The growing adoption of broadband combined with a dramatic push by content providers to promote online video has helped pave the way for mainstream audiences to embrace online video viewing.

The majority of internet users report watching or downloading some type of online video content (and 25% do so every day, according to a 2009 report on the online landscape released by The Nielson Company). Once viewers find something they like online more than half share this link with others contributing to a rapid viral spread of online video.

According to statistics released by YouTube, video is now making up a quarter of the internet’s traffic and this number is expected to grow to 90% in just three years time. Video is having a dramatic affect on the way we consume content, with one billion videos viewed per day and 20 hours of video uploaded every minute. Video is helping to drive both demand and sales.

Why should businesses get on the online video bandwagon?

Online video is engaging, entertaining and can help businesses boost their brand and awareness to new levels. It can be used to both capture emotion and help explain complex business processes and services. These two aspects are often difficult to communicate through traditional copy.

Video is the perfect way to engage the viewer and strengthen the brand connection. It helps to create a new level of dialogue with customers and increases the chance that viewers will remember a specific brand or product.

Interestingly, online video and TV help drive sales at similar levels. Statistics released by Google show that YouTube produces a 10% sales uplift while TV drives 9%. These statistics also show that online video sites have a more constant number of viewers over a 24 hour period, compared with TV which has much fewer viewers throughout the day and roughly the same viewers at night.

However, before including online video as part of a business strategy it is important to understand your target audience’s video content needs and preferences to ensure the greatest amount of success. Here a few tips to help get you started.

Simplicity is the key

Keeping videos simple and keeping them real is essential. In keeping it simple you can directly address the viewers in an engaging format that they will positively respond to and find much more convincing than written copy.

For example, digital agency The Dubs created a video-based information portal to be used as a primary channel for AMP Capital Investors to interact. Rather than asking people to download investor information, The Dubs created a two-way dialogue by developing videos of AMP experts discussing investment information.

Without flashy interfaces, the video-based information portal simply offers access to expert information in an easily accessible format.

Is it worth it?

Before you decide to commit yourself to producing online video content it is a good idea to determine whether your customers will actually watch them.

Survey your customers to help you understand if your customers actually engage in online video and what their preferences are. This will help you decide how long to make your videos, what content to include and what style to use in the creation process.

Make it watchable

There is no point in creating video content if the medium doesn’t suit your audience needs.

The AMP Capital Digital INsight’s video portal website uses Flash streaming video (both high and low bandwidth). This was chosen as the most common video format with over 98% of the audience able to view Flash content. By creating high and low bandwidth options it also allows broadband and dial-up users to view the content effectively.

Outside of the online video streaming it is also important that consumers can view the content in their own time. By developing podcasts or Windows Media downloadable versions of the content people can view the videos in their own time either via their smart phone or offline. An RSS subscription feed is also worth considering so people can continue to receive newly added videos automatically.

Mix it up

When creating your videos keep in mind that you don’t need to limit yourself exclusively to video footage. High quality images and text can also be incorporated to support your objectives and messages.

Make sure you conclude your piece with a strong call to action and contact information. It is a good idea to embed a link to your contact information and make it available at any time during the video.

You may also want to use the video to grow a marketing database for ongoing communication. Website visitors can subscribe to a website to receive alerts when any new content is added. In addition, consider building in related recommendations for alternate video and secondary content to complement the viewed video.

Get your videos out there

To boost site traffic and to easily facilitate broader conversation the website also allows users to send site links to friends while viewing the video. This helps to build genuine advocacy to the content disseminated through a peer-to-peer approach.

Share your video by posting to social video sharing sites, sharing with intranets and portals, posting to company and third party blogs, displaying at industry functions, submitting to industry trade publications, incorporating into campaign specific microsites and within email marketing campaigns.