Why Would You Encourage Business Owners to Incorporate Podcasts and Videos into Their Marketing Strategies?
Last week, I was interviewed by Crystaltech, the company that hosts all our websites/blogs/podcasts/live streaming video productions, for their latest newsletter and blog. The interview covered a few different topics, but I felt the answer to one of the questions posed during the interview would be helpful to readers of this blog.
Why would you encourage business owners to
incorporate podcasts and videos into their marketing strategies?
My answer had less to do with podcasting and video specifically and more about the problem all websites have created. For me, rolling out a podcast/live streaming video production isn’t about how cool either of those things are. It’s about whether you recognize the problems traditional websites have created and if you are interested in solving those very same problems.
Here’s what I said in the interview. I welcome any comments!
First, I don’t think podcasting and live streaming video is a fit for every company [emphasis added]. I think a certain type of embedded video is a fit across the board, if done correctly.
That said, when considering your online marketing strategy, you first need to take a hard look at your website. Truth is, the websites of today aren’t performing any better than the websites of the mid-nineties. The reason is because we’re still creating what amounts to a bunch of electronic brochures…and nobody cares about our electronic brochures. And the numbers bear this out. The average amount of time somebody spends on a website is one minute, and half those people only last eight seconds. Unless you have a story that can be told in eight seconds, you have to figure out how to keep people engaged longer so you can speak to the problems you can solve, and separate yourself from the competitive herd.
As we say on our website, what’s really needed to increase the connection between you and your prospects is to stop producing yet another bit of written marketing collateral, and try something better–and much more impactful. You can turn the day-to-day efforts of your company into an ongoing story that gives your listeners a real sense of who you are, what you do, and how you are solving the problems facing your customers and prospects. That’s why our customers podcast.
Video, regardless of whether it’s live streaming video or on-demand, when done correctly, solves a major challenge most websites unintentionally create when it comes to a company’s perceived approachability. Remember, with a website, I never have to speak to a human. If you recognize that your employees are among your most valuable assets, not providing a window into these important people is bad business. Our customers use live streaming and on-demand video to improve their approachability in the eyes of their prospects and customers, thus shortening the sales cycle.
1. Nobody Cares What You Do.
Time and time again, I hear corporate/business podcasts go on and on about how great their latest widget is. Here’s the truth – nobody cares what you do, they only care what you do for them.
Instead of speaking from a company-centric perspective, speak from the customer’s point of view. What are the problems they face? Why are they in trouble in the first place? What have many of your customers done in the past to try to solve their problems (but have come up short).
You bond with people on their problems, not your solution. Before you offer me a solution to my problems, prove to me you know what problems I’m dealing with in the first place.
2. Adding Video to Your Podcast Will not Help if Your Audio is Poor.
I’ve written about this before. If the sound on your video podcast sucks, nobody is going to watch. Those developing video content must recognize that the most important component to your video is not the video. It’s the ability the hear the story being told. If I cannot hear that story, or if the quality is so bad that it is distracting, you’ve lost me.
3. An Un-Prepared Guest is a Boor.
If your podcast consists of interview employees and partners, take the time to prepare them for the interview. It is VERY difficult to listen to somebody who stutters, hems and haws, “uhhs”, “errrss”, “you knows” through an interview because they simply aren’t prepared to answer your questions.
We solve this problem by pre-interviewing the guest ahead of time. You want the guest to know what to expect before you hit “record”. Learn before the interview what’s important to them. Help them understand the point of Scary Fact #1. Then, prior to the recording, let them know what the questions will be (and, depending on the guest, remind them of what they felt would be their important answers).
4. An MP3 Link is Not Enough.
I would guess that over 90% of all podcasts I’ve come across only provide an MP3 as a means of listening to their show. This is not enough if you want to increase the probability of listenership. Besides providing an easy way to access your RSS feed (for those who want to subscribe to your podcast), do not forget to provide a Flash Player for each episode. Failure to do so ignores the fact that many people dislike having to click. . .then wait. . .for the MP3 file to load in their browser. Instead, adding a simple Flash Player for each episode gives a new visitor a chance to audition your show. . .something he may otherwise not be willing to do.
