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5 Way Ecommerce Sites can Use Videos to Improve Customer Journey

An interview with Mario Russo

For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt hosted Mario Russo, Founder and Web Dev Lead at W3 Digital Marketing. Mario decodes the strategy of increasing conversion and enhancing the customer journey through videos. Watch now to strike a chord with your target audience.

The most important thing is to know whom you’re selling to because if you don’t, you’ll just spend your money on something that won’t make a difference to your website or results.

Mario Russo
Founder and Web Dev Lead at W3 Digital Marketing
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of Ecoffee with Experts. On today's show, I have with me Mario Russo. Mario is the founder and web dev lead at W3 Digital Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency specializing in paid search marketing for E-commerce and video production. Using his 15-plus years of experience, he enjoys helping small, medium, and large businesses to improve and grow their online presence. He specializes in finding creative solutions to business owners' problems when trying to grow their website traffic and online presence. Mario, thank you for coming to the show today.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

It's a pleasure having you here. So we're going to discuss how E-commerce sites can use video to improve the customer journey, including a proven strategy to boost conversions. In your experience, how can video be used to improve that customer journey on E-commerce sites?

So yeah, that came to us as we had a client they would have access to, and many people would go to their website. And as we found out that the customers weren’t the regular customers that would shop online, we would need to like kind of guide them through the buying process on the website. And we started with like; “How to Buy” videos, and then we found out that would be a great option that you can also use as a marketing tool on your social media channels, YouTube, Facebook, and all that stuff so because people would assume everyone knows how to behave in online shopping. Even though it’s very common, many people can get easily distracted and lost throughout the process. So, we started using video as a guiding sales tool, which will come up in our talk here. But it was a way of convincing people to buy through video on product specifics and stuff like this. I always start by getting people comfortable with how your website works. I know most websites have the same flow, but sometimes it’s nice to be like, Oh, on the checkout process, this happens. We use this checkout tool because we found that it’s safer for you and stuff like this. And this all helps a lot, like increasing your conversion on their website.

You're using videos to show them how to buy stuff on the website. I had to demonstrate what it's like to buy something and go through that process so that they know what to expect and how to do it?

Yes, that is one of the tools that would increase conversion rates. We would reach websites lower than 1% on conversions, to go to 6 and 7%.

That is significant.

And it would change based on the niches. It tends to be more effective when you have a product that sells to the older public; the older audience is not as used to online shopping as the younger generation. Also, one thing when you’re producing or creating your video because you can use it on multiple platforms would be understanding who is buying your product. That would make a difference in how you create that kind of video. We have several types of videos that you can do. There is one that we call “How to buy”. It goes through the journey in a website demonstration so people can see it. We don’t use that much inside the website. It’s more on social media, YouTube, and stuff like this. So that people get more comfortable buying stuff. This is a longer video. And then you have “Product demonstration”, people feel more confident when they see things, because you can have several testimonials in writing, and people never know if that person exists. Suppose you have people talk to you on video.

Doing video testimonials.

The video creates more of a connection. Also, FAQ videos help a lot. So those types of videos can help on the customer journey.

So you've touched on so many things. So you use -How videos, like how to buy, to increase conversions from 1% to 6%. You touched on just briefly product demonstrations. Can you tell me about them? Where do they come in? How long?

Yeah, so product demos are very good videos for the product page itself. But it has a trick to it. So the buyer from the buying journey gets distracted very easily. So one thing for the product demo, it must be a video that you cannot click and go outside of that page. So, that’s one thing. It needs to be a short video showing that specific product’s main features.

Well, you were saying that it shouldn't be where they can, sorry to interrupt you, but you said they shouldn't be where they can click to go somewhere else. So that does that mean if you had a WooCommerce website, and you can create a tab, you know, the tabs underneath different tabs and put a video tab there. Should you host the video on a platform other than YouTube or your hosting platform so that people can't click elsewhere, and you can only have a call to action at the end of the video for what you want them to do?

That’s a good idea; if you have the infrastructure to host the video would be the best one. Because then you can preload the video, it doesn’t have the loading time, which improves the user experience. But you can also have the like; for example, if you host on YouTube that video, you just make sure you use the embed feature of YouTube without the see on YouTube option and all those options. So it doesn’t distract people by clicking to go from your page elsewhere. Because what do you want is them to click the “Buy Now” right? So if you can go like, for example, some platforms, you said WooCommerce has some plugins that you can put the video inside the image options like the image rotation of the product so that people can see that video. You can even put like on the end of the video, like usually the short video from like 30 seconds less than a minute people won’t spend that much time looking at a video on an E-commerce website. But it also depends on the product and how much you need to display that product. For example, if you’re selling lenses, let’s say some specific lenses like the…

Camera lens, you mean?

Yeah, let’s say for a camera or lenses you put on mobile phones for better pictures. In those videos, you want to show what the result with the lens is like comparing stuff so people can see what they are going to get. On the other hand, as I talk, one of our customers is Attashta, a Martial Art gear seller. You were selling a boxing glove. So, if you just show the feature, it’s not easy to show how it fits. You’re going to say it fits very well. It has this hook that doesn’t matter how big your wrist is, so you show how they have those specific features. If it’s more demonstrable, like lenses or something else, you can show it, depending on how deep you want to go. In some videos, you can, if, for example, a glove, you want to show the inside material; I don’t see that being as much as a deal maker or deal breaker because people don’t care about what is inside the glove. But you can cut it open and show the material. We tend to put short, direct videos showing features on product pages. It doesn’t need to be someone talking about it. It’s good to have someone talking about it because it gives that feeling of more knowledge, authority, and relationship with the customer. But it can be just a feature video, where you have close-ups of specific, like, for example, a shirt. If that shirt has something specific, you show some close-ups; you’ll have those tipping arrows pulling out with whatever it is. Stuff that it’s unique to that product. And then at the end, like after 30 seconds or I usually recommend staying under one minute, because nowadays people are used to short videos. So, it doesn’t have to be a crazy big video.

So, less than a minute and break up the videos into longer videos, longer subjects, or if you want the video to be longer, just break it up. In other words, instead of putting 20 questions in a 20-minute video, make 20 videos that are one minute long?

That would keep the customer’s attention. And thinking of conversion, you can put the long video on YouTube showing everything, and then on your website, you only have this specific one. Then at the end of that video, you can have the call to action, like shop now or buy.

Those sorts of things in group conversions, putting those kinds of call to action and buttons at the end of a video?

Yes, usually they do. I would say a video without a call to action convert 20% less than a video with a call to action. So it’s like everything; every little bit improves your ranking. Some people do; we can also do it; you create a product video. And then do a demo video, like, for example, the How to Shop one. You make a short version for that product-specific. Then you can convert to what some people call gifs. Some people call it jif; I don’t know.

I don't know either; however, if you prefer, you can.

You can convert that to Gif, and you can embed that on the email marketing campaign. And then people will see the flow and also the product. When they click, they come up to the product page with the last action, buying now, buy the item. So it’s kind of like a mental trigger, which is the one thing that I always bring. When I’m thinking about Digital Marketing, you’re not dealing with technical stuff; you’re not dealing with software; you’re dealing with human behavior. When they step on your website, the conversion rate part is all human behavior on that specific page. So that’s the kind of stuff we try to trigger, and videos than any other thing more trigger most people.

That's amazing. Can non-e-commerce websites for service-based businesses like a plumber or renovation companies use video there?

Yeah, we are tied more to E-commerce stuff, but it can be done to anything. For example, I used a video for one of my customers that we did some local SEO for, and they were a fitness club. So I said, why don’t we do a long video showing the fitness club. Because for people to sign up, they have to walk through; they want to learn and want to know. So you have to remember that all your competition is one click away online. You need to get those people to your website with a feeling that they know that they want to be on your website. So sometimes watching a video on YouTube and going to your website or watching a video on Facebook or whatever. This is where it seems most people spend their time online on those platforms. So you bring something in mind that they have already seen on your website. The rebuttal for that, people say it’s just like, oh, I don’t want to show everything online because I want people to come in so I can convince them to do the deal. And I say, yes, but if they don’t see you, they might not come in.

