Lorelei Orfeo is the Senior Manager of Trends & Content Development at Birchbox. We spoke with her about what makes video content great, video strategy learnings from her five years on the Birchbox team, and video seo tips.
Tell us about Birchbox. How is it different than other ecommerces?
Birchbox is different because we’re able to actually put something into our customers’ hands every month through our beauty subscription box. It becomes an important part of their routine and we have a very close relationship with them for that reason.
It’s also different because content has been a core part of Birchbox from the beginning. Our content is embedded in the Birchbox experience; it creates context around our products, community, and educates our customers.
Does video strategy play a major role at Birchbox?
Video is a very powerful marketing channel for us. Since most of the people in our videos are people that work at Birchbox and not professional models or makeup artists, they make our brand more authentic and personable to customers. We’ve definitely noticed that our community engages and watches more as they get familiar with our personalities.
It also makes our products feel more inviting and accessible; our customers watch these and think, “If they work for her, maybe they’ll work for me.”
Over the years, we’ve seen a huge trend in people wanting to watch more videos. On Facebook, for example, we’ve seen that video viewing has grown exponentially over the last year or two. When I scroll through my Facebook feed, it’s almost all videos!
Do you create video content for earlier stages of the buyer’s journey, to help you acquire new customers?
Yes, our video strategy does span the buyer’s journey. One video series in particular jumps to mind for early-stage content: Get Ready with Me.
In that series, our Senior Manager of Social Media, Juliette, showcases how to use the products arriving in the next box.
Those videos are targeted at people who are not current subscribers. Of course, it’s also useful to people who are current subscribers, but it’s specifically created for an email that we’re sending out to a larger list of prospective customers.
We also have educational videos that are aimed at attracting a new audience through organic search. (That’s where video seo optimization and the Conductor Searchlight platform comes in.) We use those videos to draw in people who might not know about Birchbox but want to learn about beauty.
How do you measure the ROI of your video strategy?
There’s a few different ways that we look at the ROI of our video marketing strategy.
On our product pages, we look for direct conversions. How many people watched the video? Were they more likely to make a purchase based on that?
We also see that people who watch the videos are more engaged with the site in general. They’re coming back to the site more often, and spending more time there.
In a longer-term way, we think about ROI from our video strategy in terms of the relationship we’re forming with our customers. That is definitely a little bit harder to measure, but I think it’s a much more authentic and better long-term strategy to invest in.
Do you ascribe to YouTube’s “Hero, Hub, Hygiene” video strategy model?
Yes, we do. Our educational tutorials that we’re consistently launching every week fit into the “hygiene” category. We focus on creating those videos around specific keywords and evergreen topics. We also have a lot of thematic videos about our subscription service that are baked into our customers routines, and they come to expect and ask for them at certain times in our subscription cycle. Those fit into “hub” content.
We’ve done less hero video to date but we often have a larger campaign around our anniversary in September. This September we created a video for our Customer Appreciation Day. We sent it to all of our customers and it was a focal point of a marketing campaign for the day. The video is essentially a big thank you from our team.
Do your videos look different depending on the channel you’ll release them in?
Absolutely. For example, we’ve noticed that videos fare best on Facebook if they’re around 30-60 seconds, have a fast pace, and can be understood without sound. So we will create or adapt our videos to fit those best practices in each channel.
Our goals for different videos also determine what channels we focus on for each campaign. If we want to feature a limited edition product and get the news out fast, we’ll choose a platform that has a shorter lifespan – Facebook is another good example of that.
YouTube is big for us, and we work with our own channel and influencers to get those videos in front of people through search.
The vast majority of our social channels have a specifically designed or adapted content to help us maximize exposure. For Instagram, we might have a 15-second cut of a video, and for Pinterest, a specially designed image. Long, professionally photographed images are best for Pinterest.
Are still images are a big part of your video distribution strategy?
Yes, photography for each video is incredibly important. We take a photo when we’re on set or during a separate photoshoot, and we plan that shot carefully and ahead of time to make sure it looks beautiful.
For a long time, photography was an afterthought. Now we’ve realized it can’t be. Still images have to be something that you’re thinking about before you film the video. It has to be eye-catching to make people want to click on the video.
What advice would you give to a marketer who’s just starting out with video and trying to get that initial traction?
Think about what levers you can pull to promote your videos. For us, that’s our social channels, our syndication partners, and our email marketing. Go into the video creation process thinking about what levers you have so you can set your video up for success. If you’re just starting out and don’t have an audience to draw from, think about paid media as a way to attract that initial attention and build your audience.
If you’re just starting out, “hero” videos are important. For example, we recently launched a video for our 2nd annual Customer Appreciation Day video and were able to put lots of promotion behind it. Those videos feel special, draw attention, and are worth investing in.
More and more, we’ve seen that you can’t just put content out into the world and hope someone’s going to magically stumble on it. Especially in beauty, there’s just so much amazing content out there being uploaded every day.
What’s a Birchbox video you’re especially proud of?
I’m very proud of our Beauty Essentials series. It’s a new approach for us, in a different style than our other videos. This series takes a simple, educational approach, teaching basic beauty skills. The products are secondary.
We created this series to test an even softer sell. If we put education at the forefront, could we engage with people better and then maybe upsell them to watch another video about a product?
It’s been really wonderful, and has become one of our most successful series. It consistently gets great engagement and great sentiment.
The topics are SEO-friendly, so organic search has been a huge driver. We just did a video called “How to Cut Your Own Bangs.” We had wanted to do that video for a while, and it was reinforced by the fact that “bangs” was a recommended video SEO optimization keyword in Searchlight. We’re seeing that pay off as it rises in organic search rankings and continues to draw in a new audience for us.
We’ve been working with Conductor on getting our content found in the right channels and we’ve definitely seen a pickup in the organic search to video pages on our site and on YouTube.
What brands do you think do video strategy really well? Who do you watch and admire?
For me, BuzzFeed is the ultimate video marketing machine. I mentioned before that we want our videos to make you feel like you have a personal connection with our staff, and that’s something Buzzfeed does an excellent job of.
And then I also really like POPSUGAR, BellaSugar, and LEAF.tv. LEAF.tv is a video site started by a few popular bloggers and they distribute on YouTube. Their videos are beautiful; I love their aesthetic.