Video is changing how people shop

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January 31, 2018

Video is changing how people shop 

Once upon a time, shoppers relied solely on ads, professional reviewers, and word of mouth to evaluate a product. Today’s purchase behavior is much more complicated, with video playing an increasingly important role. For example, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they bought it.1 

Video content has emerged as the preferred format of consuming content. You don’t need statistics to figure that out. Just think about your own browsing choices. If you wanted to know about the top 10 places for a holiday (or any other topic), would you rather read about it or watch a three-minute interactive video that also includes images? 

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1Source: Google/Ipsos Connect, May 2017. A total of 4,917 U.S. respondents age 18-54 completed a device-agnostic survey. The study was fielded between April 27, 2017, and May 5, 2017. 

People are drawn to the richness of video to help them experience a product in ways that words can’t convey. As one viewer we spoke to explained about purchasing makeup, “I like being able to watch a video featuring the product rather than reading a blog post because when reading you can't see the actual colors.” 

Another person we spoke with had similar thoughts about shopping for a car: “I want to actually see someone test drive it and hear their opinions.” They’re not alone. If you added up the time people have spent watching "First Ride" car videos on YouTube, it’s equivalent to driving from New York to San Francisco over 45,000 times.2 

But people are going on more than online test rides—they’re also using video to virtually tag along on trips to the store. 

On YouTube, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos—where viewers follow creators as they shop—has increased 1,000% over the past two years.3 With this format, viewers are able to experience the shopping journey through someone they trust, and in the process evaluate whether a product is right for them. 

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Source: YouTube Internal Data, U.S., Nov. 2017. 

The best tips for video marketing 

Know when the time is right. Evening is the most popular time for watching social videos (46 percent of consumers watch them at this time. Some 43 percent watch them in the afternoon, 38 percent before bed and 33 percent during lunch hour. Promote your online videos on social media during lunch hours, in the afternoon and in the evening for best results.

Make it mobile-friendly. Videos are often viewed in spare moments of downtime, so it’s no wonder that a whopping 84 percent of consumers who watch social video do so on mobile devices. However, just 39 percent of marketers are designing square or vertical videos for mobile viewing; doing so can put your business ahead of the pack. 

Don’t rely on sound. Many social videos are watched at work or in other situations where viewers don’t want to turn the volume up. In fact, 85 percent of Facebook video is watched with the sound turned off. Adding subtitles, superimposed text or closed captioning increases the chances that your video will be viewed. Some 39 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to watch a video all the way through if it has subtitles. 

Choose the right location for your videos. Facebook is the number-one social channel where users watch branded videos; 60 percent of respondents in the survey watch branded videos on Facebook every day. However, Instagram Stories, Snapchat and YouTube are close behind, at 59 percent, 58 percent and 55 percent respectively. To get the best results from your social videos, focus on the channels where your customers spend the most time and engage with your business most frequently. 

Try some live videos. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents prefer prerecorded video, while 48 percent prefer live video. But while viewers are pretty evenly split, adding some live videos to your mix can give your online video content some variety. For example, post some Facebook Live video of a tradeshow or industry conference you’re attending, an event at your business or a sale at your store. 

Mix up your video content. Creating different types of video content keeps your brand from getting boring and also boosts your chances of getting more likes and shares. Here’s what the survey found: Users are most likely to like behind-the-scenes videos. Users are most likely to share educational videos. Users are most likely to like and share funny or emotional videos. 

Shorter is (usually) better. The majority of viewers (73 percent) decide whether or not to watch a video to the end in less than 30 seconds; 43 percent decide in under 15 seconds. The ideal length for an entire video is under one minute — 66 percent of mobile viewers and 45 percent of desktop viewers will watch this length to the end. What types of videos hold viewers’ attention longest? Six in 10 consumers will watch educational videos for over a minute and 55 percent will watch entertaining videos for over a minute. 

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