Videos Sell Products – Even If Users Don’t Actually Watch Them

Videos Sell Products – Even If Users Don’t Actually Watch Them

While adding video to your online store isn't exactly new, it is still a medium in its infancy.  Only within the last year or so have retailers begun to wake up to the power of video as a marketing tool that builds customer confidence and increases conversion rates. The amazing thing about video is that it works to this effect whether it's watched or not.  In other words, just by adding product videos to your site, whether they're watched or not, will help move products.

Why add video to product pages?

Why add video to your site's product pages?  Because simply put, product videos sell products.  While shoppers who actually view a product video are buying at a higher rate than those who choose not to watch the video, what has proven even more interesting is the fact that people who do NOT watch the video are converting at a significantly higher rate than shoppers viewing the same product page without the option for video viewing.

Take the following case studies which show conversion rates (CVR) for January 2010.

E-Commerce Retailer A:

  • Control group (= pure CVR in site, without video at all): 1.04%
  • CVR of people who could watch video but did not: 1.47%
  • CVR of people who watched video: 4.06%
  • Increase when comparing the users who could watch video (whether watched or not) to control group: +46.22%

E-Commerce Retailer B:

  • Control: 3.27%
  • CVR of people who could watch video but did not: 4.06%
  • CVR of people who watched video: 4.82%
  • increase (as defined above): +27.05%

The above case study data was provided by Treepodia and based on multivariate testing results for their client's e-commerce websites.

So, it turns out that just offering the option to watch a product video is already a selling point. How could that be?

I believe that it has to do with consumer behavior and the trust factor.  People feel more secure if they know you are able to show video on your site. 1) Because it means you trust your product enough to show it in full multi-dimensional format, and 2) Because it means you are an etailer that invests in your site, bringing your customers the best user experience possible. It makes your site seem more reliable which in turn increases consumer confidence.

If I look at it from another perspective altogether, I'd perhaps equate it to the fact that while I may not be an opera fan, I like the idea of living in a city that has an opera.  It's about options.  In other words, while I may not use a particular service, I like to know that it's there. I can recognize its benefit without the need to use it, and it says something positive about the place, or site, I'm visiting.

What's the best way to display video on landing pages?

Although overall product videos are a strong sales tool, not all video displays are created equally.  The three main ways most e-commerce sites choose to display video to site visitors are via a link, as a "watch video" icon, or embedded in the actual product page.

While all methods are effective, embedding the video player in the product page will generally generate a higher view rate. For example, according to Treepodia, a leading vendor in the realm of ecommerce videos, 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% .

Both are obviously good options, and number are not the only thing that matters.  Beyond the number of views generated you need to think about appearances. The display format you choose depends on the type of page real estate you want to allocate to video. But remember, your shoppers respond positively to videos so a good spot above the page fold is best.

What else should I know?

In most cases and across all verticals, video is a proven and effective tool for increasing conversion rates. However poorly executed or shoddy video may have a detrimental effect on your site. This should come as no surprise as we're all well aware of the damage that inadequate copy-writing or unimpressive photos can cause conversions. In short, video obeys the same fundamental rules governing the performance of all mediums – quality matters!

That's why, whatever video strategy you choose, it is imperative to continue to measure performance according to the parameters for success that you have established.  Once you learn what works best for converting products on your site, you can focus on doing more of the same and getting the most out of your product videos.

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About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.fullcompass.com/ Hershel Miller

    Thanks for sharing, the increased conversion rate info is great. Do you have any data on a tabbed display for embedded video on product pages?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      That is a great question. Let me ask those guys at Treepodia since they have done that testing and see what I can find out. Id also like to know the differences in CVR for link/embed/tabbed/icon, etc....

    • justinfoster

      Hershel,

      Where would the tabs be? The most effective implementation we have seen involves tabs, where the video takes the place of the product hero shot and includes the player embedded right on the page. Directly above the video are two tabs, one for "video" and one for "images." In the study we ran we saw 25% - 45% play rates on these videos. Based on the numbers Treepodia is reporting it seems the numbers we're both seeing are roughly in line as they're reporting 10% - 35% and we also saw numbers closer to 10% for embedded players when video real estate was below the fold.

      Adding a video tab below the fold where the player is not shown by default on the page, or even running a video tab above the fold where all the shopper can see is "video" text on the tab but not an actual player or thumbnail unless the tab is clicked is going to harm your play rates by an order of magnitude. Like I'm talking not 1% less or 5% less but more along the lines of 5X - 10X. You need to show the video on the page by default for the best results.

      One other comment I'll quickly make to echo the closing comments in the article here. Video doesn't just "work" automatically. You need to use video to effectively persuade the shopper to take an action. It's about quality, yes, but the quality I'm referring to has less to do with production values than actual content. In other words, it's possible to produce high quality video where the content sucks, and likewise it's possible to produce low quality video that features great content. Given the choice, always opt for high quality content vs. high quality production if you're trying to drive conversion. A poorly executed product video can harm conversion, so any delta you see in performance is going to be magnified the more prominently you feature video on your product pages.

      Hope this helps!

      Justin
      Founder, Video Commerce Consortium
      CoFounder & VP Market Dev, Liveclicker

      • http://www.fullcompass.com/ Hershel Miller

        Thanks for the insight Justin, we were initially looking to have the tabs near the description content, which in our case is unfortunately below the fold. I like your suggestion on having it be on the Hero Shot, once I read that I was like, yeah that makes tons of sense!

        thanks for the feedback

      • https://twitter.com/mpkaplan Matt Kaplan

        Justin,

        Any stats on play rates of a "light box" approach? Many of our customers don't want to redesign their pages to incorporate an embedded video, so we offer a light box option for playback. Another benefit of this approach is that it keeps the user in the same context during video playback.

