video marketing

Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist™, shares how to combine data from video hosting services with Google Analytics to measure video impact on your revenue and conversions.

In this episode of The Conversion Scientist Podcast, Brian Massey tells you how to gain insights from third-party tools in Google Analytics. He uses several video hosts as an example to show step by step how to integrate these “In-App” video metrics with Analytics. And how to use Google Analytics to measure the impact of video content on your revenue.

Remember to check the very last section of this article to watch the free eight-part bit-sized video mini-course, “Video that Converts”

When “In-App” Analytics Are Not Enough to Gauge Impact on Conversions and Revenue

We were working on a client that sells a software application. After completing a test, we identified a single change that could increase the number of demo requests by 29%.

What was the change that would cause such a dramatic lift in conversion rate?

We removed a video from their demo request page.

Why? A quick look at the analytics showed that only few visitors were watching the video. We had a hunch that it was probably a barrier to conversions. And it was blocking more important information — information that could persuade more visitors to fill out the form on the page.

Video is just one of the many third-party services commonly implemented on ecommerce websites. Others include exit-intent overlays, live chat, ratings and reviews, faceted search or personalized and predictive product recommendations services.

The vast majority of third-party services will offer “in-app” analytics to help you assess their impact on your visitors’ behavior. Even though these “In App” analytics can provide insight into your online customers, they cannot show you the tools’ impact on leads and sales.

Integration with primary analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, is a must when identifying opportunities to optimize.

Using Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Revenue

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how integration of third-party analytics with Google Analytics can help answer difficult questions about our video ROI.

In-App Analytics

The vast majority of third-party tools offer useful analytics.

Let’s consider video hosts first. These services host your marketing videos and allow you to embed them on your site, landing pages and/or social media channels. Their promise is simple: faster, more reliable streaming than your basic website servers. Plus in-app video analytics.

We have used a variety of these providers in our video conversion projects, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Ooyala, Wistia and Vidyard. While YouTube is free, it gives your visitors too many opportunities to leave the webpage. The rest require a monthly video hosting fee.

All of these services offer some kind of dashboard with basic in-app analytics. Some of the metrics they share are:

  • Number of times a video is loaded
  • Number of times a video is played
  • Percentage of visitors who clicked Play
  • Average percentage of video watched
  • Geo distribution of your video audience

A Wistia Analytics Example

We can see on the Vimeo graph below, the load counts, play counts and social sharing counts for this particular video.

Vimeo offers load counts, play counts and social sharing counts. The graph shows how many visitors saw the video, how many watched and how many shared it.

The graph shows how many visitors saw the video, how many watched and how many shared it.

More interestingly, the Wistia report below, on an eight-part video series shows that viewers did not watch them in order. And we can deduce which of the topics captured our visitor’s interest.

Audience Retention Analysis: Vidyard and YouTube Examples

Wistia in-app analytics allows you to compare plays and play rates for multiple videos in a series.

Wistia in-app analytics allows you to compare plays and play rates for multiple videos in a series.

If you are interested in finding which part of a video is less interesting to your video viewers, Vidyard and YouTube have a viewer drop-off graph. You may use it to gather how many stick around until the end.

Almost half of my viewers drop-off within 20 seconds.

In this Vidyard chart we can see that almost half of my viewers dropped off within 20 seconds. This video needs a stronger intro.

The results can be quite informative.

Consider this audience retention graph from a YouTube account. See the pronounced viewer drop-off in the first few seconds? Something made more than 10% of video viewers leave within seconds of starting the video. What could it be?

Something made over 10% of visitors leave within seconds of pressing play on the video.

YouTube audience retention graph.

This audience retention visual report can be found inside your YouTube channel, synced with the video you are analyzing.

Our hypothesis was that viewers lost interest due to a vanity logo sequence. And it was costing us viewers.

We picked another video without vanity intro and we noticed a much smaller initial drop-off at the beginning. This supported our hypothesis.

Notice that there is a slight lift at the beginning of the video that has no branded intro.

The YouTube chart for the video without a vanity intro shows a slight engagement lift at the very beginning.

Vanity, thy name is logo. Even we at Conversion Sciences have given in to our egos with similarly unpleasant results.

Our vanity video intro definitely chased viewers away.

We were chasing our viewers away.

It goes without saying that we no longer use the cool branding sequence in our marketing videos.

Measuring the Impact of Video on your Bottom Line: Integrated Analytics

The biggest barrier in-app analytics have is that they cannot be linked to our revenue metrics, namely leads and sales.

Predictive metrics like Engagement or Attention are not definitive. They can only suggest what might happen.

And as we have said again and again, increasing engagement may actually decrease conversion.

These are the questions we need answered by our analytics:

  • Do those customers who view the video buy more often?
  • Are they more likely to complete a lead form?
  • Are they buying more or less?
  • Does their buying behavior change if they only watch part of a video? If so, how?
  • Which videos generate more sales than others?

Time to bring in this third-party vendor data and integrated with Google Analytics.

