The Value of Customer Incentives in E-commerce and Retail Videos

People are always looking for deals for products purchased online and in-store. Learn in this post how offering incentives for people to watch your e-commerce and retail videos can be a great way to improve sales, expand your consumer base, and establish customer loyalty.



The value behind customer incentives

Here’s a good definition for customer incentives offered by Tricia Ellis-Christensen , a writer for wiseGEEK:

“A customer incentive is any number of things like free gifts, rewards, bonus points, or reduced pricing that are designed to increase sales, expand customer base, and establish customer loyalty. There are numerous ways that various businesses can employ these incentives to not only increase the happiness of their customers, but to also make their businesses more profitable.”

A customer incentive strategy should meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a reasonable chance of being attractive to customers
  • Have an opportunity to build new customer relationships and improve existing ones
  • Must still retain or grow profitability for the company

Why include customer incentives in videos?

Customer incentives are a good model of value-driven video marketing. Offering Internet audiences a consumer-driven incentive to watch your videos can be highly effective from a business standpoint for a several reasons:

  • Video is highly engaging
  • Video offers a good demo of the product in common applications
  • When used as advertising, it doesn’t feel as intrusive as other types of video ads (because there’s an offer of shared value being announced)
  • It increases video view counts, shares, and other “social proof.”
  • It shows a respect for, and appreciation of the consumer’s time.

Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of the social video advertising platform provider, Jun Group Productions, explained to me how their company perceives the value of offering consumers’ incentives for watching their clients’ video ads:

“There are all kinds of ways to use this value exchange model to deliver for both consumers and brands. The wonderful thing about it is that they are no antagonists so they end up working together. People watch the video because they want to and the brands get consumers who are interested.”


Examples of customer incentives in e-commerce and retail videos

LivingSocial email marketing with a video sponsor

Here’s a screenshot of an email I received last September from livingsocial, where anyone who watched a sponsor’s video could receive a $5 discount off their next purchase from any deal on the LivingSocial site, aka “dealbucks.”

Southwest Airlines’ Direct Mail

This direct mail piece sent out last year by Southwest Airlines to their “Rapid Rewards” credit card members, promoting a special video campaign by Southwest and CHASE bank. The incentive was 1,000 bonus points for a Southwest member to go to a landing page and watch a series of short marketing videos on all the different ways members could use their Rapid Rewards points – such as free flights including international, restaurant and retail gift cards, hotel stays, etc.

Unruly Media and Range Rover Test Drive

I had the opportunity to interview Art Zeidman, President of the U.S Branch of Unruly Media, a social video advertising platform and agency. Art shared with me a campaign they ran for Range Rover where users could actually sign up for a test drive at their nearest Range Rover dealership once they initiated a video view.


Marketing ideas for your own customer incentive e-commerce/retail videos:

Here are some suggestions of what you could offer someone who watches your video:

  • Discount on their next purchase
  • Donation to a cause
  • Monthly drawing for a prize
  • An “appreciation” gift card.
  • Be placed on a list to reserve an advance copy of a new product
  • Make the purchase within the video unit and receive a discount, a free add-on, or something of added value.
  • Use all available channels. Consider offering special incentives tailored to fans on your Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and email registrants.
  • Building customer loyalty with existing customers: For examples, customers already in your email database could be sent special video email incentive in a campaign reserved just for them.

Tips for using incentives in your e-commerce and retail videos

  • Do research – find out what incentives are likely to have the most positive effects and accomplish your business goals. Educate yourself and your clients on the value proposition.
  • Try to make the offer relevant and of real value for your consumers. This comes with understanding where your video is playing, and preferably where you can match up offers that relate to product interests. You can partially be in control of the consumers’ experience with featuring your video incentives on related content, including in keyword and contextual ad buys on 3rd party sites.
  • Do A/B testing – set up a benchmark, rotate displays of videos with the incentive versus those without, and find out which ones do better.
  • Set goals and track results. Tricia mentions that in order for a customer incentive to be effective, it must have measurable positive results. Businesses should also plan to carefully track results through a video revenue analysis of sales, new customers or increased customer loyalty, to determine if an incentive is worth continuing or worth using again in the future.
  • Be sure to mention the offer! Be sure to state right away what the consumer will stand to benefit for the time they spend watching your video.
  • Include video QR codes on your print media and marketing materials that include a text mention of the incentive for watching the video.
  • Offer incentives for watching how-to videos that show the proper use of handling a product. Customers who are willing to learn stand to get the most out of their purchased products.  They are also more likely to be satisfied customers who will share their positive experiences with others (and are thus worth nurturing more with an incentive.)
  • Try to work with a interactive video platform that allows for in-video purchasing. Not only can this make the user-experience more seamless, you can better track purchases at the point of the actual video viewing experience.