3 Tips for Adding Live Video to Your Retail Marketing Strategy

April 3, 2017 Haniya Rae

Video at a concert


Even though live video marketing has become a hot topic, only 14 percent of marketers are actually doing it. More than 50 percent of retail marketers want to push their creative thinking abilities to learn how to add it to their strategy but aren’t quite sure how to start. They saw Lowe’s promote Black Friday deals via Facebook Live with the Property Brothers, a campaign that drew a total of 1.4 million viewers to see what deals the hardware giant had in store. They know that 30 percent of all online activity is spent watching video and that their target audiences use Snapchat and Instagram regularly.

Many marketers are wary of that off-the-cuff, not-quite-planned aspect of live video—and for good reason. If something goes wrong, the rep damage could be lasting. But retail marketers want to be able to stream to different platforms based on the product being promoted and their goals. It’s difficult enough as it is to have a strategy around static content that can be edited and pared down, but when it’s in real time, it’s a whole different ballgame. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some things to ask yourself when considering a campaign.

1. What Do You Want to Measure?

Live streaming might grab large audiences, but it can’t yet be used to completely track a customer’s journey through the funnel from beginning to end. With static online advertising, marketers have granular details about who’s looking at the website, where the traffic is coming from, if it’s a repeat visitor, and all the regular analytics that make digital marketing fun. But with live video, it can be difficult to know and track all of these things, especially if it’s traffic that’s not going directly to your website.

Ad Age said that streaming platforms can provide some useful numbers, but, as Marketing Dive added, there’s a caveat: social media platforms that are used for streaming may not offer as much data as marketers are used to (though the site does acknowledge YouTube and Facebook’s offerings). Live video is a great tool for gaining awareness, but if your goals are more concrete, the popular platforms may not be the channels for your live video strategy to start on.

2. Should You Have Actors Act, or Employ Employees?

If there’s one thing that social media has taught marketers, it’s that if you try to control the message too much, it can backfire. Audiences love getting a genuine sense of a brand through content that doesn’t feel forced. They want to feel as though they’ve got the “in”—that is to say that they feel included. Pre-scripted video is often unrelatable and boring, and should a performer go off-script, it can easily feel as though a step was missed. It can be great to use staff members as live performers, but make sure they’re okay with taking a bit of risk. You’ll also want to take time to fully explain the concept to them, so that there aren’t many surprises. Who knows? You might also find a budding star in an unlikely place, such as the accounting department.

On the other hand, in the absence of a qualified in-house professional, brands may want to consider bringing in someone who knows the ropes. If you go this route, you’ll want to find an actor trained in responding to practically anything that comes their way. Though many marketers would prefer to DIY their content, sometimes it’s best to let trained talent take the wheel. Who knows? The talent might become a beloved brand spokesperson your audience will love watching over and over again. That’s what a good emotional connection is, and why Target tapped pop star Gwen Stefani to create a live commercial during the Grammys.

3. What Do People Want to See?

With a little creative thinking, a piece of content could be a Q&A, a live how-to video, a product demonstration—anything where your product becomes a service.

Live Video Marketing Is So Great

Much like the Lowe’s example, there’s content to be made of soon-to-happen deals that excite the audience. But, there’s also content like showing your audience around the office or the day-to-day lives of employees. There are features within newly opened retail stores, the process behind making a product or a particular service—the list is virtually endless. Target, for example, used Periscope to live stream a Lilly Pulitzer fashion event. It was something not everyone could be present at, but they made the event inclusive for customers all over the US.

While your videos shouldn’t be scripted, as a marketer, you can rely on these formats to have a little bit of structure while you start to test what works and what doesn’t, like the length of time your audience stays engaged, the number of viewers available at different points in the day, whether an influencer is working (or not) for your audience, and if your SEO related to the video is working (or not). This is where marketers can start to gain traction with live video—it’s not so much that the script or format is 100 percent on target, but that it’s entertaining and keeps audience members engaged.

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