April 7, 2010, 12:00 AM

Newegg emphasizes the steak, not the sizzle, in its online videos

Loads of e-commerce companies create videos featuring models showing off apparel or athletes sprinting in running shoes, but Newegg.com is taking a different approach. It’s using videos to help shoppers solve their electronics problems.

Loads of e-commerce companies create videos featuring snazzy montages of models showing off apparel or athletes sprinting in running shoes, but consumer electronics e-retailer Newegg.com is taking a different approach. Instead of touting its latest products, it’s using videos to help shoppers solve their electronics problems.

The retailer this year began posting a series of tutorial videos on YouTube, says Bernard Luthi, vice president of marketing, merchandising and web management for Newegg. It now has roughly five on the network ranging from “How to Spring Clean a PC” to a “Windows 7 Review and Instillation Walk Through.”

And the videos are getting hits. Case in point: a recent one called “PC Tune-Up-Cleaning and Basic Upgrades,” distributed about a month ago, already has attracted more than 18,000 views. Newegg also is making it easy to distribute the videos by placing an Embed button next to the video player that displays a string of code for adding the video to any web site.

 

“Many of our topics, such as the Spring Cleaning PC tuning video are seasonal,” Luthi says. “Others are based on the customer demand we receive through our various social media platforms.”

 

All of Newegg’s videos are produced in-house, Luthi says. Newegg’s YouTube channel, launched in July, houses 61 videos and started with an enthusiastic employee at her desk blogging from a webcam, he adds.

 

Posting to YouTube is free, and retailers can add the videos to their own web sites at no cost. For example, Newegg says it occasionally embeds the videos into specialized promotional landing pages.

 

Other e-commerce companies also are leveraging video technology and the power of YouTube to provide information to consumers, in hopes of building trust in their brands. If a video is useful, it doesn’t need expensive effects or professional-level quality, says Jordan Blum, president of beauty supplies retailer BeautyChoice.com.

 

BeautyChoice got creative when it decided to use YouTube. It teamed with beauty pros and bloggers who already had a following on the network. The beauty professionals post tutorials using BeautyChoice products and mention the retailer’s name, Blum says.

The make-up artists and bloggers BeautyChoice works with often shoot videos in their own bathrooms with conventional camcorders. BeautyChoice.com started its YouTube program about a year and a half ago and pays its team of about 40 pros, mostly make-up artists or beauty bloggers, in part based on the number of subscribers they have to their YouTube Channels. The top expert has about 250,000 subscribers, Blum says.

The e-retailer, which attracts about 200,000 unique visitors per month to its web site, says about 60% of its traffic and 65% of its sales come from the YouTube initiative.

Blum says BeautyChoice spent about 7% of its annual revenue on its video initiative in 2009 and expects to spend closer to 10% this year. The e-retailer not only pays the beauty experts for creating videos, it also pays them a commission on sales that come from those YouTube clicks.

When companies decide to invest the time in a YouTube program, the most important thing is having a strategy, Blum says. Simply posting a slew of videos on YouTube isn’t going to get brands the exposure they want.

“The fundamental mistake retailers make is thinking ‘I’ll create my own video, put it on YouTube and I will be a huge success,’” Blum says. “You’re not going to launch a video on YouTube as a retailer and automatically get 100,000 views.”

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