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Young man making video on VR goggles. Technology vlogger making a review on virtual reality glasses.

Creating Great Online Product Content: You need video. Yes, you. July 1, 2018, in: ,

Young man making video on VR goggles. Technology vlogger making a review on virtual reality glasses.

(This is part four of our five-part guide, Creating Great Online Product Content: Five Secrets the Pros Know.)

Adoption of video content into product information is one way in which the online retail is closing the gap with brick and mortar. It’s a substitute for the experience of seeing the product in person. Per research, consumers who enjoy watching video on retail sites do so for two primary reasons: to see more of the product, and to see it in action.

And, video simply works. Now that the industry has years of aggregate data, we know that videos can dramatically increase conversion rates — studies have reported numbers ranging from 40% to 160%. In our own content development, we’ve seen sustained click-through rates of 25% when we’ve placed videos at the top of the product content in the “hero” position. And, videos increase engagement time, allowing for longer brand exposure.

Earlier, we covered how making a good impression with the mere presence of superior online content can improve the customer’s perception of the brand. Video is a big influencer here. In one survey which used extensive A/B testing, there was a higher conversion rate with the online content which included a video, even when the customer didn’t watch the video.

Let’s repeat that: placing a video on your product’s detail page will sell more product, even if customers don’t watch the video. Psychologically, the customer understands that if you’ve taken the time to produce a video for your product, it’s a product that you care about. A good product.

Retailers know videos work, and they want you to give them video content. Some online retailers will even produce a video for your product at little or no cost. They know that on aggregate, the increased conversion rate will cover their production expenses.

Producing your own videos has the additional benefit of providing content for your social media plan. Don’t just use YouTube to embed videos on your site… take steps to drive viewers and subscribers to your YouTube channel. Upload them to your Facebook and Instagram channels, too. You’ll get a lot more viewers this way than simply featuring the video on your site and at online retailers.

We love product videos. We love watching them, and we love making them. Here’s a few things we’ve learned through the experience of producing hundreds of them:

Quality is important.

You don’t get a prize for a nice try, and if you get more YouTube comments on the quality issues with your video than on your product, you’re doing it incorrectly. It’s the same principle of overall product content reflecting on the brand: do it well, and you’ll earn that invaluable first impression that drives the sale and improves product satisfaction. Create a video that looks like you’ve cut corners, and customers will subconsciously wonder if you’ve cut corners on the product, as well.

This refers to the quality of your presenter and the video’s overall production values, but it’s essential that the product look good. Work with a crew that knows how to light and shoot products well.

Build authority.

There’s something that we like to say a lot around here when we’re not taking the dog to lunch: to sell the product, you have to sell the company. And to sell the company, you have to sell its people.

If at all possible, find a brand ambassador to appear in your videos. This can be a product manager, an engineer, or anybody who’s invested in the product and can come off as genuine. If they’re shaky on camera, keep in mind that camera friendliness gets better with practice. Either way, audition your talent before you shoot. The ability to be a natural on camera and being well-spoken in real life are often independent skills. Somebody who’s terrific at giving a presentation to a room full of people might turn into a nervous wreck when it’s just them and the camera.

Consider multiple approaches for different customers.

Some customers find videos with a brand ambassador or spokesperson to be appealing. As humans, we simply relate best to hearing a voice, or seeing a face.

Others might prefer an animated video, or a video in which just the product appears. Some might like a 30-second highlight video, and others will prefer a video that takes a deep dive into technical features. And still others may look for videos to help them install or use your product, whether it’s pre-sale or post-sale.

And, we know from data that the number of videos watched correlates with conversion. Customers who watch more videos tend to spend more. So, if possible, when you’re creating your video plan for a new product, don’t stop at just one.

Think of the shelf life.

Plan for your video to have a lifecycle that’s at least as long as the product itself. We’ve produced installation demo videos that continued to be popular after the product was discontinued.

This can be as simple as avoiding phrases like “Introducing the new…” when referring to the product, and avoid superlatives like “our latest, our fastest, our best.” Write your script so that it will still be accurate when the product has been replaced, and the product’s replacement has also been replaced.

The thumbnail counts.

The thumbnail — the still image that’s displayed in the video window before you press play — is essential to the customer’s choice of whether to watch your video.

If you’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube, you already know that it will present you with a few choices of thumbnail.

Never use them. It’s a trap!

You already know that virtually all professionally-produced videos have custom thumbnails. Often, it’s not even a frame from the video. Invest the resources in creating a custom thumbnail for each of your product videos.

Think about where your videos will be seen.

You might not think as much about branding when your video is embedded on a product detail page on a retailer’s site, or your own. But, you should be designing your video’s storyboard for an audience who will watch it on its own. They might be watching it on YouTube, or you might want to upload it to Facebook or Instagram and even use it as an ad. Get your product’s branding out there right away, within the first few seconds.

Assume the sound will be muted

Be sure to take care of the audience that’s watching videos without sound. Facebook is the primary example here. Your potential customer might be scrolling through their Facebook feed in a public place, with their device muted. And, going beyond product content, if you’re producing videos primarily for Facebook/Instagram advertising, designing for the sound-off experience must be the primary goal.

Various platforms have their own solutions for captioning. Facebook and YouTube have automated captioning systems which don’t always work particularly well, but they make it easy for you to add captions yourself, either through their manual interface or by uploading them in an industry-standard captioning file. Content syndicators like Webcollage also support captioning files.

Captioning is worthwhile. Surveys have shown that a significant number of people who use the close captioning feature on YouTube videos don’t actually suffer from hearing loss. They use it because the the video’s language may be a second language to them, or because they’re in an environment where they can’t turn on the sound, or because the speaker is difficult to understand. Add technical challenges to this (the customer may be using inexpensive headphones which are optimized for video, not voice, or the video’s audio was not mixed optimally and voices are masked too much by background music or sound effects), and making the effort to provide captioning is an investment that pays off.

The decision whether to add captions to the video itself (as motion graphics) or use a separate captioning overlay depends in part on your localization strategy. If you’re producing for multiple languages, integrating captions into the video will require remastering the video for each language, and multiple video file uploads. Providing localized captions separately allows the various platforms to automatically display the correct captions in the user’s preferred language.

…and where they won’t be seen.

Even with the phenomenal 25% click rates we’ve seen with some of our own videos, that’s still 75% of the audience who didn’t see the video. Video is supplemental to your copy, photos, illustrations and other media, and not a replacement for it. Have you clicked on a news or entertainment article and found that it’s just a video, with no accompanying text? If you weren’t able to watch a video at the moment — you didn’t have your earbuds connected, you were watching your bandwidth, or you simply didn’t feel like it — it was a negative experience for you which may have negatively affected your perception of the content publisher. You don’t want to make this mistake with your own brand.