The Wistia Guide to Generating Leads with Turnstile and Video

Learn where to place your email collector, when to make it skippable, what copy to use, and more.

January 13, 2020

Topic tags

Ezra Fishman

Business Intelligence

Even when you have a fantastic video, you need a way to translate views into leads. Wistia’s customizations allow you to do exactly that.

Using these customizations — Calls to Action, Turnstiles, or Annotation Links — you can start turning viewers into customers, and collecting great audience data along the way. In this guide, we’ll analyze Turnstiles and how different options impact how many people sign up to your email list.

In Wistia, a Turnstile lets you collect viewers' emails and names as they watch your video. It’s a simple pop-up that can appear anywhere in your video, and it integrates directly with your email marketing tool.

To help you make more data-driven decisions, we’ve analyzed over 3.6 million customizations of Wistia-hosted videos — including 130,175 Turnstiles from 324,015 videos — looking at exactly how people are using Turnstiles today, and what sets the best apart from the rest.

Wistia’s customization options

When you open up the Customize panel, you’ll see the options for Annotation links, Call to Action, and Turnstile:

Here’s a closer look at what’s available:

You can customize the text and timing for Turnstiles within the video, give viewers the option to skip and not enter their emails, and set up an integration with your email provider:

The above options create a Turnstile that will appear at the beginning of the video and ask for the viewer’s name and email. It’ll also give them the option to skip and not enter their information:

After they enter the information or hit skip, the video will begin. Easy. As always, you can get all the guidance you need on how to use these actions in our Help Center.

Where to put your Turnstile

Just as with Calls to Action, you have three options for your Turnstile placement: pre-, mid-, or post-roll.

In this way, a Turnstile can be seen as a specific version of a more general Call to Action. Instead of the call to action being to head to a webpage, it’s to enter their information. The positioning of Turnstiles, therefore, has the same pros and cons as with Calls to Action:

  • Pre-roll:
    • Pro: Putting your Turnstile before the video gives you an opportunity to get contact information from each and every viewer (that sticks around).
    • Con: Without having seen the video, the viewer won’t necessarily feel compelled to give you their contact information.
  • Mid-roll:
    • Pro: The exact position of the Turnstile can be adjusted for maximum effect. You’ll be able to engage viewers before asking for their emails.
    • Con: Putting your Turnstile mid-roll interrupts the flow of your video.
  • Post-roll:
    • Pro: Viewers that watched to the end engaged fully with your video and are more likely to be high-quality leads.
    • Con: Fewer people will see your Turnstile when it’s at the very end.

As with Calls to Action, it’s important to balance user experience with conversion goals. So let’s look at what works and what doesn’t.


Our analysis has found that the majority of our customers choose to display their Turnstile post-roll:

The split isn’t quite as substantial as with Calls to Action, where nearly 96% occur post-roll.

Only 46.6% of Turnstiles appear post-roll. 28% of Turnstiles appear mid-roll, and 25.5% appear pre-roll (compared to 4% and 0.1% respectively for Calls to Action).

Conversion rates — how many people saw the Turnstile divided by how many entered their information — are highest for mid-roll Turnstiles by far:

Though post-roll Turnstiles are the most popular choice, they have the lowest conversion rates of all three, with an average conversion rate of 3.05%.

Pre-roll conversion rates fared better with an average conversion rate of 8.49%.

But as with Calls to Action, the highest converting position for a Turnstile is mid-roll, with a conversion rate of 22.17%.

Pre-roll Turnstiles act like traditional gated content. As with an e-book, you ask for an email and then present the content. This will work if the viewer already values the content, but if they don’t know what they’ll be watching beforehand, they are more likely to leave.

Mid-roll Turnstiles are at that sweet spot — you can pique your audience’s interest in the start of the video and then ask for their email to continue watching. If the video is good and you have engaged your audience, they will definitely be willing to give over the information.

Post-roll Turnstiles may have the lowest conversion rates, but all of those people watched right to the end. That’s going to lead to higher quality leads.


In this repair guide from GuideMyTech, you see an email Turnstile 45 seconds into a 6-minute video.

The viewers who watch a whole 45 seconds of this guide to jailbreaking a smartphone are pretty likely to want to see more, sign up, and become interested in other content from the company.


  • Post-roll Turnstiles are the most popular choice for email conversion, are the lowest-converting, but may produce better quality leads for your business.
  • Mid-roll Turnstiles offer the highest conversion, as viewers are already invested in your video and will be willing to give over contact information in order to continue watching.
  • Pre-roll Turnstiles can be powerful when users already know what they’re going to get out of the video and value the content.

To skip or not to skip?

Not everyone wants to give you their email address while they’re watching your video, even if they think it’s awesome. That’s why we give Wistia customers the opportunity to allow their viewers to skip the Turnstile without entering any contact information.

But are customers enabling this feature?

Yes! A whole 78.9% of customers are letting viewers “skip” the Turnstile entirely. This is just good user experience design. Plenty of people skip Turnstiles, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to watch your video and then click through a call to action at the end. Even if they don’t, they’ll leave with a better impression of your company — and be more likely to come back later.

However, allowing customers to skip the Turnstile does have an impact on conversion rates:

In our analysis, conversion rates were almost double when skipping was not an option. When people are forced to give you their email address to watch a video, they are far more likely to comply.

