Although it's booming, the digital camera business is intensely competitive with players such as Canon, Nikon, and Sony duking it out with up to dozens of different product offerings each.
And, like most consumer electronics these days, the differences between all the assorted offerings can be bewildering to the average shopper. With average camera prices ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, millions of consumers turn to the Internet to research their options before making a decision.
Fujifilm knew making the best possible impression online would translate to more sales in every channel, so it invested in a strong site. However, as Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager Digital Cameras, explains, "When consumers go to look at buying cameras, they look at eretailers to find the lowest price instead of going to our site first."
In fact, most consumers didn't visit Fujifilm's site until after they'd made their purchase and they wanted customer service and user manuals.
So, Pepple had to find a way to make Fijufilm's merchandising more compelling on the third party retail sites, such as Amazon, Best Buy and Ritz Camera, that shoppers were visiting in droves. CAMPAIGN
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence from subscription sites such as WSJ.com that offering a "tour" may increase sales. Surfers who take a tour are more engaged, more informed, and thus more likely to convert.
Pepple wondered, why not create an interactive tour for each of his top products? He decided to include staples such as a PDF brochure, spec sheets, and close-up photos of the product from several angles (which could be downloaded separately or viewed as a "3D" presentation.)
Plus, as he tossed around ideas with the webmasters and merchandizing folks at key partner sites, he discovered the one feature they were most keenly interested in adding was a "video tour" for individual products.
He discovered the cost to create a short video suitable for online presentation would be under $10,000 (in fact on average marketers pay about $6,000 for a four minute video, including voice overs, studio time, and editing, but not including script copywriting.)
You wouldn't have to make that many additional sales to cover costs that low. Plus, Pepple figured there'd be additional benefits in keeping relationships with key eretailers strong, and making sure a standard brand message was presented no matter what site a shopper surfed to. Last, but not least, he hoped to cut costs a tad by re-using relevant bits of footage for similar products.
So startinng in mid-2001, Pepples moved forward with the video project, using six best practices to make sure the investment would pan out:
Best Practice #1. Great scripting -- it's not a commercial or a user manual
Pepple advises you to think of your video as an infomercial, without all the calls to action. Consumers who click for a video want more information for a buying decision they're already actively started making.
A heavy sales pitch, a general branding commercial, or a step-by-step user guide would be inappropriate. Consumers are looking for the sorts of advice and answers to questions they would get from a highly informed sales rep if they were in a brick and mortar store.
"We want to show the basic features of the camera with enough information to let consumers feel empowered enough to make a purchase. We let them know the camera will meet their needs by keeping it short and simple, and putting things in very consumer-friendly language."
Best Practice #2. Internal video navigation is more important than overall length
While Pepple tried to keep all videos under four minutes (which is as long as you can expect even your biggest fan to watch an online infomercial), he knew the most critical factor for success would be to break the video up into seven or more shorter bits, and then provide clearly-labeled navigation between them.
The navigation would appear as a constantly list of hotlinked section names at the left of the video box. A viewer could start the video and watch it all the way through, or just click around the bits they were more interested in.
Given this factor, scripting couldn't be written as a four minute narrative, but rather a series of short "chapters." Also, given how impatient many surfers are, the script had to assume some viewers wouldn't view an entire chapter. So the script presented the most critical facts early on in each chapter.
Best Practice #3. Keep video "close up" and personal
For the next few years at least, most consumers will view your video in a fairly small RealPlayer or Windows Media box. So, you don't want long-shots, or lots of items crowding the screen. Pepple's videos focused on tight shots of the product itself.
He often also used the old direct mail design tactic of showing the product being held in someone's hands. This, the viewer can imagine they themselves are holding it.
Pepple was careful to use a neutral background to most shots so the video would blend in to a variety of eretailer's sites. His production team also eschewed transitions (dissolves) because these don't look good to dial-up users.
Best Practice #4. Create two versions -- one for dial-up and one for broadband
Pepple wanted the highest quality video the Web could provide, but he didn't want to leave any consumers behind. So, he chose a serving technology that would sense how fast an individual user's connection was and serve up the best version accordingly.
For slow dial-ups, you can serve a slide show-type visual with a voiceover instead of forcing the viewer to wait forever in the ultra-boring buffer zone.
Best Practice #5. Carefully choose which partners get the video
While Pepple wanted to maximize his video investment by getting it planted on as many sites as possible, he was also wary of the implied brand endorsement a video would constitute.
"It's an unofficial stamp of approval on the site that Fujifilm is overseeing their brand. There's an approval process, and if we find there to be violations or issues regarding warranty or a customer being gouged, we can pull it back."
Best Practice #6. Syndicate it - so you can refresh content on all your partner sites easily and automatically
Pepple used a hosting partner that would allow him to syndicate his content. So, instead of hosting the video itself, the eretailer simply put one simple link per product on their site. Anyone clicking on that link would see the latest video and other interactive features.
Pepple could change product data easily and quickly without having to rely on eretail partners to do anything else on their end. This would be a big relief to an eretailer managing thousands of SKUs.
"I'm always shocked at the pure volume of hours of people viewing any of our products," Pepple says. "Those retailers that have brought video online have experienced as much as four to five times jumps in online purchasing."
About 30 major eretailers carrying Fujifilm's cameras have added the interactive video to their sites, including Radio Shack, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart. Pepple suggests to view a sample video for yourself that you go to Amazon or Ritz Camera and search for a product named FinePixF700.
Although Pepple wasn't able to give us more specific data (he has great reports, but can't share them), his vendor gave us the following average stats based on serving roughly 50,000 hours of online video per month:
- The average click on an interactive info offering link is 8-10% of total page traffic. If the eretailer merchandises the link really well, that click rate jump to the high teens.
- 82% of viewers use a broadband connection, which indicates that people surfing from work are more likely to click on video links.
- Only 12-18% of video viewers sit patiently watching an entire three-four minute video from beginning to end.
- The average total amount of a video a typical viewer will sit still for us 36-43%. Many are skipping about between chapters during this time, so they're not viewing an entire chapter always.
So, if online video can be this powerful and effective, why aren't more consumer electronics firms offering it to eretail partners?
Pepple says, "I think there might be a psychological barrier to entry. People think this is going to require more manpower and coordination on their side. Ironically when you have a lot of information moving back and forth to retailers on a daily basis, and this provides it all at one time, this is not that much extra work."Useful links related to this article:
Tentoe, the vendor Fujifilm uses to shoot, edit, host, and measure its interactive videos: