Online video keeps getting more and more popular. This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw huge growth in in video views with major retailers.
Treepodia says video is one of the few strategies that seems to work well regardless of the category in which it is deployed. The following chart shows the conversion rate increases that were witnessed for shoppers who watched product videos:
Even if there wouldn’t be any proof, I would believe instinctively that video increases conversions. Using just the right images boosts your conversion rate, but a video is so much better than a photo. It’s the closest you can get to seeing the product in person.
If the product is complicated, using video to explain how it works causes less friction than reading a bunch of text. You can present a ton of information with just a 30 second video – equivalent of half a page of text, if not more.
Videos don’t need to be directly about increasing conversions. HSN features a lot of educational videos on their site. Emery Skolfield, HSN.com director of digital content:
Videos can be educational and build trust in our brand. If they do they add value and give the sense that HSN.com can help a consumer even after she’s made her purchase.
Educational videos have another advantage – people actually want to watch them. More content = more engagement. When I look at YouTube Insights data for my own videos, I can see a clear trend: content videos are watched WAY longer than commercials / product pitches. Most don’t watch the latter past the few first seconds.
Put a video on your home page
What should the video be about? Perhaps a short overview works best. Last year Think Vitamin replaced an example tutorial video (5:50) on the homepage with a 50-second overview of the service - and increased conversions by 24.4%.
InDinero spent two months split testing between a more traditional landing page design and a page with basically just a big video and a simple signup form. The page with just a large video has increased inDinero’s signups by almost double from 6.8% to a whopping 11.2%.
Buy Real Twitter Followers produced a case study after experimenting with a small video explaining their service on the homepage. This little change helped them increase their sales by 216% against control, but the new version of their home page is again without video. Go figure.
No best practice is guaranteed to work on your site. Always split test.
Use videos on your product pages
Video on product pages is getting more popular. According to the etailing group’s “13th Annual Mystery Shopping Study,” usage of online video on product pages among the 100 leading retailers studied increased by 18 percentage points between Q4 2009 and Q4 2010.
Putting videos on product pages is just a smart business decision. When a consumer sees how a product works, she is much more likely to convert. Sometimes already offering the option to play video will increase the conversion rate (even if they don’t actually watch it!).
In the fourth quarter the conversion rate for consumers who watched a video on eParty Unlimited – online-only party supplies retailer – was 8.3%, 43.1% higher than the 5.8% conversion rate for other consumers.
Living Direct added video to its product pages of household items ranging from tankless water heaters and wine refrigerators to solar-powered cell phone chargers, and has seen conversions increase for those products. The same has been confirmed by Stacks and Stacks and Swimwear Boutique.
E-retailers can use vendors like Treepedia or Inovo to produce product videos, and pay $300 to $500 per video + monthly bandwidth. This is out of reach for small businesses, but given the access to digital video cameras these days any etailer can make their own videos and host them free on video sharing sites.
Online gemstone jewelry company Wild Gems produces their own videos and hosts them on YouTube for free (has access to video analytics via YouTube Insights). It’s hard to show off the sparkle of gemstones via photos, so for them video actually helps them to present their products better. See this moonstone ring:
Male or female narrator?
This is something you have to test for your site, but online eyewear retailer EyeBuyDirect.com discovered that consumers prefer a male voice for the video’s narration.
The retailer tested the effect of a change in narrator for two product videos running approximately 30 seconds each that feature the type of chunky black frames.
In this case, the male-narrated product video produced more sales. That video achieved a 9.28% conversion rate, compared with a 2.78% conversion rate for the female-narrated video. Quite a huge difference!
Video thumbnail matters
We doubled the number of video plays on Traindom’s home page just by changing the video thumbnail.
The thumbnail used to look like this, and around 10% of the visitors watched it.
The new thumbnail contained the text ‘Watch this video because it’s only 2:18 long’. I thought to mention the duration of the video, so people wouldn’t worry about it taking too long. The word ‘because’ was used as it triggers an automatic compliance response (as per Cialdini). The new thumbnail looked like this:
Twice the amount of people watched the video now. Test your video thumbnails.
Video can reduce return rates
Video can show product more accurately and hence people are less likely to buy stuff under false assumptions.
Try a video-only landing page
Fitness trainer Carl Juneau managed to increase his conversions by 46% by switching to video-only landing page. He tried a long-form sales letter underneath the video, but conversions were much lower.
Why did video-only work so well? Carl’s best guess:
I’m guessing visitors were intrigued by the sales video and clicked through to the price/guarantee page to get more info. They may have been turned off by the long salesletter when I added it to the video and lost the excitement created by the short, punchy video.
He also tested a landing page without a video, but a with a call to action mentioning video:
This produced a 14.18% improvement over control. He’s not the only one boosting conversions with mentioning video in the call to action.
Mention video in your call to action
Version A: Get Instant Access (11.9% conversion rate)
Version B: Watch the Video (15.3% conversion rate)
‘Watch the video‘ button increased conversions from 11.9% to 15.3%. A total increase of 28%!
Use video testimonials
Few will believe testimonials when just the first name or initials are mentioned. Full name and photograph is the minimum, but even that can be faked (I’ve seen an abundance of stock photos served as actual people). What’s really hard to fake is video. Therefore video testimonials are powerful.
Justin Nassiri from VideoGenie says video testimonials get watched for 100 seconds on average. That’s pretty good.
How to get more views for the video?
Research conducted by Invodo says that videos get more views when
- they are placed above the fold,
- the video player is fairly large (480x720px sized player got more views than 250x140px),
- there is a text call to action (e.g. “click to play”).
Treepodia says you should embed the video rather than just provide a link to it. If you add a simple link to video from any given product page, you can expect something between a 5%-15% video view rate, while a video player embedded on the same page will deliver a view rate ranging from 10%-35%.
Most viewers will NOT watch the video to the end. An average 2 minute video gets watched half way. What does that mean for you?
- Make your videos nice and short – 30 seconds if you can, but definitely shoot for under 2 minutes.
- Present the most important information first, leave additional details for later.
Here’s a useful infographic on increasing your video viewership.
I don’t mean split testing (but you definitely have to test video vs no video), but video analytics. How long are they playing the videos for? Are they watching them to the end or just the first seconds?
Most video platforms provide analytics these days, even YouTube. YouTube Insights shows you the general statistics, attention span (how long are they watching for), location and even demographics of the viewers.
I recommend you also do a split test of 2 videos and measure the video analytics – which video actually gets watched and which video helps to produce more leads or sales.
Any good case studies that you know of? I’m also curious if anyone has published data on how video decreases conversions. I couldn’t find any myself.
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