Video Essentials

6 Ways for Shopping Sites to Test Online Videos

Online shopping lacks the physical experience that accompanies browsing and purchasing in a brick-and-mortar store. As a result, e-commerce retailers must constantly be on the lookout for new methods to showcase their products in effective and compelling ways.

One popular way that online retail brands set themselves apart from the competition and engage consumers more effectively during the shopping process is through the use of videos that tell a visual story about how products can be used.

Online merchants can incorporate video into their visitors’ e-commerce experiences in a number of different ways. Let’s examine six considerations for testing the effectiveness of how video performs on websites:

1. Video vs. No Video.
Perhaps the simplest way for you to test the performance of video on your website is by segmenting traffic so a percentage of site visitors receives a video demonstrating the product on the product page while the rest receive the same page without the video. In a test like this, one version of the page would contain only a product photo accompanied by its description, while another version would contain a video of the product accompanying the details.

A major retailer that Monetate works with recently learned that seeing was believing with product videos. While management initially thought that the play button would obscure the product and confuse visitors, this assumption did not bear out when tested. In fact, the video version of the product page was more successful, and lifted the conversion rate by 1.26 percent while generating a significant projected annual revenue impact.

2. Video A vs. Video B.
Another way to test the impact of video on your website is by delivering two different product videos to different groups of website traffic. A test of this nature is important when you have a number of merchandising videos to choose from (perhaps showcasing different product attributes or styles) and are interested in identifying which video is more likely to resonate with consumers, and ultimately influence sales.

3. Which Play Button Is the Best?
You have countless options for enticing consumers to play a product video, but how can you be sure which one will have the biggest impact on whether the consumer decides to actually click Play? In order to make an educated decision, marketers should test different options of what the play command looks like and optimize all website videos towards the version that is shown to generate the most clicks, boost the add-to-cart rate, increase conversion, etc.

A few options for the play button include a semi-transparent overlay on top of the video itself that’s intended to make it stand out on the page, a play arrow that points to the right, or a version of the word play that appears somewhere on the image thumbnail, as shown in the example to the right from

4. Auto-Play vs. Click-to-Play.
You will want to decide whether to serve consumers video that plays on its own as soon as a page loads or video that has to be triggered by a user action before it plays. This can be tested by segmenting different groups of traffic to receive auto-play and click-to-play video options, and then determining what is more efficient for the particular goal you are trying to accomplish with each video.

5. Thumbnails, Titles, and Descriptions.
The video thumbnail is the first thing a consumer sees when visiting a page with a video. This important first impression can make or break a video’s success. Working under the assumption that more compelling thumbnails will drive more views, you should not neglect this essential aspect of merchandising the video on your website. Constantly test new thumbnail options to ensure you’re displaying the most successful image at all times.

While video titles and descriptions can seem like an afterthought compared to the production of the video, they are essential to the video’s ultimate performance — titles, descriptions, and thumbnails are the foremost attributes that consumers use to determine whether they watch videos online.

6. Video Badging.
Product badging, a simple way to do smart merchandising, is the modern version of what shopkeepers have been doing in-person with customers for decades: calling attention to product features and benefits to get shoppers to interact with the merchandise.

Badging represents a powerful psychological tool that taps into consumers’ inherent need to be directed toward particular products, and the same rule applies with video. Just like badging a product thumbnail with messages like “staff pick” or “free shipping,” you should consider implementing the same method with videos, as shown in the example below from FreePeople. The most important thing to remember when badging videos, of course, is to test different variations and iterations to identify the ones that perform best.

Lastly, and most importantly, the guiding principle behind testing whether video will make an impact on your business is to have a clear vision of your goals before you test video content. You have to understand what you want to achieve from video — whether it is driving traffic, increasing conversion rates, boosting the average order value, or something else — before integrating it into visitors’ website experience.

When testing to get the most out of your video efforts, ask yourself the following baseline questions:

Who is the test for?
What does the test show?
When will the test run?
Why are we running the test in the first place?

The answers will help establish clear goals for your video campaigns and serve as a guide when you work towards meeting or exceeding them.

Adam Figueira is product marketing manager at Monetate, the leading provider of website A/B and multivariate testing, targeting & personalization. This article originally ran on


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