If you don't do video, will you fail?

If you're not doing video in your sales process, you're going to fail.

Well.. at least that is what all the IM gurus seem to keep banging on about.

Well it's certainly hot right now. However, I think a lot of people need to have a cold shower and get a little grounded about the whole subject.

Of course, video is going to work like gangbusters in a lot of cases, especially for products that have some level of complexity, as well as physical products where you really want to see what the thing looks like. However, I've noticed an attitude out there that people assume if you throw a video onto your site, you're going to get an increase in sales.

So is it true? If you don't use video, will you no longer be able to keep up with your competitors who have fancy video on their sites?

In short, probably not.

There are two important points here.

Firstly, just because you can do a video, doesn't mean that your sales message is going to be any more compelling than in written form. In fact, when your copywriting (yes all good sales videos need some form of script, if not entirely scripted) is weak, it shows more in video. The main reason is that people can skim read if they get bored with your text based sales processes. In video, you've got to make them sit through it.

Secondly, your market simply may not not be suited to selling through video. Simple as that.

We've been testing the use of quite a bit of video in several different projects I've been involved with. Sometimes it really helps conversion rates, other times it has made them tank.

We ran an interesting split test between using video and using a lighter version that just used bullet points and text. Both essentially said the same thing. The text version converted 25% better. Which is obviously huge.


Optimizer Test

If you're going to change your sales process to video, I suggest you test it first.

So why doesn't it work better all the time?


Poor script

In my experience, aside from the market simply not liking selling by video, the script is the main offender for poor results. Lots of people jump in front of the camera, in love with the process and forget that you have to have a compelling message if you want results. Do you think that the successful marketing videos that Frank Kern does are not highly scripted? Of course they are, using lots of triggers that move you in the direction that he wants you to go.

In one of his videos he was even using crude subliminal messages in the speedometer of his car telling you the action that he wanted you to take. It was funny, but also highlighted the fact that this stuff is very carefully planned and crafted.


It's too long

How many videos have you seen where there is 20 minutes of fluff and about 2 minutes of useful content. You need to front load your video with good content if you want people to stick around. I would recommend reading "Made to Stick" for creating memorable messages. Also, the video tracking company Wistia wrote a very good analysis on whether or not video length affects engagement.

The data showed that shorter videos have much greater engagement rates, but if your subject is more complex, you can take the time to explain it. Just understand that half your users will drop off. However, if your message can be communicated in less than 2 minutes, you should aim to do it.

As an aside, last night I went through the process of buying Ryan Deiss's latest product on Facebook adverting. He had an upsell that included a video. However, unbelievebly, that video was almost 15 minutes long. There was no price mentioned on the upsell page and for whatever reason the cloud server the video was hosted on was really slow.

The craziest thing of all, was the price for the upsell was only at the end of the video (and not on the page itself). I was super frustrated and had to wait 20 minutes to download a 15 minute video, just to find out the price of the upsell. I ended up buying the upsell, but I would hate to think how many people are walking away right there.


Poor production

Malcolm Gladwell discusses success in his book "Outliers", and talks about IQ not being a good predictor of success. He says that it should be at a certain level, but above that level, it doesn't seem to matter that much. In other words, most Nobel Prize winners are not geniuses, but all of them are above a certain intelligence level. In the same way that if you're 5'6, you're probably unlikely to play pro basketball. However, once you're above 6'4 or so, height stops being a good predictor of being a good basketball player.

The quality of your video product seems to follow a similar pattern. If it's very low quality, then the results will probably have strong negative effects on the success of your video. However, once your video quality reaches a certain level, it stops being a good predictor of how many sales you'll make. Unfortunately, there are lots of videos online that don't hit the equivalent of the 6'4 basketballer.


The market doesn't like it or it doesn't suit the product.

Sometimes, whether you like it or not, the group of people you're marketing to, or the product you're pitching simply doesn't suit video. As I mentioned before, there have been a number of times when we were excited to get a video version of the sales message in front of our potential customers, only to find that it simply didn't work. So why might that be?


- Can't listen to sound

This is an important one. For one of the products we were promoting, most of our customers were younger people (18-30) who worked office jobs. They purchased most of the time during office hours. These people were surfing the web when they probably should have been working. They don't want to watch video, as the sound alerts other staff to the fact that they are not working. Even if it is their lunch break.


- Don't have a fast connection

Many times when you're selling to certain demographics, they simply don't have a fast enough connection to stream the video smoothly. This is especially a problem when people get in over their heads in understanding video compression, and using the right bit rates and codecs etc. If you're not technically minded, stick to YouTube videos as that is taken care of for you.


- The market simply doesn't like it

What might surprise you is that in our experience, most people simply prefer text and images over video content.

A few weeks ago we sent out a survey to about 36,000 people. We asked a bunch of questions, including whether or not they would prefer their content in text or video format.

The surprising result was that nearly 3 times as many people said they preferred text and screenshots over video. In the "other thoughts" group, most people made the comment that it depended upon the subject matter. They said that video should be used where appropriate only.

