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A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce Product Videos

A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce Product Videos

E-Commerce video

Product video as a medium is an exciting, but daunting undertaking for any marketer. Video projects are high cost, time consuming, and complicated. However, they are also highly effective tools and the most “sexy” form of content. People like video because they can relate to it. They like product videos because they can see a product unphotoshopped, learn how it works, and watch it dropped into the context of their own lives. Just like you would in a store. Remember those?

I’m not here to sell you on product video or bore you with a bunch of stats linking all over the internet. The case for video has been made over and over again. Product videos improve conversions and make the digital shopping experience more human. Product videos are going to make your eCommerce business better no doubt whether you sell on Amazon and need to instill some more brand life into your listings and differentiate your products from similar competitors; or create a more unique, educated shopping experience on your own site.

I am going to guide you through taking the first steps into product video creation and implementation. Video production and the creative behind product videos can get complicated so we’re going to keep it simple there. But you should take away from this guide knowing what you need to do to get the ball rolling and start producing product videos for your brand. Let’s go!

What makes a good product video?

What each of us perceive as good is, of course, subjective, but there are a few characteristics in a product video that can make it objectively valuable.

Engagement
The first is Engagement. Does this video pique the viewer’s interest and does it hold it? If your product video is positioned at the product page level then most likely your viewer has already invested a degree of interest because they clicked play after all. However a good product video should still engage with the viewer quickly and appeal to them on some emotional level whether it be initially addressing a common problem they may experience in their everyday life or a moment of elation from something visually stimulating (i.e. entertaining).

Education
Secondly, a product video should be Educational. We want the viewer to leave with a greater understanding of how the product functions, its features and benefits, and how it fits in with the context of their lifestyle. This one probably seems painfully obvious, but we want to be sure we’re not weighing too heavy on cool action shots or lifestyle footage with no salesmanship.

Quality
The third factor is Quality. Quality is definitely the most subjective attribute of this list, but I am of the school of thought that the higher quality your product video is the bigger your brand feels and the more authority you can carry in that video. Video production quality is driven by so many factors (writing, talent, lighting, etc.), but that doesn’t necessarily mean bigger budget equals better quality video. You can still accomplish a high quality, polished video production with limited resources. The main idea is that you look like you know what you’re doing and you’re not insulting the viewer with poorly contrived visuals. After all, a quality video conveys a quality product.

Activation
Lastly, and perhaps the most important factor, is Activation. Does your product video inspire an action in the viewer? Ultimately we want to drive them to purchase, of course. If we didn’t first engage, educate, and put on a good show then we probably won’t activate a sale. But your video needs a strong call to action or to strike a pivotal “Aha” moment in the viewer.

Which products should you start with?

Marketers new to product video or video in general tend to not know where exactly to start. If you have a relatively small product lineup then it may come a little more naturally or not really matter quite as much where you start. Or if you have the resources then you could go ahead and cover all your products. But for those who are managing larger product catalogs or multiple brands it can be a challenge deciding where to invest your time and money with video. Here are a few places to start:

Best Sellers
As with anything in marketing you want to double down on your successes. Start with a few of your best selling products that are already consistently moving. You’re probably already getting good traffic to those product pages, which means an immediate test audience and it will be easy and quick to measure results of your product videos.

High Margin Products
Video is expensive and can be time consuming to implement. So you don’t want to invest $5,000 into a video for a $10 product that maybe nets you a 20% margin unless you’re moving huge volumes. It can be a little easier stomach the high price of video when you’re attacking your high margin items where you have a little more marketing budget flexibility and also yield greater results in the short term.

Price Sensitive Products
Product video is an amazing tool in that it can help justify a product’s price tag greater than any other medium. Video alleviates shopper fears, uncertainties, and doubts like physically feeling a product in the store. So use it to justify your prices. Show longevity, attention to detail, and superior design in your high ticket products so the viewer understands why a product is so expensive. And reversely show value and quality in your low ticket items so the viewer doesn’t perceive your product as cheap just because it is inexpensive.

Where to put your videos

I bring up final video placement before discussing production because where your video will ultimately live determines how you shape the creative. Best practice is to always craft your creative to fit the audience and platform. I see so many brands take one piece of video content and try to force it into every media and platform. However, what works well on a Shopify store product page for an active shopper will probably not work well in a Facebook newsfeed for an attention lacking Facebook audience (and vice versa). So know your final destination before charting your journey.

Product Page
This one is obvious. The product video goes on the product page. However your store’s layout and information architecture might affect how you implement product videos. Generally the large platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce permit videos to be uploaded to the photo gallery. So your video play icon will be the last in your thumbnail list. Some marketers like to prioritize video and make sure it is at the top of that list, but regardless I suggest you ensure that the play icon is visible immediately to the viewer. That way the shopper can immediately identify that there is a video and seek it out versus relying on them to scroll down your photos tab to find it, which is less likely.

If your platform doesn’t easily allow videos in the photo gallery then I recommend embedding your product video directly into the page above the fold. Make it just as easy for your shopper to find and watch the video as it is to read copy and see your photography.

