Does Higher Engagement mean Higher Conversion Rates?


How does engagement affect conversion rates? Could it impact them positively or negatively? Is it possible to increase conversions by decreasing engagement?

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’s Viewer Attention metric would predict that “talking head” video would deliver the lowest conversion rate. In fact, it is the highest converting style of video. In this case, engagement doesn’t predict conversion.

YouTube’s Viewer Attention metric would predict that “talking head” video would deliver the lowest conversion rate. In fact, it is the highest converting style of video. In this case, engagement doesn’t predict conversion.

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.

YouTube conversion rates graph. Can You Really Increase Conversions By Decreasing Engagement?

YouTube conversion rates graph.

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.

How Does Engagement Affect Conversion Rates?

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.
Brian Massey

Brian Massey
16 replies
      • Brian Massey says:

        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.

  1. globalcopywrite says:

    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.

  2. Justin Brooke says:

    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?

    • Brian Massey says:

      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.

  3. Arun Nair says:

    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.

  4. Infinite Conversions says:

    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.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] as heuristic, tends to correlate higher conversions (though not always – sometimes it distracts from the desired […]

  2. […] In a study conducted to measure the conversion results of different video formats, Massey found that talking head videos drove conversion rates of 3.2% vs. screen capture of slides at a measly 1.6% […]

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