It’s important to treat your product pages as more than an information depot. Customers and visitors alike are looking for engagement — and something unique. Video content can help.
Direct-to-consumer brands and eCommerce retailers alike learned long ago that they must invest in high-quality product photography. But only a fraction of brands have invested in product page videos.
The return on investment of product page videos seems intuitive. If you look at, for example, Allbirds’ product pages, you’ll see simple videos of someone stepping into the frame with a pair of Allbirds shoes. For sneaker enthusiasts who like to see how a shoe creates a silhouette, how it looks with jeans and how it moves at walking speed, the video speaks volumes — more than product specs ever could. For Allbirds’ customers, this kind of video content is crucial in making a purchase decision.
Video is worth the investment for many brands. Gordon Tredgold at Inc magazine reports that 90 percent of consumers find videos useful during their buyer journeys. In fact, nearly two-thirds say they are more likely to buy a product after viewing a video.
Selecting the Type of Video
Product page videos go beyond simple product demonstrations.
For some brands, an unboxing video might be the better content. For others, a how-to video might be necessary to show customers how they can get the most out of a product. And for some products, it might make sense to include customer testimonial videos.
“Because shorter is almost always better, pick one theme per video and stick with it,” Ana Gotter at Disruptive Advertising writes. “Offer consistent videos for each product on your site.”
In evaluating which type of video to feature, inbound marketing firm PNC Solutions recommends considering what information you want to present in the video. “Videos can be an adequate substitute for text or to demonstrate things you would find it challenging to communicate in writing,” they write. “This is why hosting multimedia content on your service page can be so advantageous, particularly when it comes to driving sales.”
In other words, product page videos can be a way to both build your brand and demonstrate specific product features.
Regardless of which type of video you go with, consider making these demonstrations as personal as possible. “Just by watching a person hold, touch, and interact with the product while explaining its pros and cons is the next best thing to visiting a store and talking to a sales associate,” writes Connie Wong, co-owner of Website Builder Expert.
To make things even more personal, consider introducing user-produced videos, whether those are product reviews, how-tos or unboxing videos. These videos act as “social proof,” writes Rotem Gal, VP of marketing at InboundJunction. Seeing that someone else has purchased your product (and perhaps even given it a glowing review) will help convince many consumers to buy.
Scripting Your Video
It can be easy to overcomplicate a video. Once you have a feel for what kind of video would work best on your product page, it’s best to script out the entire thing first. For example, does the video need an introduction? Does it require a call to action?
If yes to both, will the video be too long?
This is why Zach Cutler, founder of Cutler PR, recommends keeping a tight focus as you create a video. It’s also why developing a script first will make a world of difference. Justin Simon at TechSmith writes that creating a script is the first step of creating any video, no matter how brief.
At the heart of many product page videos is storytelling. Not all products require a demonstration or a how-to explainer. Sometimes, they just need to weave a little inspiration into the buyer’s journey.
That’s where storytelling comes in. Kristen Campolattaro at Eloquii Design, a digital native clothing line for plus-sized customers, speaks to its importance: “Storytelling is so powerful, and we’ve used video to elevate special collections, telling the story of how [they] came to be and the inspiration behind it all. It’s also a great way for us to offer styling inspiration. We can’t physically style all of our customers, so we use video to help her get the look.”
A story doesn’t need to be an in-depth feature or a super-slick video. As long as you are maintaining your brand, you are telling customers what they can get out of your product. And that’s the story.
Branding Your Video
It can be tempting to impose a strong, branded visual aesthetic on the video. But that might not be useful for the customer, especially given where they are in the buying journey.
When a customer is looking for information about a product they’re thinking of purchasing, anything beyond minimal branding could be counter-productive. That said, if your brand has created a thoughtful, branded shopping experience, you don’t want to lose that visual cohesion. So, how do you strike the balance between the two?
The important thing is to maintain consistency. The product video should speak to your customers with the same voice as the rest of your marketing efforts. “Consistency helps shoppers qualify your brand as trustworthy,” Matt Young writes at PopVideo. “If your brand is casual and funny, keep things lighthearted. If it’s serious and direct, get to the point and put the most important information up front.”
Branding your video has more to do with maintaining your voice than including your logo or link. For example, Patagonia has videos on each of its product pages to highlight the features and use cases of each product. This is consistent with the brand’s mission of providing the best possible alpinism products for what it calls “silent sports” — skiing, climbing, fishing, outdoor pursuits that don’t require an engine.
That ethos is echoed in its simple, straight-to-the-point product videos. Sure, there’s room for a little visual humor and storytelling, but Patagonia doesn’t lose site of its brand’s core values in showcasing its products.
Ensuring Smooth Playback
And now to the nitty gritty.
Video can take up a lot of bandwidth, which can make for slow load times and suboptimal customer experiences. After all, if a video takes too long to load, it will create friction at the crucial moment a customer is making a purchase decision.
There are several things an eCommerce manager will need to do to ensure that adding video to a product page doesn’t cause unnecessary friction.
First, make sure that your videos render for any screen size, whether that’s laptop or phone. “If your video player isn’t responsive, it may load at full size when accessed by a mobile user; in that case, the video will be too large for them to view,” Jayson DeMers writes at Forbes. “Similarly, if your site uses old coding methods or incompatible files, your images and videos may not load at all on mobile devices.”
Next, make sure the video’s size isn’t slowing page load times. A self-hosted 4K product video could easily slow any brand’s product page to a crawl.
Fortunately, there is an easy fix to both of these problems: Don’t host your own videos. Instead, publish them to YouTube or Vimeo. That’s what Patagonia does, for example. Both YouTube’s and Vimeo’s video players will respond to any screen sizes, and the embed codes should slot in cleanly to any product page’s design.
That said, hosted video won’t work for every brand. If YouTube gets blocked in one of your national markets, for example, customers in that region might not be able to see your product videos. If you prefer to host your own video, an enterprise eCommerce solutions provider might be the best way to ensure your pages load quickly enough to keep customers from bouncing.