Create Stickiness With Streaming Media

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OK. You've finally gotten them to your Web site after a large investment in time and effort, not to mention money.


What? They're not staying long enough to buy anything or to fill out those profile forms that you stayed up until 3 a.m. to create? Why? The site navigation is good; you have a secured order form; the site loads quickly without too many annoying graphics; and you even have a return and privacy policy. What's going on here?


Those of us trying to do business on the Internet are constantly bombarded with information, statistics and marketing advice. Go to your target market. Claim your niche with your "unique selling position." Promote your brand. Develop a Web "community." Publish a zine. Provide worthwhile content. All of it is good advice. But these marketing gurus leave out a very important and indisputable fact. People want to be entertained! And they don't want to have to work to enjoy their Web experience. The success of TV, a completely passive activity, attests to that.


So, what should be done? How do we keep our audience long enough so that we can tell our story and promote our product?


Streaming media provides a meaningful answer. It has a 70 percent click-through rate for content, a 60 percent click-through rate for advertiser information and a 49 percent "buy" rate for online merchandise. Those statistics, provided by Carton-Donofrio Interactive, are proof of the success of streaming media when it is used in a creative and content rich environment.


What is streaming exactly? Streaming promises quick access to meaningful audio and video content without the aggravating wait for files to download. Downloading requires that files be sent to the user's PC in their entirety before they can be played. MP3 audio is a perfect example of this. The files then remain on the user's machine until they are deleted. Streaming continuously sends these same files, which have already been digitized, to the user's PC while the user is listening or watching. When the stream is ended, no data is left behind on the user's machine.


How can we use this exciting technology to create "stickiness?" The possibilities are endless:


• Coaches and motivational speakers can use it for instruction and team building.


• Lawyers, CPAs and other professionals can enhance their sites with timely client messages.


• The intricate product features of machines and "widgets" can be demonstrated.


• Resorts can showcase their most desirable features.


• Realtors can market multiple properties efficiently and at reasonable cost.


• Clothing retailers can have fashion "events" and show off new items and


services.


• Furniture and antique dealers can highlight unique product details.


• Human resource professionals can use it to enhance corporate sales sites for remote sales forces and clients.


• Nonprofit organizations can use it to explain their missions.


• Charities can use it to solicit donations.


The quality of your streaming presentation will only be as good as the quality of the source material for which it was originally created. This is extremely important! (You can't expect a videotape with bad color and contrast to look better in a stream than it did when you played it on your home VHS machine.) The company that you select to do the encoding and compression of your media should be able to provide you with good guidelines for your original production.


Too much movement on a videotape will cause blurring and "smeariness" when the video is streamed. (As bandwidth continues to improve, many restrictions that exist today will disappear.) Your streaming vendor is the best source of information regarding tape formats and the equipment required to create the original production.


Streaming media is already being used effectively by a number of industries and organizations that are striving to stand out in the crowded Internet business world. Granted, streaming media still has its limitations especially in the area of delivering full- screen, full-quality video. But most of the big players on the Internet, even those in head-to-head competition for the fast-growing streaming audience, agree that as bandwidth continues to improve, streaming is inevitable.


Streaming media advertising substantially increases brand recall, brand awareness, and positive brand perception. This gives you the opportunity to deliver a powerful message about your products or services. It is affordable, exciting, and inviting. It creates the "stickiness" that keeps your web visitors at your site and gives them that extra incentive to click on the "Order now" icon.
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