Are Background Videos Killing Your Website?

Background videos in a website header. Good idea? or Killer idea, in the worst possible way? Here’s some information to help you decide.

The use of videos in the digital marketing industry isn’t a new thing. It only continues to evolve and become more popular, and with good reason. Statistics show that about 88 percent of consumers decided to purchase a service or product after watching a video from the brand behind its production. Data reports also show that approximately one-third of the time spent online involves video-watching. This implies that videos can help convey your brand’s message or tell its story through a website or an independent blog.

But what about background videos???

Using background videos on websites can have benefits and drawbacks. That’s why understanding them can help you determine when to use or leave out the video.

Determined to use a background video? Drop down to our best practices list to give your videographer.

Top Benefits of Using Videos on Websites

The ability to attract and keep visitors on your website can impact your company’s overall success. Custom website videos can help improve your company’s online presence, making it stand out from the competition. Here are more benefits you may experience by incorporating videos on your website.

It’s a Quick Message Delivery Option

There’s scientific evidence that many website visitors can process the information they see and hear faster than details provided in plain text format. According to Instapage, looking at a character on a video activates the fusiform area in the brain to help enhance focus and attention.

Adding customized website videos effectively communicates your brand’s message in a quick and easy-to-understand way. You don’t have to replace all written content with videos, but having videos on your website can help strengthen the overall message.

The pros on background videos for quick messaging.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand experiences. After building hundreds of websites, we’ve found the most effective use of background video is to showcase an experience. If you are a brick and mortar store or a live event or something that requires a customer to come to you for an experience, a background video for your website could be key for conversions. Putting the experience your store or your workshop or your customer journey provides into words can confound the best writers. Sometimes they have to see it to believe it.

Here are a couple of examples of websites that use background videos well.

  • Nutrition World showcases and customer’s experience as you walk into their store. They are also able to show they have so much more than just supplements.
  • StoryBrand offers both live and virtual workshops. It’s difficult to imagine how interactive their workshops can be without viewing the video.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Benefits 

Using video on your company’s website improves the site’s search engine rankings as visitors continue to view and share your video content. For this to happen, you should ensure that you have the right meta data set up for the search bots to find that you have video on your site.

Not sure what meta data even is? Read this post about Yoast’s search engine schema markup to help you understand what it is and how you can easily use it.

Shares boost your organic currency. So make sure your video posts are worth sharing. And by the way, don’t forget to make the video shareable for social channels.

For an extra boost,  adding a transcript of what’s said on the video, using searchable keywords, may enable search engines to read and discover your video and site more easily.

Do Background Videos Give Your Site SEO Benefits?

With the right meta data, background videos can add about as much SEO benefit as a background photo. It’s not major, but it’s not nothing.

Videos on Websites Can Give Your Company a Personality

A video on your website can help prove your company’s dedication to delivering solutions for their needs and responding to their concerns upon request. Videos focusing on the staff’s hobbies and interests can help your customers learn more about the company’s personality and culture.

Background Videos for Personality

It’s a tougher case to make for using background video as a way to showcase your personality. However, allowing visitors to see your facial expressions and how you interact with people can give people a sense of who you are.

Website Videos Encourage Regular Visits to Your Site

A new visitor to your website may be a good thing, but getting them to visit regularly is where the bulk of the work lies. Each time someone visits your website provides an opportunity to showcase your company’s offerings or convince the user to make a purchasing decision. Luckily, you can get people to visit your web page more often by incorporating engaging and useful videos into the site.

The video can be helpful if you use it to respond to customers’ questions, concerns, or provide more information on their topics of interest. Instead of creating a long video, you can break your content into segments and use each video to promote the next one. You can do this to announce when the next one will be available.

Background Videos for More Regular Videos?

Yeah, probably not. Unless you have something extremely unique that you’ve added, it’s unlikely viewers will come back to see your background video again and again.

The Drawbacks of Using Videos on Websites

Now to the crux of the matter. Are background videos killing your website?

Background videos on websites have BIG disadvantages you might not even realize. Here’s the list to consider before adding any to your site.

Incompatibility with Some Mobile Devices

This “problem” is getting better, but some mobile operating systems actually block auto-playing videos. They are definitely blocked if they have sound. Some still won’t be served up even if they don’t have sound.

Mobile website views surpassed desktop views a few years ago. So, for all your work in adding a video, it might not be viewable by over half of your audience. For those devices where it does work, video takes more data than photos. If your customers are charged for using data on their cellular service, they may not thank you for adding data-using video to your site.

Slow Loading Speeds 

Auto-play videos (aka background videos) on a web page slow its load speed. No matter how you slice and dice it…how much you compress it to make the file size smaller, or what file format you use. A video will take longer to load on your website. Although options may be available to help optimize the videos’ performance on your site, they’ll still load slower than plain images. Visitors are more likely to leave your page if it loads slowly.

As a matter of fact, Google says you’re losing 35% of your traffic is your load speed is more than 2.5 seconds. 35%!!!! Speed kills…your website traffic.

That’s why you MUST consider load speed before including background videos on your website.

Movement Distracts Your Visitors

Science agrees. Movement in a landscape of stillness grabs our attention. Our brains are wired to see movement as a threat just in case it’s something that could kill us. Therefore, it captures our focus and attention. That’s why we advise using movement on your site as a way to capture and move attention TOWARD your call to action or the customer’s next step in their buyer’s journey. Otherwise, movement keeps your web visitors AWAY from their next step. That means, the number of conversions on your website will decrease if you’re using a background video.

If you’re using background video on your website, and you’re experiencing a low conversion rate, do a test with a still image instead. I bet you’ll see an increase in your conversions.

Best Practices When Adding Background Videos on Websites

Considering all the drawbacks to using a background video on your site, we highly encourage avoiding stock videos. It’s just not worth the trade-off for something that’s not you or your services or the experience you provide.

Below are tips videographers should keep in mind when creating background videos for websites. The ultimate goal is to provide the smallest video size balanced with the least amount of pixelation. For speed’s sake, we like to err on some pixelation for a smaller video size.

  • Omit audio tracks on the video. They are of no use in background videos, and they create a larger file size if they’re included.
  • Use the smallest size possible. We will repeat this until the cows come home because IT’S A BIG DEAL! If you can compress the video to 2MB or less, you’re a videography genius, and web developers might kiss you. If you’re in the 5 – 10 MB range, that’s doable, but not ideal. Anything over 10 MBs, we’ll send back to a videographer for them to try again. We’ve heard a lot about using Handbrake to get to the smallest file size possible.
    Here’s a video on resizing and compressing videos that some videographers find helpful.
  • Always select a fallback photo since some mobile devices might not play the video and some videos may not play when there’s low internet connectivity.
  • File types your web developer will need include the following:
    • Small .mp4 – Here we will constrain the width of the screen to the breakpoint for mobile of 768 max width. So we would prefer as small a file as possible to be served up on a mobile screen without looking pixelated.
    • Regular .mp4 – This should still abide by the 5 – 10 MB max size, but will be used on larger screens and retina devices
    • Small .webm – same as the small .mp4 above. Some mobile browsers will only serve up .webm files
    • Regular .webm – same as the regular .mp4 above

In a Nutshell

In spite of our best efforts to warn against using background videos on websites, many people still want them. And that’s ok. Background videos on websites can be an effective strategy for those trying to showcase the experience customers will get. Just make sure you understand what it might cost you to use background videos on your site.

For the ultimate experience, try working with a competent web design professional.