The good news is, most of these third-party platforms or applications provide a way to generate Google Analytics events on visitor interaction. Events like watching a video, performing a filtered search or starting a live chat.

Integrating Google Analytics could be as simple as entering your Google Analytics ID, enabling a Google Tag Manager pre-written tag or adding some Javascript tracking code to your page.

Integrate Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Conversions

Video platforms generally fire Events when somebody plays the video, for the duration of the play and when the video has been watched to completion. Therefore, we don’t have much control over the type of Events the video platform provides.

Nevertheless, this is usually enough for us to create some advanced segments and assess the impact of the video on our sales or lead conversions.

We tested both Wistia and Vidyard in-app analytics integrated with Google Analytics on our eight-part video mini-course.

To see the Events generated by either of the embedded video players, choose Behavior > Events in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Events: Integrate Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Conversions.

Google Analytics Events menu.

Here you will be able to see which Events are being generated by either of the video platforms. In this case, both send us Events when a video was played and for how long.

A screenshot of the Events sent by Wistia and Vidyard to Google Analytics.

A screenshot of the Events sent by Wistia and Vidyard to Google Analytics.

Now, switch from Event Action to Event Label as the Primary Dimension on your Google Analytics report to see which videos are being watched.

Both video platforms set events sharing which videos get played.

Both video analytics are sending the videos that are being viewed.

But all of the above data can be found within the respective tools’ dashboards. Let’s dive into more interesting information by creating Advanced Segments.

Creating a GA Advanced Segment with Wistia’s Events

To measure and isolate sessions in which the visitor played a video, we built an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics. This is particularly useful for online shops. It allows us to find out the impact of these videos on customer’s purchasing habits.

We used Wistia’s Play Event to isolate those sessions in which any of the eight videos in our series was viewed.

By creating an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics, we can look at sessions that include visitors who watched a video.

By creating an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics, we can look at sessions that include visitors who watched a video.

Our Wistia’s Played Video Advanced Segment includes sessions where a visitor played a video.

Use this segment to filter your ecommerce site Revenue, Conversion and Transaction data. Identify those visitors who watched one or more videos. Now, discover if this affected their buying behavior.

Advanced Segments reports in Google Analytics to measure the impact of video on revenue and conversions for a fictitious ecommerce site. Comparing a buyer who interacted with a video to the “average” site visitor, we observe a drop in conversion rate and average order value.

Comparing a buyer who interacted with a video to the “average” site visitor, we observe a drop in conversion rate and average order value.

In this example, the report strongly implies that website buyers who watched the video were less likely to make a purchase and bought less.

A simple integration of you video platform’s data with Google Analytics can derive stronger insights to find out the true impact of video on your bottom-line. Which ones will you find in your analytics now? Is your third-party app helping or hindering your sales or leads?

For more on Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Your Revenue, Listen to the Podcast

In this episode of The Conversion Scientist Podcast, Brian Massey tells you how to gain insights from third-party tools in Google Analytics. He uses several video hosts as an example.


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Link to Article on Marketing Land

Watch the free eight-part bit-sized video mini-course

Since you are a student of our Conversion Course, you get the entire mini-course Video that Converts.

An important eight-part series on creating marketing videos that convert visitors to leads and sales from Conversion Sciences.

  1. How Faces Influence Video Marketing
  2. Using Video to Solve the Subject Matter Expert Problem
  3. How Marketing Videos Chase Viewers Away in the First Seconds
  4. Video Hosting-Why Youtube is the Wrong Choice
  5. How the Brain Processes Video
  6. Headlines that Get Visitors to Click Play
  7. How Motion in Marketing Videos Affects Viewer Attention
  8. Video Marketing Using Animation

Special thanks to Vidpow for producing the videos in our Video that Converts Mini-course.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three

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Is there magic in the animated video that is all-the-rage on the web? Should you invest in this style of video to communicate powerful messages to your visitors? Will this investment translate into higher conversion rates?

We set out to collect some data to help answer these burning questions. After all, we’re scientists.

To give you an example of what we’re talking about, here’s a video created for us by NinjaTropic to to introducing readers to AB testing as part of our comprehensive AB testing guide.

This video summarizes AB testing in just under a minute and a half. The goal of this particular article is to establish us as the source for information on this transformational tool of websites. This should make our visitors more eager to subscribe, learn and grow.

In other words, we want to generate leads that will one day turn into sales. Just like you.

Why did we think that an animated video would outperform a simple “talking head” video? Because science told us it might.

Using Animation in Video Marketing to Generate Leads and Sales

Here’s a more traditional video that explains what we’ve learned about animated video and why you should consider it.

Based on their popularity, it seems that video of a “drawn” cartoon with voice over is a great way to keep viewers engaged. We wanted to know why that was, and we wanted to know if that meant they would also be more likely to convert if they were on your website and being asked to take an action.

Watch all eight lessons in this series on converting with video.

Eye Tracking Study

We ran an eye tracking study, which sought to answer these things, and what we found out was very interesting.

For hand-drawn video, the motion of the pen drawn on a whiteboard while somebody’s speaking, or of a cartoon moving, pulls the attention of the visitor. It has a very high level of engagement.

