Live streaming has changed the way retailers and marketers speak to online audiences.
Once upon a time, e-commerce stores relied on static images and boring text descriptions to engage potential customers.
Next came pre-recorded video content - which still proves a powerful tool on many social platforms.
Even so, technology is constantly changing.
While video content has become an essential aspect of many companies' digital marketing strategies, more and more businesses are now adopting the latest development in video technology: live stream marketing tools.
Live stream videos allow brands to create engaging content marketed towards a vast audience - all in real-time.
What's more, this type of live video content is said to bring hugely positive results - from more engagement to more sales to more successful product launches.
But when you break it all down, do the perks of live streaming live up to the hype?
Should you make it part of your digital marketing plan?
In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at both sides of the coin. We'll cover:
- The best definition of live stream marketing.
- Live streaming's effects on your digital marketing strategy.
- The pros and cons of implementing live streaming.
- The tools you should be exploring when approaching a live streaming strategy.
What is live streaming marketing?
Live stream marketing refers to the strategy of live broadcasting to an audience over social media platforms.
It's now a common tool in creating a virtual shopping experience for online customers.
That said, this style of streaming is still most commonly used by influencers and video content producers to speak directly with their audiences.
For example, online gaming influencers have long engaged huge audiences thanks to video game streaming sites like Twitch.
Nevertheless, this kind of conversational commerce technology has vastly advanced over the last few years, with more and more options now available for retail organisations.
It means that brands can now adopt the same live streaming tactics as influencers to market their products with a 'one-to-many' approach.
The pros of a live stream for business
Now that we've got a better understanding of what live stream video entails, let's break down some of the main benefits for your digital marketing strategy.
1) Streaming live footage creates a connection with many customers at once
As with any digital marketing tool, the goal of live streaming is to reach more potential customers.
Live stream video content exceeds many other formats in this area because video allows a more personal connection between the host and their audience.
This is achieved in two ways:
- With video, there's the added human element of visualised body language, eye contact, and facial features.
- Live video streams often feature chat boxes beside the main video content. It means both hosts and viewers can interact with each other in real-time.
In truth, no business could expect this kind of engagement from any other medium.
Take this very blog, for example.
There's a high likelihood that it'd receive much higher engagement with audiences if it were to be converted to a video format - especially in the form of a live broadcast that'd been planned and advertised well in advance.
So, by turning a 'one-to-many' video broadcast into an event for customers, e-commerce businesses can not only use video to better market their products, but they can also use it to strengthen the relationship between their brand and their audience.
2) Live streaming can be more affordable than standard video ads
Once upon a time, video advertising of any kind could prove a costly endeavour.
Even simple product videos once came with a considerable cost.
If you wanted to create such a video for your business, you'd need to take the time and effort to hire a professional digital marketing agency.
Even if you took the DIY approach, there was the added cost of production resources to be considered - from camera lenses to lighting rigs.
Live streaming has changed things drastically.
These days, business owners can now stream live video content via their social media accounts through free tools such as Facebook Live, Instagram, or Periscope.
What's more, the advent of influencer marketing means that audiences are now much more familiar with the idea of being addressed directly through their screens - regardless of the broadcast's setting.
It means that brands don't necessarily need to hire a set either - they can get away with streaming from wherever they might be.
3) Live streams are a versatile content format
As previously mentioned, live stream viewers aren't expecting a polished, television-like production.
Instead, they're expecting real people to speak to them directly.
This means that live streaming has a level of versatility that other video content lacks.
For example, explainer videos need to be clear and concise. They're a tutorial that needs to cover all the bases while remaining engaging.
On the other hand, traditional video ads are all about selling the product as quickly as possible.
They need to make an impression on the viewer with attractive visuals, a strong narrative, and flashy editing.
But with live streaming, the objectives and specifications are far from concrete.
For instance, if you're brainstorming various innovative marketing strategies or looking for creative small business ideas, live streaming offers a unique platform to showcase your products or services in real-time.
