One of the many pivotal inventions that Thomas Edison had a hand in was the kinetoscope in 1891 – a device that would later be known as the motion picture projector. As visionary as Edison was, though, he probably didn’t expect that a little over 100 years later, the masses would be carrying around handheld devices to view videos of any topic at any time on demand.
When done well, videos carry with them potent benefits that aid in the research and decision-making process for those looking online for the right product or service:
- They make complex things easier to understand; they fill in the missing blanks that still shots or text can’t adequately address
- They can be more memorable than still shots and text, especially when emotion is used in the video
- They give the marketer greater flexibility in how to communicate product features and benefits
- They can add credibility to the product, service and company
One of the best areas to take advantage of the power of video is on product detail pages for eCommerce retailers. Giving visitors the option of watching a video (along with thumbnails of static images) can have a measurable upward impact on purchase conversion rates.
Studying the analytics of one of our eCommerce clients made just that case. We segmented visitors to a product detail page into three groups:
- Group A – Those that did not click on the video thumbnail
- Group B – Those that clicked on the video thumbnail and watched less than 30 seconds of the video
- Group C – Those that clicked on the video thumbnail and watched the entire video
We analyzed the behavior of these 3 cohorts over a series of 12 different products (with different product detail pages) during a 6-month time period (62,500 visitors to the combined pages over that time period). The videos averaged 50 seconds in length. For all products, the video thumbnail was visible without scrolling, however it was last thumbnail after the still shot thumbnails. The analytics reported the following video engagement and purchase conversion rates:
There was some variability in the conversion rates among the 12 products, which could be attributed to the effectiveness, quality and need for video for that specific product. However, the general trend in conversion rates shown in our table was consistent among all products studied.
We found that when visitors watched less than 30 seconds of the product video, their purchase conversion rate was 21% higher. Visitors who watched the entire video experienced a 25% increase in purchase conversion rates. The findings supported the creation of a hypothesis that visitors who watch product videos on product detail pages will likely be more comfortable with their purchase decision and be more likely to purchase the product.
So, the next step was to attempt to encourage a greater percentage of visitors to watch the video and see if the differences in conversion rates held. We chose to perform the following A/B test:
Control: The video is the last thumbnail in the thumbnail list
Alternate: The video was the 1st thumbnail in the thumbnail list
After reaching statistical significance at the 95% level, here are our findings:
Here’s a summary of our findings:
- Displaying the video as the 1st thumbnail did increase video engagement – more so for the group that watched less than 30 seconds. Total percentage of visitors that engaged with the video increased to 70% for our test visitors versus 51% for the control visitors.
- The percentage of visitors engaging with the video and purchase conversion rate for the control groups were mostly unchanged from our original observations (when rounded to the nearest tenth of a percentage).
- Purchase conversion rates for the entire test group increased by 9% over the control group.
In conclusion, by simply moving the video thumbnail to be displayed as the first thumbnail, we were able to increase purchase conversion by 9%. Although we’ve experienced much larger wins on other A/B tests, in terms of simplicity of implementation, this test proved to be extremely worthwhile and indeed did prove that:
- Visitors that engage with product videos on product detail pages tend to purchase at a higher rate than non-video watchers.
- By moving the video to the first thumbnail position, we encouraged more visitors to engage with the video, and reaped an 9% increase in conversion.
There were no significant differences in average order values among the cohorts nor the aggregate control and test values.