The more you tell, the more you sell.

That’s one thing. Then for them, we use, for example, they had personal trainers on there that were registered on their fitness club. So we did some videos with those specific personal trainer’s interviews, and then we realized that people would come and say, I want to talk to that specific personal trainer. So the other personal trainer would say, oh, I want a video too. So that kind of stuff. And all that was online, and people were looking for them. You use that as more of a marketing than just a conversion tool because you don’t want them again, one time to reach out or come to the door. But you don’t know which conversion you’re going to get from that. People can call, people can come to the door. People can just watch the video, for example, one specific workout; they have a specific machine there for that specific exercise, which is not very common in other fitness places. Why don’t we do that and show that you have that specific one here, right? So then they showed that in the video. People tend to think nowadays it is a lot cheaper to make videos, but people also think they have to spend time because you can’t just get your phone and record. You need some small production to make a very different and better video. You can do it with your phones; that doesn’t matter. So they say I’m going to spend too much and put a video somewhere, and tomorrow nobody’s going to see it. But it sits there, and people keep watching. So one thing I always say is, think about three days from now; if you post the same thing again, it’s a brand new video because people forgot what happened two days ago. Keep that on your website so people are more familiar with that subject. You want people to go back, and as you said, like a plumber or service provider that would go to your house and fix things, it would help. I don’t have much experience, but I would say, for example, lawyers, you always want to know who will come to your house, right? So if you see them promoting some of their services or explaining what they would do when they come up to your house or how you get a quote from their website, you get the feeling that you already know that person. It’s easier for you to contact them for that specific service. So videos are a great tool for any digital or online business, like most of them today.

You give a demonstration video explanation of how you do quotes. Or, even if you have a quote tool, you could give a video demonstration of the quote tool and how it spits out the info. Interesting. So coming back to E-commerce, you talked about videos improving conversion rates. So now, what's your process for determining what types of videos are needed regarding where conversions are falling off? Do you map out the entire funnel process of the customer journey to determine at what point conversions are dropping off? And do you use event tracking to track events to know in the E-commerce journey where conversions have fallen off to see even tracking videos with event tracking and seeing if the videos are being played and watched? And how much is being watched? Is that a part of your process?

The biggest process starts; everything starts with the bounce rate. If it’s bouncing everywhere, this starts with people not even going through your website; you need to convince them of something. But it starts with the bounce rate; then you go to each important event in the final part. You can create specific videos; for example, one very common thing is people get to your checkout page and don’t finish. They don’t close the sales. Usually, we have two main reasons for shipping, which we can’t do anything about like shipping is shipping. So each website has its shipping, and that’s a business decision. And the other one is they don’t feel confident that that page or that website, that checkout part, is secure for them. They don’t see something that is secure. Sometimes, explaining why the checkout process takes those specific steps is a good reason. So you can put a trigger on the checkout when they hit that page. Suppose their mouse goes towards closing or back. In that case, it triggers that video, telling or explaining to them, like, Wait, before you go, instead, Oh, get a deal or something this, if it’s an explanatory video, or sometimes you can convince people to check out who is interested. Or you can even trigger them to like, if you have any doubts, below the video, you have a small video window, and below the video have a small form and say, let us help you close this deal or what is bothering you? Because most people want to get their doubts in here taken care of. And they don’t want to like they don’t want to be scared of doing something. So, for example, one reader that had that happen before when we had like most people would need if you click Live, let’s say like, shop with PayPal, we will be redirected to PayPal stuffing mold. Some people are not as familiar with PayPal or something like this. And then like the gift before they leave because after they were redirected, we can do nothing. But before they click pay to PayPal, or if they leave the page, you will show a video saying, you know why we use it for payment processing? We use it because it’s safe and secure. There you have, you can have a button on that.

So when they abandon because you can abandon and return to the website. They abandoned paying through PayPal, and you returned the website button. Do you return them to a page that tells you why you use PayPal?