It means that there's a vast array of content waiting to be created, from interviews to Q&A's, to product demos and tutorials.
In simple terms, when it comes to marketing or demonstrating a product via live stream, the only limitations are your imagination.
The cons of a live streaming strategy
Now that we've understood some of the benefits of using video within your overall marketing strategy, let's take a look at live streaming's setbacks.
Here are some crucial things to consider before jumping onto the live video streaming bandwagon.
1) Live streaming neglects individual customers
It's all good and well speaking to as many customers as possible, all at the same time, but what if there's a specific customer who really needs your help with a question or query?
What if there's a customer who's got specific feedback for your business?
What if this individual customer is the one out of the many that actually want to convert?
As previously mentioned, live streaming broadcasts often feature a chat window next to the video stream - but not all users will get a look in from the host or presenter.
In reality, it's almost impossible to host a live stream and take note of all the comments pouring in.
And leaving your customers feeling neglected? It's a huge digital customer service mistake.
Of course, with traditional live streams on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, viewers are mainly looking to join in the fun.
But when an e-commerce retailer presents a live stream, there's a genuine chance you might neglect individual customers with valuable input or questions.
So, while you might have adopted live streaming to try out the 'one-to-many' approach, always consider what happens to the customers who want to address the business in a more 'one-to-one' manner.
How are you going to serve these customers best?
2) Live streaming can provide mixed results
As with any other kind of digital marketing technology, there's a lot of buzz surrounding live streaming - particularly from those who've achieved success with the format.
However, not every business will experience the same results with live stream videos.
What's more, almost no businesses will receive the same audience share as the most popular influencers.
While these online figures are all about free entertainment in return for views and engagement, audiences know that live streaming retailers have ulterior motives in mind: increasing sales.
So, even if you do get off to a good start with video, your live streams still might not reach the number of viewers you were aiming for.
At the very worst, you might even encounter trolls amongst your viewers too - audience members who are all too keen to throw your broadcast off the rails.
So, if the goal of adopting video streaming is to connect with more customers, you need to weigh up the following possibility:
Not only could you have a hard slog attracting viewers, but the viewers you do attract?
They might not necessarily convert after all.
3) Live streaming is time-consuming
Although live streaming is growing in popularity, it certainly shouldn't be considered the most time-effective format for brands who want to maximize their marketing efforts.
This is because the best live streamers make a consistent and continued effort to keep producing content over a long period.
So, remember to consider whether you have the resources and the time to continue producing live videos on a frequent basis.
Consider whether you have the resources and the time to think of new content ideas and themes too.
After all, just because live video streaming is a versatile format, that doesn't mean you can get away with being lazy.
Livestream video and its place in your digital marketing stack
As we've seen above, there are some great benefits in using live streaming video within your digital marketing strategy.
But it's also important to be mindful of some serious pitfalls too.
Live streaming can help you engage more with a wider audience, but it might take up a lot of your time and resources without the full benefits paying off.
So, if you're considering making live streaming part of your primary marketing tactics, take a little time to think it over.
After all, video might well be a fantastic format for engaging more customers, but maybe live streaming isn't the right answer for you.
It all comes down to your digital customer experience goals.
If you want to casually engage as many customers as possible to boost your marketing, video streaming could be a great fit.
However, if looking for a way to build more real customer relationships from your website or app, there's another approach to video you should consider:
The takeaway: using live video chat for improving engagement and sales
Unlike live video streaming, customer-facing video chat not only helps you engage with more customers but it's also proven to increase sales too.
In fact, customers using Talkative's video chat are as much as 4x as likely to make a purchase.
This is because, unlike video streaming, video customer support provides customers with a truly personalized, convenient, and human experience.
In simple terms, it's a focused and high-end experience that's wholly catered around your customer, allowing you to assist them face-to-face as you would in-store.
So, if your goal is to connect with more customers and increase both sales and satisfaction?
Book a demo with Talkative today. We'll show you how to build stronger customer relationships with video.