Does Higher Engagement mean Higher Conversion Rates?

We’ve just finished some very interesting research here at Conversion Sciences labs, and we love it when our deeply held beliefs get blown out of the water.

It’s happened again.

Most of us assume that if our pages are “engaging” to visitors, that they are more likely to convert to leads or sales. If they are engaged, they have more time to take action. If they are engaged, they will truly understand our value and become a lead or a customer.

Look at the following graph of three videos. These three different videos appeared on three otherwise identical landing pages. The graph is “Viewer Attention” as is recorded by YouTube. Basically, these graphs tell us how many visitors were still watching at any point in the video. It tells us how engaging a video is.

YouTube Attention Graphs

Clearly, we would expect whiteboard style video to be the highest converting video, since viewers are more engaged for the entire length of the video. We expect slides to be almost as successful. However, we expect plain old talking head videos to perform poorly.

Now take a look at the following graph. This is a graph of the conversion rates of the same videos.


This graph tells us that plain old talking head video is getting more visitors to click on our call-to-action button. This style of video is almost twice as likely to convert a visitor than the slide-style video found in most webinars.

Clearly, engagement doesn’t predict conversion in this case. Here, engagement is actually distraction.

Learn more about the relationship between engagement, distraction and conversion in my article Can You Really Increase Conversions By Decreasing Engagement?

I think you’ll be surprised by what you will learn.


Get a Free Chapter

I've written a tell-all with juicy details about how to run a high-converting website. Become a friend of the author for free chapters and bonus content from Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of the Conversion Scientist.
Post Signature

Brian Massey is the Founder and Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences. He is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses were developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, international speaker and writer.

  • Update: Whiteboard video is pulling closer to Talking Head video in the conversion rate test. 

    • Michael Taggart

       Any update on stats now?

      • Whiteboard video has passed Talking Head video and is converting significantly better. see attached. The difference is the traffic source. For the middle portion of the test, we drove Facebook traffic and PPC traffic. The remainder is from my blog, making it better qualified, better converting, and apparently preferring whiteboard video.

  • Here’s the current video test graph. Still a ways to go.

  • Pingback: Does Engagement Predict Conversion with Video? | The Conversion Scientist | Note to self()

  • Hi Brian,

    I read this post the day you published it but have recently revisited it after a conversation with a colleague about a marketing video he’s producing. Thanks so much for giving real insight into how consumers really react to video content. It’s always easier to make a decision on direction when you have research to back it up. It’s another example of conventional wisdom not living up to expectations.

  • It makes sense because now their is not just words and images doing the selling. With the talking head you have body language as well. Which helps deliver the sincerity, authenticity, and honesty.

    Plus, people like to buy from people right?

    • Justin, there is a segment of every audience that likes people and likes to buy from them. There is also the methodical type for whom the “human touch” is repulsive. So, the question we ask is not “Does this audience need body language to buy?” but, “How much of this audience needs body language to buy?”

      I think my audience is quite humanistic, and that may be why this works.

  • Justing Great work, basically very few people are concentrating on how to get a conversion from video sites. Real feeling from videos create great impacts on visitor’s mind as well. I would like to concentrate on other parts like conversion on less speaking & diverting for conversion. You & your team did great job totally appreciated.

  • Pingback: How to create a killer video for your Landing Page | Lander Blog()

  • Increasing engagement from videos does seem ignored, regretfully. We, on the other hand, feel videos are a very effective way at giving a personal touch to a company (particularly a lesser known brand) and thus increasing conversions. It’s also important to have a cover image for the video that acts as a call to action.

    • Great point on the cover image. We should do that on our new site

      • Awesome site. Love the copy. Lots of proof and evidence to demonstrate the value of CRO.

        The copy in a Cover Image really needs to be straight to the point and give an incentive for the user to watch your video. Most site owners don’t do this and hence their videos go unwatched.

  • Pingback: How To Use Interactivity to Increase Engagement (and Conversions)()