5. If You Don’t Plan Your Podcast, You Will Hurt Your Brand.
It’s shocking to me how many podcasts get started with their first episode (or dump a few episodes all at once), and then stop producing any more episodes. Developing a great podcasting is like being asked to develop a new radio/TV talk show. It takes work and can be overwhelming. This, more times than not, leads to “podfading”, which is the premature ending of a podcast series due to lack of time, resources or planning.
Frank Sinatra had a great line. He said that he had his whole life to record is first record but only six months to record his second album. In podcasting, you have your whole life to record your first podcast episode. Guess how long until the next episode is expected?
Of course, if I was talking about an amateur podcast, this wouldn’t matter. But because of the subscription nature of podcasts, this is poisonous for a corporate podcast. By podfading, you’ve told all those subscribers that their interest in your show doesn’t matter to you. . .and that their vote doesn’t count. From a branding perspective, this is bad new.
A well-planned podcast will drive show momentum and increase listenership and reduce the risk associated with failing to deliver what is promised to your audience.
The problem with many online marketing efforts is the difficulty determining the Return On Investment (ROI). For PodWorx, our podcasts and Live Streaming Video productions are designed to help our customers do one (or both) of two things:
- Make More Money
- Motivate People to Take Action on our Customer’s Behalf
For our latest Live Streaming Video production (QBS Live Mondays), I wanted to see how (or if) the additional of this video offering would effect the performance of the customer’s email marketing efforts. Specifically, I wanted to know if adding video would lift their email open and click-thru rates.
I compared the performance of QBS Research’s May 2009 Newsletter (emailed to their list on 5/5/09) with the announcement of the QBS Live Mondays show (emailed on 5/28/09).
The company’s May 2009 Newsletter had a 17.6% open rate and a 11.8% click-thru rate. The email announcing the QBS Live Mondays live show improved both measurements:
- Open Rate: 22.9% (an increase of 30.1%)
- Click-Thru Rate: 17.1% (an increase of 44.9%)
I should note that there were other links within the email other than to the video content. Interestingly, the links to the video content accounted for 64.7% of all the click-thru within the email. In other words, close to two-thirds of all clicks went to the video links.
As I continue to measure the effectiveness of our podcasts and Live Streaming Video productions, I’ll be sure to pass that information along to everybody reading this blog. If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment below.
The Living in Las Vegas Podcast has been a testing grounds of sorts for PodWorx. As a matter of fact, it was the early success of the Living in Las Vegas (LiLV) Podcast that brought about the launch of PodWorx in the first place! (Having already proven that a podcast can help a company make money, as it did for GreatRelaxationMusic.com, the LiLV Podcast cemented the concept that a podcast, when done right, can influence listeners to take action on your behalf.)
Anywho, I’ve used the LiLV Podcast platform for other testing as well, most recently to answer this question:
What effect does adding video have on an audio podcast?
Forgive me Father
Because of my workload, I’ve not produced as many LiLV episodes as I (or our viewers/listeners) would like. As a result, I was seeing an understandable decrease in the number of downloads per episode. I was not too happy about the decrease. . .but again. . .I understood. In appreciation to those listeners who stuck with the show, I wanted to offer up something new. . .an “inside baseball” look into what producing the LiLV Podcast looks like. So, the last couple of episodes have been produced as a live streaming video production, with live chat.
The feedback from the hundreds of people around the world who attended the live shows was gratifying. But what I was really curious about was whether or not adding the ability to download video on demand would positively impact the number of times a particular episode would be downloaded.
Measuring the Results
The answer, I’ve recently learned, is that adding video does increase the number of downloads per episodes. . .significantly.
