If you’re a business using videos on your website to help market and sell your products or services, you should distribute your videos with a service designed to do just that. One online video platform (OVP) with high marks in this area is Wistia, which provides a host of features for marketing with video and tracking results, plus a learning area that’s so useful it’s worth visiting even if you’re not a customer.
By way of background, OVPs are services that work similarly to YouTube and other user generated content (UGC) sites. That is, you upload your video to Wistia, configure the player as desired, and then embed the player into your web page by pasting in some HTML code. Why Wistia instead of YouTube? Because while YouTube might get you more eyeballs, Wistia will help you turn those eyeballs into customers. And if that’s why you’re investing in video, that’s the most important reason of all.
To set the stage, this isn’t a comprehensive review of Wistia, rather an overview of the marketing and sales-oriented features that distinguish it from its competitors. Let’s start with social media links.
Social Media Links
Links to social media sites provide a simple way for viewers to spread the word about your videos. Most services provide some links to social media sites; Wistia provides more than most and a simple way for your viewers to download the video.
Call to Action
All marketing- or sales-oriented videos should have a “call to action” which directs the viewer to the next stage in the sales funnel. The problem is, asking the viewer to type in a URL is clumsy. Wistia streamlines this by allowing you to add text, an image, or HTML at the end of your video, which viewers can click to go to a web page that you designate.
Collect Email Addresses
Beyond a specific call to action, another way to derive value from your video is to collect contact information from viewers. In this regard, Wistia’s Turnstile feature lets you ask for the viewer’s email before they click play, at the end of the video, or at a specific point in the video. You can choose to make entering an email address mandatory, or allow the viewer to skip it.
On the backend, Wistia integrates directly with multiple email service providers such as AWeber, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, and MailChimp, so you can easily add these new prospects to your marketing funnel.
Adding captions to your videos extends their utility for the hearing impaired, and also improves their search engine rankings. With Wistia, you can order captions for any video with a couple of clicks, after which Wistia will send the audio file to a transcription service for captioning. Within 24 hours, the captions will automatically appear in your video. At $5.00 per minute, the service is a bit pricey, but you can upload your own captions in the SRT format for free.
Creating video sitemaps is key to video search engine optimization, and Wistia makes creating the video sitemap a simple three step process. First, you add a line of text to the robots.txt file on your website, which points search engines to the sitemap Wistia will create.
Next, you choose the videos to add to the sitemap, and complete the form shown in Figure 4, which includes a title, description, URL of the embedded video, and up to four metadata tags. Wistia adds that to your video sitemap, as shown in Figure 5. When search engine spiders come a-crawlin’, your video information will be properly submitted, along with the link back to your web site.
You can access all videos added to your sitemap from a single screen, so you can easily edit and remove them down the line.
Video Email Marketing
Wistia also makes it easy to use your videos in an email campaign. You start by customizing an email merge tag (Figure 6), where you identify your email provider and choose a thumbnail size and landing page. Then, you create your message as normal, paste in the embed code, and broadcast your message.
Within Wistia’s analytics, you can track global statistics for the mailing, or see how long each viewer watched the video and which sections. Wistia follows this top down and bottom up approach with all analytics. Specifically, Wistia presents two views, one a top down view that shows daily, weekly, and monthly viewership of your videos over time. The other is a viewer specific analysis that details which videos a specific viewer watched and for how long. There are also global engagement graphs that track how long viewers watch your videos and when they drop off, as well as heatmaps which show which parts of a video a viewer watched, skipped, or rewatched.
Beyond this core feature set, Wistia has a Labs area where new features are debuted and made available to customers before they make it into the main interface, which reduces clutter. Included there are a host of useful features, such as the ability to add chapters to longer form videos (Figure 7), add a Twitter Follow button to your videos, synch your videos with a presentation, or password protect your videos.
Beyond the service’s features, Wistia’s learning center is exceptionally engaging and useful. In addition to documenting how to use the service, Wistia offers multiple videos on production, video strategy and concepting, and video marketing. The tone and style of these videos is edgy and light, which makes them both entertaining and educational.
To be fair, Wistia isn’t the only OVP offering many of these features, and its focus on marketing has created some feature gaps in areas critical to enterprises and broadcasters. For example, the company offers no digital rights management features or links to advertising networks. Videos are delivered via progressive download, rather than true streaming, which is generally considered a technically inferior approach. Though Wistia delivers multiple iterations of your file on some platforms, you have absolutely no control over the encoding parameters, which may be frustrating to technical users.
But rather than trying to out-Brightcove Brightcove, Wistia focused on producing a useful, usable and well-supported service that will help smaller businesses fully leverage their investment in marketing and training videos. In this regard, reviewing the site is like reading a business plan on how to compete against larger, better funded competitors: Choose a market segment they’re not addressing (small to medium-sized businesses). Check. Create a highly focused feature set that distinguishes your product to prospects in this space. Check. Design the interface so typical users in this space — business people, not techies — can use it. Check. Supply product- and market-specific knowledge to allow prospects to fully leverage your feature set and the selected medium (online video) in general. Check.
Okay, enough gushing, you get the point. If you’re a business seeking a service to distribute your marketing and sales videos to maximum effect, check out Wistia.