothes and film them as they move, sit, or run, will give people a better idea of how the product would feel and look on themselves.
Alternatively, posting a video of the product on its page will show visitors what the real colour of it looks like, the actual size, and other such descriptors which would otherwise be distorted by professional shots in a studio. This is a problem e-merchants often face with low-rated reviews, as customers complain the product doesn’t look or feel as in the photos.
Customer reviews are another game-changer in influencing a visitor’s decision to buy. When you combine the powers of videos + reviews, you get the perfect result of user engagement and happy customers.
Of course, you always run the risk of getting negative reviews (not everyone will be happy). So a good way to leverage this would be to ask users who’ve written nice things to record a short testimonial as well.
Customer Journey Videos
The e-commerce industry has long been dealing with how to make the online customer experience as similar to a live one. Of course, as the 2020 pandemic proved to everyone, nothing compares to face to face conversations and being close to other… humans. That doesn’t stop e-merchants from trying.
Personalization, excellent customer support, an intuitive and attractive website, as well as direct engagement with customers via social media are all ways in which the online shopping experience gains human characteristics.
Yet, one of the best, and still underused ways, in which to humanize your store’s experience is by using self-recorded videos all throughout the customer journey, from the moment they arrive on the website to the first time they have your product in their hands. Record videos of yourself (or other members of your team) welcoming customers, guiding them through the shop, and showing them customer testimonials or product videos when on a product page.
Then, once they’re shopping, display a video thanking them for their purchase and giving them general details about their order (for example, shipping duration). Finally, when they return to your shop, you can personalize another video thanking them for being a loyal customer and maybe adding in a discount! Vidjet is a great starting point for this part!
Videos for ads
These also go under the 3rd theme of being where your audience is. However, these videos are likelier to require the biggest amount of resources: money, time, digital knowledge, people. Companies also need to invest in the ads themselves, which is another extra cost.
Luckily, tools such as PlayPlay make it easy to work with such videos. It’s important to also:
- Make your videos short - Facebook Ads recommends videos between 5-15 seconds long.
- Make your brand obvious from the beginning, preferably within the first 3 seconds.
- Optimize your titles to be short and catchy.
- Have an attractive thumbnail.
- Think mobile-first and enable the sound off option!
We believe these types of videos should come last in the list of priorities, unless there’s the option of using other low-budget types of videos as ads on social media (such is the case with Pinterest).
In terms of TV ads, that’s a totally different story, more complicated and resource-consuming than any. Carefully analyse your budget and resources before deciding to advertise on television.
We covered the specific themes as well as types of videos e-merchants can strategize around for their 2021 marketing strategy.
To finish off, we’ll look at a few basic aspects to consider whenever you create video content for your e-shop.
Familiarize yourself with the tech
This sounds very basic, yet you’d be surprised at how much time you can save if you familiarize yourself with the basic aspects of how your choice of technology works.
Ask someone on your team to teach you or assign this task to them, subscribe to some tutorials (most apps offer on-boarding tips and techniques via email), read the video camera main instructions (unless you use your phone, which is pretty straightforward), and so on.
For video editing software, you can do wonders with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. There’s plenty to go on with mobile as well, such as Quick from GoPro and even your smartphone’s native apps. Just find one that works for you.
And if you require more serious editing, reach out for help.
You don’t need a professional camera to create attractive videos. Unless you want to record at night or use subjects that move fast, most mobile cameras will suffice thanks to their high definition and bright colours.
Adding special effects in the editing process can be time consuming, so we’d suggest getting the lighting and frame right while you record. This way, you’ll avoid lots of extra work in front of the computer and become more comfortable and experienced with the actual video creation.
Wave Video, apart from being a great editing app, wrote a comprehensive guide on how to create attractive videos.
We’ve talked a lot about humanization and bringing a more relatable experience to your customers.
So, we’ll say it again: add that personal touch to your videos in order to make customers feel appreciated and see the value in purchasing from your shop. Remember that human touch requires… humans, so use your face, or others’ if you’re camera shy, and bring to the online the main success-factor in bricks and mortar retail selling: the ability to connect with a person, face to face.
Making videos just for the sake of them or because they’re the new cool will not bring better results. What the video presents is as important as where you share it. Unless your content is engaging, educational, or attractive, your videos will lie in a pool of 1 time views.
Educate your audience, be transparent with who you are, promote diversity, build a brand, play around and be fun, use people who are relatable to your audience. You may even use past successful content, such as blog posts, to repurpose them as videos.
It will take some time to test and find out what works best for your audience; but when you do, your customers will become your best promoters.
Language and Presentation
Short and engaging videos rarely bombard the viewer with heavy wording and concepts. Therefore, it’s important to use simple language and pay attention to how you present your thoughts.
A good way to ensure that your videos are easy to digest and enjoyable is to write a quick script before filming. This way, you will have the security of not getting off track and notice any inconsistencies.
Once the video is done, send it to a friend or acquaintance who has no idea about your product and ask their opinion. You will get relevant feedback and be able to quickly act upon it.
Ready, Set, Go
2021 is the year where we take the lessons we’ve learned in 2020 and create the best version of ourselves and our work.
Video will remain “king”. So add it to your e-commerce marketing strategy and make the most out of it by humanizing your videos, educating your customers through them, and promoting them to the right audience.
Create live-streams, short-form or company videos, ask influencers to create videos for you, promote product and testimonial videos on your website, and add them all throughout the customer journey.
Finally, ensure that you’re familiar with the necessary video tools, follow the best video design advice, add a personal touch, and use simple language to ensure engaging content.
Have any questions or feedback on your 2021 video strategy? Let me know at email@example.com :)
Main photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Thumbnail image by ASTERISK KWON on Unsplash