Practical Ecommerce

The Metrics for Video Success

Many online stores have begun to include product videos aimed at boosting sales conversions, reducing shopping cart abandonment, and lowering product return rates. But not all product-related videos are the same, and merchants will need some metrics for measuring which videos are, in fact, helping the bottom line.

The video trend makes good sense for ecommerce in general. For example, there is plenty of evidence that potential Internet shoppers are comfortable with online video. Late last year, comScore found that nearly 85 percent of U.S. Internet users had watched online video. But marketers should be careful. Product videos that do nothing more than show still images set to music could be off-putting.

What’s more, Forrester Research’s Patti Freeman Evans found in November 2009 that while 68 percent of the top 50 Internet retailers used video on their sites, only 16 percent of consumers watched those videos, and only 64 percent of those consumers who did watch found the videos helpful.

So how can a merchant separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak? Four specific metrics come to mind: (1) conversion rate; (2) cart abandonment rate; (3) site traffic; and (4) view-through rate.

Measuring Conversion Rate

If a merchant only watches one metric related to the inclusion of product video, that metric should be conversion rate. Simply put, does adding a particular video to your product detail page increase the percentage of shoppers that purchase that product?

For an established merchant, measuring how a video affects conversion may be as simple as comparing historic conversion data to results after a video has been added. Using just this kind of comparison, some merchants have seen a 30-percent increase in sales.

Be careful not to confuse this metric with a falsely-applied benefit to videos. For example, if a merchant adds a product video and starts an email campaign in the same week, it may be difficult to determine which new conversions was a result of the video.

New merchants or merchants that want more precise conversion rate data should consider A/B testing. Set up a product page to include a video only half of the time that a page is served up. Then compare the conversion rate for customers who had a video option with conversion rates for those that did not have a video option. This sort of test could also be used to compare two different videos.

Finally, the conversion rate could also be measured (assuming your analytics tools are capable of tracking this) by comparing the conversion rate of shoppers who watched at least a portion of the video to the conversion rate for shoppers that did not watch the video at all.

How Many Carts Are Left Behind?

Many experts believe that shopping cart abandonment stems from uncertainty. Shoppers either don’t trust the merchant, are unsure of the product’s value (price), or don’t understand the product.

Good product videos should help make shoppers more certain. Measuring how product video affects shopping cart abandonment—like measuring conversion—can include comparing historical data, using A/B tests, and monitoring differences in abandonment rates for shoppers that either did or did not watch a product video.

Is Site Traffic Getting a Boost?

Because search engines have begun to offer blended results on search engine results pages—that is, links to sites, video, and other content—some researchers believe that adding a video element to an ecommerce site may improve that site’s search engine performance for the keywords associated with the video’s meta data or with the content around the video.

This one should be easy to measure. Just monitor how much search engine traffic a page gets after a video is included and compare those findings to that page’s pre-video performance.

View-Through Rate

During a recent Practical Ecommerce and Invodo webinar, Russ Somers, director of product marketing for Invodo, described a metric that his company uses to measure best practices for on-site product video use.

The view-through rate (VTR) seeks to measure what percentage of shoppers actually click, play and watch any portion of a video. Put another way, the VTR is equal to the total number of video impressions divided by the number of video views that a particular video and product page generate.

The VTR will help merchants understand what’s good or bad about a particular video. For example, is it content? Page placement? Player choice? Video size? In fact, in the aforementioned webinar, “Got Video? Six Tips for eCommerce Video Success,” Somers describes several best practices that should help merchants get them most from their video efforts.

Click here to view upcoming and archived Practical eCommerce webinars.>

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. mimad March 10, 2010 Reply

    Armando,

    Some very good points in this article but I have a question as regards cart abandonment.

    I think there are many reason why carts are abandoned and uncertainty is only one scenario. Carts are often abandoned amid poorly designed checkout processes (too long or exhaustive) or when shipping fees/times exceed expectations.

    I can see where a poorly designed video might create a sense of uncertainty…or where a well-designed video might better inform the viewer to NOT make a buying decision based on additional info provided.

    But for most ecommerce sites that use product videos, a video view for a particular product would come <i>before</i> the decision to "add to cart" is even reached.

    In what cases/scenarios do you feel the abandoned cart metric can be helpful?

  2. Mike Darnell March 13, 2010 Reply

    Hi Armando,

    This is a great post and I particularly agree with the points you make regarding the importance of basing judgment on valid analytics.

    A few points that might be of interest:

    1.
    Interestingly it seems that video is an advantageous effort even when visitors don’t watch the footage, as proven by a study we conducted and quoted by Mark Robertson here: http://www.reelseo.com/videos-sell-products-watch

    2.
    We’ve had quite a few of our customers quoting 30%+ increases in conversion rates for video enhanced product pages. Figures and quotes are available here: http://blog.treepodia.com/2009/12/why-ignoring-video-is-costing-you-money

    3.
    In terms of VTR it would seem that exceeding the 1 minute mark is ill-advised as by that point over 50% of your audience is no longer watching: http://blog.treepodia.com/2010/03/at-60-seconds-more-than-half-your-audience-is-gone

    Best,
    Mike
    @treepodia