In this ever-connected age, video is rising up as the most popular method of delivering content online, and membership sites are no exception. If you’re going to be hosting membership content, video is your most powerful tool. With video, you can more effectively illustrate techniques and connect at a more personal level to your members and prospective customers. If you’re not already incorporating video content into your site, consider the following benefits:
Not all hosting platforms are created equal
Video hosting for membership sites is only as powerful as the platform you utilize. Each service has different capabilities and features, both for you as a content manager, and for your audience as consumers of that content. Features to keep in mind:
Can you host the video yourself?
That long list of considerations can seem overwhelming, and you may be tempted to just host the video on your own. While this is possible through the WordPress media manager, it is not advised.
The WordPress media manager is pretty bare bones. It provides no useful features for streaming videos reliably. It is also incapable of preventing third parties from linking to your content publicly. WordPress lacks the space to comfortably host a significant amount of video content, so performance will ultimately be poor.
Do not even be tempted to start with WordPress with the intention of switching platforms later. Moving content to a new hosting site can be a pain to deal with, and you will have much better luck starting off with high quality hosting from the beginning.
So while the introverted among us may be tempted to tackle video hosting in-house, you are significantly better off selecting a third party hosting site for your content, from which you can embed your video content directly onto your WordPress site, instead.
Bulk Video Deliver: Hosting Options
If you want to deliver on-demand video content to your audience for courses and you don’t need video engagement analytics, then any of the following services will get the job done. Which one you choose will depend largely on how much you are willing to spend and which features are most important to you. Here is a breakdown of the most readily available membership site video hosting solutions.
Editor’s Choice: Vimeo
Vimeo has two video hosting options for businesses ranging from $240/year (Pro) to $599.00/year (Business) with the most obvious difference being the quantity of video storage you get, and how much you can upload. With Vimeo, each week you get additional storage capacity. The playback bandwidth is unlimited, and there are no limits on the lengths or number of videos you host. The Pro plan includes 20GB/week, and the Business plan is unlimited. The business plan includes analytics support and integration with Infusionsoft.
Vimeo Business is similar to their less expensive Pro version, but roughly three times the price. The playback bandwidth is unlimited, and there are no limits on the lengths or number of videos you host. The Business plan provides unlimited weekly uploads and storage, as well as analytics support and integration with Infusionsoft.
Our pick for the best deal is Vimeo Pro. It has the perfect combination of features for the best price. Other sites and plans offer more, but with Vimeo Pro, you’re likely to get all the high-quality services you need without breaking the bank.
Annual Cost: $240(Pro) $599(business)
Strengths: Fixed predictable costs, Optimization, Adaptive streaming, Customizable players, Optional analytics, Team member logins, Content management, Content protection
Weaknesses: Annual Payment Only, Expensive
One of the oldest and most tempting video hosting platforms is Youtube. Many people are lured in by YouTube’s free, unlimited hosting, but there are some significant downsides. The problem with using Youtube for your video hosting membership site is baked into Youtube’s structure. Youtube is a delivery platform based mostly on ads and the promotion of other videos. This combination keeps your viewers from remaining engaged with your content. After all, it’s hard to focus on a video course with ads bombarding your from all angles.
That said, if you absolutely cannot spend any money on your video hosting, YouTube is still preferable to trying to host videos on your own.
Annual Cost: Free
Strengths: Free, SEO, costs, optimization, adaptive streaming, customizable players, optional analytics, Team member logins, content management, content protection
Weaknesses: Forced display of links to Youtube
Wistia provides video streaming service with engagement analytics. Wistia has a free tier of service that provides engagement analytics for up to 3 videos. Their Pro plan starts at $99/month, which includes support for up to 10 videos. Additional videos can be added for 25 cents each. Wistia does not publish pricing for it’s Advanced or Premium service tiers, and those are similar to Pro, except for including integration with larger CRMs.
Annual Cost: $1188 + $0.25/video over 10 videos + bandwidth over 200GB
Strengths: Optimization, Adaptive streaming, Customizable players, Analytics, Team member logins, Content management, Content protection, Email lead collection, Video SEO
Weaknesses: High price, per video pricing, extra bandwidth charges.
Ooyala is a bit pricier. This premium option leans towards the Enterprise market, and has limited information about specific features and pricing. Both pre-recorded streaming and live streaming are supported, as is live clipping. Plans appear to start at $500/month ($6,000/year).
Annual Cost: $6,000
Strengths: Customizable analytics, E-commerce integration
Weaknesses: High learning curve, Very expensive
Vidyard software hosts and analyzes video performance. Launched in 2011, it’s been around for awhile (though few sites can beat YouTube on age). Vidyard is a standard hosting solution with three payment tiers: Starter, Plus and Enterprise. The Enterprise options is particularly unique in that it allows you to customize your own payment plan based on which features you prefer.
A big downside to Vidyard is the sheer gap between plan options. While the Starter plan is moderately priced, cheap even, the Plus plan is out of many people’s price ranges. With no middle ground, Vidyard can be a tough sell to the average content creator looking for video hosting for a membership site.
Annual Cost: $150(Starter) $850(Plus)
Strengths: Unlimited bandwidth, Ownership of video data, In-depth analytics, SEO, Sync to social
Weaknesses: Low content cap, Huge gap in plan prices and features
EZS3 is a player and upload manager for Amazon S3. EZS3’s focus is on player customization. The EZS3 player is hosted on Amazon and you can embed the player onto your membership-protected pages. EZS3 has some severe restrictions on simultaneous logins. Share the login and you can be locked out of your account for 24 hours or more. EZS3 starts at $20 per month ($240/year) for a single worker, and every video played increases the monthly price, so be aware that costs can creep up.
Annual Cost: $240 + Amazon S3 Costs
Strengths: Cheap, Customizable Player
Weaknesses: Expensive, No reporting, Can’t adapt to slow connections, Harsh usage limits for the content manager, Doesn’t include streaming or storage costs.
Sprout has a range of plans for business ranging from $25/month to $400.00/month with the most obvious difference being the quantity of video storage and bandwidth that you get. Tiers above the $25/month plan include engagement analytics.
Annual Cost: $300 + bandwidth over 150GB.
Strengths: Security, General Analytics, Lead Capture, Calls to Action, Adaptive Bandwidth, Global CDN, Video Encoding and Optimization, Player, Playlists, API, Monthly payment plans, Live Support, API.
Weaknesses: Expensive, Bandwidth Overage Charges
The advantages of analytics
Not all video streaming services are limited to just the basics of streaming video. Video analytics and engagement services can provide useful reports showing how well audiences stay engaged with video, and where attention spans fall off. This information can be used as the foundation for plans to re-shoot or re-edit videos to figure out what loses your audience’s attention, as well as to re-shoot or re-edit your video to improve engagement.
Like any other analytics, these reports are only as effective as your ability to adjust your videos to improve your results.
Unlike simple video streaming services, these services usually come at a significantly higher cost, so keep that in mind.
The big differences
Aside from cost, the main difference between hosting platforms is the range of assistance and analytical features they employ. After you’ve perused the various options so you have a sense of what options are available, sit down and draw up a list of must-haves. Do you want to incorporate viewing analytics into your marketing strategy? What is your budget? Decide these things before hand to save yourself time and hassle later on.