Survey Results

Some of these comments were quite interesting and seemed to occur over and again. Check out some of these comments.

"VIDEO IS A HUGE TIME WASTER. I do not OWE anybody my limited time. Not a rant :o)"

"While video is the most popular, attaching a summary presentation or PDF helps those who are hard of hearing. Also, if you want to review info, a video is not conducive to scanning."

This comment is interesting as most people feel like video would appear to be the most popular, when in fact it very much isn't.

Here are another couple of interesting comments that came up often:

"Not a fan of video. My computer is in the room with other people and I don't like wearing headsets. I prefer pure text with the screenshots."

"If the content consists of showing me how to do something, then videos are fine. But please don't do those videos where it's just someone talking at me - they take up a lot of space & time! Text is much better for these, and I can print them out. Thank you for asking!"

"Something to think about. Video is great but when you are busy you don't always have the time to watch. You can however read,understand and assimilate very fast if you have to. So sometimes written with screen shots is much better. I find myself missing great content cause I don't have time to watch a video."

"Video that is to the point, clear and concise, most have 25 minutes of fluff and 10-15 minutes of content"

"The trend to video has gone a bit too far already, not everyone learns well that way. A combination of ways covers many."

"Hate Video because you can't scan it! Prefer text with screenshots"

Some food for thought there.


The future?

Let's face it, at the moment, video is a bit of a novelty. However, in the same way that flash splash pages quickly fell out of vogue, people are going to be less tolerant of video. If you're not creating engaging videos that are uniquely compelling, the effectiveness of video is going to fall sharply.

So if you are marketing by video, I would recommend that you keep these things in mind.

I'm putting together a post that shows you how to measure the effectiveness as well as the engagement rates of your video using a popular video player and Google analytics. Look out for it.

If you agree, or disagree with me, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

February 11, 2010

Comments (19)

Hentie
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 03:39 pm
And there I thought I was just old fashioned and behind the times! I have increasingly been clicking away from especially video sales messages. They are usually a tremendous waste of time. As mentioned it sometimes help to see something done but then they should always be downloadable with a pdf transcript or summary.

Thanks for a very insightful article and thanks for not yakking for an hour in a video!
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 03:44 pm
Great article once again Jay.

You've done some fantastic work lately.

If it's a sales message I prefer text too. I just want to you know what it's going to do for me, forget the fluff, and sitting through 20 minutes of "this was me when I was poor" and then "look at where I live now" (which I've seen numerous times in videos lately, in one form or another) just bores the pants off me. I'll click away within a couple of minutes, if it even holds my attention that long.

Funny you should mention Malcolm Gladwell. I'm putting together a trading course at the moment and I'm reading his "Blink" book for the third time as it kind of fits with the trading mentality and practices I'm trying to train people on. It's a funny old book, as are some of his others. They often start well, very well, but then tail off to nothing. "Blink" is like that, but I like a lot of the references he makes to how the mind works.
Sue
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 05:43 pm
Finally someone asked and is listening. I hate video! I never watch them and delete all newsletters and sales letters that tell me to watch a video. They are too time consuming. I'm a fast reader and can read must faster than listening to someone talk. As well, I can't listen to them while others are around and I don't want to wear headphones. Therefore I never buy any products that are all video or audio. Ebooks are the only online downloadable products I buy.

If some people like watching them, then that's fine for them, but I have felt that there must be many people like me that don't.
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 08:33 pm
Yes... I'm feeling like most things online things come and go out of vogue. I believe good videos will stick around and will continue to work. People's tolerance will decline and so will the sales as a result.
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 08:36 pm
Yes, I think Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent story teller. Sometimes I wonder if he makes some generalizations that only hold true some of the time. Nonetheless, it makes you sound smart when you quote his interesting little anecdotes amongst friends. :)
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 10:08 pm
Hoorah! Someone finally got it. I don't want to be amused when gathering information and most of these videos are simply a waste of time. I too sat through Ryan Deiss' video thing about Facebook
(And about 2 minutes in started watching Animal Planet) until he finally got to the price, I clicked away.

It was one of those mlm sales meetings, but on my computer. Ugh. Thanks Jay for realizing some of us do prefer to highlight, a screen shot is enough explanation and enjoy reading.
Said this on February 11, 2010 At 10:08 pm
Call me old fashioned, but I too hate video for the most part.I feel it is a waste of my time because I can read much faster than I can watch a video.

I much prefer a PDF with screen shots that I can read at my leisure. It is also easier to make notes of something written.

Of course there are some circumstances where video is helpful, but not very often.
Said this on February 12, 2010 At 04:08 am
Thanks Jay - I'm so pleased that someone has taken the time to analyse effectiveness (or not) of video, and also find what website visitors feel about it.