Marketplace Listings
Amazon has slowly rolled out product video implementation to select sellers over the past few years. They have teased opening up the accessibility to all sellers in recent months, but I haven’t seen that happen yet. Regardless, more and more brands are using product video in their Amazon listings, which appear in the photo gallery as the last icon. Walmart also allows product videos in their photo galleries. If you are one of the lucky sellers who can implement video on the product listing level then get on it as soon as possible. Take advantage of it before your competitors also get the same opportunity.

Facebook/Social Media
Like I mentioned before, the creative you shape for a product video on the product page might not be right for Facebook. However if you do decide to place a product video on Facebook I recommend running it as a paid ad campaign versus a promoted post. Promoted posts help you get more reach with your “organic” content, but it is a waste of money for product videos as it will go ignored and overlooked. With targeted campaigns you can at least reach the right people who are in your target demo. Take it to the next level and set the video to chase shoppers as a retargeting ad who have already been to your site.

Hosting your videos

When it comes to video hosting the argument always seems to boil down to using YouTube or Wistia. However it isn’t a battle between the two as they accomplish very different things. The answer is you should use both.

For any video living on your website use Wistia’s hosting. Wistia charges a monthly fee for bandwidth, but it’s worth it. The player is customizable, clean, looks good anywhere, and loads super fast. When embedding YouTube videos the player is clunky, hard to customize, and it will load related content (i.e. competitor videos) at the end of the video.

YouTube has immense SEO value though and shoppers are oftentimes searching YouTube for product reviews and insights. It’s best if they find your content first there over a competitor. YouTube videos are also shareable whereas Wistia hosted videos are not because they don’t live anywhere except the place you embed them.

So when it comes to hosting use Wistia’s player on your own website, but still upload and optimize all of your videos to YouTube for the SEO value.

Producing your videos

There are many, many different avenues to take when creating your first product videos. If you are a young upstart with small products and limited cash you might want to take a stab at it yourself and by all means you can create good work with limited resources. When you have larger products that are more difficult to style and shoot or a bigger catalog it is probably ideal to hand it over to a trusted professional.

The problem is video is expensive. Making the financial commitment leap with any vendor or creative services provider always feels like a gamble. You want to limit risks and get it right the first time unless you are a huge brand with endless money.

Identify someone within your company who has worked on a video project with an outside vendor in the past. The experience is much more complicated than working with a freelance designer for instance so it helps to have someone who has been there and done that in some capacity before. Set them up as the internal project manager from the get-go.

Then pool your vendor options together. Work with a freelance producer or company who has previous product video experience specifically. Creating product videos and traditional commercial video production can be a little different. It is best to especially work with someone who understands the full project scope and goals holistically from video creative to placement and end result. Your producer needs to understand how to light and style your product to look amazing, but to also create a finished video that will accomplish its goals in affecting viewers to purchase. If you have many products to cover then you want to work with someone who has the capacity to take on a large workload and also turn out consistent quality videos at scale.

I happen to co-own this wonderful product video company called Video Review Labs so I’m a little biased. But truthfully you should be working with someone who understands your business, your products, and what you are trying to accomplish with video, not just someone who knows their way around a camera.

Measuring results

After your videos are implemented you want to see some results, right? How did product videos add to your bottom line and move more products? Make sure you are setup to track results from the get-go. Here are a few tips:

Keep videos siloed
It isn’t always possible, but ideally keep the products you have produced videos for siloed from the others in regards to marketing efforts. If you launch a new video and push out an email about a sale on the same product on the same day your test will be damaged and produce false results. You want to be able to measure changes made just from the presence of the product video so hold off on other direct marketing efforts with that product or products for as long as you realistically can.

Data
Give your new videos at least 30 days to make judgements on results. Remember that product video is a long term investment where you will see conversion improvement over a several month to several year time span as opposed to an instant lift. Good product videos should last you up to 3 years on the product page before it is time to retire them and create new content.

Use your typical eCommerce dashboard to measure subsets of time. Measure the 30 days prior to implementing video against the 30 days after. The biggest changes you should see are in these metrics:

-Conversion rate. First and foremost if your videos are performing well your conversion rate per product should improve.
-Time spent on site. With a few videos or more implemented your customers will most likely spend more time on the site and visit more pages.
-Decreased abandoned cart rate. Your product videos should instill more confidence in shoppers and give them more purchasing power.
-Increased order value. More time spent on the site and more empowered shoppers leads to more products purchased in a single checkout.

Metrics you might not see much difference in right away:

-More traffic. Product videos on the product page will not drive traffic. They will improve your shopping experience and lead to better conversions, but when it comes to traffic the most you can hope for is a slightly improved SEO ranking for that page with a video.
-Lower return rates. Theoretically customers should be more educated, make better purchase decisions, and ultimately be less likely to make returns. But don’t expect that right off the bat. In fact, I often encourage brands with complex products or products that have an installation process to create separate videos that address those processes to reduce returns.

Conclusion

Now get to it. These are the basic fundamentals of creating a product video strategy and it is totally up to you, the marketer, and the specifics of your products and brand how you fill in the rest when it comes to creative. And of course, I can’t leave you without a shameless plug. Get in touch with the team at Video Review Labs to talk about your brand and how we can implement a product video strategy for you!

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Charlie Rall
Co Founder · Producer

About The Author

Co-founder and Sr. Producer here at Video Review Labs. Where every day I help take products from eCommerce brands and turn around beautiful, scalable eCommerce video content.

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