It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, the information presented on the Internet consisted of nothing but plain text. Later came HTML as a way to format text, then graphics were added, but even those innovations were nothing compared to the types of content you can find online today.

The Internet as we know it is still evolving, but it is full of pictures, sounds, and motion. Even the most inexperienced can design a website using today’s technology and make it full of animation, beautiful graphics, and exhilarating music.

New technology is being developed every day, and online marketers are often quick to use it.

But these fascinating new aspects of the Internet are not only for fun and games. They provide us with plenty of new ways to inform and engage our visitors. No longer do we have to rely on the written word to get our point across, we can communicate with our site visitors through audio and video.

Why Audio?

Did you know that a large portion of the population retains information better when they hear it than when they read it? This is one of the many reasons that it pays to offer audio as an option for your site visitors. Here are some more:

* Audio can inject personality into your website in a way that text and graphics can’t. There’s just something about hearing someone’s voice that makes site visitors feel welcome.

* Audio is convenient. Those who want or need to multitask can listen to audio while doing other things. They do not have to be right in front of the computer screen to use it. You can also make audio available for download to smartphones and tablets, so your visitors can take it with them wherever they go.

* Using audio can separate you from the competition. Many sites do not utilize audio, and if yours does, those who enjoy it will be likely to come to you instead of your competition.

Ways to Use Audio

There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate audio into your solo business. Here are a few to consider:

* Record a podcast. Podcasts are extremely popular right now. Users can subscribe to your podcast and download it to their smartphone from iTunes and other online podcast directories.

* Do a streaming talk show. Similar to a podcast, this is a great way to get targeted visitors to your website, and it allows you to interact with your audience by accepting calls or answering emails while you’re on the air.

* Offer recordings of webinars or teleconferences for download. This gives visitors an incentive to come to your site as well, and it may entice them to participate in future conferences.

* Record a message for site visitors. Tell them a little about yourself, suggest areas of the site to visit first, or just welcome them. This adds a unique personal touch.

* Record your blog posts. Some people prefer to listen to news or books instead of reading. Offering your content this way allows them to listen during their daily commute or while exercising (much like a book on tape).

Why Video?

Online video’s popularity has grown exponentially in a short time, thanks to video sharing sites such as YouTube. More than 1 billion unique users each month to YouTube shows us we need to pay attention. Including video on your own website can greatly enhance your visitors’ experience.

Live streaming video is a great tool for those who want to teach their clients and those who can benefit from a high level of interaction with their visitors or clients. It makes it possible for you to communicate in real time, do live demonstrations, and answer questions with ease. For your audience, it’s the next best thing to being there with you. Two popular sites for live streaming are Facebook Live and Youtube Live.

It’s much easier than you might think to make professional-looking videos to showcase your products and services. Your site visitors can watch these videos at their convenience, and if they like them they may recommend them to friends and colleagues. For added exposure, you could make your videos available for embedding with YouTube or another video sharing service.

Ways to Use Video

Video is a very versatile medium, and it can be used in a number of ways. Here are some ideas:

* Make viral videos. These are usually entertaining clips that include a plug for your business and appeal to a broad audience.

* Hold online video conferences. These provide an unparalleled way to reach out to your target audience.

* Make how-to videos. Create them on topics relevant to your website’s subject matter. Providing informative video content will generate buzz about your website, potentially resulting in an increase in traffic. It will also help you establish yourself as an expert.

* Whiteboard/Explainer videos. This another popular marketing strategy for online marketers. Create an entertaining hand-drawn video explaining or promoting a product or service. There are lots of online apps that you can use to easily create this type of video.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Video Sharing Sites

YouTube makes it easy for anyone to upload videos to share with anyone who cares to watch them, and it provides viewers with a wealth of entertainment and educational opportunities. It’s easy to do with a smartphone, from your computer or just about any device. Sharing your videos on YouTube and other sites definitely have some advantages.

YouTube’s immense popularity can potentially result in lots of people viewing your videos. If they find videos they like, they can share them on social media with their followers and friends or embed them onto their own sites. You can see why some marketers love the idea of video sharing.

There are, however, some disadvantages to putting your videos on sites such as YouTube. One of the biggest concerns of marketers is that video sharing doesn’t require users to come to your site to view the videos. That means that while your videos may be wildly popular, they might result in very little traffic to your site. It’s important to give viewers an incentive to visit your site once they are finished watching the video. The simplest way to do this is to add a call-to-action at the end of your videos. Alternatively, you can change your videos’ settings so that they can’t be viewed on the YouTube site or embedded elsewhere, but that will limit your viewership.

Make sure you use YouTube’s handy tools to include promotions in your videos, clickable links and more. This will help bring more of your YouTube watchers back to your own site.

The Don’ts of Audio and Video

Using audio and video on your site can greatly enhance your visitors’ experience. It gives them alternative ways to receive information and makes your site more interesting. But it is important not to push these mediums on your visitors, because it may actually be a turnoff for some. Here are some things you shouldn’t do:

* Do not use audio or video that automatically starts when a visitor arrives at your site. Most people want the power to choose when they watch a video or listen to audio on the web, and if that is taken away, it could become an annoyance to them.

* If you’re embedding videos, don’t put too many on any one page. This can cause slow load times, and possibly even browser crashes for users who do not have the fastest connections or the newest computers.

* Don’t forget to seek input from your website’s visitors. If you’re considering audio or video but have not implemented them yet, consider doing a user survey to find out how they would like to see it used. If you are already utilizing audio and video, ask them if they feel you are using it in the best way possible. You’re providing these things for the benefit of your users, so it’s crucial to make sure that they are in fact benefiting from them.

It’s important not to alienate anyone through your use of audio and video. The idea is to give your users more options, not to make things more complex or decrease usability.

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