Personally, I'm sick of long sales or promo videos that take up too much time, are often slow loading, plus use up masses of bandwith that, for some of us, is expensive. Even most instructional videos in my opinion would be more useful as a PDF with screenshots - easier to absorb and you can always print them out.

It's a relief to know I'm not some abnormal freak and the only one who feels this way about video!
Marc
Said this on February 12, 2010 At 07:20 am
My biggest reason for not watching video is that I can read way way faster than most people can talk. I'm impatient and don't have the time. Sometimes I'll do some other work while the video is loading up then try to skim through it but this is still slower than skimming text.

Many people say that article marketing doesn't compare with video marketing on youtube for getting free traffic. But if you compare the average number of views on a lot of these videos they're not much different than the average views per article on Ezinearticles.com.

Even though I'm primarily a visual person, I detest long winded videos. I've recently unsubscribed from a mailing list because this person expected me to listen to her 1 hour videos on a daily basis. I won't even listen to my girl friend for that length of time everyday.
Said this on February 12, 2010 At 07:54 am
I, too, much prefer PDFs to video but there is one thing about video that I CAN'T STAND ... and that is when I log on to a page and a darned video starts blasting when I haven't turned it on!!! Usually those videos are extremely loud, often with blaring music and some of them don't seem to have an Off-button. I say 'seem' because as soon as I come across one of those horrifying pages I'm gone. The offer may be marvelous but I will never know because I can't stand to watch it. I don't know what those site owners are thinking, but I can't be the only one who really hates that?
Said this on February 12, 2010 At 09:56 am
I live in South Africa and have recently completed my own survey. Only 14% preferred Video as the preferred way of learning. Even less at 7% preferred webinars. Has anyone else info on webinars which have also become the latest thing since sliced bread? I also tested workshops, reading, one-on-one and "other". Reading was the clear winner at 48%
Said this on February 12, 2010 At 10:55 am
Viva Video!
Said this on February 15, 2010 At 06:19 am
Thank you for balancing out the video hype -- with scientific facts. In my e-mail this week: VideoBoss (great free teaching), iFlashVideo (monthly fee creaton),voxflair (free flares & e-guide).

You provided a very sane "ARTICLE" to balance all these pre-launch videos.

I hope marketers dont pollute the 'net with more bad content. It's so easy to get in front of a camera, ramble, and think your cute.

Kind of like a teenager -- looking at themself in the mirror too long.
Said this on February 16, 2010 At 03:07 am
Tony - was your survey international or local? I ask this as I also live in SA and here videos and webinars chew up expensive bandwith, which would partly explain their lack of popularity. Nevertheless, I think the comments here prove that, for many, video is not the perfect solution as so many "gurus" would have us believe.
Scotch
Mel
Said this on February 17, 2010 At 11:51 am
I find it very difficult to curl up on the couch
with a 19" monitor-so much easier with a PDF.

I love video if you are showing me how to assemble or
manipulate something physical-talking heads just
bore me.

I particularly dislike many "gurus" omitting the
time bar at the bottom of the video. There is no
way to know how long they are going to keep you
prisoner. And many don't seem to have any way to
even "pause" the sales pitch. What am I supposed to
about the dog, the doorbell, the phone or any of
the other little interruptions of real life.

I feel terrible about missing the "latest and the
greatest". LOL
Said this on February 18, 2010 At 06:38 pm
As you say, video is over used. What I particularly HATE about many of the sales videos is that you can't fast forward or rewind. So if you want to re-view something you have to watch the whole thing again - or not. I prefer to skim through the printed word to see what interests me. With very few exceptions, I don't like someone droning on at me for ages. Just my two bob's worth.
Said this on February 19, 2010 At 04:34 am
I use video more or less as a way to maximize a written message on a page, or to personalize a website's message or owner. But when it comes to just using video to get a message across, I totally agree that most of them are WAY too long.
Are we now going into Long Copy vs Short Copy 2.0?
Said this on February 19, 2010 At 05:35 pm
Without a doubt, web video marketing content needs to be direct and to the point. The optimal length for web video marketing content is between :30 seconds and 2 minutes. Also, video content can increase audience engagement 4 to 7 times higher than static content.

The great thing about video is the way it engages an audience. Audiovisual content works very well to introduce personality and also complex points. Plus, especially in a B2B capacity, video content is more than just a straight video. Slideshows can be an extremely effective way to illustrate complex things.

Many businesses have found that using online video that is part of a video landing page (VLP) is a "best of both worlds" scenario. VLPs enable the audiovisual content to do its job of engaging a viewer, plus body copy and direct calls to action can be incorporated to present a full experience to the viewer.
Said this on February 21, 2010 At 05:15 pm
Thanks for this article. I thought I was missing out but you just confirmed what I've been thinking all the time: that video marketing overrated. But my pet peeve about the darned things is the new trend of not including buttons for pause, fast forward, rewind etc.

This is an attempt to make you sit through the video in the hope that there may be something useful somewhere in the end which in most cases is not the case). When I see such a video I simply close the page (why sit through torture such torture).

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