Now, because the subject matter of every episode is different, some are downloaded more than others. But when I compared that last two episodes we produced that did not have a downloadable video option (64: Dining at Wynn Encore, New Year’s Eve with 20-Somethings and 65: Living the Loft Lifestyle in Las Vegas) with the last two episodes that did have a video download option (66: Learning About the Origins of Las Vegas at Springs Preserve and 67: Southern Nevada Art Gallery in Downtown, Re-piping the House, Miss USA, Britney Spears), I measured a 50.3% increase in episodes downloaded.
There were three download options available for each show: mp3 (audio), flv (video) and mp4 (video).The breakdown of episodes download for the last two shows looked like this:
- Audio Download: 33%
- Video Download: 67%
I have to admit I was a bit surprised by these results. I felt that video would certainly bump up the numbers but did not expect video to account for two-thirds of each episode’s downloads.
What This Means to Me (and You)
It is clear to me that in this Internet world of ours, even though we are all so easily connected, people want to feel a real connection with others during their online travels. And adding video to your podcast (or adding video in general), when the video is well-produced (content+technically) goes a long way towards improving the approachability of your website and further humanizes what can be a less-than-human(y) environment.
This means that if you’re even remotely toying with the idea of adding video to your podcast as a means of driving more downloads and bringing yourself closer to your website visitors, I’d advise you to do so. The increase in numbers is gratifying and besides, now your mom can finally see what you’ve been doing all this time!
By the way, for those who’ve recently added video to their marketing efforts, I’d like to hear what you’ve experienced. Are you seeing an increase in downloads as well? Is the effort the same, less, or more than with an audio-only show? Let me know.
I’m pleased to see a measurable increase in online video. I’m seeing them more and more in podcasts, embedded in websites, and as a means of driving traffic to your site through Video on Demand sites like YouTube. We’ve begun using video to further improve the connection and approachability of PodWorx and as a means of creating a more intimate setting for out Living in Las Vegas Podcast audience. This is a good thing.
In a business setting, a well thought out video will decrease the time to close a transaction with your visitor by accelerating the mandatory “getting to know you” phase of any sales cycle. But with this exciting increase of online video, I’m seeing the same thing I saw with the initial wave of audio podcasts.
Terrible audio quality.
Those developing video content must recognize that the most important component to your video is not the video. IT’S THE ABILITY TO HEAR THE STORY BEING TOLD. If I cannot hear the story being told, or if the quality is so bad that it is distracting, you’ve lost me.
This means that if you’ve created this beautiful video, with clever transitions, lovely on-screen graphics, compelling on-screen talent, and story-enhancing music, but the sound coming from the talent is tinny, contains too much room echo, is too quiet or too loud and distorted, I’m not going to spend the time suffering through it just to watch the talent be, well, talented. Instead, I’m going to move on to the next item on my to-do list.
But here’s a hint – you already knew that.
Here’s why. Look at one of the most impressive pieces of video/audio technology we have at our disposal today: Skype. When using Skype to place a video-to-video call, what does the software do in the event the bandwidth available will not provide enough throughput for both the audio and video signal.
It degrades the video portion of the connection to ensure the audio is still as good as it can be. The smart people at Skype know that if you can’t hear each other, being able to see each other clearly would only make things MORE annoying.
So, be Skypish with your video. If you’ve done a great job with your audio podcast and you’re now bringing in a video offering, be certain the audio is at least as good with the video as it was with the audio-only product. And if you’re initial go-to-market plan is using video, don’t skimp on the audio side of the story. . .doing so will leave your “talent” with nobody for whom to perform.
What say you? Are you struggling to maintain great sound quality with your video? Are you wondering how to do so? Let me know.
After many days (and late nights) of planning, designing, coding, tweaking, and testing, the brand-new PodWorx.com website is LIVE and ONLINE!
