The Power of Video as a Selling Tool

By Michael Piastro, Director of User Experience ,  Alexander Interactive

Video is a powerful tool to help retailers merchandise more effectively. The bottom line is that video, done right, boosts conversion. Let’s look at some quick data and case studies that are out there to back this up: 

  • Zappos reported conversion rates from 6% to 30% higher for products featuring video product descriptions (demos).
  • Internet Retailer reports that customers were 85% more likely to buy than customers who didn’t view video.
  • found that customers who viewed video on their site converted 400% more than customers that did not.

These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Retailers all over the web are finding that video increases customer engagement, leading to increased email opens, more time on site, more viral marketing activity, and ultimately more sales. 

Michael Piastro, Director of User Experience
Alexander Interactive

Ways Video Aids Retailers

  • Video Promotes Engagement – Customers who watch video spend more time at your site exploring, learning more about your products, and ultimately purchasing. Comscore has reported an average 2-minute longer stay at a site for users who watch video. Users want to engage with video – one study by Implix reports a 96% higher click-through rate for video email vs. text.
  • Video Boosts SEO – Google rewards sites that produce original video, generally boosting overall site rankings. According to Forrester, videos have a 53x higher likelihood of being on the first page of Google results, versus pages. YouTube videos are almost completely indexed. Bottom line – produce video and you are much more likely to be found on Google, and ranked highly.
  • Video is Social – People love watching video, and love sharing video with their friends. Retailers that publish videos to their Facebook pages often find that the number of video likes far outstrips likes for other types of postings.

Using Video to Increase Sales

There are a number of ways retailers can use video to increase sales. Broadly, these fall into the following categories:

  • Product Merchandising – Video product descriptions can be used to call out key product features and benefits, and tout differentiators. Showing the product in use and in context is something that text and photos can’t accomplish nearly as well. Illustrating a novel product use or difficult to explain feature can make the difference in a sale. Don’t have the resources to create your own product video? Link out to YouTube, industry, or manufacturer videos that feature the product in question.
  • Category / Brand Merchandising – Videos for a category of products will tout customer benefits, lifestyle vignettes, and comparative product reviews. If a product is technical in nature, a category video can highlight and compare product features and specifications, and provide useful comparisons. Videos for a brand of products can highlight lifestyle attributes that embody the brand and that the customer will identify with. Showing contexts in which a category of products are in use can give the customer confidence that they have identified the correct solution for their needs.
  • Global Value Proposition – Have free shipping both ways? Do you provide a 110% money back guarantee? Have a trusted industry professional endorsing your company or brand? Providing a video that speaks to the values your site or brand embodies can be a good way of giving consumers confidence that they should purchase from you.
  • Video Reviews – Video reviews and other user-generated content can be a powerful and economical way to capture customer enthusiasm and criticism. They provide a trusted 3rd party perspective to other customers, who generally view these types of reviews as highly credible.
  • How To / Support – If your product has to be set up, configured, cared for, or otherwise maintained, support videos can help both you and the customer. This type of video can help you reduce customer support costs, but can also lead to increased sales as customers are more confident that there is a reputable, caring company standing behind the purchase.

Making Your Video Stand Out

To make sure the video you produce is the best it can be, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Have a Personality – dry, emotionless video is the worst. Keep it interesting, lively, fun, engaging. Or geeky, spacey, and chintzy. Just choose a direction that has some personality, and employ it consistently.
  • Keep it Brand-Consistent – decide what your brand stands for, and keep the presentation consistent. Zappos found that employees, rather than models, worked better, and customers trusted them more. Look at what your brand stands for and shoot video accordingly.
  • Make it Work – Sounds simple enough, but your video should work across channels (desktop / tablet / mobile), load quickly, and allow good controls for playback and sharing.
  • Test It – Before you decide to put out your video, put it away for a few days, then watch it. Show it to a few friends and family. Ask their opinions, ask how they would improve it. Your little gem of an idea may not be all it could be, and it’s better to realize that earlier rather than later.

On Another Note – Video Is a Killer App for T-Commerce

Tablet users are particularly susceptible to video merchandising. A survey by Forrester Research showed that watching video was one of the top daily activities of tablet users. Research shows that tablet users prefer a “lean back” browsing experience where they can watch and learn in the comfort of their living room and bedroom. Video provides an ideal delivery medium in this lean back world – users simply click once and can be fully engaged for several minutes. T-commerce initiatives should always include a nod to video as a preferred method of consuming information, as opposed to reading and parsing dense textual information.  As tablet penetration increases in the coming years, video is going to be a key strategy for all retailers.

To sum up – video works. It has been proven to be a powerful selling tool that boosts conversion rates, engages customers, and promotes viral marketing. You can start right away by looking at what competitors are doing in your space. If no one is doing video, congratulations, you have an instant competitive advantage. If your competitors are using video, time to catch up and do it better.


About the Author: Michael Piastro is the Director of User Experience at Alexander Interactive, planning and executing how clients’ digital presences should function to achieve the goals of their business and customers. While at Ai, he has served as the Information Architect and User Experience Lead for clients including Internet Retailer Top 500 sites and major brands such as Citigroup, Pepperidge Farm, Kaplan, Continental Airlines, Steiner Sports, Virgin Mobile, Schwinn, and Lowe’s. Michael has been planning and architecting websites for over 10 years.