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The Live Video Shopping FAQ

Open for Live Video Shopping

From “how do I promote and get an audience for my live stream?” to “how long should we run the show for?” – this FAQ gets to the bottom of the latest in Live Video Shopping best practices.  

Live Video Shopping is the eCommerce phenomenon taking the world by storm (download the complete best practices guide here).

Now, as more and more brands start to take heed of the astronomical conversion rates coming out of China – and spy enviously the early successes reported in their own markets – it’s to be expected that attention has turned to the more practical questions: how can your brand host, promote, and drive sales through a Live Video Shopping experience?

Here, StoryStream’s Live Video Shopping experts give their take on the most frequently asked questions.

How long should a Video Shopping broadcast be?

In short: aim for between 20–25 minutes.

Comparisons between live video shopping and classic TV shopping are inevitable (and justified!) … but it’s crucial to remember the difference in expectation between a user who switches on a TV set versus a user who is encountering a brand online.

And while Live Video Shopping offers an immediacy of experience that classic TV can’t truly replicate – “add to basket” functionality, the ability to ask questions about a product and its availability in a live chat, for example – a brand live stream also has to hold and captivate a user who is always just a quick swipe-up and thumb left-or-right from opening another app.

A middle ground has to be aimed for, and in test and learns we’ve seen most success when brands settle on a 20 to 25-minute duration. 15 minutes is often too short (i.e. leaving a lot of user attention on the table still), and anything over 30 minutes is too long (i.e. seeing a significant drop in activity on the stream).

Setting up a Live Video Shop show

Which metrics should we measure when we’re live-streaming a video shopping show?

It’s a realisation that dawns on every marketer at some point: a Live Video Shopping stream isn’t just a longer-form piece of video content that they’ll need to plan and produce … it’s something they’ll need to promote, iterate on, and optimise too.

To cut a long story short: to run a successful Live Video Shopping experience, you’ll need to adopt a campaign mindset.

Which metrics matter depends heavily on your team’s overarching marketing KPIs (for instance, an eCommerce beauty brand might focus on total units sold, whereas an automotive brand may place less emphasis on the total number of sales achieved and prioritise the total number of viewers who completed the broadcast). But in terms of the metrics we’ve seen captured, here’s the rundown:

Pre-stream metrics

* Total number of signups for the events
* Messaging: which messaging and CTA variant encouraged the most successful sign-ups?
* Landing page performance: which pages drove the most sign-ups? (Could be a dedicated landing page, an A/B tested variant, a prominent CTA on the homepage or category page, etc.)

In-stream metrics

* Total views
* Total number of attendees (unique viewers)
* Average watch time​
* Total view time (aggregate of minutes for all viewing sessions)
* Number of engagements (e.g. chat messages, emoji reactions)
* Message response rate (aim for 100%!)
* Total number of transactions
* Total revenue generated
* Number of items put in basket/cart
* Number of unique items sold​
* Engagement hotspots: when were the most users engaged, and when were they inspired to place an item in the basket?
* Engagement drop-offs: when was engagement at its lowest, or did most users drop off the stream?

Post-stream metrics and benchmarks

* Basket benchmarking: the value of live stream initiated baskets versus typical site average order value (or AOV from another segment, e.g. “customers acquired via paid search”)
* Content benchmarking: how much revenue is driven by live shopping versus “static” videos (e.g. promotional videos hosted on YouTube, video ads served on Facebook or Instagram, TikTok etc.)​?
* Returns: compare product return rates from Live Video Shopping acquired customers with customers who purchased the same product via a different source/medium
* Number of subscribers added to CRM from the live stream
* Number of subscribers lost post-live stream
* Total sales generated by a shoppable video over 3/6/9/12 months (based on the timespan over which a video or videos are hosted on your brand’s site for on-demand viewing)
* Additional conversion uplift across product/category pages where video shopping assets are presented either in full or portioned up to showcase a given aspect of a product

Which platform should I use to broadcast my live video shopping event?

This is a big question.

The largest social/eCommerce players have their own services (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) that can boast, to at least some degree, a built-in audience. And alongside those familiar names, the past couple of years have witnessed a proliferation of platforms (e.g. NTWRK, Popshop Live) that have built their own following for brands to leverage too.

