Authors: Ilona Malinen, Customer Success Manager and Nora Huovila, the Co-founder of Helsinki-based company Videoly.

It’s all in your head

Humans are, and always have been, visual creatures – it’s in our DNA. Since the beginning of time, we’ve been biologically programmed to draw attention to our visual surroundings, as noticing the potential danger lurking in the bushes of the savanna was the key to our very survival.

Over thousands of years our brains have evolved in a way that greatly optimises the processing of visual information. Visual information is handled in a part of the brain that largely operates automatically and subconsciously, meaning it requires very little energy (and is the reason we “mindlessly” watch video). A great way to illustrate this it that we actually process visual information an incredible 60,000 times faster than written information!   

Most important, in the context of e-commerce at least, is that the aforementioned part of the brain called the mammal brain is also the center of all emotional activity, as well as the ultimate basis for decision-making. Advertisers have long been able to connect the dots. Exposing humans to visual information that involves movement is by far the best way to affect our emotions, and ultimately our purchasing behaviour.   

Feelings dictate decisions

Brick and mortar stores have a distinct advantage over their e-commerce counterparts in that they enable customers to see and touch products before buying them. It’s a deficiency that e-tailers try to compensate for with extensive product information and pictures, but it’s undeniably difficult to replace the emotional response that arises in our mammal brains when we feel something in person.

Videos, however, can bring a product to life in a way unlike any other and elements such as human voice, tone, body language and music allow you to create an engaging story around the product. The customer can see a device in use, the way a garment moves on the body or hear the sounds a gadget makes. Multiple senses are tickled at the same time, triggering stronger emotional responses and ultimately influencing the purchasing decision in a way that other types of information can’t.   

The statistics really do back up the biology. Now more than ever, it’s clear that people are obsessed with video. Cisco estimates that by 2020 over 80% of all internet traffic will be video, and you only need to glance at the stranger’s phone next to you on the tube to know that this is probably true. YouTube has over 1.5 billion monthly users and the most popular category isn’t cute animal videos as you might expect, but rather product reviews and how-to’s. 68% of YouTube users said they watched product videos to help them make purchase decisions and 90% of participants in a HubSpot study said that they considered product videos helpful in the buying process!

If only it were easy

So you might logically then think that videos are the status quo in all e-commerce stores, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. In fact, leveraging video content is actually surprisingly hard and still relatively uncommon.

Producing video content is expensive

Generally, it’s considered advantageous for a webstore to have a broad range of products, but viewed from a content creation standpoint, this quickly becomes an issue. Creating video content requires an abundance of resources (Burberry has 2 floors of people dedicated solely to creating video material) and as of yet, it’s still impossible for retailers selling many different products to cover all of them with content. Even covering just a small percentage can take up a significant chunk of budget.  

Smart embedding is complex

Embedding videos really isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Although the majority of e-commerce platforms will allow some degree of video embedding, oftentimes the reality is rigid, impractical and doesn’t achieve the outlined business outcomes.

A good example is video placement. Naturally, in order for a retailer to benefit from its video content, customers need to have the opportunity to watch the video in the first place. Thus the video needs to be in a place where it catches the customer’s eye, usually preferably as close to the main product picture as possible. On many platforms, however, video embedding is only possible at the very bottom of the page, after the written product description, or even behind a tab, where it’s unlikely the customer will ever find it.

Additionally, it might be impossible to add more than one video, meaning that retailers can’t benefit from different types of content – a situation we come across frequently with prospects.  Finally, not all solutions can ensure that videos are perfectly optimized for the full range of browsers and devices, so whereas a video carousel might facilitate the browsing of videos on desktop, on mobile it might be detrimental to the overall user experience!      

Keeping your video library up-to-date is a challenge

If you decide to utilize video content from web sources such as YouTube, special attention must be paid to the timeliness of the content. If a video is removed from its original source, it’s highly likely this will appear as a broken link in the retailer’s video player, and confuse the customer.

Many industries are also fast-moving, which can make it a challenge to ensure the relevance of content. It can take a lot of man-hours to wade through hundreds or even thousands of products, guaranteeing videos are working and their content is up-to-date.

Make video work for you

So with all the aforementioned challenges, how can you actually make video a viable option for your store? Here are a few guidelines..

Follow the 80-20 rule

As it so often does in other aspects of life, the Pareto principle also applies to online retail, where roughly 20% of products receive around 80% of traffic. By covering your top twentieth percentile with content, you can ensure that 80% of your product page downloads are showing video content. This is the most cost-effective and resourceful way to reap the benefits of video.  

Make use of existing content

Product manufacturers know that videos sell their products, so many of them put a lot of effort into producing original content. These videos are generally excellent quality and enable potential customers to engage with and be inspired by the brand, further increasing brand loyalty.

With most purchasing decisions being powered by YouTube these days, an entire industry has also built around product videos, and the content is there, ready to be taken advantage of by savvy retailers. Professional vloggers produce high-quality reviews and how-to’s, and utilizing them is a win-win situation as vloggers receive much needed views and exposure.

The majority of online video content is free to use, but just make sure to double check the copyright. Some video solutions like Videoly will do this automatically, and ensure you’re always on the right side of the law.   

Let users do some of the work for you

According to our findings, authentic consumer-made product reviews increase add-to-cart conversions more than ordinary manufacture-made videos. This isn’t surprising as it’s been shown that consumers across all age groups actually trust online reviewers most when making purchasing decisions.* Some verticals such as cosmetics and electronics have an especially high volume of consumer-made content; for example in 2017 alone beauty-related videos clocked up an impressive 88 billion views, the vast majority of which came from user generated content. By leveraging consumer reviews and how-to’s, you can ensure that customers don’t need to leave your site to get the content they want!  

It’s definitely worth the effort to do some treasure-hunting and discover all the content already existing for your product. There are solutions made especially for this purpose, such as Videoly, which saves you the hassle of riffling through thousands of videos yourself and ensures that all content is appropriate for your store.   

Get in touch

Do you want to know how many of your products we could cover with videos?

Videoly can scan your store to determine the amount of video content available for your shop:

Videoly is the easiest and quickest way to leverage video content in online stores. By utilising existing video content on the internet and integrating it directly to product pages, Videoly helps provide richer product information, a more engaging customer experience and increased sales.

Over 100 online stores and counting are currently using Videoly’s service. Videoly is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.

Authors: Nora Huovila and Ilona Malinen


*Salesforce Connected Consumer Goods. 2016