Something else we thought was very interesting was that when you include cartoons of people, which is pretty common in these kind of videos, they get the same kind of attention that a real human face attracts. The effects of the cartoon face is very much the same as  a videotaped face, like the one of me talking above.

The human mind is drawn to faces and eyes, we like to watch them. Even if there’s something else going on, we always seem to return to the eyes.

Does Animated Video Convert Better?

When we did this study, we also coupled it with a split test. We tested this kind of video with talking head video like this, and with what we call slide video, which you might see given in a webinar, with static images.

What we found out was that if you put this video on a landing page, in which you have a call to action and a form to complete, the animated video converted better. In other words, more people were willing to go and fill out the form and take the next step than with talking head video or slide video.

See Eye-tracking Videos in the Full Report

See Eye-tracking Videos in the Full Report

Is Animated Video More Expensive?

So, if you’re considering video that’s going to call people to action, you really should consider animated or whiteboard video for your landing page. While hand-drawn video can be more expensive to produce, companies like NinjaTropic are driving the cost down with advanced tools and experienced animators.

The real question is whether any additional production cost is more than the increase in leads and sales you may get from it. The only way to know is to test it.

Watch all videos in this series.

Video is powerful. It can work for our business or against it. Here’s why.

I want to talk a little bit about how the brain processes video information.

Where is video processed in the brain?

Our eyes are at the front of our skull. Strangely enough our brains process video information at the back of our skull. This is called the visual cortex. It’s interesting that the visual cortex lies at the back of the brain when you think about what happens.

When you see an image – a picture – what happens is your eyes take that information in. They actually cross over and then they deliver the information to the back of the brain. The visual cortex takes that image and pulls it apart. Part of it is sent to the part of the brain that can check for edges and angles. The part of the brain that understands faces will be sent facial information. If you think about it like this, every picture that comes in through your eyes is like smashing a bottle of information against the back of your head.

Watch all lessons in this series on converting with video.

How the brain deals with video images.

What happens when we think about repeated images like video? Imagine throwing 30 bottles a second against the back of your viewers skulls. That’s the kind of information that they’re processing, and a couple of things happen. Number one, they’re getting a lot of information, so you can really deliver rich messages using video. But they’re also filtering. They’re having to average things out, so subtle details will get lost.

Respect video

In this series, we’ve talked about using things like motion to keep viewers attention, to keep them focused so that there’s less of this filtering. But understand that when you’re using video, it’s a powerful tool both because it floods the brain with information and contexts. If the message that you’re sending has a negative angle to it, you could be doing more harm than good. Think about the kind of data that you’re sending to your viewers when you do your video, and make sure you’re sending the things that will not be averaged out, and that will not give them a negative impression.

See the Whole Video Series

Video Mini Course


Video is powerful. It can work for our business or against it. Here’s why.

Let’s talk a little bit about headlines, the words that go around your videos.

Headlines get people to read on.

In almost every medium that we work with online, the most important thing is going to be the headline or the equivalent to that. For email, the subject line is equivalent to the headline, and with today’s email clients, the first line of the email is often displayed along with it. The subject line is the most important thing, because it gets people to read the email.

On the landing page, the headline is the most important thing. It needs to tell the visitor they’re in the right place and give them a reason to keep reading – a reason that is important to them, not important to you.

Watch all lessons in this series on converting with video.

Landing pages must invite visitors to watch the video.

On a video landing page, we have two pieces of information that are really important. Number one is the title above the video, and it has to tell the reader why they should watch the video. Number two, on a video landing page, the video is going to be pitching to a call to action. This is usually a button or a form that’s on that page, and above that form is the reason to take action. So, you have two pieces of information.
One, why you should watch the video, and two, why you should then take action if you found the information in the video persuasive. We’re going to spend hours filming and editing, writing scripts, reviewing our videos. So, how much time are we going to spend on the headline above the video that gets people to watch it? Well, typically very little.

I would recommend that you write 20, 30, 40 different headlines and choose from those, and focus on one thing. If there was one tip I would give you, it is, don’t describe the video. Describe why they should watch the video. That’s what the headline should do. Rather than tell them that this is a video about a new offering from your product, make headline say,

  • “Did you know that you could lose weight quickly?”
  • “You could manage your employees with less time?”

Whatever your value proposition is, tell them why they should watch the video, not what’s in the video. You want them to watch the video to get that. Likewise, you’re going to find a very similar thing when you look at writing the call to action.

The Call to Action

The call to action, ideally, is going to happen in the video, usually the end, but actually, you’re going to find significantly better performance if you find a way to have the call to action in the middle, and even hint at it in the beginning. And it’s also going to be on the page typically where there’s a form or a button that allows the visitor to take the next step.

Don’t leave visitors stranded in your video. After an awesome video, you don’t want to leave them going, “Oh, that was entertaining,” and not knowing what to do next. Always have something that they can do next.