And yet, while a social platform represents perhaps the quickest route to going from zero to live, what your brand stands to lose and gain by going in that direction is worthy of more patient consideration. Whatever you might gain in terms of immediate turnaround time, you might in fact stand to lose out in the longer term.

If you want to truly own your experience – and make the most of the data generated from it, both in the moment and on-demand – then you’ll want to seriously consider hosting the stream through a dedicated live video shopping platform.

Growing an audience for your live video shop

The chief argument for hosting your own live stream: data. By keeping a hold of the data generated by your activity – rather than relying on a third party social network to curate it for you – you’re opening up a suite of additional opportunities. Re-engaging viewers with follow-up content, personalising post-event follow-up (great for basket reclaim…), and storing any assembled customer insight in your CRM so that it might enrich future marketing activity.

70% of sales from live streaming happen after the event, on replay (Coresight Research)

Crucially, by hosting the stream yourself you’re also able to better extend the shelf life of your content.

But where to start with that? Well – it’s at that juncture that you’ll want to start looking for video shopping platforms that allow you to hold a stream, benefit from chat moderation workflows, simplify the addition of shoppable CTAs, integrate with your product catalogue for inventory management, host the video for post-event for on-demand consumption and own all data generated therein (Say ‘Hi!’ to the StoryStream Live Video Shopping Studio here).

How do I get an audience for my live video shopping show?

In short: let your customer data guide you, signpost CTAs widely, promote, partner, and get physical…

Start with your customer base

All that hard work you’ve put into your CRM can really pay off when it comes to finding an engaged audience for your live-streamed shoppable event. Of course, you can go the route of sending a blanket email to all opted-in contacts, but the benefits of getting a little more granular (and even introducing some personalisation) have certainly been proven to pay off. Here’s one example of an effective segmentation strategy:

Segment your “existing customers”: there’s a big difference between a customer who bought from you once three years ago and a customer who shops your new looks weekly. Looking at recency and frequency metrics in your CRM and creating segments accordingly will help you tailor your message. Think: “we’d love to get back in touch …” for lapsed customers, and “As one of our MVPs, we want to give you the inside track…” for your more regular shoppers.

Get granular with your marketing opt-in list: not every contact in your email database will be a customer, of course (if only, right?) but there may still be something about their profile that allows you to tailor their invitation message. Gender, age, birthday, location – all demographic markers that might indicate a likelihood to align to a given message.

Think deeply about your buyers: just as the focus metrics are likely to differ from brand to brand, so too are customer habits. The benefits of hosting a shoppable video stream may be obvious to a fashion brand previewing a new season’s edit, or a cosmetic brand keen to showcase their latest regimes … but what if you’re, for example, an automotive brand? It’s here that the question of “should I try live video?” is actually best answered through a look first at your CRM.

For brands whose products typically come with a longer purchase cycle attached, the ability to showcase what’s new and exciting through an engaging live-streamed piece of content can be of a different tone: targeting customers who last made a purchase 2-3 years ago, for example, or customers whose needs may be changing owing to a change in lifestyle. It might even be a case of wanting to advertise accessories and add-ons to very recent purchasers of a product or ensuring they’re getting the most out of their experience through live Q&As. Let your customer data guide you.

Shopping bags, umbrellas

Make sure your event is well signposted across your site and social profiles

As the classic digital marketing proverb goes: if all roads lead to your eCommerce site, then be sure you’re optimising the journey for ongoing customer engagement. (It’s a proverb now, anyway.) Prominent CTAs at critical discovery points of your site will help to bolster your attendee list, and – as your shoppable video strategy gets ever more finely tuned in pushing users down the funnel – drive conversion.

Adding a link to events – both upcoming and on-demand – in your social bios (Instagram, TikTok especially) will also help to gain attention for your productions. Speaking of, check out StoryStream’s LinkStream solution to see how we can help you say “bye-bye” to boring link in bios…

Further to promoting your event organically on social media, you’ll undoubtedly also consider adding some paid social promotion to your mix too. Which social networks your audience is most active on is likely something your brand has a handle on already, of course – and it’s likely that you will also be able to look back at previous paid social campaigns to glean some helpful insight on where to source the best bang for your bucks.

