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How livestreams on TikTok-style websites increase conversions

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Livestreams directly on your website can lead to 10x more conversions. Video marketing platform Firework has introduced new techniques on websites of major retailers and with great results. But to increase customer engagement, companies need a different kind of website, much more in TikTok style with swipe and other features that attract a younger audience.

The Firework platform is a startup in Silicon Valley that has raised more than $100 million in funding and proposes new ways of using livestream and short video. The company works with more than 600 direct-to-consumer brands, retailers and media publishers. Social apps are not the best place to sell, they argue, at least in the western world. „On social apps we have so many distractions, your brand is not getting the attention it needs. Wat we need is a different kind of website for your short videos, and you will see a fast growth of conversions," says Vincent Yang, co-founder and CEO of Firework during a talk at GDS Summits.

In the western world marketers often point to the high traffic of social media sites, say Facebook or Instagram. That is where they stream their videos, because traffic on their websites is often much lower. So why choose your website for livestreaming? ''The reason why we are not seeing high numbers on our websites is that these sites haven't changed too much since the 2000s. Our web experiences are lagging behind. We need a kind of mobile websites that are more in line with channels like TikTok. Websites where people can swipe and watch vertical livestreams," Yang explains.

Solving the problem of livestreams outside China
Shoppable livestreams are booming in Asia, but the western world is behind. „We don't see many results with livestreaming. It is so different from what we see in China. People say: let's do it on Instagram or Pinterest Shopping, but again it doesn't happen." In an earlier article we explained how livestreaming and short videos are the driving force for sales in China. The Economist came to a similar conclusion: „Livestreaming selling has made China the world leader in e-commerce. But livestreaming in the west is used mostly for entertainment and gaming."

To improve shoppable livestreaming in the western world, Yang points to the differences in consumer behavior inside and outside China. „Inside of China 97% of shopping happens inside a social app, because mobile payment is so easy. People are used to buy a product inside of Taobao, Alibaba or WeChat. Hardly anybody is visiting a website anymore in China. But when we look at the western market, it is exactly the opposite. 97% of transactions happen on websites and in the future that is going to happen even more. Because younger generations are not willing to have Facebook or Instagram track our data. Now you are telling us to send my home address, ID, credit card to Facebook, Instagram, to all social apps to track me? No way. That's why in the western world transactions will continue on e-commerce websites, retailer websites and that is fundamentally different."

Why companies may need TikTok-style websites
Although shoppable videos are available on some social apps, Yang is convinced that livestreams on your website will ultimately give better results. „We worked with various fashion websites. We empowered them to be able to do short vertical videos and livestreams on their sites." And Firework did something else. „We are bringing the exact same experience of Asian apps like Taobao or Alibaba directly to the website."

Considering the success of social apps like TikTok, Yang proposes to make websites in a similar way to attract a younger audience. „On such websites people immediately start looking at videos. As soon as they click, it takes them to a whole new world, which is immersive and swipeable. We are not used to swipe on websites, but we swipe TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest almost ten times a day. This is an interactive and shoppable experience and it sits directly on your site. (…) As soon as consumers saw this experience 'oh I can swipe now', they swiped and stayed longer on the website, on average five times longer and moreover 35% of people clicked on the buy button."

How a traditional retailer becomes cool
Grocery giant Albertsons Companies was among the first to use TikTok-style videos on its website on a large scale to improve customer engagement. Albertsons is one of the largest supermarket chains in North America. The company intends to entice shoppers by showing them videos with recipes and ideas. Someone looking at fruit on the website could see vertical videos pop up with smoothie recipes or ideas about breakfast dishes. The grocery giant wants to show videos of how popular foods are prepared and the best methods for grocery storage, in a way similar to what people are consuming on Instagram and TikTok. While people are checking out to buy a product, they can continue to watch the livestream.

Research has shown that shoppers spend nine minutes longer on websites with vertically oriented videos and are four times more likely to purchase an item, as Bloomberg writes. The collaboration with Firework enabled Albertsons to provide consumers with experiences directly on its own website. „This is transformational for us and moves us upwards from static images to a new way of engaging with customers. Short-form video is the right format for us, because our customers have so much content to consume, and it challenges us to make a high impact in a shorter timeframe," vice-president digital marketing Usman Humayun at Albertsons told magazine TechCrunch.

Shoppable livestream: Heinz Halloween tomato blood ketchup
Heinz, the food processing company known for its ketchup, livestreamed a Halloween event on its website. The brand streamed a shoppable video from the pop-up Heinz Halloween store. „We are able to connect with fans who cannot only watch the action unfold on the livestream, but also actively participate in conversation and buy products without ever leaving the stream," explained Ashleigh Gibson, brand director at Heinz. The event was part of the launch of Heinz tomato blood ketchup, a reflection of the fact that families across the world have used ketchup to add fake blood to Halloween costumes. The campaign was created with Heinz media agency partner Publicis 57. „By bringing this exciting pop-up experience to families through livestreaming, Heinz is making a dynamic and compelling seasonal campaign much more engaging," said Eric Levin, president and chief content officer at Publicis Media.

The livestreams were not only visible on the website, but also on YouTube and Facebook, and through a partnership with Evolve media. By livestreaming an event on a website while at the same time streaming on social apps, you can compare results. Heinz received according to Firework many more visitors on its Halloween website. The trend is that modern mobile sites that include vertical live videos increase traffic and attract an audience that includes younger generations. Such sites may prove that results on a website are much better than on social apps.

Make your website the digital center of your brand
During a Q&A session Yang elaborates on the situation when social media have all the traffic and your website has hardly any visitors. „That is often the case, the same for Heinz. Nobody visits a website and you need to solve that." That's were social media play a role. „We built our own technology for that. While you are doing a short video livestream on your website, you can simultaneously broadcast to your socials, to your email subscribers, to your messenger and WhatsApp groups and drive people to the website. The core idea is to drive everyone to the site to see the livestream."

It is worth trying out and comparing results of vertical video livestreams on a site with those on social apps. Yang is convinced websites are the best solution. „It is one of the biggest misconceptions that when social media have much traffic you should go there. That traffic is not yours. The fact that there are so many people using YouTube everyday has nothing to do with the brand. Instagram is not designed to help brands, it is designed to express emotions. (…) On a website there are no distractions, there are not a thousand of your school friends and others waiting for your attention. It is all about the brand." 

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