This call to action, though, needs to do the same thing as the headline. Why should they take action next? You’ll want to work in, for instance, if this is a limited time offer, if there’s a special discount, if there’s a bonus. And explain to them very clearly what’s going to happen when they fill out that form.

  • Are they going to receive a lot of spam?
  • Are they going to get a call from somebody?
  • Are they going to have an informative phone conversation or a sales call?

Set Expectations

Make sure that they know what’s going to happen so that all expectations are set, and you should have a high-performing page. You’ve got a nice headline that tells them why to watch the video. You got a great video that lays out the value proposition that you’re trying to communicate and then has them do a call to action. You have a call to action that is focused on them and what they want to accomplish, and viola – a complete landing page with video.

Watch all videos in this series

Video is powerful. It can work for our business or against it. Here’s why.

I want to talk a little bit about motion and video. The human brain is wired to check out what’s going on if something moves in its field of vision. So, for business videos, this means that we can draw their attention to the video and hold it if we continue to move things.

Watch all lessons in this series on converting with video.

Why the human brain is drawn to motion

The reason that the human brain likes motion is, because as we evolved, we associated motion with: a) something we can eat b) something that was going to eat us c) something we can mate with. Those are all very high-priority things in the lizard brain portion of our anatomy.

Making motion work in business videos

We can use that in our marketing to hold people’s attention. What kind of motion am I talking about? Well, in an eye tracking study we did, we found that: number one, people are drawn to faces and so, for instance, somebody who is moving their hands in the video, that was not sufficient to draw attention away from the face. But if you held up a prop, like a book, that would draw their attention away.

Likewise if you have a long period of somebody speaking to you like this – and in video today, a long period is like a minute – then you need to find some way of moving things around. Something as simple as this pan, is enough motion to re-engage the visitor, and keep their attention on the message that you’re delivering. Even though I’m talking, and my mouth is moving, I’m not perceived as moving until something else happens. Snap away, snap closer, snap to the left, snap to the right, pan. These are all great tools.

Motion during the call to action

One thing to be certain about here, is that if you’re using motion during a key part of your video, for instance, a call to action in which you want them to look at the page that the video is on, you should stop the motion. In fact if you could put a static image up of some sort, as you’re saying, “Go, and fill out this form,” then you will have a higher conversion rate according to our studies.

Watch all videos in this series

For more, visit our Free CRO Training Masterclass videos.

When you put people in your video marketing, something unexpected happens.

The Human Brain Loves Eyes

I want to talk a little bit about eyes and the importance of eyes in video marketing. First of all, the human brain loves eyes. We’re drawn to it, we want to look at it. And this can be really helpful in your videos if you want to keep people engaged in listening to the message. But it can also have a dark side in that it draws the attention away from something else that might be important. Let me give you an example.

Watch all lessons in this series on converting with video.

When Eyes Hurt Your Conversion Rate

Let’s say you have a video on a landing page, and you want people to watch the video, get the message, and then take action on the page. At the point where you ask them in the video to take action on the page, if you have someone there looking at them, engaging them, they are less likely to look away and see the message on the page — either the form or the button that you want them to click on the landing page.

My recommendation is use eyes and heads – human beings – to keep people’s attention. But when you go to make the offer, consider shifting away to something that’s more static, something that doesn’t move, and something that doesn’t have attractive eyes on it.


One video can be the source of all kinds of marketing content

Now, we all know that video is a great way for us to tell a story and communicate with our prospects, with our customers, and with suspects – people who may not even know what our business does. But have you thought about how powerful video is in terms of communicating with the rest of the team?

A content strategy includes content from a number different sources – blog posts, infographs, reports, white papers, e-books. Your options are almost unlimited.

Watch all lessons in this series on converting with video.

Solving the Subject Matter Expert Problem

The biggest challenge is what I call the subject matter expert problem. How do you get the knowledge out of the subject matter experts heads — either in your company or in your industry — and get them to turn what they know into these content?
The good news is you’ve got video.

It could be video like the talking head video above. It could be explainer videos that you’ve made, and even something as simple as webinar videos – videos captured while somebody delivered a webinar. The beauty of all of these forms of video is that the subject matter expert has sat down and thought about how they would explain what they want to teach on video.

Business Video Provides Everything Your Content Team Needs

Now, if you take that video and you hand it to the people who are producing your content, they should have everything they need, everything from how to lay it out and how to organize the explanations, and the thoughts, and the education, plus the graphics that come along with video.

Think about making video that’s not just for your prospects and clients. Think about making it for your internal team so that one video can cascade  and turn it into whole bunch of other kinds of content. This page was ripped from the above video.

Everybody wants to be the llmpany that came up with the brilliantly clever video or ad or Tweet that got shared by millions. The one where, if you dare to admit you haven’t seen it, everyone else at the party will jump on you demanding, “You haven’t SEEN it?” But here’s the thing: While there are many companies that have made such ads that quickly translated into rapid sales, other companies with viral videos and other funny content never increased their sales at all, despite millions of shares. The bottom line is humor can create sales, but it has to be done right.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to do it wrong.

