Photography & Video

Using Video to Convert Shoppers; 8 Pointers

Video is an effective way to attract more customers and close sales. Big business relies on video to further establish their brand of products. Small business ecommerce sites can benefit from the practice, provided streaming visuals are implemented properly.

Zappos uses video to enhance product descriptions about footwear. While shoppers can look at several images of an item, there are certain points that are better made by utilizing video. In this example, below, it’s how flexible the boot is – something you can’t illustrate with a simple photo.


8 Pointers for Ecommerce Video

Incorporating videos — which become part of product descriptions — is more than just embedding a file. When creating and delivering product videos — including video reviews — consider the target audience, as well as how much time people are willing to spend listening to your sales pitch. Here are eight tips to help you get the most conversions from your video strategy.

  1. Doesn’t replace text. Video should never replace textual content. While many people prefer to watch a video, there are plenty of online shoppers who’d rather read about a product first, or are in a location that isn’t conducive to turning up the volume. Thus, video should always accompany complete descriptive text and images.
  2. Keep short. Videos should run no longer than a minute. Unless the product is high-end and/or very technical, watch time should be quick. A minute is the average attention span on YouTube, which serves more video content each day than all other video services combined. Once a video crosses the minute mark, the percentage of people who click away rises quickly.

    If you’re set on showing more, consider breaking videos into sections. By providing 3 to 4 smaller clips, people can choose whether they want to view more or not.

  3. Stay positive, realistic. Product videos should be shot in a “happy medium” environment. This means backgrounds and sets need to spotlight the product without overstating what it can do or how it will look when it arrives at one’s door. If you are too bland, people will wonder if the price is worth it; if you are too creative, buyers may be disappointed with the overall quality upon delivery.
  4. Shoot the best quality video possible. Though services often scale down video quality for online viewing, a high-quality “raw” video gives you more options in the long run — including the ability to grab great screenshots to use as additional product images.
  5. Forget all those filters. You don’t need a fancy editing package to produce a video that sells. Avoid using distracting filters and effects — just sell the product.
  6. Be honest. The biggest turn-off is a video that hypes atypical results. If you want to build a loyal customer base, honesty is the best policy.
  7. Let it play. Don’t make shoppers download files. Videos should play at the click of a mouse or touch of the screen. This requires streaming, and should provide for fast loading.

8 Avoid stating prices. It’s much easier to edit text in a video than it is to re-record audio content.

Get Creative

Beside product description video, you may want to produce creative, supporting content that helps further educate the shopper. For example, Crutchfield serves up how-to videos designed to aid customers with installing electronics. These types of videos, however, are viewed often prior to purchase so shoppers can understand what’s in store.

Will it Blend is a great example of how to use entertainment to sell a product line. The company puts its blenders to the test, blending gadgets, marbles and even glow sticks. Its iPad blending video received more than 11 million views. How many people bought a $500 blender as a result? Certainly enough customers to more than cover the cost of the video’s production. The success of the Will It Blend video is not typical. Videos go viral by chance more than any other reason. Still, these types of videos are a good way to get people talking.

Benefits of YouTube

Which brings me to my last point. Many store owners have expressed that they don’t like the YouTube branded “shell” on their videos, so they’d rather run the files from their own domain. There are a few problems with this:

  • Cost. Bandwidth can be expensive and it adds up fast when serving video. Additionally, third-party server software can be pricey.
  • Compatibility. Technology is constantly changing. This requires that streaming content be continuously configured to run on multiple browsers, across all types of devices. Nearly everyone can watch a YouTube video without needing to update any browser plug-ins.
  • Reliability. Since video eats up bandwidth, and is a popular medium, too many consecutive plays can take a toll on the server. This can result in unexpected outages.
  • Less Viewers. Typically, when video is served from the domain, only visitors to the site watch the content. When video is posted on YouTube there’s an increased chance more potential customers will come across the video and view the content. That, and YouTube — and similar services — make social sharing of video easy.


Whether to describe a product, provide a how-to, or entertain potential customers, videos need to present information clearly. Online shoppers seek honesty and clarity more than anything else. They want to understand what the product does and/or how it looks in a traditional environment. Keep these points in mind and you should recognize a better return on your investment.


Pamela Hazelton
Pamela Hazelton
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