Pros and Cons of a Homepage Background Video
It is clear that video is highly engaging and increases conversions.
► Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.
► Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.
► 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
► 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
► 59% of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post.
Now the question we’ll try to answer today is: should you put a background video on your store’s homepage, in the hero section above the fold?
Food Blogger increased their conversion rate by 138% by adding a background video, but as I read the article, I came across this:
“I don’t think the video stuff is the reason why this page converted better than the original. It’s actually possible that the video has a negative impact on the conversion rate (because it takes so long to load the page). It’s impossible to know for sure without testing, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Then, I was having a conversation in the Online Genuises Slack channel with a designer, and he pointed me to this article by popular video solution Wistia: 6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Have an Autoplaying Homepage Video.
- It slows down a page that needs to be speedy (the homepage)
- An asynchronous video load is still problem because the placeholder for the video is blank for a few seconds
- It increases cognitive load if the video is fast-paced and distracting
- It makes watching the video the main call to action (CTA)
- It didn’t work well for Wistia (screenshot), with a 7% decrease in sign-ups and a 4% worse exit rate.
- It makes a homepage not a homepage. The purpose of the homepage is to send visitors off as efficiently as possible in the direction of their choice. Video works against this goal.
And then they mention an important exception: when videos are just slow-moving images, and don’t distract the user’s focal attention away from the CTA.
Now the irony is that this article was written in 2016, and they since put a new autoplay background video. But notice how it is well integrated in the hero section, with the same background color. And it is NOT a fast-moving video that distracts the visitor and makes it hard to read the headline.
Toggl did something strangely similar with their homepage. One might think one copied the other 🙂 The key difference is that Toggl’s video does not loop.
Story & Heart used a neat silent autoplay video with timelapses, but it is indeed distracting us a bit from the CTA buttons – and the colors in the video don’t always contrast well with the white text and white button.
If you sell one main product, an autoplay background video could work well for you. See cheese wrapping product Formaticum for inspiration. According to GTMetrix, their site loads in 4.6 seconds, but you have to admit that it looks great and it clearly explains in a few seconds what their product is about. Notice that the mobile version also has a background video.
After doing some more research, I came across this article by Unbounce that states:
“We’ve been experimenting with video backgrounds for a while now. What we see is a tendency for video backgrounds to work well on landing pages where the goal is to communicate a certain ‘vibe’ or ‘feeling”
The article is about landing pages, and a homepage has a different purpose. The goal of the homepage is not to convert, like a landing page, but rather to lead the visitor to the right category or product.
That said, some of the same rules do apply:
- Set up a split test and measure the impact on conversions. Start by segmenting a small portion of traffic. Don’t assume that it will or will not work for your site. Keep in mind that producing a video comes with a certain price tag, so you’ll have to decide whether it is potentially worth it for you or not.
- Do not use a background video when there’s a complex sales offer at stake
- Avoid major distractions – The video background content should always support the overall goal of the page
- Aim for a strong light/dark contrast between the video background and the copy
- A 5-10 second video loop is enough
- Mute the audio – let viewers turn on the sound when they’re ready and remove visual controls
Overall, videos on the homepage could go either way. On one hand, it may distract the customer, increase loading time, and take away from what a homepage is meant for. On the other hand, it could engage your customer, giving them a glimpse of your product and urging them to go ahead and buy it. When it comes down to it, you have to test it out for yourself and see how your customers respond.
Have you implemented a background video on your homepage? If not, what is holding you back?