However, a word of caution. This shouldn’t necessarily be seen as an advertisement for forcing people to hand over their emails. Even if people submit their emails, they might not be convinced by the end of the video, and therefore might not be quality leads.

Allowing viewers to skip, but including another CTA towards the end of the video might decrease Turnstile conversions, but increase conversions overall.


This Turnstile from CG Cookie, an online training program for digital artists, shows the high value of the “skip” option.

This Turnstile is placed at the start of the video. Without it, viewers would only have the option of signing up or leaving. With it, CG Cookie gives the audience the option to sign up for “cool Blender related content on occasion” or watch the video. This gives the viewer a more positive impression of the company, leading to a significant portion choosing the sign up option.


  • Requiring viewers to submit their emails will result in higher conversion rates.
  • Allowing viewers to skip will likely leave them with a more positive impression of your company.

Choosing your words carefully

Though you want your video to speak for itself, including the right copy with your Turnstile can add that extra push to convert more of your audience.

Looking at our analysis, there is something familiar about the most common words:

If you go back to the screenshot of the Customize panel above, you’ll see that most of these are in the default language for the Turnstile: “Enter your email address to view this video.”

In fact, 16.2% of all Turnstiles were using the default wording:

You might assume from this data that people just aren’t changing the language to fit their own needs. Though there is less variation in the language for a Turnstile compared to a Call to Action, it must still be important to give the viewer a good reason to a) sign up, and b) continue watching the video.

However, it seems the people keeping this default text are actually onto something:

The conversion rate for videos using the default text (12.1%) was over double that for more specific text (6.68%).

With Calls to Action, we also changed specific words in the copy to see how that changed the conversion rates. In the case of Turnstiles, we narrowed our analysis to the word “email” to see if its inclusion or exclusion made a difference on conversion rates:

It did. Adding the word “email” increased conversion rates from 7.03% to 8.33%.


Automation engine Ansible uses the default language in the Turnstile that appears at the start of one of their tutorial videos.

Ansible users are sent this video to get up to speed with the product. It walks them through installation, getting started, and the different features of the automation engine. Because the video is so valuable, viewers will be eager to watch the video and will input contact information so they can get started quickly. The need for more specialized language isn’t needed.

Contrast that with this Turnstile from social media management app Post Planner.

As this is a more marketing-specific video rather than a tutorial, it’s important that the Turnstile copy tells the viewers exactly what they would get from signing up. The copy here engages viewers with the idea that they’re part of a community, reassurance that their email is safe, and language like “join” and “love.”


  • The language you use isn’t quite as important as with Calls to Action.
  • You can continue to use the default language without any penalty for some useful and specific videos such as tutorials.
  • You should use language your audience is more comfortable with for more general business and marketing videos.

Which email providers are people using?

Finally, we took a quick peek at the most common email providers Wistia customers are integrating with their Turnstiles. It turns out that the top ten are: MailChimp, HubSpot, AWeber, Pardot, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Marketo, GetResponse, and ActiveCampaign.

Of course, your email provider has no effect on your conversion rates, as viewers will have no idea which provider you are integrating with. But it is important to choose the right email provider for your specific business needs. MailChimp allows you to send awesome emails, but if you are using the leads generated from the Turnstile as part of a sizable marketing campaign, then HubSpot or Marketo might be the better option. If your Turnstile is the first step towards a high-touch sales process, a provider such as Pardot can integrate easily with your sales CRM further down the line.


  • You should look at the range of options before selecting the provider most suited for your business needs. Think about how these leads will be used in the future and choose a provider accordingly:
  • Newsletter — MailChimp, AWeber
  • Marketing campaign — HubSpot, Marketo
  • Sales contact — Pardot, Infusionsoft


Turnstiles are a great way to add a specific email-centric call to action to your video. If you want your video to generate leads, then there is no better way than adding a Turnstile to give viewers a low-friction way to sign up.

The results from this analysis show:

  • Post-roll Turnstiles are the most used. These give your audience the chance to find out the most about your product or service before choosing to sign up for your email list or to hear more.
  • Mid-roll Turnstiles have the highest conversion rates. Once viewers have started watching the video, a Turnstile placed mid-roll converts more, as they are willing to give over contact information to continue watching.
  • Requiring viewers to enter their emails increases the Turnstile conversion rate. Viewers are more likely to hand over their email address if it is required. However, forcing this interaction might negatively affect the audience. Giving viewers the opportunity to skip leaves the viewer with a better impression of your company.
  • The text you use should be specific to the video type and your audience. The text used matters less than in Calls to Action, but it should still clearly state what you want viewers to do.

Finally, here are a few more things to think about as you plan your video and incorporate any of our Timeline Actions:

  • Just because most people are using post-roll Turnstiles doesn’t mean you should as well. A/B test different positioning to find what works for your specific videos.
  • The video itself is the most important component of conversion. If you have a great video for a great product, people will be happy to sign up on a Turnstile no matter where it is or what it says.
  • Turnstiles were built for one purpose — capturing emails. If this is what you want from your Timeline Action, then make sure you are using these above Calls to Action or Annotation Links. Otherwise, choose the right Timeline Action for your specific goal.

Turnstiles are an awesome way to generate leads directly from inside your video. By using a great Turnstile as part of an even greater video, you can give your viewers what they want and get something in return.

January 13, 2020

Topic tags

Ezra Fishman

Business Intelligence

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