Inc. published case studies on two products. One, the Orabrush, was designed to remove the tongue bacteria that cause bad breath. Inventor Dr. Robert Wagner was only pulling in about $30 a month, selling 10 Orabrushes, until he created a funny video. Within six weeks, Orabrush sold about 10,000 tongue cleaners (and gave many away free). Within two years, the company sold more than a million Orabrushes online and the video was viewed more than 15 million times. You can now buy the tongue cleaner at stores like Walmart. What was so great about the video was that, in addition to being funny, it clearly explained what causes bad breath and why the Orabrush is the best solution. It also had a call to action and a free Orabrush for responding.

In the same article, though, the reporter talked about EZ Grill which made a video in which it grilled various smart phones to see which would last longest. The video quickly got over a million views but didn’t translate into sales. There might have been a lot of reasons for this.

  • The focus was more on the phones than on the grill.
  • There was no explanation about why one would buy a portable grill or what made EZ Grill a better option.
  • The video revealed the little aluminum grill’s occasional inferno-like action.
  • There was no connection to the company’s website or any other outlet, so consumers had to figure out where to get one on their own: friction.
  • There was cognitive dissonance between something high tech, like smart phones, and the music, which sounded like something from a Charlie Chaplin movie. Cognitive dissonance can be good or bad. In this case, it was difficult to tell who the audience was or what they should do.

The truth is, humor is complicated. Consider that most comedians will work a joke over and over before they bring it to audiences. Nielsen reports that, in the U.S. and Europe at least, 50 percent of people surveyed rank humorous ads as most effective. But myriad studies have failed to find a direct correlation between a funny ad and widgets flying out the door. A study on funny Superbowl ads showed that sales didn’t immediately go up on the products with the funniest ads. And yet we all know about the ones that worked. The Dollar Shave Club, which got 12,000 people to sign up for the service in the first 48 hours after they first aired their comic video, for example. So what makes the difference?

The first rule of humor probably should be:

1. Don’t Forget to Sell Your Product

A great example of this is Poo Purri, a company that makes a spray with essential oils that traps the odor of poop in the bowl. Really, hard to imagine how to sell this product without humor. But here’s a company that uses cognitive dissonance perfectly. It’s a visually attractive video of a gentile, British, girl-next-door, in elegant clothes, sitting on a toilet talking about the basest human functions.

But this video tells you exactly how Poo Pourri works, where to find it, what its Amazon rating is, has a “click here” call to action and a money back guarantee. The result was a 13,000 percent increase in visits to the site and more than double the company’s revenue.

One reason humor works is that it engages the brain in such a way that people kind of forget they’re being sold to. They might share the video over and over, watch it over and over, never realizing that they’re cheerfully and voluntarily propagandizing themselves and spreading your message. That’s because, from a scientific standpoint, humor provides all kinds of payoffs for the brain.

According to a paper published by the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, the beginning of a joke triggers your frontal cortex—the executive part of the brain—to look for pattern recognition. The minute we sense a joke is coming, we perk up. We pay attention, look for the payoff. And if the payoff is good, we’re flooded with good feeling neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These are the neurotransmitters that flood us when we’re in love or we accomplish a challenging goal. At the same time, laughter decreases stress hormones like serum cortisol or epinephrine. So just by the act of being funny, your blog, email, video and other content can reach through the screen and make customers feel good. That’s power.

A study on How Humor Breaks Resistance to Influence, conducted at a university in the Netherlands, show how humor distracts audiences from the fact they’re being sold to. Especially if the humor doesn’t tackle the sales goal head on. So it prevents the target audience from throwing up walls against being influenced.

Normally, any content that might cause us to spend money or make a decision triggers all kinds of defense mechanisms: skepticism, criticism, refusal to be moved. That’s especially true if we already have resistance to the brand. Humor has the effect of distracting us from resistance. And, the study said, even if consumers don’t consciously remember the association between the brand and the thing that made them laugh, it will positively impact brand perception and influence buying.

2. Distract Your Audience From the Hard Sell

One company that uses humor to distract is Yesware, which sends out the email below to customers who haven’t responded to sales pitches. The humor in it, of course, softens the fact that the email is essentially saying “What gives?” Typically, Yesware reports, replies to follow up emails are around 21 percent. But not this one:

This humorous email had a 46 percent response rate

This humorous email had a 46 percent response rate

But to make people laugh, you have to know your audience.

3. Be Relevant to Your Audience

Ikea wanted to boost its sales in Singapore and Malaysia. The trouble is, Singapore and Malaysia are crazy about technology and Ikea is a very low-tech company with furniture you build yourself. Its primary marketing tool is a paper catalog, which is about as low tech as they come. So, just before the release of the iPhone 6, Ikea posted a video that spoofed its own catalog.

Its commercial video used an Apple-like asthetic to show the simple navigation of its paper catalog

Its commercial video used an Apple-like asthetic to show the simple navigation of its paper catalog, touting catalog’s “eternal battery life” and “tactile touch technology you can actually feel.”

