Practical Ecommerce

Innovative Video Use Increases Conversions for Merchants

Editor’s Note: This is part two in our special report on “Video for Ecommerce,” where we describe real stories of online merchants creatively using video to drive sales and grow their brands.

Visitors to are greeted by a video host, positioned unobtrusively in the lower right of the home page. “Welcome to Rocky Mountain Tracking, a leader in GPS…,” the host begins. He explains the company’s history as a global-positioning-systems reseller, describes its “same-day shipping and great technical support” and offers a virtual tour.

“As any company, we experienced the typical website customer spending just 2, 5 or 10 seconds here before they got bored and moved onto another site,” said President, Brad Borst, from the company’s Fort Collins, Colo., headquarters. “Video gives them something else to look at. It’s a must for any ecommerce business looking to maintain their attention long enough until they’ve had a chance to look more into the site and your products.”

Meanwhile, a few GPS units are featured in video-like sweep-ins on the left side of the page, including one that shows a 360-degree video view. Below that is a short tower ad, beckoning visitors to watch a Flash movie of the site’s value proposition for fleet managers.

Although some users claim that the talking spokesperson is a distraction, statistical evidence shows just how helpful this sort of online video can be.

“We noticed about a 40 percent increase in sales,” said Borst.

“Video views on retail sites constitute only about 1 percent of the total videos that consumers view online,” said Andrew Lipsman, a senior analyst at research firm comScore. “Even though it’s only 1 percent, you can argue that it’s pretty valuable. It’s not necessarily the volume, but the fact that people are using it. For ecommerce, it’s the beginning of a trend.”

Video Spokesperson’s use of a video spokesperson is a growing practice among ecommerce and lead-generation sites. It’s easy to see why: studies show it increases online conversions by as much as 150 percent. This video has a transparent background, and can be configured to walk onto the screen when users take actions ranging from clicking a “play” button to leaving the page.

For’s video spokesperson, Borst turned to in Boston, Mass., one of the growing numbers of video-production houses turning out customized spokesperson overlays. Borst provided copy points to OnsiteVideo’s staff, which in turn wrote a script, hired an actor, produced the video and created the code to launch the finished product.

“We probably spent $3,000 for production, and then monthly fees for OnsiteVideos’ hosting,” Borst said. “But the few hundred dollars that we pay monthly is nothing compared to the return on investment.”

In’s case, clicking the spokesperson sends users to a page that compares many GPS tracking units. Other interactive video producers build in more direct sells. Innovate Media in Costa Mesa, Calif. inserts links directly to product pages. Click on the spokesperson’s bracelet or shirt, and users land on that products’ selling page. “We tested sending 50 percent of Google traffic to a page with this type of spokesperson interactivity, and 50 percent to the same page without it,” said John Cecil, president of Innovate Media. Average conversions were “30 percent higher” with interactivity.

Note that Innovate Media also offers “generic” spokesperson starting at just $19.95. There are even free, non-customizable spokespersons available from such sites as and

“Video is certainly the way to go to get people more excited about your product online,” said Amanda Schroeder, director of marketing for video-ad-campaign agency EyeWonder in Atlanta, Ga. “People are used to that format within commercials, and they’re more apt to watch something similar online.”

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Jennifer D. Meacham

Jennifer D. Meacham

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  1. Mike Darnell October 14, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jennifer,

    Online spokespeople are an interesting solution to the whole ecommerce-video paradigm. Their effectiveness builds on our brain’s predilection to trust human figures, and especially faces that talk to us.

    There is a catch however: to maximize effectiveness you need to invest in creating a unique video of your model walking and talking while demoing EVERY item in your catalog. This is fine if you have a store that only sells a few items, but becomes highly impractical for any store that sells tens, hundreds, or thousands of items. The solution isn’t "scalable".

    Another scale related issue is the ratio between your model’s size and your product’s size. If your selling handheld items which are significantly smaller than a human being, your product would show up near invisible in comparison to your model’s body. Definitely a case in favor of having a talking head instead of a full body.

    I recently heard [a podcast your associate Kerry Murdock conducted with’s CEO Maher Hakim](
    Maher advocates approaches that I tend to believe are more effective than the spokesperson model:

    "Don’t spend a lot of money on producing the video…
    you can create really nice video by stitching together some photos & then putting in some music and audio and narration on top of that. It looks and feels like a video to the end user"

    This is precisely what our ecommerce video solution does in an entirely automated fashion: In a nutshell we create product videos directly from an etailer’s XML, with little or no human involvement at all (narration still requires it). The automation of the process enables us to cover handle an ecommerce’s entire catalog with video within 24 hours. Our low production costs also mean we can offer our solution on a Pay-Per-View basis that guarantees vendors see ROI for their videos.

    Furthermore, we don’t simply create a single video for each product, but a few, for which we then run automated A/B testing for to measure optimal conversions – perpetually dropping the less effective versions.

    We’ve learned with our own clients, that boosting product listings with video this way increases conversion rates by anything from 35% (for to over 300% (for certain product pages within’s site).

    For more information check us out at