Practical Ecommerce

Video Boosts Online Sales, Merchants Confirm

Screen shot of the Fruit Cake Video

With the holidays ahead, and a new inflatable fruit cake product selling only sparsely, Seattle toy store Archie McPhee this week is setting out to drive online sales with an explanatory video. It’s apparently working.

Within 12 hours of launching the video ad campaign, sales for the $6.95 blow-up novelty at ArchieMcPhee.com jumped 500 percent, said David Wahl, director of marketing and host of the viral instructional video.

“I used a five-year-old digital video camera and movie editing software that came with my Macintosh; it’s definitely not state-of-the-art equipment,” Wahl said. “Most of it’s just creating something that’s interesting that people want to enjoy and share with other people. It just drove a lot of people to the page.” And, most importantly, it drove sales.

His ecommerce site is certainly not alone in benefiting from video usage. Some 8 percent of the 2.7 billion video ad impressions studied by DoubleClick (a digital-marketing-technology firm now owned by Google) generated a user interaction. Meanwhile, video raises the number of sales for featured products 30 percent on average, according to testing performed by Innovate Media, a California-based online video production company. “We’re seeing client after client with incredible video conversion rates, ranging from 12 percent to 115 percent with the average being 30 percent,” said Innovate Media President John Cecil.

Screen capture of the Fruitcake video

Video For eCommerce

So, with a modest investment of time, ArchieMcPhee.com became part of a increasing group of ecommerce bootstrappers growing sales with online video options ranging from video banner ads to in-cart 360-degree product views. “It’s taken a long time for ecommerce companies to realize its potential, but it’s finally starting to happen,” said Leonel Montes de Oca, director of the interactive video department at SGW, a marketing communications company in New Jersey.

Indeed, the question for ecommerce merchants isn’t whether video works to drive conversions, but how to overcome production aspects, which is the biggest barrier for the average online seller.

Until now there have been very few resources for actually producing the videos,” said Cecil, whose firm charges $1,000 to $50,000 for production of online videos. “Most of the merchants delivering videos to agencies for distribution aren’t producing it ‘lights, camera, action’ themselves. They come to video production houses like ours with the product they want to sell online, and we produce a video around it. Then, once we started talking about production and delivery in the same breath, it totally changed our business.”

Getting up to speed

In the words of legendary songwriter Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin.” Instead of chunky loading and spotty audio (a complaint of early online video users), 94 percent of today’s online window shoppers use browsers to play video in near-real time, according to StatCounter data.

“Any ecommerce site can use a free hosted video platform to help promote their offering and drive users,” said Gaude Paez, spokesperson for Veoh Networks. A free video hosting community, Veoh has 4 billion video views a year and behavioral targeting in beta phase. “We have a lot of publishers that host on Veoh that are promoting products, services or driving traffic back to their site.”

Veoh is one of scores of quickly-streaming video hosting sites that are free and information-seeker driven. Couple that with free tools like Tubemogul.com, which auto-submits single videos to 21 sharing sites (plus your own), and hosting videos online is no longer cost-prohibitive to e-merchants. Free video hosting is a preferred option for the bootstrapper, saving $20 or more per month in video hosting fees from private servers.

As for production costs, “with a $50 webcam and an Internet connection, you’re good to go,” said “The Online Video Guy” Lou Bortone, author of the ebook “Webcam Buying Guide and Videotaping Tips”. “Video is a great way to market on the Internet. Online viewers are a lot more forgiving and lenient if your video is not broadcast quality. To do something upscale, spend a few bucks and have it done professionally. That being said, there’s a lot you can do with inexpensive editing software and a little creativity.”

Video editing software now is bundled with most computers and webcams. Other options include CyberLink’s award-winning PowerDirector 7 Deluxe ($69.95), such freebies as JahShaka, or Adobe’s news-broadcast-like Vlog It! ($29 for the PC). “You can add lower-third graphics, pictures and audio, and quickly record a video with an intro, music and interactive graphics,” Bortone said. “It’s pretty easy.”

Aside from inexpensive video-production tools, ecommerce sites now have a number of off-the-shelf ways to add video to shopping carts. Options range from product videos composed of customizable PowerPoint slides to generic video greetings delivered by actors.

More About Video To Come

Stay tuned to Practical eCommerce as we bring you this “Video for Ecommerce” Special Report that spans three parts published within the next few weeks. You’ll find real stories of how ecommerce sites are creatively using video in their marketing to drive sales and grow their brands. We’ll introduce easy production ideas, and bring you the latest innovations in video equipment, software and services for getting any ecommerce site online with powerful product-selling videos.

Resources

Jennifer D. Meacham
Jennifer D. Meacham
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Comments ( 7 )

  1. yourtherapysource November 20, 2008 Reply

    That video is very funny, no wonder why he sold more. Like the article thanks.

  2. Joe November 20, 2008 Reply

    It’s a cute video — I think for small businesses, making lo-def videos is a great way to seem both "cutting edge" and sort of homemade at the same time. You can get away with a lot if you have good ideas.

  3. Ian James Snead November 21, 2008 Reply

    It is a great video and proof that any SME or business can turn ideas into video content if the passion and the time is allowing.

    At vzaar, we enable businesses to stream video on their own websites or eBay listings and what we’ve learned is that its essential, in order to remove any frictions, to provide access to trusted and reliable production companies who can turn ideas around quickly.

    We’ve tried to take some of the pain and cost out of video production by partnering with a number of companies. The businesses that I speak to who want to upload and create video content are often nervous about where and how to start so it can help working with a production company such as iSpeakVideo or Real Impact if the cost is not overly expensive.

    http://www.vzaar.com/production

    Cheers
    Jamie

  4. Tal Rubenczyk November 23, 2008 Reply

    Video is by far the strongest way to sell. How many times you find yourself purchasing those kitchen gadget, once you see a demonstration by a salty salesman? Same goes for ecommerce.
    Treepodia offers a smart full video service for online retailers, with ROI guarantee. Worthwhile to check it!

  5. Jennifer D. Meacham January 7, 2009 Reply

    Thank you all for jumping in with your comments and resources. Good additions.

  6. Laura Beken April 22, 2009 Reply

    We are seeing a great increase in the number of product demos being uploaded to http://www.HandBookLive.com.

    HandBooklIve is a video version of an instructional manual. Companies post their videos on our site, and we help re-edit videos, or produce them from scratch. We work with a lot of small and medium size businesses who need to create short promotional instructional videos for their products.

    If people don’t know how to use your product they might not want to risk buying it. Especially online, where you cannot easily return it back if you cannot figure out how to put it together or how to make it work. Having a video explaining how to use the product reduces the risk of returns and also helps create loyalty. People are always thankful when you go out of your way to help them.

    If you want a HandBookLive video, don’t hesitate to get started. You can do your own video for your own product following HandBookLive guidelines and it will be posted with links to your site.

    Laura
    HandBookLive.com

  7. Mireya Pizarro November 19, 2009 Reply

    This sounds like a great idea to create the mom and pop feel of a walk in store. I will add a video to my site . Any ideas on how to do it effectively and at a low cost.

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