What you need to know about using video online
We received a lot of questions about testing and using video at our recent Web clinic on testimonials. Some examples:
- How do I use video to help my landing page increase sales or subscriptions?
- Which kind of videos work best? Short or long? Autoplay or Userplay?
- Should I edit my videos or just leave them raw?
- Are there specific bandwidth or file format issues that might hurt my conversion?
Before we answer, it’s worth noting where we are today with video as compared to just a year or two ago. Much like the ramping-up period for RSS feeds and corporate blogging, the examples have been around for a while but bottom-line numbers remained elusive.
For the past few years of testing here at MarketingExperiments, the results we’d seen from video had usually been underwhelming, mainly due to bandwidth. So our response to questions about video was often that “they generally hurt conversion.”
More recent test results are hinting that online video has grown up. Fast.
For example, SiteSell.com recently shared that adding video to their landing page increased conversion to around 20%. What’s interesting here, besides the increase, is that the video was used as core content stating the company’s value proposition, not just tucked away in a sidebar.
Another example is a recent Sherpa case study where a UK Entertainment Brand site embedded a 1MB video into an email and achieved a 50% increase in conversion. They also split tested the subject lines: the email that mentioned the video had a 14.6% higher open rate than the one that did not.
And in our own research, a redesigned page that featured a video testimonial yielded three times the click rate of the control (discussed in the testimonials clinic).
So while we’ve seen video reshaping the Web in terms of content for a while, we’re now seeing more numbers on the marketing side. And now that test results are justifying further exploration with video, and the audience is much larger than early adopters, our analysts are working to answer many of the same questions as you — including those four queries above.
However, like other aspects of marketing, there are few if any easy answers. The real answer is you have to test and retest.
Much like long copy vs. short copy, call-to-action button styles and colors, or form length, the answers will change with the context in which these elements are used. To find out if a longer video will outperform a short clip, you’ve got to test it and break down the variables involved: the content of the clips, the audience and its expectations from the page, the goals for the page and video, and so on. The same applies to bandwidth, editing, autoplay, etc.
Before you can answer the broader types of questions, consider the context of your videos and look at friction and usability; for instance:
- What are you asking/expecting visitors to do with your video?
- Do they need to watch all of it to get through your conversion process, or is it an add-on to complement a registration process?
- Is it a testimonial, a how-to or a product demo?
- What need is the video trying to fill, and is it in the proper place in the conversion process?
- Does the video create friction with longer page load times, or by interrupting the site flow or eyepath?
The most reliable answers are specific to the usage and take the context into account. You’ll get those answers from tests that are set up and measured with the right research questions (see our recent clinic on testing).
Let us know if you’d like us to cover this topic in more detail in an upcoming clinic. And if you’re getting results from your own video tests, feel free to post about those here, too.
Austin McCraw, audio/video producer for MECLABS, contributed mightily to this blog post.