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Retailers Who Excel at Vlogging

Social media is fast-paced, with a lot of moving parts. One of the most compelling components of this area of marketing is video blogging, otherwise known as vlogging. At a how-to seminar at Expo East, two experienced vlogging retailers explained how they built video into the DNA of their who they are.

Jeanne Connon chief marketing officer at the Daily Grommet, said the daily video clips they broadcast to customers of their online marketplace have brought about higher conversions, resulted in fewer returns and increased loyalty and retention. Daily Grommet features one product a day, much like Groupon focuses on a single deal. But in the former's case, the products are unique, artisan and more often than not, created in batches too small to qualify for typical brick-and-mortar, mainstream distribution.

At Abe's Market, an online natural and organic food store offering 8,000 items, co-founder Richard Demb uses a multi-facted video strategy that includes live interviews (via Skype or sometimes face to face) with manufacturers.

In both cases, the retailers stressed the importance of "message" over slick production. Moderator Mikal Belicove, a columnist, contributing writer and blogger for Entrepreneur magazine, noted that success in vlogging is most effective when it is core to the business's strategy. But even then, imperfect efforts can create a stronger connection between customer and product and almost always elevates the online customer experience.

Connen says Daily Grommet's most successful videos exude authenticity, are direct and relevant, are simple and short (under 3 minutes), and tell a story. In one example, a Brooklyn artist who had moved to New Orleans after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf was taped in her workshop talking about the product she was offering: a black, bird-shaped bar of soap that was molded around a white clay bird figurine, which would slowly reveal itself as the soap was used. The artist was able to describe the significance of the color change, representing the effort to clean birds victimized by the spill. Part of the $24 price went to wildlife restoration efforts.

While picture and sound quality need to be adequate, it doesn't have to be Hollywood-perfect. Abe's live interviews often include unintended gaffes and surprise moments that Demb says merely add to a video's charm — and effectiveness.

One important tip: Make sure to employ keywords, product names and similar pertinent information so that the product is search engine-friendly.