Practical Ecommerce

Video Ideas: 4 Ways to Engage Visitors and Increase Sales

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. Internet users spent roughly 5 hours watching videos in December 2008, with an average view time of 3.2 minutes per video, according to a study by comScore.

Here are four ways your ecommerce business can use video to engage your visitors and increase sales, no matter what business you are in or what type of prospects visit your website.

1. Solve a Problem

Create a video that addresses or solves your prospect’s problem. That is, after all, the point of your business, helping people solve problems. The video doesn’t have to be an Oscar winner – just clear and concise. Use pictures, charts and examples to tell a story. A web cam and screen capture products like Camtasia make it easy to create a movie without a Hollywood budget.

Start with a simple voice-over and add a PowerPoint-type of slide show. Stay focused on helping your visitors without overly selling, and encourage them to request, say, a free report or call you with more questions.

2. Become Human

Use video to put a human face to your company; let buyers “meet” the people they will be working with. This technique is effective for service providers and for merchants selling high-ticket items. Let your visitors experience “you” so they can get a first-hand feel for your unique brand of customer service. There is a reason why dating services use video: People want to get to know you before they start to work with you.

One fitness company, a former client, created a “meet your trainer” page with great results. Clients could click on the image of each trainer and see credentials, read his or her blog and watch an informal video where each personal trainer talked about his or her unique style of training. Clients enjoyed it and personal training appointments increased dramatically.

3. Consider Demonstration Videos

Create videos that demonstrate your product in action. Since you cannot physically place the item in your prospects’ hands, let them see it in action. Better yet, get customers to send in own their video demonstrations of your product.

Don’t wait to make this a huge production before you add this to your site. Simple can be effective too. If your product doesn’t lend itself to filming (like a service or system) try videoing customer testimonials, describing before and after experiences. Make short 30 second, 360 degree films of products or 2-3 minute “how to use” videos and add these to your product descriptions. You will see the return in more sales and fewer page bounces.

4. Show Visitors that You Care

Make a video about a community project that matters to you. Create a short film or slide show showing your businesses’ involvement with charities or sponsored events. If your business sponsors a soccer team, or volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, create a short video about why it is important for your business to become involved with people in your town. Remember consumers buy from people, not computers.


Note that the key to successfully using video online is not doing wacky stunts or whiz-bang effects – it is your ability to become more personable, helpful or relevant to your visitor. The idea is really quite simple; use video to replicate how you interact with live customers. The advantage is that this “customer service helper” works 24 hours a day. Don’t try to replace human contact (think about customer assistance telephone systems to do that) but rather use video as an intermediary that encourages visitors to engage with your website and therefore your business.


Ecommerce Sites That Use Video

  • How-to Video: REI
  • Customer Testimonials: World Diary Expo

Jan Riley

Bio   •   RSS Feed


Sign up for our email newsletter

  1. Ian James Snead April 22, 2009 Reply

    We certainly agree with the "being human" angle at

    To date, the sellers that use our service for adding video to their website or eBay listings, are more successful when they speak or personally appear in their videos. The important element of online trust is certainly strengthened when you can see and hear who you are buying from. Plus in addition, by talking, a seller can effectively do two things at the same time and possibly bring down the length of the video.

    At the recent ChannelAdvisor Catalyst event I joined a panel with 3 others where we spoke about new ways of Turning Browsers Into Buyers. You can watch that here:

  2. David Patterson April 22, 2009 Reply

    I’ve been working with a video studio out of Miami, FL for what you spoke of in #3 – demonstration videos. For the price of $2,000 they can shoot 10 different product video demos ($750 for only 1 product, this can go toward the $2,000 package if you decide to move forward within 14 days upon completion). This includes:

    * professional voice over talent
    * Custom intro logo in video
    * up to 1 minute video, $100 for every additional 30 seconds after.
    * custom recording in their high end studio (product needs to be shipped to them).

    They also offer on site video production but for a custom fee that is substantially higher.

    Has anyone else found another studio to do videos like this? What is their price point & minimum products they’re willing to shoot?

  3. Laura Beken April 22, 2009 Reply

    If you have a video for your product don’t limit yourself to displaying it only on your own site. If it is a how-to video, try posting it on

    If you want a more professional approach, submit your product demo video on, a site dedicated specifically to promotional/instructional videos for products. You can hire HandBookLive to make a video for you (simple products can have a 5-7 min 3 chapter video done for around $799), or you can use HandBookLive guidelines and create your own video.

    Posting your videos is free, and if you want a premium account it will let you embed HandBookLive player with your video on other sites and get valuable statistics, etc.

    You don’t need a commercial or a high end look – just simple step by step instructions that help people understand and use your product.


  4. coreyh April 23, 2009 Reply

    Wonderfully concise points on how to effectively use video! We at PermissionTV are seeing many of our customers achieving success by keeping it as simple as you describe above. Along the lines of "be human", a [recent seminar]( we filmed focused on "be geniune" which goes to the same point.

  5. Jan Riley April 23, 2009 Reply

    Thank you Vazzar, David & Laura
    Excellent comments…
    I am glad you are letting people know just how affordable getting top quality videos are for your website. For those e commerce store owners who are sitting on the fence about forking over the money for video – consider this – what are you paying now to drive traffic to you site that does not convert? $500, $1000, $2000 a month in adwords and other media buys? That is wasted money every month!

    Videos can be very persuasive selling tools, and have a low one time cost, not only do they help convert, as several commenter have mentioned, they can also drive traffic!
    Who else has used video effectively?

  6. petermatejcek May 4, 2009 Reply

    Fantastic points!!
    We at Hustream have had those same ideas in mind in regards to online learning and marketing application. Today’s end users are bombarded with so much information and videos not only need to show them information, but they need to engage them at the same time!! Our solutions allow the end users to ‘chose their own adventures’ and truly interact with them in an almost human like form. In real life when we interact with each other we use pull communication style that lets us give the correct response at the right time. This is where true interactive video will change how users view video on -line. Great points!!!