You can have two triggers, one if they go back to the website through that return to website button, and you can have one if they are on the checkout page. If they don’t click the pay with PayPal button, go through, and leave the page. Before they leave, you can have a pop-up and show that triggering a video.

There are two ways to use Pay Pal. You can embed it right into your process. So there it's hidden. I understand.

We had one for bigger items, and you need to quote the shipping. They need to quote the shipping because they were big and heavy items or custom items. So they would get to the checkout part. And on the checkout would say we will contact you for the shipping price and stuff like this. So they would pay for the products, but the shipping would come after. That’s something like a business decision that they wouldn’t change on the business side.

Yeah, because you can easily tell them calculate the shipping using, like, there's no need to.

We tried everything. But it was just, let’s say, a poor decision.

It is a poor business decision. So wasted time, resources, and money.

Yeah, so we would say on that specific product when we would have a big drop off on cart abandon. So, one thing that we found out was probably because of the shipping part. So we started saying, We triggered a video on that page when they would leave or close the checkout part. And the video would say like, Oh, are you worried about the shipping part? Because they know that they came from that product, this trigger is a specific video for that product. Are you worried about the shipping costs? We had a really small script. I think it was less than 30 seconds and at the end of the video, give us a call and we’ll proceed with your order and let you know what we can do and stuff like this. And they started closing more of those specific sales because of that video.

Because then people would sometimes call and say, Oh, I’m on your checkout page. But I don’t want to pay high shipping later and stuff like this. It makes sense, right? You’ll buy something for $300, and then they call you and say shipping is 800 or whatever. Then you need to go through the cancel process and all that. So this is kind of stuff, the specific ones. We can work with the funnel, with triggers; we work with all that stuff. And then you have the most general ones who would say, which is just like product description, and this stuff we won’t have too much like analyzing all those data of abandon or funnel. Because that’s just like showing the product, and those are the two ways we decide which video we will do. One thing is, sometimes the problem comes to you, right? So if people go to a website that has a chat feature, and they get too many questions about how do I do this? How do I do that?

Oh, video, then make a video about it.

Yeah, for example, clothing websites. People care a lot about the sizing, right? So make sure you display how that size fits some specific person or where you get the sizing because sometimes it’s in a tab that nobody sees. So if you have a video explaining that, it is easier for people to find it before they get to your website. That’s one thing that’s great about videos. It can be used inside your website to help the next step. But you can also use, as I said, like on email campaigns as a gift, or videos increase the click rate on emails if you have the big thumb there and people click to watch the video somewhere.

Oh, a video thumbnail with a picture. Thumbnail of the video with a play button on it.

Yes. So people tend to click and watch like they are curious about it. Always have help on the conversion, on increasing your traffic.

For a business to do this, they would need to have a huge budget, I'm thinking. For instance, I cant tell you how many websites I've come across for small businesses where there is no event tracking set up to be heard of. So I'm assuming to do this, they would need to have some kind of metrics set up besides Google Analytics installed on their script, just put on the website. There has to be some implementation of marketing KPIs, website KPIs, event tracking, implementation of that, is that correct?

If you are going to do like, for example, present specific, some general ones will help you anyways, but if you have the tracking part, you can start with the video. Like if you don’t have the tracking, if you are a very small business that only has a basic website and you only want to improve something, improve your count to bring more people in, and create more traction on your web page through video. To start, you don’t need any of that. You will need that if you improve and make very specific event-tracked video content. But you can start as the journey one with; for example, this is what you get from us if you find a person like this or what you will receive at home if you buy. For this, you don’t need the event tracking part. For example, in clothing lines, if you have a line of products, you can do a video of the entire collection, chop off the specific products, and use those on the Product Page. This is more promotional; it is not as targeted for that action. It is not exclusive to big players, with everything set for marketing their business.

One of the common objections I have heard about videos is the cost of it. Do you have any advice on how to produce high-quality videos on a budget?

