I was chatting recently to a friend of mine who runs a creative video production company in Manchester (highly rated, if you're interested in video production I would strongly recommend talking to Stuart at Seveer Media). Being in the industry we're in, we we're riffing about the relationship between video, Stuart's core domain, and conversion, our core domain over a chicken and avacado sandwich.
Our conclusion, quite naturally, was that the relationship between the video and conversion is inextricably intertwined.
That being said, it struck us that that relationship is not very well documented, nor understood. What is the effect of video on conversion rate? What is the effect of optimising a video after understanding how users react to it? Considering we advocate and prove giant wins for our clients by optimising content and user journeys, why isn't video included within that message?
Does video affect your conversion rate?
We hope so! We use them on our homepage for some customer testimonials from our partners.
KissMetrics state that viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video. A study by eyeviewdigital.com shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%. There are a million and one stats to prove a video vs no video increases conversion rates and even if there weren't any stats or proof, I would still instinctively believe it. It's interactive, engaging, informative and so many other adjectives that ultimately assist the user in converting.
We often see examples of companies that add videos to their user journey funnel and report on the success - very little do we see otherwise:
- Matt Lawson at AO.com said "We have tested and proven that when someone watches our video reviews they’re 120.5% more likely to buy, spend 157.2% longer on the site and spend 9.1% more per order"
- Organizational housewares e-tailer StacksAndStacks.com reported that visitors were 144% more likely to purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not
- Zappos found that sales increased by between 6% and 30% for items that included product video demos.
- Vidyard increased conversions by 100% by using video on their home page.
One of my favourite examples is that of Crazy Egg. Conversion Rate Experts ran an experiment with Crazy Egg by adding video to a split test. Even though the video’s message was similar to that of the rest of the page, just by adding video they generated 64% more conversions than the control. They put this down, not just to the message of the video of which a 3 minute script was written to encapsulate the key points of the sales message, but also the quality. It is, nowadays, incredibly easy to shoot a video on the proliferation of portable devices, but the guys at CRE but a lot of this success to using a proper video production company - in this case, Demo Duck. The result? An extra $21,000 a month in new income.
Having a video done professionally affects conversions, too. ComScore conducted a study that wanted to see the engagement generated by a professionally produced how-to video versus a user-generated product video. The results demonstrated that a mix is preferred by users but professional videos showcased the importance of the key message clearer and more effectively than user-generated messages.
As a video utilises many different elements to engage the user there are lots of attributes that can affect, positively or negatively, conversion rate. For example, did you know that male narrations had a 9.28% conversion rate, compared with a 2.78% conversion rate for videos with female narrator? Or that users watch videos only up to the 6th minute and engagement wanes after that? This article from Crazy Egg is really useful for defining these separate attributes and their relevant cause-effect.
These statistics are all based on individual criteria, on an individual market, on individual user groups within individual buying habits and on an individual website. As we commonly advocate, there is no such thing as best practice to most extents and therefore you need to test and experiment what works best for you.
Which leads me nicely onto the next point, which is often less documented.
Do you need to continually optimise your video?
Of course you do! A video is just an effective piece of content and like any content should be tested and continually optimised. It's something that Neil Patel agrees with and advocates.
In it's most simple form you should test a video vs no video to understand it's impact on your audience; a statement that Peep Laja at Conversion XL agrees with.
There are plenty of stories about how video added X% to a companies bottom line or Y% to their conversion rate, but there aren't that many stories about how optimising a video, over time, improved a companies conversion rate. A video play is a stage in a users journey that communicates a message. Like any message, it should be optimised. Why spend up to £20,000 on a video that should work when you can spend £2,000 on a video that over time with perceptual research will work? Even then, we can discuss videos adding value to the user journey and thus conversion rates against optimising such a process that add more value.
And I admit; it's difficult. A video message is perceptual and affects the users both subjectively and subconsciously. As a result, user testing should be utilised to get real user feedback on the video to understand their thoughts and feelings. Even then, through software solutions like Wistia, you can see video engagement stats, which will help you figure out how you need to modify your video to maximise conversions.
The video content, itself, should not just be optimised but also what houses that content and the perceptual nature of the content surrounding the content.
- Does changing the video player to YouTube, Wistia or Vimeo affect conversions? For example, ads on YouTube may affect users ultimately converting or being distracted from the core message.
- Does changing the video position on the page affect conversions? It does indeed, Wistia found that by implementing a video below the mythical-fold drops play rate from 46% to 27%.
- Does changing the size of the video affect conversions? Indeed, in a separate study fro Wistia they found that a video with a width between 401 pixels and 600 pixels engages the user most to play.
We could add a lot more to this list including the way the video is framed, the thumbnail of the video to entice and encourage plays, the content above and below the video to give the video context, the difference in framing videos on various devices, the personalisation of video content and placement etc.
In summary, if videos are documented are being so integral to the user journey, and that should be tested for your target audiences, they should be optimised like any other piece of content. Not just in terms of the specific content such as production, script and creative direction, but in relation to the entire user journey; how the video fits with the rest of the page and series of pages to encourage, persuade and inform the user enough to convert.