The motivation behind this project was multifaceted – I wanted to:
- deliver more PodWorx-developed content about podcasting and live streaming video productions to our expanding audience in a manner that was easy for our visitors to find and consume
- Further improve our search engine optimization efforts by taking advantage of the blog-based/CMS platform the new site uses
- Create a website/hosting environment that better facilitates the variety of embedded media we are using (and plan to use in the future)
- Eat My Own Dog Food (if I recommend and implement this type of website for our customers, I should be doing the same thing.)
Given the growing interest in podcasting and live streaming video productions, we expect the new PodWorx.com will be a valuable asset to those tasked with learning about and implementing either (or both) of these online sales and marketing techniques.
The new PodWorx.com features:
- A clear description of what PodWorx does
- A glimpse into the results podcasting/live streaming video productions are delivering for our customers
- An introduction to the Four P’s of Podcasting®
- Educational Content, including an Introduction to Live Streaming Video, How to Access Live Streaming Video, Podcast Facts and Figures, and what an Intracasts™ is
- A long list of all the shows we’ve produced
- The PodWorx/Scott Whitney Blog
- The Podcasting for Business Podcast (with premium episodes)
- Online Ordering of training content and consultation offerings
- Links to all our Social Media efforts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon and YouTube)
- An embedded video introduction to our next Live Business Brief
Whew! That’s quite a list! We hope you find the new website entertaining and educational, and that you return often. And many thanks to those of you who provided feedback during the design of the website. (You know who you are!)
So, what do you think of the new website? We’re still tweaking here and there so I’d love to hear your feedback!
We have been spending much of the last couple weeks planning and implementing some new video capabilities within the PodWorx studio. To test our streaming video capabilities, we will be offering a live Q&A session meant to answer any of your podcast questions.
More information (date/time) to follow.
A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by Fred Castaneda of the Struggling Entrepreneur Podcast. Fred’s show focuses on what it’s like to be an entrepreneur (struggling or not) and tips from folks who have taken the jump into the entrepreneurial waters (and even from those who have chosen not to). Fred is a very nice guy and is really working hard to create a show that helps folks considering whether or not to try their hand at starting their own business.
In our interview, we talk about a wide variety of subjects, including:
- How I decided to become an entrepreneur
- My experience with podcasts
- The obstacles I faced as a business owner
- Whether I wrote a business plan
- Why Polycom podcasts with us
- The problems facing most business today
- The process I take all interviewees through
- The Four P’s of Podcasting®
- The upcoming 2008 New Media Expo
- How PodWorx markets itself
- My recommendations for other aspiring entrepreneurs
For those interested in such things, below is the audio file from that interview. Fred also was nice enough to have the interview transcribed as well (PDF).
Do we have any entrepreneurs reading this blog? Are you using podcasting or blogging for your company? Let’s hear from you!
Reason Number 5 – Customer Loyalty
There is an interesting book on the shelves called, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, by Jeffrey Gitomer. Its premise? A satisfied customer is a customer for whom you simply haven’t yet angered and has no allegiance to your company. A loyal customer is a customer who loves you, tells other people about you and will carry your flag up the hill even if you zig when you should have zagged.
Podcasting, when done right, helps customer loyalty.
By producing a podcast that remembers to either entertain or educate your customers (one of the two criteria for a successful podcast), you attach a voice and emotion to your company brand. You humanize your company. And you’ve demonstrated that when it comes to providing relevant, helpful information to your customers, you recognize that your customers no longer expect to have to wait for content they might want to consume. You’re willing to put in the effort to provide content on their terms, not yours.
This, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.
When a customer recognizes that you’re putting that much effort into making it easy to connect to your business, that makes for an appreciative customer…which leads to customer loyalty.
Things to remember:
- Your podcast must either entertain or educate the listener
- You podcast should always ask for questions and comments during the audio portion of the show
- There should be easy-to-find contact information on the website
How has your podcast affected your customer’s perception of your company? Let me know!