The Write Stuff – Blog

Mar 07 2014 Is your online video strategy killing your conversions?
Website video strategy and conversions

Is your online video strategy killing your website conversions? After all, aren’t all the experts out there saying that including video on your website is an awesome way to improve SEO?

That including video helps engage your visitors and increase your online exposure?

That including video on your site can improve conversions by up to 100%, 200%, 500%…. or even more? 


So if having video is such a fantastic option, why would I suggest it might damage your conversions?

Why your online video strategy matters

If you’re anything like me (and I sure hope you can afford the therapy bill if you are!) you might like to open multiple tabs on your browser to read later while scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed, or have several tabs open while researching any given topic.

As I type this, I currently have 14 tabs open… and that’s certainly not unusual – or even anywhere near a record.

While flitting between tabs in a recent research extravaganza, from somewhere within all those tabs a video began to play. I don’t recall what it was about. All I remember is that it annoyed the hell out of me and I desperately clicked from tab to tab, trying to find the source of this racket so I could shut it down quick smart!

The owner of the site had decided that setting their video to play automatically was a good idea.

I thought differently… but, in the interest of an informed opinion, I posed the question on my Facebook page. What did people think of auto play video?

Here are just some of the responses:

Prefer not.

Sheer annoyance.

I despise them.

Hate, hate hate.

Hate ‘em. Will not share a site that has one.

Hate them with a white hot passion.

Website owner should be taken out to the field and shot.

I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you what the general consensus was.

For anyone working in open plan or shared office spaces it can be intrusive and distracting. And web owners should also consider that more and more people are using mobile devices (such as smart phones and tablets) in public spaces where it’s not appropriate or desirable to have video blaring out with no warning.

Some web developers will code the site so the video only plays the first time someone visits the site, but that only works if they’re using the same device. If someone visits a site while browsing on their smart phone then decides to check it out again on their work or home PC, the video will play again, despite any ‘clever’ coding.

But, if you tick people off the second they arrive on your site, chances are they won’t be coming back anyway.

So why do sites include them?

Why would you take a tool with the potential to drastically IMPROVE your conversions and use it to drive people away?

The final word 

By all means, embrace video. It’s clearly a powerful online marketing tool.

But be smart about it.

Give people the option to opt IN, rather than OUT.

Even better, provide a transcript for those who can’t listen straight away, or where sound has been disabled on their shared workspace computer. Instead of them having to come back to watch it later, they can get a good idea of the valuable information your video provides and perhaps be more inclined to bookmark your site.

And I’d love to hear from any web developers or site owners about the effectiveness of auto play videos as part of the overall online strategy.

Can you provide any data to show they can improve conversions?

Have you split test the site with the video on auto play or manual to see whether there are any discernable differences in bounce rates or the time viewers spend on the page?

Would love to know!

What are your thoughts? Leave them here, or join the conversation on Facebook.

2 Responses to “Is your online video strategy killing your conversions?”

  • Reply Belinda @ Copywrite Matters March 08, 2014at 1:30 pm

    Great post Anna (as always) as I couldn’t agree more. I’d go so far as to say autoplay-anything is wrong with a capital CLOSING-YOUR-WEBSITE-NOW.

    I am same in that I always have multiple tabs open at once and the background noise of an auto-play just has me searching for the tab to close.

    But I wonder…. Is it like popup subscription windows? Everyone I know thinks they are super annoying but the results are tremendous. Derek Halpern from Social Triggers just posted something on this topic – and he says yes. He says, go with the results.
    (Here for your viewing pleasure: http://socialtriggers.com/annoying-popups/)

    Ultimately, I believe in OPT IN not OPT OUT. Great post.

  • Reply Anna Butler March 08, 2014at 2:54 pm

    Thanks Belinda. And I totally agree that people should base their decision on results – which is why I’m keen to hear from any web developers or site owners who can show evidence that auto-plays generate greater conversions than manual plays Bring it on!

    What I did find interesting from the link you posted Belinda, is that while this chap was advocating the use of pop-ups, his video was NOT set to auto-play.

    While pop-ups are definitely annoying, at least they only intrude on YOUR personal space, not that of everyone around you as well.

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