Screen captures vs short videos which is more effective at converting customers?


Has anyone measured the effectiveness of static screen captures with text versus a screen cast with voice in converting customers (for a software application)? Do you find that it is a natural progression for them to view pictures, watch video then request a demo? Or do the majority don't bother sitting through a video?

Marketing Sales

asked Nov 11 '09 at 16:16
Oleg Barshay
2,091 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


I have had a project which implemented videos on the landing pages. The video resulted in better conversion.

Video with audio triggers attention - many people browse multiple sites in multiple tabs - many loaded pages are actually not read thoroughly - we suspected that one of the reasons the video page resulted in better conversion was because of this.

Some other thoughts around this issue -

  1. Have clear Call To Action design - optimize for visual cue sign up and navigation. Video doesn't magically create more conversions, you will still need to have all your other existing pages working well and measured, so that you can track the uptick.
  2. Depending on your product/service - it's best to have a freemium model that you can immediately capture email for CRM/email conversion programmes later. Don't capture other data until you require them.
  3. Video file sizes can get large pretty quickly - a short intro of less than a minute that welcomes, highlights the main USP (Unique Selling Point), encourage visitor to sign up for a demo or a free account to start using - would be great.
  4. Provide subtitles - neutral accents are not really neutral, and many people browse without headphones or speakers in the office. Subtitles are also great when you provide localized versions.
  5. If you can afford it - have live chat support available on each page - products and services which a buyer can decide on the spot with a credit card, see much more conversion with live chat support. You will also find out key concerns that people have that you wouldn't get in email. (Email questions usually ask about turn-around time, installation - live chat usually asks about payment, my company wants to use it this way - is it possible?)
  6. An alternative to live chat is to create a forum - start once you have an active user of above 100-200 - as an empty forum is quite an anti-testimonial.
  7. Flawless sign up process - no pop-ups with SSL messages, missing images, broken links.

In summary - my experience of effective tools at conversion -

  1. Recommended by a trusted friend or acquaintance
  2. Live working account with live text chat help
  3. Live working account (free)
  4. Live working demo
  5. Video walkthrough that loads
  6. Screenshots

  7. Feature list

If you have some traffic already - you can always benchmark the options by splitting out the traffic to go to either formats and see which one works better.

Copy writing is very key.

For further research - study 37Signals' Basecamp historical changes here.

Key things to always emphasize in the copy are -

  • Easy
  • Fast
  • Free
  • Social proof (testimonial and other people using it)

All the best!

answered Nov 11 '09 at 17:12
Alex Lam
699 points
  • Thank you, Alex. That was a very informative answer. – Oleg Barshay 14 years ago
  • Excellent answer +1 – Slav Ivanov 14 years ago
  • What do you use to add subtitles? Is there open-source software? – Joseph Turian 14 years ago
  • There are two options for subtitles - if you do it in-video, we've used Flash for that. If you do on HTML, we've used Javascript, where you have the OnMouseOver - and then the text pops up somewhere. – Alex Lam 14 years ago


Only thing that I would add to Alex's excellent answer is that I believe there's a place for both video and screenshots, and that providing both probably provides the best coverage of what your audience is looking for.

I spent the last four years at an online video company that caters to both marketers and media companies. Video is an incredibly rich storytelling medium that allows you to communicate directly to people. It makes it simple to explain complex products and services, and people probably relate better to video.

That said, some of your audience simply won't want to watch a product video, or will find a screencast too slow. I personally love to see screenshots of a service I'm evaluating, and don't want to spend 2-3 minutes on a video if I can spend 10 seconds flipping through a screenshot gallery.

Probably best to offer both if you have the time / budget.

answered Nov 12 '09 at 06:54
298 points

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