With The Ikea “bookbook”, the ad said “each crystal clear image loads instantaneously….”
It was the only commercial video that made it to Time Magazine’s top 10 viral videos of 2014, with 12 million views as of the end of 2014. The video—which was created BBH Asia Pacific marketing company—increased sales .8 percent in Singapore and 13 percent in Malaysia. A case study by London branding and marketing firm, Cream Global, showed the video also garnered articles in Time, WSJ, Buzzfeed, The Daily Mail, Mashable and more. It got nearly 500,000 share on Facebook. More than 6,000 people uploaded photos of themselves with their bookbooks on Instagram. Ikea’s revenues have climbed every year but global sales in 2014 were up nearly six percent from the previous year.

By contrast Ranker has a votable list of brands that try too hard to connect with the millennial generation, including Welch’s “Pour ‘em a glass of LOLs” and a myriad of brands who ultimately killed the expression “bae.”
Ikea’s ad did something else that is crucial to humor in content, it was self-deprecating. Making fun of others in ads just communicates that you’re mean-spirited. Take political ads, for example. But making fun of yourself engenders affection.

4. Be Self-Deprecating

Dissolve makes stock footage. Just showing how pretty their stock footage was would only serve to keep them in competition with every other stock footage company. But Dissolve decided to spoof itself on the fact that stock footage is designed to create mental associations that may or may not have anything to do with the actual product. The blatant honesty was surprising and funny. During the Generic Brand Video launch week, visits to the site increased by 9x and signups and sales revenue both increased by 6X.

Dissolve's self-deprecating humor about stock photos being generic worked well

Dissolve’s self-deprecating humor about stock photos being generic worked well.

Sam Elliott, in his gravelly, dead-pan voice nails the intention of the pictures of happy, beautiful people and scenery to influence viewers’ perception about the product being sold: “Lest you think we’re a faceless entity, look at all these attractive people. Here’s some of them talking and laughing and closeups of hands passing canned goods to each other….” As the saying goes: “It’s funny because it’s true.” It also communicates a sense of transparency and humility on Dissolve’s part.
The video generated articles in Fast Company, Ad Age, Adweek, Mashable, Gizmodo, Mediaite and TIME, according to the Shorty Awards where it won Best of B2B.

One of the brilliant things about the Dissolve video was that, while it was making fun of itself, it was also making the case that its beautiful footage sells powerfully. And it included a link to the company’s website.

Humor is difficult. Just listen to a lineup of comedians and it’s clear that some people know how to do it and others don’t. Poo Pourri founder Suzi Batiz said in several interviews that some of the writing for that first viral ad made her cringe. But it worked. So find someone who knows how to do it right, and don’t forget that the whole point is to get people to buy your product or service.

About the Author

Susan Lahey headshotSusan Lahey is a journalist, copywriter, author and all around multipotentialite wordsmith who loves to write about brave people doing cool things.

Feature image by S.Hart Photography, licensed through Creative Commons and adapted for this post.

One of my most requested and highest rated presentations for online sales is The Chemistry of the Landing Page. It’s part of our Conversion Course.
The elements combine to make an effective landing page. Here’s the equation for a successful landing page:

Our tried and true formula for a landing page uses several elements from our periodic table of conversion optimization.

Our tried and true formula for a landing page uses several elements from our periodic table of conversion optimization.

This formula tells us that an effective landing page takes a Web Page (Wp), adds an Offer (Of), a Form (Fm), an Image (I) of the product plus Proof (Pr) and Trust (Tr) to get the visitor to take action. You may ask, “Where did these elements come from?”
We have a palette of things to work with that help us when we’re developing marketing campaigns that deliver sales, leads and subscribers. For us, it’s like a game.
This chart provides a vocabulary and methodology to work through ideas for higher and higher converting online properties. You’ll find it in our Landing Page ROI Checklist, which you can download for free.
Now you can play.
Download the Elements of Conversion Optimization PDF, cut out the elements, and start having some fun.
Choose from a colorful palette of elements when writing, designing and strategizing for conversions.

Click to Download a colorful palette of elements for writing, designing and strategizing for conversions.

We want to create a reaction with our visitors. See what I did there? When optimizing for conversions, we don’t want visitors to interact, we want them to react.

Start with the Basic Elements

These core elements are found in every reaction.

These core elements are found in every reaction.

If we cut out Motion (M) and Image (I) to create a powerful kind of content.
It's simple to combine elements to make new elements. Adding Motion (M) to Images (I) gives us Video (V).

It’s simple to combine elements to make new elements. Adding Motion (M) to Images (I) gives us Video (V).

Video (V) is found in the table under Content. Not all video is created equal.

Fun with Content

The set of elements in the Content section are powerful resources for getting visitors to take action.

Content comes in many forms, including the more interactive type.

Content comes in many forms, including the more interactive type.

The bottom row of Content is interactive. It engages the visitor in unique ways.
If we combine all of the basic elements plus a very special kind of content called Music (Mu), we get the recipe for an explainer video for our business. Explainer videos include the features and benefits of our product or service.
An explainer video requires a variety of content to be successful.

An explainer video requires a variety of content to be successful.