The main thing with the cost is that you don’t have that many because it takes some time, so you don’t have that many people available with the skills for doing a video. If you plan your video, you can do it with your phone. You can do it on a regular computer with a basic editing tool. Now you can even get editing tools online. How to edit? You can find it on YouTube or through tutorials online.

Do you have some clients that do the whole thing themselves and then provide the video to you, or do you handle the entire process?

No. I have clients that have the videos, and they will ask, how can I use this on my website to improve it? Some people, as I said, for example, the clothing store that happened with a Winnipeg company I had as a client a few years ago. They were a clothing store, and they would do photo shoots of all their stuff that was in fashion. They do a video of their photoshoot. Then they will ask if they can use the video to increase their transactions and stuff, and I will explain that I edit; they had the big video already done. It was not professionally done, but it was a good video. They may have used their phones to do the video because phones now have cameras that can make good quality videos. You may need to add some effects when editing to highlight some stuff. We got their video, chopped each product and asked them to send us three features of each product. Three specific features. I like saying feature arrows; They are like bullet points that come from this. Like, shoot some nice effects that appear and show that specific feature on their clothes. From that big video, I think we created ten small short thirty-second videos to put on their website. We added the call to action feature at the end by editing. That increased their traffic because then people are seen. They say, ok, I am not just buying a regular coat. This coat has this lining.

So you are explaining the features and benefits of videos?

You can put the picture. You can put a description. But sometimes, on the video, because it comes one at a time, It triggers them. One thing that makes a lot of difference, for example, is those stores that sell guns online; almost every gun needs a demo. Because each gun is different, people want to know how they shoot? What’s the sound when it shoots? This always helps with those questions. And you can have a small like, this guy does not have a budget, but he has a small Barber Shop and a small website. The video will not amazingly change his business future but can do like a walk through his salon or barber shop so people will get used to where they are going. They already know in advance where they are going. You can do, for example, the Barbershop, some of them have a schedule, like bookings on their website. Most people that go to a Barbershop want to see where it is and if you have a phone. But if you can have an easy way like, here is how you schedule a time online, you don’t need to call, you don’t need to do anything else.

You show them a video of how they do it? A screen share video. So you are talking about a screen-reporting video?

Yes, and then you can do just a screen recording. You can use a free cam app with a free tool to do the screen recording, then you do a basic edit, which is done if you need to add a call to action subtitle. That’s not hard to do. Then you can get a person to do only the add-ons on the video, which is much cheaper than creating the entire video. People think of the video, they think of a valued production, or they need to do a tv commercial. No, it’s not; it’s just a specific targeted direct thing to solve that problem. The guy goes to the website, and he sees the Barbershop. You can do a pop-up, or you can do a video on the side, book now. Or you can have a small screen recording with instructions, and on each step on that specific website, you can have a short five-second video showing them the next action to take. All these videos help people. Some things that you need to keep in mind are the size of the video; it should be of fair quality image because if it loads with crackhead and pixel and things like this, people will avoid them because that is not a good experience.

So it must be of high resolution and quality? But most phones nowadays will create videos with NFT.

With our technical capacity, even screen recordings are good quality. If you are using a CDN to host everything on your website, it is easier because it will load anyway. If you put everything on your website to rely on unbolding first, you may have issues with this kind of technicalities. But nowadays, you have like HTML video, which is a lot easier. You have YouTube. You can use YouTube, just that I don’t recommend it in private space because you want people to go to your shop now and not there watching 1000s of videos.

So, if not youtube, what platform do you recommend? Do you recommend Vimeo, and are there others that you would recommend?

You can use any video hosting platform. I am not saying I don’t use youtube; Youtube is great. It is our second or first search tool, so it is always good to have your content there. Keep in mind that if you use youtube videos and use them in bad code without any resources like end screen and cards, try removing most of the stuff that you can. Usually, you can, I don’t know about now. It has been a while since I have embedded. You can do so by clicking on the Youtube logo and getting to youtube, so it stays on your page. You can also have them on your server, in different directories of all your videos, and you can preload them in a way that doesn’t; after you load the website, you can start preloading the video for the other pages. But it doesn’t hold the loading through, so it loads the video as you sit watching. You will not have any issues if you do a small video in an HTML-5, mp4, or Ogg format. That will rely on your website infrastructure. The one thing about Youtube videos, as you said, is you can’t control the preload part, so it will only load when you click play, even if autoplay is on. But it’s short videos, though, because we are promoting the idea of short videos.

I know that with Wicia and spotlight, you can host videos on Amazon. You can create your Amazon S3 account with Spotlight and host the videos. Host the videos with data, the actual video being hosted on there. You can put a call to action. I am trying to ask you; I know there was YouTube. I don't know any tool that exists to put the call to action in the video footage. But at the end of the spotlight there is a feature to put a call to action with the click of a button to get them to buy. Have you used tools like that or even to subscribe, a physical button to click?

What I do, is we like using many HTML5 videos, but you can also do that on Youtube. Because it’s hosted there, youtube is like a frame of youtube on your website. You don’t have that much control, so for example, you can use a Javascript function that after you trigger the play, it hits the play, then you can calculate how long it takes, and if it is still on that screen after some time then it just pops up some buy now button.

Or if you trigger it at the end of the video playing with the Javascript function?

With youtube, I never got to trigger the end of the video because the end triggers only inside youtube. But with HTML5 video, I can trigger the end of the video, like when the end plays. Then, you can have a structure on Amazon on AWS. I use AWS because you pay on demand.

Is it expensive?

It can get expensive; you can control that much. But you can have like, even if you have on your website, you can host the videos there; just don’t let your website rely on the video loading because you can get issues.

What are the most important things to consider when creating videos for businesses, including e-commerce businesses?

The most important thing is who you are selling to, like knowing your audience and your target because you can create a specific video. For example, if you sell for the young generation born with a cellphone. You don’t need to show them how to shop online. You don’t need to tell them that. The younger generation is on social media; they are on Tok Tok. So they are used to short videos.

Product demonstration videos. Featured videos, things like that.

Then they would be more triggered with that. The older generation would be more triggered by explanatory videos. Videos that would say “how”. They have more patients to watch a longer video. They would want to know, for example, the checkout part, why do I need this, and why do I need that? That’s the most important thing to know who you are selling to. Because if you don’t, it’s not going to hurt you, but you will just spend money on something that will not change anything on your website or your results.

If you had one takeaway to give to our audience would that be the big takeaway?

Yes, that would be it.

Make sure you know your target audience. That would go as far as creating customer personas and buyer profiles of who you are trying to reach. Many people like to skip that part of the marketing, but that is so important.

We deal with many e-Commerce websites, and sometimes it is hard to explain to a business owner, but that becomes a basic thing in the digital world. What I hear the most is why would I have my e-Commerce if I could sell on Amazon? On Amazon, you have a twenty percent fee. You have a lot of competitors. If on the internet your competition is one click away, right beside you, that’s one thing; the other thing is on Amazon, you are playing their game with their ball and the rest of their friends.

You have no control. You can't even implement it. You can't even track conversions. It's crazy. So many things you can't do.

That’s one thing that I always say, like, that’s one of the advantages of having a video on your website. You can have your products on Amazon if you don’t mind paying their fees and if it helps you, great. That’s amazing, but having some extra features on your website, it’s better because then you can have a better experience there. You are not going to beat the Amazon ship. You need to beat them on other stuff. Out here, I can see better how this product works and stuff like this.

Mario, how can our listeners connect with you online?

They can go to my LinkedIn profile, Mario Russo1, or they can go to my website,w3mkt.com.

Are you active on Twitter or anything else?

I have a Twitter account but am not very active. You can find me there; my username is a wizard, that’s all.

So your website and LinkedIn?

Yes. Or, if you want to interact, the website and LinkedIn is the best way to find me.

Ok. I'll make sure to put those addresses in the show notes. I want to thank you for being on the show. I learned a lot. It was awesome talking about the video.

Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. Great talking to you.

You as well. Have a great day.

You too. Thanks.

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