  • Simon Gornick

    Great post, Mark. The trust factor is a key point. Video implies investment, of thought, time, and money. It's a marker of how important quality of content is to your offering. That notion drives consumer response in a very profound way - as proved by Mike's numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/ryanMoultrup ryanMoultrup

    Wow i mean I knew that video was great as a marketing tool but I never would have thought that unwatched videos will increase conversions for e-commerce. This post was perfect timing i am going to put this to use on a site that is just about to go live
    Thanks

  • justinfoster

    We see similar play rates for embedded players depending on placement on the product detail page with the lower play rates coming from players lower on the page and the ~35% play rates when the player. However I'm somewhat surprised by the 5% - 15% view rates on links. We ran a study across 25 retail sites (and across vendors) of 13MM product detail page views and saw view rates on links closer to 0% - 2%. Here though I am actually referring to pure HTML text links, or small watch video icons like mentioned in the study here. The ones that performed closer to 15% (and 15% was way on the high end for links/icons) were when sites actually featured an icon that LOOKED like a video player. Not really an icon at all but more of a "fake" player that launched a modal overlay when clicked. In terms of improving page conversion simply by having video on the page (regardless of whether it's watched) we haven't seen a great deal of consistency here. Some sites have seen such an improvement but other sites with virtually identical implementations have seen little to no change. I'm not sure why this is but suspect it has something to do with how different customer sets/shopper types respond to video.

    One other thing I would add that retailers can do to improve video performance on product pages is to conduct testing on the default thumbnail displayed in the video or text callouts in the initial player frame. For example, an initial thumbnail with the "play" button prominently displayed tends to improve play rate (might seem obvious) but actually adding the text "Play" next to the play button seems to improve it even more. In terms of actual content of the thumbnail, we see sometimes 200%+ increases in play rate purely based on variance of the content in that thumbnail. Taking an automated approach to displaying other interactive content in videos (related products, ratings/reviews, hotspots, text overlays, related videos, "buy" callouts etc also impacts performance. I'd recommend testing placement of these elements as well, preferably in an automated or at least semi-automated way.

    Justin

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      Always good to have your insight Justin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.... it is certainly interesting to add that bad product video implementation could actually hurt conversion rates.

  • http://www.vipepower.com/ Fred Greenberg

    It confirms what i already know, great article.

    Fred

  • https://twitter.com/mpkaplan Matt Kaplan

    Great info and thanks for sharing. We did a recent email campaign with a video call-to-action and measured the uplift in click throughs. You can see the results of this campaign in the blog post:
    http://www.visiblegains.com/blog/bid/34456/Using-video-in-e-mail-to-increase-webinar-registrations

  • http://www.authorsbroadcast.com/ Reno Lovison

    It is very helpful for clients to have data that supports their decision. This is very helpful. Thank you.

  • http://www.twgplus.com/ Talmadge Boyd

    Thanks for the tips, Mark. This is a good one. Did you see the recent article in Techcrunch? It seems to say the same thing. As overall video production goes up - video views goes up as well. Seems to make sense, right?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      I didnt see that - no. what is the URL to the story - that sounds like an
      interesting one...

  • http://www.twgplus.com/ Talmadge Boyd

    Sorry, that probably would have been helpful. Here's the link. http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/30/context-is-king-how-videos-found/

  • sammy

    That was an excellent discourse on video and its effect on conversion rates. Thanks Mark.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      yw - thank you Sammy

  • EricBestDPF

    Hey all. Absolutely amazing post. I would love to have opinions on using video WordPress templates as an informational/distrubution tool for my product. Here are some links to some templates I am considering. I will be making the content myself and am confident the resulting videos will be solid. Just looking to launch a whole new "manufacutrers" site that can be used by potential distributors to sell to their customers. My current retail site/product is wwwBestDPF. com The video wordpress templates that I have found are:www.studiopress.com/demo/tubular.htmlwww.press75.com/demos/tv-elements/demo.phpwww.press75.com/demos/video-elements/dem...The reason I am trying to do WordPress is because I had it done with the above site and it was relatively painless and I am trying to keep costs down on the design side. Some of the concerns I have:Are these videos going to play well enough across all browsers?How will I know if the server is robust enough to handle what I put on there?Again, unbelievable amount of solid info here, thanks in advance for any insights you have. Eric

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      well, regardless of the theme (of which I like the first one) - where are you going to host the videos?

  • whole house window fan

    I am sure video does a lot more to increase website traffic....

  • SEO Moves

    This is right on target, so many clients are worried about the ROI on their videos but all it really is, another bullet in the online marketing gun

  • http://twitter.com/bestradiantheat Brian Johnson

    Very interesting post. Personally I believe videos product reviews are becoming a trend for ecom biz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=152985655805 White Gorilla Media

    having video on your website increases conversion rates and helps sell your products! whether it's watched or not! and guess what folks? QUALITY MATTERS!

    • Adisa Ziric

      CONTACT WGM for QUALITY video production!

  • Mauricio Mar

    Thanks Mark for the article.
    i have also shared my views on How to create product video reviews here. There are so many videos but even big brands miss some key elements when producing video content.
    i have review some here and also linked to your article :)
    http://edigital.tumblr.com/post/16185872454/howtodoaproductvideoreview