Consumers want to be more involved in the product process than ever before; Akamai Senior Product Marketing Manager Charles Choe explains how brands can optimize video and image content to deliver exceptional visual experiences with speed and agility.

Today’s consumer wants to be more involved in their online digital experiences than ever before. For some, this could mean being fully immersed in an online shopping process, for example, by trying on clothes and makeup virtually. Sephora and ASOS are just two examples of brands already providing this type of interactive experience. For others, it’s about hyper-personalization, such as customizing furniture and using virtual reality to foresee how a couch might fit with their home decor. Room Planner by Pottery Barn is one example of how organizations are leveraging cutting edge technology to engage customers online.

Also Read: 4 Tips to Maximize Your Mobile Marketing ROI

At the center of these new experiences are visual elements; and high-quality video and image content are essential and cost-effective ways for brands to differentiate and engage customers early within the online shopping and browsing process. A recent study by Intent Lab shows that 59 percent of consumers think that visual information is more important than textual information. Visual elements evoke stronger emotions and enable shoppers to examine the fine details, experience the brand through personalization and see items “in action” without having to enter a store or even make a purchase. However, a common challenge for businesses is striking a balance between delivering highly aesthetic and visually pleasing digital experiences while meeting performance expectations, like speed and reliability. That is because high-quality video and image content is heavy – meaning that, if not optimized, they can lead to poor performance and ultimately a poor user experience.

Brands can deliver exceptional visual experiences by taking a two-pronged approach to their customers’ online journey:

1. Supplement high-quality images with short-form videos

The rise of short-form videos is having a profound effect on end-user experiences and companies that utilize videos are realizing tangible quantitative ROI on both their websites and mobile apps. Whether it’s a 20-second product video showcasing a new feature or a two-minute news clip on a media mobile app, brands can benefit from increased page views, pages viewed per visit, longer sessions and higher conversions.

Creating an immersive visual environment provides new avenues for brands to engage with their customers. What’s more, brands no longer compete with similar brands for attention – they’re competing with apps like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram that captivate audiences with highly effective 15-second videos. According to Google, over 90 percent of consumers discover new products and brands on YouTube. The use of rich imagery and videos, however, can empower brands to introduce new creative ways to make their sites and apps equally appealing. Organizations can also gain a deeper understanding of how evolving digital expectations will continue to attract and retain their most valuable customers.

2. Optimize video content for streamlined UX

There is little room for error when it comes to ensuring the quality of these videos, especially when you consider that a 100-millisecond delay in load time can decrease conversion rates by up to 7 percent. While short-form product videos can increase conversions, proper execution can be challenging due to the operational complexities involved in delivering the highest possible quality and performance without loss to visual fidelity. For many brands, web content and application management is not a core competency, which means their teams spend excessive time on basic operational activities, rather than fine-tuning optimizations, just to keep their digital experiences afloat.

Retailers are beginning to realize that cloud architects and front-end web developers are just as important to providing a great brand experience as art directors and marketing managers. Website and application owners need to build scalable architecture, automated image and video optimizations at the Edge and immersive web applications to evolve and grow engagement across their digital platforms.

Also Read: 5 Ways SMBs Can Use Video in Their 2019 Marketing Strategies

With cloud automation technology, it’s possible for brands to achieve optimal video quality, resolution and format for every device and browser. This is critical as consumers typically use one device or method to browse and another to make a purchase. In fact, 50 percent of consumers frequently use their mobile devices to browse, but only 20 percent complete the purchase on their phones. This demonstrates a complex omnichannel customer journey that includes multiple devices, range of connectivity and in-person vs. online behaviors that influence how consumers interact with brands. It’s important that the quality and speed of every digital touchpoint is optimized to ensure consistent and streamlined user experiences.

With that, automated optimizations can cut image and video prep time and reduce the cost and effort to create and transform digital assets, speeding time-to-market. Meanwhile, storing and delivering these assets in the cloud reduces storage costs and empowers businesses to leverage real user data to intelligently deliver the right asset to each and every end-user. Delivering images and videos in the cloud also means that brands only need to store a single, pristine asset and use policies to generate derivative renditions that meet artistic requirements and help standardize website attributes.

As more customers browse the web over mobile devices, it is imperative that brands serve consumers with rich, consistent experiences, while mitigating challenges like video weight and sizing issues. By optimizing their video and image content with cloud automation, brands are able to cut down on the time it takes to manually convert and resize files and focus their attention on enhancing customer engagements and securing their experiences in a continually evolving digital space.

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