Video Helps Ecommerce Merchants, Expert Says

Video provides a compelling way for retailers to sell products. But is it for every ecommerce merchant and is it being fully utilized? One man who has a strong opinion on the matter is Justin Foster. He is the founder of The Video Commerce Consortium. It’s a group of ecommerce professionals, online marketers, and technologists dedicated to advancing the use of video in ecommerce. In this “Quick Query”, Foster shares his insights on video for ecommerce.

Practical eCommerce: Does video benefit every retail product?

Justin Foster: “Video tends to have more of an impact as products become more complex and, therefore, require more investigation to figure out certain traits of it. Video also tends to be more effective when the price of a product is very high. What that means is that more motivation needs to be applied in order to get the shopper to actually purchase the product. Having said that, video can also do really well on lower-priced products. A merchant can explain their unique selling proposition as compared to some of the other folks that are out there, such as free shipping, alternative payment methods that might be accepted, secure checkouts, these types of things.”

PeC: You’ve put a lot of thought and research into video marketing. You recently wrote a white paper, which discusses the Fogg Behavior Model. Without getting too deep into it, explain what that is and why it matters.

Foster: “The Fogg Behavior Model is basically coming at product video from the standpoint that the primary purpose of the video is to persuade a shopper to buy the product. There are three main elements that a retailer needs to think about when creating persuasive video content. The first is really to understand what is motivating the shopper to buy the product and the Fogg Behavior Model breaks that out into core human motivators: Pleasure, pain, hope, fear, acceptance, and rejection. Most products address these core human motivators in at least one way or another.

“For example, in addition to just touching on the features of the product in a video, touching on points such as why should the shopper buy the product from the retailer as opposed to, say, some other retailer are also going to help improve the performance of the video.

“Finally, we found that after talking about features and benefits and then simplifying the purchase decision by sort of differentiating the retailer, the way that video can be used to effectively spur an action is to include something that the Fogg Behavior Model calls a ‘trigger,’ [which] can be something that’s spoken in the video itself or it could, say, be an interactive link or a hot spot or a thumbnail, for example, of a product that shows up in the video at an opportune moment. So, the ideal way to create a product video is to actually include these triggers throughout the video that tell the shopper exactly what to do. For example, to actually state in the video, ‘To buy this product today, click the “add to cart button.”‘”

PeC: Let’s talk about some of the basics with the video. How long should an ecommerce video be?

Foster: “I hesitate to give a hard, fast number, but I can give you a range. Ecommerce videos tend to vary anywhere between 15 seconds at the very low end to five minutes at the very high end. What is really going to dictate the length of a product video should not be an arbitrary number that someone comes up. Really, what the retailer needs to consider is how much motivating force needs to be applied through the video itself in order to spur the shopper to buy the product. For example, you’ll see complex products or products that have a lot of features tend to be longer product videos. Other product videos, say a pearl or jewelry, sometimes can be much shorter videos.”

PeC: What are the best ways to stream a video on an ecommerce site? Should merchants pay for streaming services or just use something free like YouTube?

Foster: “I really think it depends on the level of complexity of the video program and how far into video the retailer actually is. I would say for someone who’s just starting out with video, YouTube could actually be a great option. You can take video content, push it up on YouTube. YouTube has a player that you can take and you can embed on your product detail page. It provides some basic reporting as well. So, for someone who’s just starting out and someone who doesn’t have a lot of budget basically to put toward video, YouTube can be a great option.

( and others that are going to provide capabilities such as syndication across the marketing channels, more advanced reports, integration with web analytics packages, A/B multivariate testing options and things like this that can help drive up incremental performance of video while also making it easier to manage and use.”

PeC: Our listeners and readers are smaller ecommerce merchants. Anything else that you would like to share with them about video and their business?

Foster: “I believe very passionately that video is the future of retail and that retailers are going to need to increasingly focus on video because it does provide such a compelling way of selling products and selling a story. A lot of the things that have historically held back retailers from investing in video such as high cost of production, not being able to figure out video hosting or streaming or achieving distribution online with video are no longer there. It’s much more cost effective to produce and deploy video than it ever has been before and it’s clear through a growing number of case studies that video, when applied well, consistently does improve performance in terms of the conversion rate and revenue perspective on an ecommerce site, so definitely something that’s good advice people to look into.”

PEC Staff
PEC Staff
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