Beyond YouTube – How To Use Video The Right Way To Increase Conversions

Online videos are hugely popular and they can be highly effective attention-getters, a trait that’s crucial in this day and age when we’re all in a hurry and have a thousand and one distractions vying for our attention.

Consequently, as soon as your visitors arrive at your site, the clock is ticking. You have only a few seconds to grab their attention and convince them to stay.

You can use text or images, or both, to convey your message, all of which can be effective, but some visitors may be turned off by too much reading or remain unconvinced by an image that doesn’t provide detailed information.

Videos, on the other hand, are appealing because they create more of a sensory experience for visitors, allowing them to listen to information about your product or offer and to see it in action.

According to data compiled by Amanda Sibley of Hubspot, “Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them.” Plus, they are “85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.”

The psychology of customers and why they behave certain ways and have certain preferences helps to explain why we, as humans, have a penchant for video.

sharon hurley hallSharon Hurley Hall“Videos incorporate four elements that human beings are wired to pay attention to—we just can’t help ourselves! The four areas are:

  • faces
  • voices
  • body language
  • movement

You can bet that in [the] earliest times, humans used these cues to separate friends from foes, so it’s part of our DNA. It’s the reason we can hear someone talking about us across a crowded room.

There’s sound data to back this up. A study of online fashion retailers showed that those using video on product pages saw a 134% boost in conversions while an A/B test of a fitness product sales page saw a 46% uplift in click-throughs to the purchase page when the sales page included a video. Stats on retail sales from Econsultancy provide even more evidence that when you use video, you tap into these primal cues to keep people looking a little bit longer.”

So with the evidence mounting regarding the effectiveness of videos at attracting people’s attention and enticing them to buy, how can you use videos to increase your conversion rates?

Create Product Videos

Neither text nor images can tell the full story of what your product is or what it can do. Prospective buyers get a lot more out of being able to touch a product, turn it over in their hands, or see a demo of it in action—the types of sensory experiences that you just can’t get from pictures or text descriptions—which explains why Apple retail stores have been so successful. Customers can go in, play with the products, and examine them first-hand.

Of course, this type of hands-on experience isn’t possible with ecommerce products. But watching a video of someone else having hands-on experience is the next best thing.

tyler ellisonTyler Ellison“Showing the product in use and demonstrating its effects and benefits will convince skeptical consumers to buy right away better than just about any amount of print advertising copy. The ability to witness first-hand a demonstration of the product on video puts the consumer in a situation as similar to a one-on-one sales presentation as possible.

What’s great about the Internet is that demonstration videos don’t even require high production values to be effective. The more ‘real’ the video looks without all the advanced polish of editing, the more believable your prospects will perceive it.”

Zappos has been using demonstration videos of its products for over five years now. When you view any of Zappos’ products, you’ll see a series of images accompanied by a video of the product in action, causing sales to increase anywhere from 6% to 30% for individual products.
zappos video

Image Source

Plus, “The interesting thing is that conversion rates on product pages with videos are higher even if those videos aren’t actually watched by people. Simply giving them the option of watching a video is enough,” says Sid Bharath.

Include An Explainer Video

For SaaS businesses, explainer videos are especially important. SaaS products often have a lot of features that may need to be highlighted or explained. And rather than including lengthy text-based explainers, which can be tedious and time-consuming to read, an explainer video walking users through the features is much more effective and appealing. Plus, it serves as a good hook to pique users’ interest in the software.

Explainer videos don’t only benefit SaaS businesses, though. Explainer videos can be used to convey the value proposition of any type of company, and the results can be significant.

andrew angusAndrew Angus of Switch VideoRypple, recently changed to, a social performance management platform owned by Salesforce, recently added an explainer video to their homepage and increased conversion rates by 20%. Approximately 30% of the page visitors watch the video and approximately 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety.

Dropbox is another startup that has taken advantage of the effectiveness of explainer videos by limiting their homepage to a single video. This video increased conversion rates over 10%, and with the video being viewed 750,000 times in one month alone, the 10% increase resulted in several thousand extra sign ups per day.”

Explainer videos tend to outperform text-based hooks in terms of their ability to capture viewers’ attention. “The average explainer video is watched on average for about 2.7 minutes, compared with 28% of website text shown to be read on average,” says Angus. And with the average attention span having dropped to just eight seconds (that’s less than a goldfish!), equating to around twenty words, you can cover a lot of ground using text, visuals, and audio in 2.7 minutes.

Explainer videos also appeal to both visual and verbal modes of learning and they are much more likely to get shared, especially if they’re entertaining or humorous.

