I’ve noticed a recent trend with respect to video being used on websites. Often I will visit a home page and almost as soon as the page opens, a video — usually a commercial — begins playing.
My automatic reaction is to frantically look around to see how I can turn the darn thing off.
When I go to a website, I’m looking for information. Video is too slow! I have to sit there and look at pictures and listen.
A regular Web page allows me to scan headlines and images quickly to see if the site has the information I need and should I stay and explore more.
Think about it. Your website is the next best thing to someone walking into your store. What do you do when someone walks through your doors? Do you shove a TV monitor in front of them and blare a commercial?
Of course not! You smile and say, “May I help you?”
For most commercial websites that’s the attitude you need to have with your visitors.
Some people are trying to turn their entire website into video.
Recently, I saw a fellow on a television business channel who was very knowledgeable and down-to-earth. I was very interested in purchasing one of his books.
So I went to my computer and googled his name. The search results yielded his website and I eagerly clicked on it. (Yes, I really was eager to buy one of his books! That’s often the attitude of anyone who is looking for something on the Web.)
When his home page opened up, the only thing on the page was a video box with some impressive art around it to make it look like a stage and bigger.
The video began playing without me clicking on it. The man was standing on a stage talking and pointing downward to links, which took us to other pages with more videos of him standing on a stage talking. Granted there was also some very jazzy music to go with it.
When I went to the author’s link, I was discouraged because there was another video that launched explaining that he wrote books. I knew that already.
There were small icons of his books, but the titles were small and hard to read. When I clicked on the icons the links weren’t working. I clicked off the site without buying any books.
Now for this article, I’ve gone back and looked at the site again. It really isn’t that bad once you get used to it. The problem is that for most first time visitors, if they are at all discouraged, they don’t come back.
Remember, the person using the computer is in an “active” state of mind. He’s on the hunt. Your site’s job is to help him find his quarry — your product or service.
Video requires your visitor to switch from an active mode to a passive mode, which may not be the best thing to get a lead or sale.
When you do have a video well worth viewing, such as a how-to video, put it on your Web page with an enticing headline. Let the visitor decide if he wants to watch it.
Then when he takes the time to click it and wait for it to load, he has a moment to shift his state of mind from active-hunter to passive-receptor.
Because the possibilities for various ways of using videos are endless, there may be times when it’s a good idea to have a video automatically start playing on a particular page.
In that case, I recommend testing pages to see if they convert better with or without the video.
You can test by running a page for a time with the video starting up automatically and for a time when the visitor has to click on it.
Track how many conversions, leads, or subscriptions you get with each method. Then you’ll know for sure which works best.
As with anything you do on your website, it’s important to think things through. Don’t just do something because it’s flashy and you can do it.
Think about whether it makes sense for your business? Does it help?
Most of all, will it help convert your visitors to leads and/or customers?
(© 2011 Katherine Andes)