Sports Unlimited Increases Average Order Value With Online Video Marketing

A growing number of eTailers are using video marketing to attract and inform shoppers, but  producing videos for hundreds of thousands of products can be overwhelming. Although as many as 85% of U.S. consumers viewed an online video during a month-long period in 2012, according to recent comScore research, the time and expense required to tap that potential can seem daunting to retailers.

Sports Unlimited, an online-only merchant of sporting and apparel items, was hesitant to invest in a video platform. But when Google made an algorithm change during updates to Panda in 2011, the eTailer lost significant amounts of natural search traffic, and turned to Treepodia, an automated e-Commerce video solution provider, to investigate the strategy.

“At first I couldn’t wrap my head around producing and posting videos for thousands of products, and thought we’d never really get the project off the ground,” Mike Neff, Director of E-Commerce, told Retail TouchPoints. “But the process was amazingly fast and simple: Treepodia posted videos for 20,000 of our products in just 48 hours.” 


Since incorporating video support for the higher-end, more technical Sports Unlimited products, “products that come to life with video are experiencing an 11.8% increase in average order value,” reported Neff. “In addition, shoppers are spending 8% more time on a page and viewing 12.5% more pages per visit. We’re also excited to see links to our videos showing up in Google Search, which is really cool.”

Higher-performing Google videos automatically upload to YouTube through the Treepodia built-in optimization engine, giving Sports Unlimited an even larger online footprint.

For example, in June 2012 when Sports Unlimited began marketing a brand new item, the Schutt Vengeance football helmet, in concert with video support, the product video emerged in a Google search, was shared via social media then automatically appeared on YouTube, where it acquired more than 11,000 hits in just three months. “We are now the top seller of this helmet,” Neff reported, “but would not be without video marketing.”

From Testing To Custom Templates

Sports Unlimited first tested video marketing with a “low-risk” trial of an automated video used for 3,500 top selling products. The eTailer provided Treepodia with a product feed of catalog data for the 3,500 items, with simple fields including description, category, pricing, rating and sale status.  

“We cautiously chose to walk before we ran,” said Neff of the trial, “but started jogging when we saw an immediate 5% increase in conversions.” Results were measured by comparing traffic for products with and without the video option, he explained.

Weeks later Sports Unlimited expanded the program with 16,500 additional products across the Sports Unlimited store and an associated site, Fan Gear Unlimited. The eTailer chose separate templates for 12 different sports categories, such as football, field hockey, baseball, etc., then provided Treepodia with more detailed product fields that could give the 12 automated versions a more customized look. With the expanded data for 20,000 products, Treepodia tailored the content by category and “got people interested in the products right away with customized introductions,” said Neff, “as well as very cool endings ― all within 48 hours.”

The expanded program “increased conversion rates by another 5.87%,” reported Neff. Results were measured via a Treepodia A/B testing mechanism that calculates video performance automatically.

Sports Unlimited then began creating videos in-house and uploading them to the site to mix with the automated versions. The eTailer produced full-scale video presentations for roughly 120 high-end technical sports products, for which the Treepodia A/B mechanism revealed an 8.1% conversion rate.

“When someone searches for football shoulder pads in Google, two of our videos as well as our regular page show up in the top 10 results,” noted Neff. “We have earned three of the top-10 rankings for shoulder pads, and in the process have knocked two of our competitors out of those Google results,” he said. “Outcomes like this are the main goal of using video.”

A Brick-And-Mortar Feel To The Online World

To accompany the most technical product listings, Sports Unlimited now is producing ‘how to” buying guides, such as fitting a helmet, sizing a field hockey stick and purchasing the right baseball glove. “We’re going the extra mile,” stated Neff,” to bring a brick-and-mortar feel to the online world.”

Neff said the next play from Sports Unlimited will be to grow the brand through mobile, since by 2016, more searches will be done via phones and tablets than on desktops, he said. “We will be providing product information in such a way that customers easily can review it and place orders from their mobile devices,” Neff disclosed. “No matter how shoppers come across Sports Unlimited product pages and videos, we have learned that the more time they spend on those pages engaged with our products, the greater the likelihood they will purchase.”

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