Three Keys to Successful Video Management

As the Web continues its transformation into a video channel, marketers are putting greater emphasis on video to drive deeper customer engagement and increased sales. For most companies, the presence of video is certainly making an impact. However, while many companies have a general impression about how video might be helping their business, they don't necessarily take the time to measure its effect, nor do they understand how best to do so. And with the Web accounting for a growing share of sales, any tool used to foster better customer relationships and drive more sales should be measured and evaluated to ensure the payoff is worth the investment.

Fortunately, gauging the value of video doesn't have to be difficult or especially time-consuming. The greatest time investment involves setting up the appropriate analytics, but beyond that, measurement can continue without a great deal of intervention.

After years of consulting with a wide range of companies on maximizing video, I've concluded that there are three keys to successful measurement. Ideally, the tools required for the first two steps are already included in your video platform.

Start with a Video-Free Control Group

The most efficient way to measure whether video is making a positive contribution is by simply comparing conversion rates and order size of consumers who watch videos with the behavior of those who don't. For online retailers, this is especially easy, but it can work for longer sales cycles and other models as well.

Through this initiative, you can see the isolated impact of video when all else is equal, including graphics, static content, and even the timing of the visits.

Set up a control group by carving out a percentage of visitors who will not be offered video. The only difference between your product pages for the control group and other visitors is that the control group shouldn't see the player icon or anything indicating a video is available.

The size of the control group should be based on how much traffic your site receives and how quickly you want to see the results (although allowing more time for the test will provide more accurate results). Most people default to a 50-50 split; however, we see higher conversion rates for video watchers pretty quickly, so to capture that boost on more visitors, you might want to make the control group smaller.

You might be surprised to discover that simply having video on the page—even if it isn't played—can make a positive difference. By comparing conversion rates for pages with videos with actual video views, then comparing those to conversions and page views for the control group, you can see if this is the case for you.

For CRM purposes, you'll also want to measure the impact of video on time spent on the site as well as page views per visit. You're likely to see that video makes the site stickier in general, which translates to higher engagement and, ultimately, greater sales. (Don't forget that stickiness helps improve your SEO rankings, but that's a topic for a different article.)

To continue measuring the impact of video, there's no harm in continuing to run a small control group.

Move Into Effective A/B Testing

Once confined to the direct mail industry, A/B testing has found a new home in online marketing and customer relationship building. Do your customers prefer male or female narration? On-screen text? Short overviews or in-depth product detail? A particular kind of music? A/B tests allow you to quantify the impact of such isolated elements as voiceovers, background music, and graphics in a real-world environment.

It's critical in A/B testing, however, that there be only one variable tested at a time. So you'll need multiple video versions for the same product. Automated video solutions are the simplest, fastest way to create versions, each one isolating a different variable to test.

Different versions should be shown to different users so you can see which variables have the greatest impact. You'll want to test a new version against the winner of the latest round to ensure the most effective final product.

Don't be surprised when a seemingly insignificant change makes a huge difference. One of our clients simply added a "play" icon to the first frame of its video thumbnails—a change that doubled video views. Because video had already been proven to increase the site's conversion rates, this tiny adjustment had a significant impact on sales.

Keep the Indirect Benefits in Perspective

While there is tremendous value in measuring video conversion rates and ROI, there are also a number of worthwhile intangible benefits, and it's important not to lose sight of these advantages that can't be as easily measured or analyzed.

For example, videos make a strong contribution to brand recognition and reputation. Video can impart professionalism and suggest that a brand is trustworthy, giving users greater confidence to step into a relationship. And it makes a brand more memorable, as well, as consumers enjoy an engaging multimedia experience. In a competitive arena, these advantages should not be discounted.

Still, when you've gone to the trouble and expense of adding video to a site, it's important to know whether and how well it's working. Through control groups and A/B testing, you can ensure that your video efforts provide the maximum return on your effort and investment. You can provide a better experience for users, boost your company's reputation, and, ultimately, show how your efforts add to the bottom line.

Melody King is vice president of sales and marketing for Treepodia, which provides e-commerce solution expertise to harness the power of rich media in the form of engaging video content. She has consulted with more than 500 organizations to assist them in increasing their site usability, merchandising, conversion, and order size. She earned a doctor of management in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix.

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