By Sanjay Sarathy, VP Marketing, Cloudinary
Almost every technology project has its ‘Achilles heel’. Often it’s a detail that seems trivial and administrative that can compromise the whole effort. With omnichannel projects, these details often slip through the nets of marketing and content teams.
Understandable given these teams are rewarded for building creative, competitive omnichannel strategies and campaigns, along with high-impact images and video.
Managing creative imagery and video for omnichannel involves many technical details that affect user experience (UX). Often overlooked is how well images and videos appear on the huge number of devices, browsers, also ‘microbrowsers’ (chat windows in common messaging systems like WhatsApp and iMessage) that consumers use.
In the UK, it’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of browsers in use besides Chrome and Safari. In compiling our State of Visual Media 2020 report, we learned that in Japan, for example, many people use Nintendo gaming devices as web browsers. A lot more people in Russia and Eastern Europe use Viber than WhatsApp to chat and share content. In Germany, people that still share and view content using Lotus Notes (if you were in nappies in the 90s, Google it!)
Failing to deliver the visual cues and connections that today’s consumers want — and have come to expect — results in disappointment at best, and abandoned carts and lost loyalty at worst.
With that said, here are eight tips to discuss with your web developer team to ensure images and videos don’t become the Achilles heel of your omnichannel strategy:
- Use responsive image and video management to reach the most prospects. Customer journey entry points, pathways and channel mixes vary significantly by country and user. Images and videos must dynamically respond to whatever environment they land in and travel through. It would be almost impossible for web teams to hand code visual content for every scenario. Fortunately, intelligent image and video management tools use AI to detect the environment and dynamically adapt images and video.
- Automated cropping helps ensure you don’t mis-crop. Ensuring that the most important elements in a video appear prominently in the viewing area can be tricky as people may view content on PCs, tablets and smartphones. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and others all have their own unique viewing formats. Again, AI tools can help by sensing the environment and intelligently autocrop to keep the right visual information in the frame.
- Optimise visual content for portrait or landscape. Intelligent image and video management tools can reformat your visual content to appear as expected when a user flips their device from portrait to landscape. However, before producing content you should consider what orientation is likely to be most popular and optimise for that.
- Do visual testing. Relying solely on responsiveness is not enough, especially if your audiences live in countries where device and browser usage is outside the mainstream. In these cases, do visual testing to ensure a consistent UX for all customers.
- Prepare for all microbrowsers. As every microbrowser in the various chat windows render links differently, you won’t be able to deliver an identical user experience across systems. WhatsApp uses just one image, the first specified image it finds. iMessage will also look for and display video tags. Most of the microbrowsers will use your site’s favicon. You can build a hierarchy based on this information to give the different microbrowsers the information they seek.
- ‘Unfurl’ those images. To take advantage of the valuable peer referrals that happen in microbrowser environments, make sure you select an appropriate image for this use case. Ideally it shouldn’t be the ‘hero image’ but instead one that compels the receiver to seek additional information.
- Use short video ‘nanostories’ for the few microbrowsers that currently display video (like iMessage). Video that shows key selling points in action can move well-qualified consumers to buy a product, read an article or donate to a cause. We have seen short video nanostories and animated GIFs work particularly well, for example, when selling new innovations and technical products.
- Consider automating media generation and enrichment. There’s much you can do to improve the power of microbrowser URLs. However, managing images and video at scale can become a Herculean effort and you might not stay committed. Fortunately there are free and commercial image management tools and Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems that can automate much of the repetitive, time consuming, and tedious tasks involved.
These tips were designed to help you work productively with your web team. Rather than become an Achilles heel, powerful images and video should elevate your omnichannel programme to mythical proportions!