JeremySaid's Blog for Startups and Lead Generation

The Four Must-Haves of Using Video for Conversion Optimization

Posted by Jeremy Smith on Sep 29, 2014 11:17:17 AM

Video Conversion Optimization

I need to tell you something upfront. This article is about the must-haves of video for conversion optimization. But first I need to get something off my chest.

This article is going to begin with a question that needs to be settled. After that, we’ll dive right into those must-haves. My approach in this article is far more valuable than just listing a few must haves, because I’m going to first settle the crucial 800-pound-gorilla question ...

Does video improve conversion rates?

Recently, video has become a popular choice for conversion optimization and landing pages. Check out a few articles on the topic, and you’ll find statements like this:

  • Using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80% (source)
  • Videos Increase Conversion Rates by 20% (source)
  • This video increased conversion rates over 10% (source)
  • Visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase (source)
  • 57% of consumers say that product videos make them more confident in a purchase (source)
  • Videos boosted conversion (source)
  • Viewers who chose to view video converted at a 400% increase over those who did not (source)
  • Shoppers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase (source)
  • 33% of online sales came from the 13% of site visitors who viewed video (source)
  • The explainer video gave a 64% increase in conversion rate (source).

Geez. Can I have some, too? Can someone please embed a YouTube video on my landing page and turn on the cash faucet?

Hold on to your money-grubbing horses! Does video rock the house? Will it turn on the cash faucet for you? Can you expect Vesuvian eruptions in your conversion rates? Will your CEO look at you with a newfound admiration due to your sheer genius in using a video on all landing pages, and putting your company on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Businesses list?

Are you truly a unicorn?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Like any other field of conversion optimization, it all just depends. All those statistics that I just cited in that bulleted list above may or may not be true for you. The statistics were drawn from confined or single studies and a few A/B tests.

Video is no more a magic bullet than changing button color from red to green and seeing a conversion increase.

Too often in the field of CRO, we ask the wrong question.

Wrong question:  Is this the right thing? Will it boost conversion rates?

Right question:  Is this the right thing for my site? Will it boost my conversion rates?

CRO is highly individualistic. This is one of the reasons why I eschew (great word) the raving masses who say “THIS TECHNIQUE INCREASED CONVERSION RATES!!!” And then do a happy dance.

CRO happy dance

If conversion rate optimization were that easy, we wouldn’t need consultants or experts. We would just need lackeys who read articles and follow the instructions.

(I’m almost done ranting. Hang on for another minute, okay?)

Here’s my point:  When you hear someone screaming about their extraordinary conversion rates because video is the new bubble gum flavor on the block:

  • Stop
  • Look
  • And listen.
  • If their argument seems valid, and their technique seems legit, then go ahead and consider it.
  • Consider the potential of using video in the context of your site, with your audience, for your product.
  • Set up an A/B test.
  • Form a hypothesis on the effect of said technique on your conversion rates.
  • Run the test.
  • Analyze the results.

That’s where the true power of conversion optimization lies — A/B testing. If you don’t A/B test, you’re doing absolutely nothing beneficial for your site. That’s just the way it is.

Does video improve conversion rates? Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t.

I suggest you read this article with a peaceful heart, rationally analyze the issue, and then maybe start an A/B test or two on your own site.

Features of videos that convert.

So, let me bring myself down from my rant, and approach the issue at hand — video for conversion optimization.

To make this article as useful as possible, I am discussing videos in the context of landing pages.

1. The video must be high quality.

Not just any video will do. In fact, videos can do more harm than good. If you pop off a quick few frames on your smartphone, add in some title overlays, and call it a done deal, you’re probably going to shoot your conversion rates in the foot.

That shaky clip of amateur junk is not what we’re talking about when we talk about videos for conversion optimization.

When we talk about videos for improved conversions, we’re talking about high-quality videos.

Here’s what Conversion Rate Experts had to say on the issue of video quality:

Although it’s now possible to “point and shoot” a high-definition video in just minutes, a mediocre video could lose our audience in seconds.

An article from Idea Rocket Animation stated it well:

Amateur video doesn’t speak well of your brand – and in my opinion – if you’re not committed to quality, no video is better than a bad one.

2. The video must be easily available to watch.

Video proponents are torn between whether a video should be autoplay or not. I side firmly with those who believe that playing a video should be up to the user. Say no to autoplay.

Treehouse does a great job of showcasing a video on their landing page. They use the easily recognizable right-pointing arrow to indicate that the user can play the video.

This landing page...

Treehouse Landing page

Turns into this full-frame video...

Treehouse landing page video

How ever you choose to feature your video, it needs to be easy to see, easy to play and easy to watch.

3. The video must be short.

I’ve heard crazy things about video. One of the crazy stats I heard is that one company boosted conversion rates by requiring users to watch a 50-minute video. (I have since been unable to find the source. If you are aware of it, please let me know.)

On average, however, a good video is in the 1-2 minute range. A study from ReelSEO revealed that visitors watch a video for about 100 seconds, which is 1.6 minutes.

ConversionXL states that “an average 2 minute video gets watched half way.”

Whatever an “average video” is can be anybody’s guess, but if your video is compelling and well-designed, users are likely to watch it all the way to the awesome end.

A study from Wistia tested two videos — both identical except for the addition of a 10-second clip at the end of one. On average, the shorter video was viewed 72% of the way through, while the 10-seconds-longer video was viewed only 50% of the way through.

Whatever the exact length, there is a negative correlation between video length and viewing time.


When you consider video length, think of it as a compromise between three arguing parties:

  • Cost:  The longer the video, the more expensive it will be. Keep it short.
  • Information:  Yes, but it’s worth it! Longer videos provide more information, which could be really compelling! Make it longer!
  • Attention:  Yes, but if the video is short, more people will watch it. What good is a long video if no one watches it? Make it short!

Generally speaking, shorter is better. And “shorter” means 2 minutes or less.

4. Use the right video approach.

There are different types of videos depending on your specific purpose:

  • Testimonial video — This type of video features live people talking about their experience with the product or service.
  • Explainer video — This type of video provides information using a combination of text and video, presenting how to use a product or service.
  • Demonstration video — This type of video shows how a product or service works.
  • Product video — This type of video displays the features and benefits of a certain item.

Here’s an example of a demonstration video, including live actors.


This explainer video is responsible for improving the conversion rates for Crazy Egg. It includes animation and a male narrator.

Another explainer video provides the same type of approach — narration and animation.

Videos can combine elements of all four. Generally speaking, however, a video tends toward one of the four types above. The type of video you choose will have a significant impact upon its effectiveness.

Choose a video approach that makes the most sense, considering these two factors:

  • Factor 1:  What product or service am I selling? Many SaaS businesses, apps, and other digital products prefer animated explainer videos. Is the product complicated and needs explaining, or is it simple and just needs to be proven  beneficial?
  • Factor 2:  Who is my audience, and what do they like? One of the videos above featured pictures of parents and their children. This video appeals to the target audience of parents who want to be productive and organized.

How much does video cost?

I would be remiss if I wrote an entire article on video for conversion optimization, and didn’t bring up the important point about the cost associated with producing video.

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you can’t justify the costs of producing a video, then you just can’t.

The information I’ve gained without getting actual quotes is tilted in favor of producing explainer videos, which are some of the most popular types of videos, especially for online-based businesses, consultants and SaaS firms.

Keep in mind that the whole hypothesis behind videos is that they will improve your conversion rates. If you think that a video will turn on the revenue bucket, then you may be able to justify a high cost. But if these numbers scare you away, then you may want to wait until you can afford it.

  • “Before we found Wooshii, we spent over $10,000 on video production with pure garbage being generated. On Wooshii we spent $1,500 on a video and I think we hit it out of the park.” (Testimonial from Wooshii.com.) Editorial note:  Many complain that Wooshii’s prices are too low. Wooshii uses the controversial bidding method for freelance video production.
  • “A 60-second explainer video costs between $5,000–$35,000.” (IdeaRocketAnimation.com)
  • “So how much should a live action explainer video cost your company? $5,000? $15,000? $50,000? The answer (to the chagrin of many a marketing manager) could be any of those numbers and often runs much, much higher.” (VideoBrewery)
  • While every live action video project is different and there is no clear or set one-size-fits-all budget, I’d try to steer away from sub-$5,000 bids unless you are looking for more of a videography-type product. (VideoBrewery)
  • If you have the marketing budget and you’re serious about your brand, don’t be afraid to spend in the $10,000-$30,000 range. And if you have a fairly ambitious project or are working with an agency or highly regarded production company, expect to pay at least $50,000. From there, the sky’s the limit. (VideoBrewery)
  • LessFilms:  Tiered pricing approach

○      $5k-10k

○      $10k-30k

○      $30k-100k

○      $100k+

  • “You'll find that unless you're talking to one of the big brand names from the U.S. that have quotes close to $10,000 (and sometimes more), most studios that produce decent quality (and some who don't) are around the $3,500 USD mark. A typical 2D animated video from U.S. of 1 minute in duration is around $2,000-$2,500.” Andres Fernandez Cordon, co-founder at Sloop Films. Answer from Quora.
  • “For $10K and up, you should be able to get top work from most studios, including us.” Miguel Hernandez, Founder of Grumo Media. Answer from Quora.
  • “If you want to get a decent looking video (it really depends on your expectation for a 'decent' video), you will need to budget for $1K and above.” Andre Oentoro, Founder and CEO of Breadnbeyond.com. Answer from Quora.
  • “If you want someone to create a video that uses the communication capabilities of video to explain your subject, you can go from $4k to $20k and possibly higher.” Matthew Dunn, Chief Explainer at Say It Visually! Answer from Quora.
  • “Hire professionals, and they will charge you based on the 2D or 3D, number of seconds, voice-over, movement or static, etc. It starts from $1k and can go up to $15k-$20k. Depends.” Rashmi Ranjan Padhy. Answer from Quora.
  • “The typical price for an animated video is between $8,000-$13,000 depending on what length is best for your video needs. A live-action video is more complex and therefore requires a higher price. Our live-action videos are $16,000, which is the average if not lower for these types of videos. Valerie Hamilton, Marketing Programs Manager at SimpleStoryVideos.com. Answer from Quora.

You get the idea.

Pricing is always a question of quality. If you can’t afford to pay a premium, then you can’t afford top quality. And if you can’t afford top quality, well then you might not be doing yourself a favor with video at all.


Videos don’t automatically produce sky-high conversion rates. That’s the No. 1  takeaway from this article. It all just depends.

What does produce sky-high conversion rates? It’s all about making the right choice for you, on your site, in your context, for your audience.

Then, you need to have these must-haves in place to have an effective video.

  • It needs to be really high quality.
  • It must be easily available to watch.
  • It must be short.
  • It must use the right style and approach.

Finally, consider the cost. Great videos aren’t cheap.

If you’ve taken the plunge and used video, tell me about your experience — the process of finding a video creation agency, making the video, and the impact it had on conversions.




Topics: A/B Testing, Conversion Optimization, VIDEO

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