You might also want to think about experimenting with some new channels, too. Alongside the usual suspects (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) we’d suggest thinking about platforms where users typically spend lots of their time in-app engaging with video content: Reddit (where the ability to target advertising by subreddit affiliation opens up a whole world of reliable, passion-led segmentation) and TikTok, for example.

A final word on social media: if you are going to be promoting your live streams across social networks, be sure to monitor any conversation that might spring up on those platforms when the time comes for your shoppable experience to premiere (this is in addition to moderating your live chat). Twitter, especially, is the default channel of choice for many when it comes to voicing opinions and asking questions – setting up some social listening around your live shopping event can help you manage and triage the full extent of any queries (and maybe nudge some additional users toward making a purchase, too!).

Incentivise sharing

Effectively empowering your community to work on a “member get member” basis is a proven strategy for amplification – but success starts with making sure you’ve nailed the “what’s in it for me?” Short-lived discount codes that can be applied, at checkout, to baskets created during your live stream are often the most practical route, with the efficacy of those codes then easily tracked post-event. Your customers are uniquely placed to help you find others just like them … and it can really be as simple as offering a compelling quid pro quo.

Leverage influencer clout

For brands about to dip their first tentative toe into live video shopping, working with content creators – alternately known as influencers, micro-influencers etc. – represents a fantastic way to solve a couple of problems simultaneously. Firstly: creators have an audience (and well-chosen ones will have your audience). But secondly, when it comes to capturing and holding attention through digital productions: they’re the pros.

Teaming up with an influencer to help produce your live stream does come with an additional cost dimension – a dimension that may prove prohibitive to your brand. But even if going “all in” (i.e. with an influencer acting as your host) is deemed a step too far for your brand, seeding promotion through an influencer (and perhaps combining with an exclusive discount code) can represent an effective amplification tactic for acquiring an audience for your live stream.

Get physical

If you’re going to be investing in shoppable streams over the course of a year – and an effective Live Video Shopping strategy typically plans at least that far ahead – then maximising the visibility of your productions across all customer touchpoints should be considered. Adding CTAs to your live stream calendar (think about that calendar as a landing page that promotes upcoming live streams, as well as making previous productions available on-demand) on product packaging, promotional inserts, and receipts are low-hanging, attention-grabbing opportunities that you can turn on, and then let do the work of recruiting an audience in the background.

Which products should I feature in my live stream?

What with all the hype around Live Video Shopping – and Social and Visual Commerce generally – it can be all too easy to delay asking arguably the most fundamental questions until the very last minute.

But say, for a second, you bracket out the enormous question of “should my brand have a Live Video Shopping strategy?” and instead start with the more tactical pieces … you might find you actually arrive at an answer to the big questions an awful lot quicker. Case in point: “what should I actually sell?”

Instinctively, most brands will want to lead with “the new” (with some “slow sellers” added in as a garnish) and, certainly, being able to offer an exclusive look at newly stocked items will help capture an audience’s attention ahead of the live stream. But there are other factors at work that you may want to be mindful of when planning your live stream’s catalogue:

Undercelebrated staples: items that your customer data indicates are indispensable to those in the know (i.e. repeatedly purchased over time), but have yet to find their audience at scale.

Capsule items: pieces you can dress up or dress down; items you can add to a routine or collection; or accessories that can work across a number of use cases. Find one or two-star utility players, and create segments around those – it’s a great way to a) showcase the flexibility of your products, while b) introduce your audience to a whole lot of other products.

Social conversation starters: in terms of working out which products are likely to get people talking – and you will want people talking on your live chat: the greater the sense of community you can create, the more likely it is that users will return for future shows – then social is where you’ll go. If you have a product that’s generated a whole lot of UGC that you can lean on (and even talk about): awesome. But if not, you might need to get creative in looking for ways that your products tap into a current trend, or compliment a popular look. Either way, look for those conversation starters – and keep that engagement going by inviting viewers to tag any future content with your hashtag too.

Something we didn’t answer?

If you’ve come this far and still haven’t found what you’re looking for: we can only apologise. (Well, apologise and invite you to get in touch!)

If there’s a question you’d like to see answered – or if you need help preparing your business case for live video shopping – then drop us a line.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

Image Credits

Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Deeksha Pahariya on Unsplash

Andy Hermawan on Unsplash

Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash