6 Landing Page Video Worst Practices to Avoid (And What to Do Instead)

Landing page video
Get fewer conversions now with garbage landing page videos. We’ll show you how! Image by Georgejmclittle via Shutterstock.
Psst! Aaron Orendorff will be speaking at our upcoming Call to Action Conference in June. Get your tickets here!

Not all landing page videos are created equal.

Some are nausea inducing. Others, “heartbreaking works of staggering genius.” (A.k.a. they convert like wildfire.)

Consider the facts:

And given how powerful video is in the online conversion process, “best practice” articles are everywhere…

But this is not one of them.

Instead, here is a list of worst practices. So you know what to avoid.

Why?

Because it’s easy to screw up your conversions with video and waste enormous amounts of time and money in the process.

With that in mind, let’s dive into six ways to make landing page videos that suck… and exactly what you should be doing instead.

1. Don’t educate

As stressed above, videos are one of the most effective tools to propel people toward that conversion.

But there’s a catch.

When Wyzowl surveyed over 230 companies for their State of Video Marketing 2016 study, 72% of respondents reported that video “improved the conversion rate of their website.” That’s up from 57% last year.

However, when those same companies were asked, “What is the primary reason you use video?” a mere 23% actually answered to “increase conversions.”

By a landslide, the number one reason was to “educate customers.” And though this finding applies to websites in general and not just landing pages, it does provide a key insight: A high-converting video is one that’s focused on meeting people’s real needs (i.e., educating them)… not on converting them.

The difference is subtle, but has huge implications. If your goal is to simply “get the click,” your video will reflect that. It’ll inevitably be about you and your product, you and your service, you and your email list, you and your social media account, you and your…

You get the idea.

If you want your landing page video to suck, then don’t educate your audience.

If you want it to shine, then teach your audience something valuable.

Sticker Mule, for instance, takes an educational approach with its video:

Sticker Mule video

In less than a minute, Sticker Mule subtly creates demand by presenting its “transfer” stickers — also known as “vinyl-cut stickers or vinyl lettering” — as a medium for your most intricate designs.

Namely, Sticker Mule educates its audience about how “after one year of research and testing [its] developed a one-of-a-kind process” that not only reduces cost but makes application easy. As pointed out, you “Simply remove the backing, set it on the surface, rub it, and then slowly pull the transfer tape off to reveal your design.”

In other words, Sticker Mule teaches its audience exactly how to use the product, with an emphasis on simplicity and durability. And as Sticker Mule CEO Anthony Thomas told me, “After adding this video to our website, we saw our conversion rate go up by 17%.”

This same fundamental principle lies behind Unbounce’s new series, The Landing Page Sessions.

Landing Page Sessions page

The videos are about how to use landing pages to capture leads… and not only is there a call to action on the page itself (“Send me new episodes”) but also the videos capture leads using Wistia’s Turnstile email collector. (I’ll say more about CTAs in point four.)

For now, here’s a snapshot of the latest numbers for The Landing Page Sessions:

LPS stats

Even more impressive than views, however, are the conversions. When the first video was less than a month old, Wistia reported, “Thus far, with three released episodes, [the] campaign’s videos have received over 3,000 views and captured over 600 email addresses.

2. Don’t make it simple

If you want your landing videos to suck, then go for complexity.

Complexity can take many shapes: technical complexity, messaging complexity, production complexity…

Consider telaFirm, the now out-of-business telephone verification service:

Notice the jargon-heavy language in response to the question, “How do I get started?”: “Verification is easy for you and your customer. telaFirm’s service is integrated into your existing website via a convenient, platform-independent API.”

In addition, instead of focusing on a single problem, a single solution and therefore a single call to action, the video attempts to pack an explanation of all telaFirm’s services into 2:22. For instance, at 1:28 they introduce “PhoneTrace,” and again rely on unnecessarily complex and technical language: “Another telaFirm advantage is the optional ability to detect and block VOIP numbers through our PhoneTrace solution …”

While initially seductive — especially if you’re going for depth — complexity is a conversion killer. It confuses, overwhelms, dilutes value and doesn’t give your audience a compelling reason to act.

The antidote is simplicity.

And this is true across the board. After surveying more than 7,000 consumers and interviewing hundreds of marketing executives and other experts globally, Harvard Business Review discovered that what makes consumers sticky — “that is, likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly, and recommend it to others” — is one common characteristic:

We looked at the impact on stickiness of more than 40 variables, including price, customers’ perceptions of a brand, and how often consumers interacted with the brand. The single biggest driver of stickiness, by far, was “decision simplicity” — the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. What consumers want from marketers is, simply, simplicity.

The king of video simplicity is Dropbox. Here’s exactly what its first landing page looked like:

Dropbox video
Taking it back. Way back. Image via Wayback Machine.

What’s more, the original explainer video used wasn’t fancy at all:

As TechCruch drove home back in 2011:

The video is banal, a simple three-minute demonstration of the technology as it is meant to work, but it was targeted at a community of technology early adopters … If you’re paying attention, you start to notice that the files he’s moving around are full of in-jokes and humorous references that were appreciated by this community of early adopters.

Drew [Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox] recounted, “It drove hundreds of thousands of people to the website. Our beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 people literally overnight. It totally blew us away.”

Fast forward to today and DropBox’s videos are still just as simple — if not more. Now its videos focus more on the customers and how the product itself can simplify their lives with organization, connectivity and storage.

In other words, where telaFirm focuses on the features, Dropbox zeroes in on the benefits.

But what if you have a particularly complex industry or product?

Don’t fret. Even complex ideas can be put into simple terms, especially if you use video.

Take Choozle’s video for example, whose advanced digital advertising tool is explained using simple imagery, focusing on the main benefits and — of course — starting with the pain point and addressing how the company resolves it.

To ensure your video keeps it simple, ask yourself:

  • Am I zeroing in on the benefits rather than the features?
  • If I do include features, is the language easy to understand for a complete outsider?
  • Are there any technical terms that I need to explain… or cut entirely?
  • Does my video center on one problem, one solution and one call to action?

3. Don’t tell a story

The worst thing to do is build your video around your product.

This is profoundly counterintuitive, especially when you consider the videos featured above. But, as Drew Houston explained regarding Dropbox:

To the casual observer, the Dropbox demo video looked like a normal product demonstration, but we put in about a dozen Easter eggs that were tailored for the Digg audience. References to Tay Zonday and ‘Chocolate Rain’ and allusions to Office Space and XKCD. It was a tongue-in-cheek nod to that crowd, and it kicked off a chain reaction. Within 24 hours, the video had more than 10,000 Diggs.

The point is that Dropbox’s landing page video had a host of connection points that resonated with the story its target audience already identified with. This is exactly why the Easter eggs worked. The references and allusions were tailored to reach the company’s target audience by calling subtle attention to the message: “Dropbox is just like you. We love the same things you love. Our story is your story.”

But, how do you create a compelling story when time is of the essence?

To create a compelling story, you need four ingredients: a goal, a hero, a problem and a supporter. The following graphic is a simplified version of what’s known as the Hero’s Journey or the Fairy Tale Model from Storytelling: Branding in Practice:

Storytelling

But what does this look like in an actual landing page video?

Take a look at GetResponse’s introduction to email marketing:

First, the goal or mission: In order to grow, online business need to “build and maintain relationships with people interested in its product or service.”

Second, the hero: The business owners themselves.

Third, the obstacle: Spending money to get visitors only to have them “scroll, click, leave, and never come back.” The video also includes two other common obstacles: lack of time and lack of expertise. However, every obstacle is framed as an obstacle to the original mission.

Fourth, the supporter: Notice that GetResponse is not the hero. Instead, the business owner is the protagonist (at the risk of sounding like a freshman English professor). GetResponse’s only role is to help guide the hero toward the solution, and that’s exactly how each feature is presented — not as an abstract function, but as a key benefit to move the hero toward the original goal.

4. Don’t have a compelling CTA

Compelling CTAs are the holy grail of landing pages… the same is true for video.

The truth is you can have the most educational, story-driven and downright enjoyable landing page video, but without a click-worthy CTA, it’s all for nothing.

To start, your video’s CTA should align not only with the content of the video itself, but also with the landing page. This doesn’t just mean being consistent. More importantly, it means being singular. Naturally, you can have more than one button. But make sure every button has the same driving outcome, and make it incredibly clear what you want the user to do is also at the top of the list.

This is where design principles come in, namely what Oli calls the attention ratio. He explains that an effective landing page should have one goal and just one way to get there. This increases the chances of your lead taking your desired action.

So, what’s this mean for your landing page video? Only give your audience one option. Eliminate all else.

You can use your videos as creative calls to action that promote your best content, guide leads along the buyer’s journey, gain subscribers, bring viewers to your website and even gather their contact information.

To do this, there are essentially two approaches available: off-video CTA and in-video CTA.

Off-video CTA

For the first approach, take a look at Wistia’s landing page. The central goal is to drive leads to request a demo. The team uses their landing page video as a supportive resource to provide educational information, as well as to offer a push toward their goal of getting those demo requests. However, be wary of not using a contrasting color for your CTA, like the one below.

Wistia video
Watch the video. Request a demo. Image via Wistia.

Here’s another great example that includes using a full form right next to the video as a way to unlock it:

Unwebinar landing page
Check out that sexy directional cue. Image via Unbounce.

In-video CTA

For the second approach, you can experiment with adding CTAs within your videos as gates.

Gating your video before it starts will pre-screen leads. Are they actually interested in viewing your video? Or are they just meandering around the web? Using a gate in the middle of your video is like giving them a teaser and then asking, “Want more?” Gating at the end of video will mean you’ve already qualified a viewer’s interest, so you have the opportunity to push them deeper into the sales funnel with more force.

While the video itself isn’t on a landing page but rather a microsite, Unbounce took this approach by adding a gate to its first Landing Page Sessions video at the two-minute mark using Wistia’s Turnstile:

LPS gate
Excuse me, do you want more? Image via Unbounce.

As for landing pages, Wistia employed this method and tested an off-video CTA (A) against an in-video CTA (B):

Wistia A
Off-Video CTA (A). Image via Wistia.
Wistia B
In-Video CTA (B). Image via Wistia.

Who won?

The off-video version (A) converted at 6%, which is pretty impressive. However, the in-video version (B) dominated, yielding an 11% conversion rate for “the same sample traffic.” That’s an 83.3% increase.

Whatever method you choose, in the end, your CTA is the golden lever to your conversions. It’s what ultimately prompts your visitor to deliver themselves unto the heaven that is your product. So make sure you make it clear, easy and relevant.

5. Don’t pay attention to the page design

Another huge conversion killer is investing all your time and energy in one amazing video… but ignoring how it appears and functions on the page.

So how do you build an effective video landing page and not just an effective landing page video?

First, keep the design simple and consistent. Do this by matching the font, color scheme and overall feel of the page to the video itself.

Next, make the video the hero by using size as its dominating factor. Size is perceived as relative to importance, so naturally, if you want your audience to watch the video, make it the most prominent element on the landing page.

As Oli Gardner puts it in his ebook on attention-driven design:

Simply stated: The bigger something is, the more noticeable it is. Size is related to Dominance, but the difference is that Size is relative to everything on the page — or page section, as opposed to its proximal relatives. Hence, the largest thing on the page can be perceived as the most important.

CrazyEgg’s previous landing page is a phenomenal example of this principle in action:

Crazy Egg page

What’s more, Neil Patel reported that video drove “an extra $21,000 a month in new income.”

6. Don’t disable autoplay

Enabling autoplay is like forcing your way into your visitors’ world… without their permission.

It’s no secret that video-marketing experts Maneesh Garg, Sarah Nochimowski and Maneesh Garg all hate autoplay. And when Ask Your Target Market posed the question, “What do you think about videos that play automatically on sites like Facebook and Instagram?” the results were clear:

Autoplay
So much hate for autoplay. Image via AYTM.

Admittedly, those number apply more directly to social media. But the sentiments behind them are nearly universal.

Full-stack marketing agency KlientBoost has a whole list of landing page video commandments, the first being “Do. Not. Autoplay. (Or Thou Shalt Be Smited).”

Autoplay is intrusive. It’s pushy. And nobody likes to have to unexpectedly scramble for the volume knob. Resist the urge to overwhelm your audience with the video that you’re excited about showing. Disable autoplay and instead make your play button obvious and prominent.

Make your landing page video suck…

There you have it.

Six surefire ways to make sure your landing page video sucks:

  1. Don’t educate.
  2. Don’t make it simple.
  3. Don’t tell a story.
  4. Don’t have a compelling CTA.
  5. Don’t pay attention to the page design.
  6. Don’t disable auto-play

Of course, if you would like to make landing page videos that convert like wildfire… might I suggesting doing the exact opposite.

If you have your own examples of landing page videos that suck (or some that don’t), be sure to share them in the comments.

Landing Page Video Webinar

http://fast.wistia.com/static/concat/iframe-api-v1.js

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Manager @ New Jersey Animal & Pest Control Specialists..
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