How can online video marketing work for your company?

Video marketing can be a daunting concept to any online marketer; with such rich and varied content available online, choosing the course of action that is best for your company seems like an impossible task! However, recent findings of a study published on Think with Google suggest that YouTube is fast becoming the search engine of choice for travellers seeking inspiration for their next trip.

The report demonstrates a 118% increase in views of travel-related content between 2013-2014, and, interestingly, a significant increase in mobile viewing – up 97% on smartphones and 205% on tablets.

As the second largest consumer search engine after Google, with more than 1 billion users and in excess of 3 billion monthly searches, it shouldn’t take too much convincing for travel marketers to jump on the YouTube bandwagon. But what if we also told you that research suggests webpages with YouTube content are 50x more likely to feature on Google’s first page?

The conclusion is clear: travellers are increasingly favouring video when planning a trip.

It’s not hard to see why; video can place the viewer within the action much more effectively than words or even photographs can. It is also far easier for the user to hit play on a 20 second video than it is for them to read 2000 words of text.

But what are travellers searching for on YouTube? What type of content are they interested in watching? Which other platforms should you distribute and promote your video content on? Let’s look at some of your options …

In search of an experience

A massive 71% of travel-related searches on YouTube are for specific destinations, trumping attractions, travel products and brands, which tells us a lot about why travellers consume video when planning a trip.

For those who are unsure about where their next trip will take them, it is a valuable source of inspiration, and for those who already have their heart set on a particular destination, it is a taster of the experience they will have.

It is your job to sell them the experience, and the way to do this is through storytelling. Take them on a journey that will leave them wanting more, by spotlighting the culture and attractions of the destination, or appealing to their emotional needs and FOMO (fear-of-missing-out).

Of course, if you’re an OTA selling a vast array of destinations worldwide it could be tricky to determine which destinations you should focus on. You may choose to focus on a particular spot that is inline with your company’s strategy or perhaps a compilation film of various destinations is the way to go.

Of course there are cost-effective ways to produce multiple videos for a variety of destinations, but what types of content do your customers want to see?

Professional or community-generated?

According to the Google report, of the travel-related video content viewed 67% was branded or professionally produced and 33% produced by travellers themselves. This is interesting when we consider the proliferation of amateur online travel bloggers in recent years, have they failed to make a dent on the YouTube audience?

Well this doesn’t appear to be the case when we look at which channels attract the most subscribers; 48% of travel channel subscriptions go to travel video-bloggers (know as vloggers), compared with 19% for travel brands. Travel vloggers are also 4x more likely to gain social engagement, such as Likes, Comments, and Shares. This is mostly thanks to the 18-24 year old market, 44% of which prefer the perhaps more unbiased views of vloggers.

So it appears that while high-quality professional content (think panning aerial views and silhouettes frolicking in front of a sunset) receives more views, it’s the real-life stories of travellers (Go Pro skydives and smartphone-filmed quad-bike tours) that win a more consistent audience in the form of subscribers.

Covering all the bases

While User-Generated Content (UGC) may seem like the more attractive option from a costs perspective, the research shows that investing in a more professionally produced film has its advantages too. You also have a much more creative control over the story you tell.

Luckily modern technology has you covered, with the development of drone technology and more affordable camera equipment such as Go Pro, it’s possible to produce truly stunning videos of landscapes on a much lower budget. More resources can then be dedicated to creative decisions and editing the footage. Don’t forget that your audience is seeking an experience, so even if actors are involved the outcome should immerse the viewer into the story and is probably best told from the point-of-view of a traveller.

You might even consider sponsoring a travel blogger, or even a lucky customer, to take a specific trip and review the experience on behalf of your brand. This is a great way to maintain creative control of the project, while capturing real-life stories and retaining a level of authenticity.

User-generated videos can still be a useful and cost-effective component to your online content strategy however, running alongside your more commercial endeavours. Inviting your customers to submit video reviews and holiday experiences filmed on their smartphones is a great way of creating a sense of community around your brand, as we explained in a recent blog.

Which platform should you be on?

So far this article and the Google study we have referenced throughout has focussed mostly on YouTube channels, but this is by no means the only online outlet that your video marketing strategy needs to cover.

Your website is a valuable tool for making use of your video content, earlier we mentioned the benefits of embedding YouTube-uploaded videos for Google ranking reasons, but many modern websites (like our own homepage) also make use of video as auto-playing headers and backgrounds. This is a great way of instantly engaging your website’s visitors and communicating your product.

Embedding your video into a blog post and sharing on social media is a great way of getting your content seen while also generating traffic to your site, but make sure the video is at the forefront. Make it clear in the title, for example “WATCH: The Top 10 Views of Italy”, and keep the video above the fold so the user can access it right away when they click through. Further down in the post you might consider including stills from the footage, just in case the viewer is unable to watch the entirety of the video.

The ability to upload video directly to social media sites is a great way to post shorter, teaser-style clips, not to mention the perfect place to inspire User-Generated Content. As well as Twitter and Facebook, one of the most popular platforms for travel content is Instagram, which allows uploads of videos up to 15 seconds long, and arguably has an extremely lifestyle-conscious audience – perfect for travel! Establish your own hashtag and ask your followers to submit their holiday moments.

We hope this blog has been helpful and we would love to see what you come up with, follow us @billianIT and give us a tweet, or head to our blog now for more great travel tech and digital marketing tips.