How Sylvane Adopted a Video Marketing Strategy to Boost eCommerce Sales

Sylvane uses video on their e-commerce site to boost conversions and sales.

How and why did you get started with video? Why Wistia?

ALLISON: Since we are 100% online retail, it’s really important for us to show photos and videos of the products we carry on our website. Sometimes vendors provide these for us, but not always. So about 4 years ago, we started filling in the gaps with media we created.

We quickly found that product videos had a great impact on sales — an A/B test we performed back in 2013 showed that product pages with videos are about 13% more likely to convert than product pages without videos. Since then, videos have become part of our process, and we’ve never looked back!

Here’s an example: We just started producing videos announcing sales, and sending them out with email blasts. Clicks on the video thumbnail in the email led to about 25% of total sales over the weekend. Also, average order size was about 70% higher for shoppers who clicked on the video!

“Average order size was about 70% higher for shoppers who clicked on the video!”

Before we became Wistia customers in 2012, we were hosting our own videos on a little flash player. It was unstable, not mobile-friendly, and required hefty tech assistance to manage. One of the major deciding factors in choosing Wistia was SEO. Google was starting to reward sites with good mobile experiences, and Wistia provided one of the few easy solutions for mobile-friendly video playback. Also, it allowed us to avoid hosting entirely on YouTube and losing SEO boost to our own website.

I’m also fairly certain that the helpful videos produced by Chris Lavigne and his team helped make my decision. As a self-taught videographer, I don’t know what I would have done without the DIY Lighting Kit or the "hand trick."

What are your goals with using video?

ALLISON: Sales are always the ultimate goal in retail, so one of our main objectives is to use videos to sell products. We have video demos on product pages that are specifically intended to impact conversion rates. Also, our buying guide videos on popular articles help usher viewers to the next stage in the buying process. We measure their success by looking at how many conversions came from folks who watched those videos or clicked on any annotations or CTAs.

That said, we know that video impacts the customer experience way before money changes hands. Some of our most popular videos explain complex ideas, like how evaporative air coolers work. In those cases, it doesn’t matter as much if we make a sale — rather, our goal is to inform our viewers so they can shop knowledgeably. A goal for that video might be as simple as generating video views. After all, every minute a viewer watches our video is a minute saved for our customer service team, who would otherwise have to explain the concept via phone or email.

Another goal for videos is lead generation. Sometimes we’ll make a video that’s just for fun, or that answers a common question but doesn’t necessarily feature a particular product or category. In those cases, we’ll throw up the Wistia Turnstile and watch the emails roll in. To date, we have captured over 5,000 emails with video — those are engaged users who can potentially become customers!

“To date, we have captured over 5,000 emails with video.”

What are the most challenging parts of producing video at your company?

ALLISON: Most of our products perform functions that are pretty much invisible to the naked eye (dehumidifying air, for example), and it can be difficult to visually demonstrate how well they work. So we have to get creative — sometimes incorporating motion graphics and animations.

Another challenge is finding actors. We sometimes use hired talent, but scheduling can be tricky (especially for more spontaneous shoots), and we really like to use video to show off our brand, including the faces behind our company. As a result, bribes and baked goods often make an appearance in our studio!

How do you measure the ROI of your videos?

ALLISON: We know that video has a massive impact on our business. Here’s an example: For one of our popular dehumidifiers, so far this quarter, shoppers who watched the video on the product page converted 45% better than shoppers who did not watch the video (12.6% vs. 8.7%). In other words, video is a huge conversion assist.

“Shoppers who watched the video on the product page converted 45% better than shoppers who did not watch the video (12.6% vs. 8.7%).”

Wistia provides some killer analytics, but one thing we absolutely need to be able to track is sales, and we can’t do that in Wistia on its own.

But our in-house analytics expert, Sarah Payne, was able to solve that problem.

Here’s how it works: We identified all the pages that have videos on them, and when someone watches a video on those pages, we tag that as a custom event in our analytics platform. We also track whether people watch 25%, 50%, or 100% of the video. We can then look at whether those visitors who had those custom events went on to purchase that product. By doing this, we’re able to understand the impact of product videos on the purchase cycle of our users.

How has your video strategy evolved throughout the years?

ALLISON: We used to focus on product videos (low-hanging fruit), but now we’re branching out to producing videos with wider-reaching audiences — like installation videos and buying guides. We’re also making more company culture videos (like for Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and that time we hosted a Sylvane Olympics at our office). While video is a powerful way to drive sales, it’s also just a fun medium that companies should use whenever it’s possible and makes sense.

What advice would you give to other eCommerce companies when it comes to making video?

ALLISON: Planning is the most time-consuming part of the entire video process. When planning for a video, research what your customers actually want to know about your product — not just what it is you want to share about it. I actually think Sabrina Skau from Sandwich Video said it best during WistiaFest last year: “Separate yourself from your product. Pitch your product to potential users to find out what they view as the most compelling thing(s) about it.” Chances are good that you’ll be surprised by what you find!

“Research what your customers actually want to know about your product — not just what it is you want to share about it.”

Which video has been your most successful this year?

ALLISON: This summer, we shot a video showing how to install a portable air conditioner through a sliding door. The primary goal was to show a visual topic for one of our most popular articles. It quickly became one of the most-watched videos on our website and YouTube channel. And 22% of video viewers on our website clicked the annotation link, taking them to the page for the product featured in the video. We sold so many installation kits, we ran out of stock!

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Want to share your success story? Shoot us an email at with a little bit about how you use video and Wistia to achieve your business goals.