Focus On The Benefits

Manish PunjabiManish Punjabi“When you make an explainer video (vs. a ‘branding’ video), explain how your product is going to transform your customers’ lives. Tell a problem/solution story from your prospect’s perspective vs. just talking about your company or your product.

‘This is Jill, she designs web sites. She used to dread wasting over 10 hours a month keeping track of her invoices until she found Freshbooks’ is so much better than ‘Freshbooks was founded in 2004. We have 250 employees. We keep your books fresh. We are a cloud-based accounting software.’”

Use Video Testimonials

Social proof and positive reviews—these are two powerful means of establishing trust and reducing friction among your prospective buyers. According to the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, “Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising.”

Consumers trust their fellow consumers because their opinions are unbiased and therefore more credible.
Positive reviews and testimonials can be faked, however, and customers are wary of reviews that cite only a person’s initials or first name. But even testimonials including a reviewer’s full name along with a photo can be shammed using stock photography.

Video testimonials, on the other hand, are much harder to fake.

What Makes A Good Video Testimonial?

522Productions: “An effective video testimonial should motivate your viewer to think, ‘Hey, this person is just like me and this brand’s product/service helped them.’ Let’s take a look at the necessary ingredients.

  • Genuine. Above all else, video testimonials need to be genuine. Companies using fraudulent video testimonials jeopardize their relationship with customers and, depending on the company’s location, may face hefty fines.
  • Familiar. In order to be effective, video testimonials need to portray brand advocates that customers online can relate to. For example, if your average customer drives a Ferrari and cares about animals, your brand’s video testimonial should include an interview with a satisfied customer who owns a Ferrari and is an animal welfare advocate.
  • Comparative. When creating a video testimonial, it’s helpful if your brand advocate compares your product or service to another he or she has tried (and given up for your brand).
  • Credible. Unfortunately, generic video testimonials simply don’t do the trick. If your video testimonial features ‘Customer X from Company ABC,’ the viewer will think you’ve made it up. As we discussed earlier, this only serves to harm your brand and reputation. One credible brand advocate will always represent your brand better than 20 nameless faces.
  • Professional. The quality of your video testimonial will also speak to your brand’s level of professionalism. Poorly planned or non-responsive video testimonials result in sloppy production. Unfortunately, many customers may feel like this is a reflection of your brand. To maximize conversion rates, make sure you carefully plan the entire production and involve your client in the process.”

Hubspot, Jazz, and Groove are three companies that have the video testimonial strategy down pat. Take a look…





How To Get More Views For Your Video

Let The Video Take Center Stage

First off, you should embed your video into your page. Don’t just include a link to it. “If you add a simple link to [a] 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%,” says Peep Laja.

Second, you want your video to stand out. You worked hard on it. And your video is one of the most compelling tools that you have in your arsenal to get your visitors to convert. So don’t camouflage your video player with the rest of your page as in the example below:

camouflage video

Image Source

Make your video noticeable and eye-catching, as Panorama9 did on their website:

make your video stand out

Image Source 

“Click-To-Play” Versus “Auto-Play”

“Click-to-play” videos enable viewers to choose whether or not they would like to start watching the video. Of course, this can mean that viewers never end up clicking the play button. Or, it may allow them to get situated with headphones or whatever else they may need before they commence watching the video.

Conversely, having your videos auto-play as soon as visitors arrive at your site is a surefire way to increase your video’s play-rate. But you also run the risk of annoying your visitors, or worse—imagine they’re at work or in class and the voice of your narrator suddenly starts booming at top volume.

Personally, nothing has made me click out of a site faster than encountering an auto-play video that I wasn’t prepared for.

You’ll need to test which option gives you more views and higher conversion rates. But as another suggestion, Jeff Pelletier of Basetwo Media weighs in with how you can eliminate some of the risks of using the auto-play option.

7MGQNKPBJeff Pelletier“The best time for auto-play is when the visitor was brought to the landing page by clicking a thumbnail or link, such as from an email marketing campaign. They’ve essentially already clicked ‘play’ once, so making them do it again is worse than simply having it start playing. Fortunately, there are two ways to differentiate between these two types of visitors.

The first option would be to have two completely different landing pages set up, one with the video configured to auto-play. The other is to use the selective auto-play feature available in Wistia and some other professional hosting platforms.”

Additionally, you could opt to use a “silent full-screen contextual video instead.”

Don’t Overlook Your Video’s Thumbnail

Your video’s thumbnail is akin to a blog post’s headline or an email’s subject line. It counts and it can persuade viewers to click play or make them skip over your video, uninterested.

Peep Laja: “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.


Image Source

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:

short video

Image Source

Twice the amount of people watched the video now. Test your video thumbnails.”

