Businesses, especially small business, can be pardoned for getting overwhelmed by the number of new “must use” technologies for driving sales and customer engagement. Every year seems to bring a new technology businesses must add to their marketing and sales toolbox.
While some of these technologies are not quite ready for prime time (augmented reality), and others are niche (Pinterest and some of the hot social networks of the moment), there are a handful of new ways to reach customers that are both new and essential in 2017. With 25 percent of people watching video online each day, and 70 percent of mobile traffic expected to be video by 2021, interactive broadcasting, also known as live-video streaming, is one of those “must use” new technologies that businesses should not ignore.
“Until this point, we’ve seen video through a relatively one-dimensional lens – something that’s created, recorded, produced,” Chris Paradysz, CEO of PM Digital, told Marketing Dive recently. In 2017, “will see the live video, or the streaming experience, become more powerful. People have a much greater desire for community, in the moment, shared experiences.”
There are many ways that businesses can profit from the recent rise of interactive broadcasting. Here are four ways you should consider.
- Live Stream Popular Events
I’m not a rich jet-setter who can fly to every industry conference, art biennial, interesting Apple Store opening and special event hosted by the brands I support. Yet I don’t want to miss out on these events, and if there’s a way I can attend or at least peak in virtually then I’ll definitely tune in. Interactive broadcasting enables your company to become the eyes and ears for your customers when it comes to these popular events hosted by others.
For instance, Alicia Mae of SecureNinja helped customers and potential customers attend the 2015 RSA security conference in San Francisco by live streaming from the conference floor. She took audience input on what they wanted to see on the conference floor and became a roving reporter for those who could not attend. This delivered a service to customers and potential customers, and of course drew attention to SecureNinja.
- Give Behind-the-Scene Access
Three of the elements that drive customer engagement are curiosity, a sense of belonging, and exclusivity. You can deliver all three by using interactive broadcasting to grant “backstage” access to your business.
With live video streaming, you can offer factory tours that show how your products are made, backroom peeks into the creative process at your firm, and impromptu conversations with key members of your team. By using live streaming, you can let your customers ask the questions they want to hear, see the parts of your operation they are interested in, and connect with the employees who they want to interact with.
“Behind-the-scenes access humanizes your business by making it about real people,” says Tony Zhao, founder of a firm that enables turnkey interactive broadcasting solutions, Agora.io. “And by making it interactive and not one-way video, you add exclusivity and better engagement because viewers control the experience as if they were actually there in person.”
- Feature Interactive Q&A Sessions
The people want answers. They also want access. Live question and answer sessions about an industry topic or one of your products can be a great way to drive sales, become a thought-leader, call attention to products, get valuable feedback, and build brand loyalty, among the many other benefits of live Q&A.
Interactive Broadcasting helps you offer rich Q&A sessions no matter where your customers live.
One example of video-based Q&A in action comes from SwedishFoodTV. They broadcast cooking demonstrations live and let viewers comment and ask questions about the recipes and the preparation.
One key is making these Q&A sessions focused and not general. Pick a topic for each broadcast so viewers feel compelled to tune in or they will miss the topic. It also adds much-needed structure to interactive broadcasting sessions.
- Highlight Products and Promos
The Home Shopping Network moves a lot of product. It does so because it highlights particular products, offers them at a discount for a limited time, helps viewers inspect and understand the product, and gives them a chance to ask questions before the sale. It also creates demand through its interactivity by showing that other people are interested in the product.
You can offer this same experience with your products through interactive broadcasting by featuring a regular demo session of new or featured products via live video streaming. These product highlight sessions can be attached to the “product of the week” and include promotional pricing, or they can just highlight a new or popular offering.
The interactivity from live video streaming is especially important if you’re selling for the Millennial market.
“Millennials have proven they are inclined to boost their education via video, rather than with more conventional sources, making video a must-have for the retailer who wants to sell to the approximately 80 million millennials,” notes Casey Dubbs at Retail Customer Experience.
There are more uses for interactive broadcasting, of course; these are just a few ideas to get you started. The important takeaway is not any given use case, but that interactive broadcasting is an important new technology with many real-world applications. It isn’t a fad. It isn’t niche. Just like social media, live video streaming is here to stay and widely applicable. Make sure you are using this technology.