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Every ecommerce site needs video, which helps drive interest and engagement from consumers,  but how do you know if videos actually bring any money to the bottom line?

As a general rule, shoppers love videos, since they show off products in a way that still images can’t.

But how can site owners know if all the work they’re putting into videos is actually generating a return on investment?

Thanks to the popularity of online video, especially within social networks, eccommerce companies are upping the quantity of videos on their websites.

Measurement of video's impact on the business is key, but many marketers may not fully understand how to gauge this impact.

Here are some guidelines to use when figuring out if videos are actually attracting viewers and encouraging conversions. While it may take some time to establish a system for measurement, once it’s set up, it should run itself.

You may also be able to have your video solutions provider create a measurement solution for you.

Create control groups

The best way to measure the effect of videos on visitors is to compare the actions of shoppers who see videos to the behaviours of shoppers who do not see videos when visiting a specific product page.

In order to do this, you need to establish a control group: visitors who will see the same product page, but one that does not contain a video. All other page visitors will see video and be able to view it.

The size of the control group depends on factors such as how much traffic your site receives, and how quickly you want to see the results. However, according to best practices, the longer a test is run, the more accurate the results will be.

By setting up your control group, you’ll be able to see isolated information about how video affects the visitor, as all other circumstances should be the same.

You can then look at the effect of video on conversion rates by comparing the conversion rate of the control group with the conversion rate of the video group.

You can also use the control group to measure the effect of the presence of video – whether it’s viewed or not – on conversion rates. You might be surprised to discover that even just the appearance of video on a webpage increases conversion rates, even if the video is not clicked on and viewed.

To get this measurement, simply look at the number of page views for products with videos, compared to the overall number of video views, and then look at the number of page views for the control group.

Another metric you can measure with the control group is time spent on site, including how many pages are viewed by each group, as well as the amount of time spent on each of these pages.

You’ll probably discover that video keeps shoppers on your site longer, and that they’ll visit more pages. Higher engagement is good, of course, because it translates to more sales.

Conduct A/B testing

While using control groups will show you the measured impact of ecommerce videos, it can’t tell you the effect of different variables within a video. Once you know if videos are having a positive impact, continual A/B testing can help you get even more ROI.

Videos have many elements for which you can conduct A/B tests. For example, you can test background music and which specific style works best (e.g. classical, high-energy rock, etc.), voiceovers (should you have it or not; should voices be male or female), and different calls to action (buy now; free shipping this week).

In order to effectively A/B test, you need to have more than one video version per product. You can’t accurately A/B test anything between different products, since shopper behaviour for two separate products won’t allow for a true comparison.

Once you have created two video versions, place them on your site so that each version is shown to a percentage of your visitors. Now you can determine which variables have the biggest impact. To get a precise reading, it’s best to test one variable at a time.

You may find out that small changes in video elements can make a big difference. One of our retail clients tried adding a “play” icon to the first frame of every video thumbnail image.

After A/B testing thousands of page views, we found that the addition of the icon greatly increased video views. This seemingly minor adjustment to the video player had a significant impact on the retailer’s sales.

Remember that different video components can impact conversion rates uniquely across your product set. Therefore, the version that converts the best on a per-product basis should be selected and promoted.

There are tools that automate this process, making the video optimization process seamless as well as beneficial to your bottom line. 

Measure the indirect benefits of video

While the overall impact of video on the bottom line can be measured, there are also some factors that are tougher to measure yet can be enlightening.

For example, videos can be a good tool for strengthening brand reputation. Video makes your online storefront look more professional and trustworthy, which gives shoppers more confidence to buy.

There is also a social marketing benefit, since video is often shared and liked on social networks. Additionally, the presence of relevant video on your site contributes to better search engine ranking, which can draw more traffic – and visitors are also shown to click on SEO links when a video image is present, so you get a double-benefit.

When you’ve done the hard work to add video to your site, it’s important to see if it’s paying off.

Measuring and testing is an ongoing process, but the payoff is a better online experience for your customers, a stronger reputation for your brand, and ultimately, a nice boost to your bottom line.

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Published 9 October, 2013 by Melody King

Melody King is VP at Treepodia and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

9 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Tim Bilsborough

In our experience customers aren’t really using product video as a means to shop – the mistake made by many brands is with repeat content and length of footage as a contributing factor to this.

I don’t agree video is a richer or better way of showing product over images (and why would I as a photography consultant!) as carefully considered data/insight driven images work across multiple platform and devises matching shoppers habits, which you couldn’t say for video.

Brands have distracted themselves with disproportional investment in richer media, without testing its value as this article addresses well.

Whilst images are the forgotten as a REAL sales driver, partially down to the lack of understanding of its use and role within the purchasing cycle for consumer shopping on-line AND any alternative product display having been tested.

My view would be to conclude any measurable ROI on video AFTER you’ve measured the impact of your product images first…its cheaper.

Tim

about 3 years ago

Matthew Marceau

Matthew Marceau, Customer Service at Emassagechair.com

We've had a ton of success with our videos although we haven't conducted any type of A/B testing. We know this because customers will often reference our videos which are currently only on Youtube when we talk to them on the phone. But I agree wholeheartedly in the added benefits of videos, especially with more complex products that aren't easy to find. it definitely helps shoppers during the touch, taste, and smell part of the buying process per se.

about 3 years ago

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