Pick a Container or Two

Where does this explainer video live? We can place it onto a web page or a Social Network (Sn) like YouTube.

Containers are the places where we mix our elements to spark reactions that generate new elements.

Containers are the places where we mix our elements to spark reactions that generate new elements.

We can load our video onto YouTube, which is a social network.
As a Social Network (Sn), YouTube can turn Video content into  Attention (Att) a semi-precious metal.

As a Social Network (Sn), YouTube can turn Video content into Attention (Att) a semi-precious metal.

We’ve generated some precious attention as well as two kinds of User Generated Content, Comments and Likes. User-generated Comments (Cm) amplify the amount of Attention (Att) your business gets from a social posting.
This doesn’t get us much in the way of conversion. We may get some social content and some awareness, some Attention. For the sake of conversion, we need visits to our website. We need Traffic.

Dealing with the Precious Metals

Our main goal when combining elements is a bit of alchemy. We want to generate precious metals, Sales ($) and Leads (Pb). Those of you familiar with the periodic table of elements should get why I chose “Pb” for Leads.

Online sales is only one precious metal that can be generated.

The Metals represent our most valuable elements.

The precious metals represent some sort of conversion: a suspect to a prospect, a prospect to a lead, a lead to a sale. We’ll be doing more with the precious metals in future articles.

The Offer Leads the Conversion

The content that invites visitors to take action is an Offer of some kind. We can add the offer to the video or to the page. In a social network like YouTube, we don’t have much control over how offers are displayed on the page. Adding the offer to the video is considered a best practice in all situations.
The offer magically turns attention into traffic.

Putting an Offer in front of our attentive viewers can generate traffic for us.

Putting an Offer in front of our attentive viewers can generate traffic for us.

I told you this was going to be fun. However, when we start asking visitors to do something, we introduce some contamination into our reaction.
The Traffic has to have someplace to go. So we can use our handy equation, shown above, to create a landing page.
When we combine our traffic with an effective landing page, sales and leads are created.

When we combine our traffic with an effective landing page, sales and leads are created.

When playing the conversion game, we want Leads and online Sales as our reward. Qualified traffic plus an efficient landing page can deliver that for us.

The Inert Gases Get in the Way

If our video is longer than it is entertaining, we may generate a contaminant called Bordom (Bo). If we spend more time talking about our business and products than solutions for our viewers, we are generating Melium (Me). If we go on and on, we’re generating Hot Air (He).
All of these can generate the most disappointing contaminants, called Abandon (Ar). We give it the same symbol as the element Argon (Ar), because when someone abandons your content, they “Are gone.”

The Inert Gases just get in the way of our reactions and our conversions.

The Inert Gases just get in the way of our reactions and our conversions.

We can see these contaminants in our analytics. Here’s the attention graph for one of our explainer videos. This graph tells us what percentage of visitors are watching at any given time (blue line). The red line indicates replays of portions of the video.
Here is evidence of Inert Gases in the data from our explainer video.

Here is evidence of Inert Gases in the data from our explainer video. You be the judge.

At the beginning, we lose those viewers who are just in the wrong place, though viewers abandon the video throughout. There’s a place where we spend too much time drawing because we like to draw. This is producing Hot Air (He). Toward the end of this four-minute video we see evidence of Bordom (Bo). We should shorten things up.
Then, at the end, when we make the Offer (Of), we see some abandonment due to Melium (Me). We’re talking about ourselves at this point.

Adding Some Catalysts

Catalysts don’t actually react with anything, they help the other elements react faster, hotter or more efficiently. You shouldn’t buy our product just because others have, but social proof is a key motivator in many reactions. It’s a catalyst in our message. Search Engine Optimization (Seo) is invisible to the reader for the most part, but it can catalyze a page to create more Traffic (Tf).

Catalysts make reactions faster, hotter and more efficient.

Catalysts make reactions faster, hotter and more efficient.

Videos are great for Storytelling (St), so this might be a great catalyst for our explainer video. We know from our landing page formula above that Proof (Pr) and Trust (Tr) are important and should be included in our landing pages.
On our blog, we’ve used Gamification (Gm). Using a badges as a reward, we encourage visitors to come back and read more. This addition that has accelerated the growth of our subscriber list and traffic.

Our Explainer Video

We chose to put our explainer video on a landing page with an offer and a form. There is also an offer in the video. We transcribed the soundtrack to provide text for the page.
The formula is this:

explainer video formulas

The formulas for our explainer video Not how elements from one reaction feed another. See the landing page.

The traffic comes from this page and our weekly educational email, which you should subscribe to.

A Checklist for Effective Online Sales

These equations are your checklist for producing effective marketing. It also allows you to have some fun mixing and matching elements that may not seem to go together.
Download the PDF, cut out the elements, and get creative about how you make your online properties more profitable.

