Once that video is made and on your site, how do you make sure people actually watch it?
As online video usage grows, research is being done to determine the different factors which contribute to a video’s effectiveness.
Turns out, the way a video is displayed on the page and presented to the web visitor makes a big difference. If done poorly, the web visitor might not even realize there is a video there to watch!
Wow, that fact is more than a bit disconcerting.
Website usability expert Todd Follansbee, whom I have had the pleasure to work with several times, is busy studying this issue. He graciously allowed me to reprint this article he wrote based on his extensive experience.
To get the most value out of any video you post on your site, follow these best practices.
Guest post by Todd Follansbee, Web Usability Expert
Videos are a powerful website communication tool and have become much easier to produce on a budget. Once they become part of a site, however, one challenge is to get them viewed. Unfortunately, call to view elements on most sites do a poor job of encouraging people to click on videos. This article will help you persuade people to click. We leave the video content to you.
Best Practices for a Video ‘Call to View’
Here is an example of a call to view graphic we designed. Key elements are highlighted and referenced below. Note that the name of the presenter has been removed. We encourage you to make graphic modifications to suit your site but recommend that you carefully follow guidelines 1 through 6.
1. First of all, give viewers a reason to watch your video. Make it simple, no more than two lines, and focus on how it will benefit the viewer. We used the presenter’s name (omitted in the graphic above) because this consultant has industry credibility that we wanted to link to the brand.
2. A subtle color change in the border background helped set off this video more then if it were on a white background. This simple change has proven to increase clicks significantly (as much as 20%) on forms, calls to action and graphics such as this.
3. Importance of Thumbnail. Many video calls to view just show the “opening shot of the video as the graphic image. These are often uninteresting or even confusing. Substitute an engaging, informative opening image, either from the video itself or from another source. Match the tone of the image to the video but feel free to experiment with different shots. Avoid boring images which simply show that you have a video. Generally, chose likeable images which reinforce the benefit statement in Guideline #1 above. Persuasion psychology research shows that we are more likely to do business with likeable people and businesses.
4. Describe the video content as simply as possible on the graphic image itself. We normally try to avoid light text on a dark background but we had no alternative here. Later testing showed that the message was getting through. If we had found that viewers had overlooked the “About Your Success” message, however, we would have done whatever was necessary to strengthen its impact.
5. Let viewers know the length of the video ahead of time, especially if it is short, for example, under two minutes. While it is true that people can discover the video length on most viewers after they click, when you disclose it up front, you remove uncertainty that might inhibit click-throughs and action.
6. We include the video bar for several reasons. This well recognized clue identifies that the graphic is a video. The video bar also clearly shows the “mute/volume” icon so viewers are comfortable knowing that they can immediately silence the video if necessary. People working in a cubicle are reluctant to click on multimedia unless they know they can mute it.
Flawed Approaches to Video
Poor call to view for a video. Many sites use a graphic like the one to the right make it clear that they offer a video. While this works on a news site, it would be much less effective for most business sites. The right arrow “play” icon can obscure key content and, in our best practices example above, it would have hidden the friendly engaging face of the presenter. There are circumstances when this simple graphic may be your best option, such as a site with multiple videos in one area of a page.
When you want a visitor to click, you must set expectations about how the click will serve the customer. If the results of the click disappoint or confuse customers, you are likely to lose them. If the video promises information and then fails to deliver upon it, you have failed the customer. As always, test frequently and carefully to get the best results.
Poor call to view example.
In this last example, we show how not to present a video.
This graphic was placed in a prime location on the home page (above the fold, left side, just below key message). In direct user testing, users looked at this page for at least two minutes over the course of the test and no one recognized that it was a video link. Even after looking at this page (and missing the video), several viewers commented during the test that they wished there were a video on the site. Later, when we directed users to view the video, they all agreed that it was an excellent, compelling video. We could only wonder how many tens of thousands of visitors missed viewing this excellent video because of the ineffective call to view. Compare this graphic to the best practices graphic at the beginning of this article and you will see that even within the same page location, small changes can make a big difference to site success. We should note that the words “View Demo” should not have been white on dark; we expect that this contributed to low click-throughs.
In conclusion, to get video views, give viewers a reason that demonstrates a clear and direct benefit to them. Make sure that the call to view gives viewers all the information they need to click. Many viewers would prefer to watch a video rather then read through documentation; many viewers actually retain more information from a video. If you go to the trouble to make a video, then make sure you address the call to view.
If you meet these simple guidelines, your videos will get more views. Now go out there and produce some compelling content.
Todd Follansbee is founder of WebMarketingResources.net.
He is a usability and persuasion consultant who has been testing user behaviors on web sites for over 10 years. His methodology for improving
conversions recently won a top ten award in Entrepreneur Magazine.
For a limited time, Todd is offering a special small business one hour site review and consult for only $125. Click here to find out more about how to improve your user experience and your bottom line. (That is NOT an affiliate link. I like to provide my readers with quality services whether I make money of it or not. 🙂
As video marketing grows, more research will help reveal the best practices. Other research I’ve read indicates exactly what Todd’s research shows. To get the most views for your video, the video needs to be labeled clearly with a prominent call-to-view.
What I personally find a bit confusing is that what seems to ME to be a good call-to-view isn’t necessarily that functional. For example, I am surprised to hear that the green “View Demo” graphic above was not even perceived as a video. Perhaps if the button said “View Video” instead of “View Demo” it would have been more clear.
Another issue I discussed with Todd is the fact that many people rely on their video hosting service to supply player software. They do not have the technical expertise to know how to add backgrounds and make it look a particular way.
Given that, I would hope that video hosting companies would pay heed to the research in order to build the most user-friendly and viewer friendly platform possible.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.