YouTube Audience Development Strategist Yury Polnar says effective thumbnails must possess the following characteristics:

They need to be…

  • In focus
  • High resolution
  • Visually pleasing
  • And click-compelling (if your thumbnail contains any text, make sure it’s readable at all sizes).

Furthermore, your thumbnail should be representative of your content. “The last thing you want is for someone to click on a thumbnail, feel deceived because the content is not what they expected, and leave. It can have negative effects on watch-time and future discovery too,” says Yury.

Let’s take a look at a few images that are (thumb) nailing it:

Image 1


Image Source

Why This Works: Faces Are Eye-Catching (Especially If They’re Expressive)

Colin Osing of SoMedia Networks: “As humans, we’re psychologically drawn to look at other humans’ faces because we have evolved to detect eye contact and to search faces for recognition, so images of people looking straight at the camera tend to work best. This can be seen in A/B testing by online retailer Eastern Mountain Sports, who found that people were more likely to click on thumbnails with an attractive person looking straight at the camera.

Faces displaying emotion are also preferred by viewers because emotion plays such a huge role in human communication. You can see this principle very clearly when looking at last year’s ‘Christmas Miracle’ video thumbnail from WestJet. It perfectly captures the optimistic, hopeful, and childlike traits the video tries to induce.

To apply these principles to your own thumbnails, first decide what type of emotion you want your video to evoke—happiness, suspicion, peacefulness—and then try to bring that emotion out in the thumbnail by using close-up, expressive, and exaggerated faces.”

Image 2


Image Source

Why These Work: Choose Colors That Pop

Bright and contrasting colors make the subject of images stand out against the background. Plus, they add depth, which helps to draw viewers in. Choosing complementary colors, or colors opposite one another on the color wheel, also tends to produce eye-catching results.

color wheel

Image Source

Moreover, the color yellow has been found to be especially successful as a background color, garnering higher click-through rates than other colors.

According to Matt Gielen of Tubefilter, “This is primarily due to the fact that humans only perceive the color yellow when both the M-Cone (Green) and L-Cone (Red) are stimulated (or essentially when green and red light is mixed). This causes more receptors in our eyes to trigger, making yellow stand out more.”

And in case you’re looking for a fun fact to share at your next networking event: this is also one of the reasons why taxis and school buses are painted yellow.

Image 3


Image Source

Why These Work: Branding Is Essential

The purpose of adding your brand or a bug (small watermark or logo) to your thumbnail is threefold:
First, it enhances brand recognition by allowing your viewers to build an association with your brand and content. Second, it sends a clear signal to your viewers that the video they’re watching is definitely one of yours. And lastly, it makes your videos appear more credible and authoritative.

Wasp Barcode Technologies, “a B2B company that sells asset tracking and barcode scanning solutions,” almost doubled the amount of views their videos received from both related video clicks and search results after adding custom branding to each of their thumbnails.

Check it out:


Image Source

Notice how the second two videos stand out over the first. The bright yellow Wasp logo is powerful and eye-catching, drawing you in.

Image 4

what happene

Image Source

Why This Works: Text Enhances And Defines (Sometimes)

“Generally, your video thumbnail should speak for itself,” says Colin Osing. But there are times when adding a few words of text can help clarify what the content is about by providing context or it can pique viewers’ interest, as in the case of Image 4.

If you do decide to add text to a thumbnail, keep it minimal—2-7 words at most—keeping in mind how the text will look on smaller screens. The text should be large enough so that it’s still discernible when the thumbnail appears in the listings of search engine results. And to make it stand out more, the text should have a heavy outline or use a color scheme that contrasts with the background.

Additional Tips

To get more views for your video, do the following:

  • Place the video above the fold
  • Use a video player that’s on the larger side (according to Peep Laja, “The 480x720px sized player got more views than 250x140px.”)
  • Include a text call-to-action, such as “Watch the video” or “Click to play”
  • Keep your video short and put the most important information at the beginning.


justin christianson 1Justin Christianson“Different consumers shop and prefer different methods to find out more information.  Video can be a great way to engage the more visual shoppers and get your message across easier.  It is important to test the different types of videos and all the elements of a video to ensure you have an optimized message.

We have shown up to 300% increases in conversions by strategically using video.
One important factor when leveraging video is to pay close attention to your mobile visitors and mobile experience, as videos don’t always play nice when trying to get a buying decision on mobile.”

Also, while your videos should retain a solid degree of professionalism, you don’t need to spend tons of time or money to create a high-quality video. Define your goals, plan ahead, and use screencasts or hire a voice-over artist.

Have something to add?  Leave a comment.

Be sure to like, share and subscribe.