In October of 2014 iNature Skincare, a small skincare company, sought to increase visits to their website and grow recognition of their products. They sponsored a video called “Comfortable” proposed by an independent filmmaker.
It was a gamble.
The video went viral, with over 4 million views on YouTube in the first two weeks.
The video has now delivered almost six million views, is embedded on over 268 sites (now 269), and enjoys tens of thousands of likes, shares, subscribers and tweets.
iNature reached out to us shortly after the video launched. They were not seeing a consummate increase in sales on their website. Four million views had not turned into a windfall for them.
What happened?

Story is Powerful

We use stories in our writing when we want to engage and move our readers to action.
Karl Jung believed that our collective unconscious contains the seed of stories universal to us all from the moment of birth.
Fairy Tales follow similar story patterns, regardless of the culture or era they are told.
Tapping the power of stories in our marketing messages is powerful, so powerful it can overshadow our products, as it did iNature.
What is story and how can we weave it into our videos?

1. Conflict

A story is a journey. The most rudimentary is the journey from conflict to resolution. The players can be almost anyone or anything. The conflict can be internal.
Conflict sets up a desire to find resolution, provided we find the conflict relevant. I think that this is why the most effective testimonial videos begin with, “When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure it was for me.” We get engaged when we relate to that moment of indecision, that moment of conflict.

2. The Unexpected

Story can foil two areas of our brain that keep our messages from getting through.
Pierre Paul Broca discovered the part of the brain just in front of your left ear that stores shortcuts for information. Most notably, the shortcut for the familiar and known is to ignore the input.
When Broca’s area gets stimulated by the unfamiliar, it reaches out to an are of the brain discovered by Carl Wernicke. This part of the brain associates what we see and hear with our memories to give meaning to them.

3. Resolution

Resolution is the moral of the story. It’s the destination in which conflict is put in perspective and we can rest knowing we have seen the end.
If the message is relevant – like a story – Wernicke’s area tells Broca to pay attention. The resolution cannot be predictable. It cannot be irrelevant.
The following video doesn’t tell a story in the way we think of stories. However, it includes the unexpected, a conflict and a resolution. It contains the basic arc of a story in a non-traditional way.

Unexpected + Relevant = Salient
Broca is clearly woken up at seeing sets of twins dressed identically, sitting in a large room with wires running out in front of them. Wernicke becomes interested when the conflict is setup.
Chewing gum may not have a social stigma attached to it after all. Really?
This video uses humor to drive to the resolution, in which we learn that 73% of surveyed preferred the gum chewers.

4. The Brand or Product is a Character in the Story

This is hard. How do you cast your product or brand in a role in your video? It isn’t enough to be the sponsor if you want the story to be associated with the business.
Beldent does this in it’s Almost Identical video above. The product makes a brief appearance, but it is a crucial one. The gum makes the test possible.
The product doesn’t always have to make an appearance, but needs a role. The Chrysler 300 has a supporting role in the following Vine, but it is the device that makes the conflict – and thus the resolution – possible.

Let the 300 HP of the Chrysler 300 do the talking w/ Kenzie Nimmo . #300Seconds

5. There is a Way To Continue Participation

A clear call to action and a way to continue participating is key to successful videos.
Here is a story video with all of the elements we’ve discussed.

The Unexpected occurs when Ken tells us that he paints on paper towels.
The Conflict is setup when Ken tells us that he doesn’t have much “runway” and is in competition with his famous father.
The Resolution is provided by the makers of Bounty when they setup an art showing in Chelsea.
Bounty clearly plays a role in this video as canvass for Ken’s work.
Finally, it is clear that the makers of Bounty wants us to continue sharing about this on Facebook. There is a hint that there might be more stories to explore.
I think the folks at Bounty produced a beautiful story, but it’s missing a final element.

6. Something to Cement the Story into Memory

Emotion, Humor, Twists, Anticipation: these are the things that will cement the story into memory.
Beldent used humor to cement it’s message.
Bounty tried to use sentimentality to bring the emotion.
iNature Skincare’s Comfortable video delivers on this level, with a twist, humor and the kind of optimism we can only learn from children.

What is Missing?

If the Comfortable video delivers on the emotional component, why was it not more successful for the sponsoring brand?

If any element is missing, a video may not deliver success to the brand or product.

If any element is missing, a video may not deliver success to the brand or product.

In my opinion, the Comfortable video failed its sponsor by not including the brand as a character. In the story of the woman who struggled with acne and eczema (1:14), would an iNature product have been too obvious? Perhaps.
The other element missing is the call to action. iNature gets a thank you from the filmmaker, and their website is listed.

iNature Skincare didn't have a strong call to action.

iNature Skincare didn’t have a strong call to action.

However, this link is not clickable. The call to action “Check them out here:” doesn’t tie back to the film. iNature is a sponsor, not a character in the play.

What are Your Favorite Video Stories

We all can relate to the journey from conflict to resolution. Tell us in the comments which videos you like that contain the six elements:

  • The Unexpected starts the ball rolling.
  • Conflict is necessary.
  • Resolution is desired by our brains.
  • The brand or product should be a Character.
  • The viewer should be given a say to Continue Their Interaction.
  • Emotion, Humor, Anticipation, Twists cement the experience in the mind.


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