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E-commerce: How can online video marketing work best for your brand?

Zappos.com credits the product presentation videos with increasing conversion rates on their site from 6 to 30%.

 

On Simplypiste.com, Videos on the product pages increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as leading to a reduction in the number of returns. 

 

“Will it blend?” These quirky product demonstration videos cost less than $100 each to produce yet are credited with increasing BlendTec.com annual revenues by 700%.

 

In A/B tests for ice.com the conversion rate on products purchased after viewing a video jumped 400%,  reduced product return rate from 12% to under 9%.

 

Anecdotal reports like the snippets above are plentyful. Claims on online video marketing’s effectiveness are mostly positive, but all over the place. The gist is that video can be useful to boost engagement and conversion rates. Beyond that, anecdotal facts and figures are difficult to apply. For instance, it’s tempting to look at the Zappos statement above and conclude that using video on your product pages will increase conversion by an average of 18%. But, the data being reported was for a specific video, used by a specific brand, in a specific way, targeting a specific target segment, for a specific product, on a specific website, at a specific point and time. And, it’s anecdotal, which means the controls to minimize bias in the data were not in place. The chances of your brand’s situation aligning with those specifics are slim to none.

 

 

ZAPPOS Credits the product presentation videos with increasing sales on their site by an average of 18%, with some items realizing increases of 30% compared to items without videos.

Does this mean online video marketing doesn’t work? Not at all. It just means that you have to take these reports with a grain of salt when creating projections for your own brand. Unfortunately there are no standard ratios you can apply to determine exactly what the effect of video will be for each item on your site. The best way forward is to decide if video is worth trying for your brand and then creating your own data with a well-controlled pilot. 

All video is not created equal

Video is powerful, but it’s not a panacea. Much of what’s written seems to imply that the addition of any video content will result in improved click through and conversion rates. But, it stands to reason that the effectiveness of the video created will have a direct bearing on how well it accomplishes your objective.

 

There are many types of online video used in marketing. Videos can be used for any communication purpose, e.g. to advertise, to explain a business concept, to inspire, to instruct, to entertain, etc… At Duffy Agency we make the broad distinction between marketing videos intended to generate and nurture leads as opposed to sales videos intended to convert leads. For instance, the “Will It Blend” videos demonstrate the product, but are essentially intended to grow awareness and interest, so we would consider those marketing videos. The Zappos video above is a product demonstration video found on the product page that describes the functional benefits of the product, so we would consider it a sales video. The important thing is to be crystal clear on the type of result you are seeking before you start planning to use video.

 

 

 

People who watch videos on UK online appliance shop ao.com are 120% more likely to buy and spend 9% more per order.

 

For instance, video tends to enhance conversion across all product categories for online retail. But, it produces better results for some products over others. This could be because some product categories lend themselves to video treatment better than others. It may also be that different product categories require different approaches. It’s hard to attach blanket causality because there are so many variables that can influence the effectiveness of video content, such as:

  • What is the purpose of the video worth regard to marketing and sales objectives?
  • How relevant is the information contained in the video to the target?
  • How engaging and interesting is the story being told in the video?
  • How long is the video?
  • How well does the content lead the viewer to the desired action?
  • How well is the video produced, and is the production level sufficient for a premium brand?
  • How well does the video reflect brand profile, tone, and manner?
  • How well does the video reflect the culture and language of the target?
  • How swiftly does the video load and stream?

These are some of the factors that can dictate the type of results that video content will provide to a brand. To manage them, you will need a strategy that makes sense in the context of your broader digital strategy, brand, and budgets. In the next section, the steps for starting a video program are outlined in broad strokes.

Start a Video Program for your Brand

The data is clear that video increases performance over a range of metrics related to both marketing (generating leads) and sales (closing leads) over a broad array of categories. The question for each brand is: To what degree will it increase the metrics that are important to you and, based on that, how much should your brand invest in it? The only way to find that out definitively is with a pre-study and pilot project.

Duffy_Brand_Equity

The Duffy Brand Equity Model defines the difference between sales activities designed to close leads and marketing activities intended to generate and nurture leads, both before and after purchase.

 

If you are interested in starting a video program, then this approach run in conjunction with your digital agency is recommended.

 

1. Define Objectives

Don’t jump into video for its own sake. Start by considering your brand’s specific marketing and sales objectives. What areas pose the greatest challenge? In which areas would you like to move the needle? Based on the type of results presented in this guide, consider how/if video could contribute to any of these objectives and challenges. 

For instance, does you brand need sales videos to drive conversion and trials on your e-commerce site? Do you need marketing videos to generate new leads through awareness, nurture existing leads by providing deeper understanding, interest or trust? Could marketing videos be used in your emails to existing customers to build affinity, loyalty or advocacy? Could a combination of video at different points in the brand equity cycle be used to help in both generating and closing leads?

 

2. Conduct a Pre-study

Once the type of videos that are right for your brand have been decided on, look to see who else is using that approach. Conduct a best practice analysis for the type of videos being considered. Set benchmarks. This can help avoid rookie mistakes and gain insights into how to differentiate your videos. 

 

3. Define a Strategy

Next, for each type of video develop a strategy brief with your digital agency to include strategy points, such as:

  • Operating hypothesis
  • Scope of program
  • Target market and objectives
  • Video content strategy
  • SEO plan for each video
  • Key metrics for tracking and reporting
  • Expected results

 

Also, give some thought to more operational aspects, such as:

  • Cost forecasting
  • Timing and resource implications
  • Planning for different conversion scenarios
  • Analytics tagging
  • Reporting routines
  • Plan for hosting the videos
  • Publication schedule and plan

 

 4. Define a Pilot Project

Work with your digital agency to develop a pilot project to test the hypothesis from your brief. Be sure that all relevant metrics are accurately measured and reported.

 

5. Develop Concepts

Working out from the brief, have a creative team from your agency develop a few concept ideas for each video type you have specified.

 

 

 

Will it blend? These quirky product demonstration videos cost less than $100 each to produce yet are credited with increasing BlendTec annual revenues by 700%.

 

6. Develop Script & Storyboards

When a concept has been agreed upon, have your agency develop scripts or storyboards for each video. Remember to include an intro and outro format for each type.

 

7. Produce, Publish, Publicize, and Track

During the pilot, you may want to consider testing different video concepts, especially if you are unsure. A standard focus group approach can be utilized, or, for even greater accuracy, neuromarketing tactics. This is used to predict performance on your key metrics, which will be tracked after the videos are published.

 

8. Analyze and Adjust

The learning curve never ends, but it will be particularly steep over the first few months as content and technique are refined in response to performance on key metrics. A/B testing during this period is strongly advised to accelerate the learning process. Results need to be carefully analyzed and lessons applied to the next generation of videos.


Soundbites from studies on 
video use for online retail

There is so much data on the results produced by video content that it can be overwhelming. Duffy Agency has combed over hundreds of articles to assemble a few fun facts and figures. This is not intended as a meta-analysis, but rather a filtering of results that may save you a little time on Google. As noted above take these remarks with a grain of salt.  All are anecdotal, they span over a decade, and are often published by companies who are less than objective.