by Erin Hogg
Step2, the leading manufacturer of kid's toys and preschool items, produces large-scale products, including play kitchens, houses and playground items.
Sold at major retailers including Target, Toys R Us and Walmart, consumers will see typically three or four Step2 items on the shelf. However, Step2 boasts around 200 products available online through its ecommerce store as well as major retailer's online stores.
Because of the sheer size of Step2 products, Tena Crock, Director of Digital Strategy, Step2, explained it's been harder to get items on the shelves at major retailers.
Also, with an average price point between $130 and $150, the toys are not an impulse purchase.
"The folks who are going to purchase in-store were doing a lot of their research online anyway, and for those products that people didn’t even have the opportunity to see them in-store, we needed to get the message across of the play value of our products," Crock said.
Images and product page descriptions simply wouldn't cut it. The team needed a way to truly demonstrate the functionality of Step2 goods to consumers who may not be able to see a product in person.
Step2 turned to video marketing as a way to show products in action to help consumers make more informed purchase decisions.
Partnering with a video marketing agency in 2011, Step2 now has more than 100 videos featuring products on the Step2 site as well as major retailer sites.
In the beginning, the team was unsure of how much success videos would have for the business.
"We didn't have a huge list [of videos] that we were going to do. And then we started to see that people were interacting with those videos much more than they were interacting with our photos," Crock said.
Step2's main customer segments include parents of toddlers. With a higher price point, Step2's base also consists of higher household incomes and college-educated families.
Step #1. Create video content
To determine if a Step2 product would receive its own video, the team prioritized a product based on the projected amount of sales. The team also weighed the amount of touch points a customer could possibly come in contact with that product.
"If we had a play kitchen, for example, that was sold on greater than two retailer's websites, those got prioritized first," Crock said.
Because of the success of the videos, now for every new product Step2 produces, it will get its own dedicated video if there's going to be online representation of that product.
The only products that do not receive a video are products sold exclusively at Sam's Club or Costco, which wouldn’t be displayed online.
In every video, Step2 includes a mom of average height
to give customers a sense of how large the toy is, and will also include children playing and interacting with the product.
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In addition, many of Step2 products include electronic features, whether they be a ringing doorbell or bubbling skillet, and in each video, those features are called out.
"That's something you can never get from an image, and it really hammers it home when you're seeing it in video," Crock said.
She added the main part of each Step2 video is to show consumers how much children are enjoying playing with a product.
"We had done some research that showed why people purchased products, and aside from their own kids playing and enjoying the product, one of the biggest factors that helped them make a decision was seeing another child playing and enjoying it," Crock explained.
Step #2. Partner with retailers
To ensure that Step2 videos are displayed on product pages on major retailer's sites, such as Toys R Us
, the team leverages the video marketing agency's relationships with brands to achieve this.
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"We just have to make sure that the product is live on Toys R Us, and we have to work with [our video agency] to let them know which product videos they should be sending," Crock said.
For other retailers that do not have a dedicated video player on their sites, Step2 will send over videos for their teams to review and post manually on the site.
Crock explained that recently, Step2's ecommerce perspective has grown extensively in terms of dedicated resources.
The team brought on an online digital merchandiser as well as a digital analyst, who in their first two months, performed an audit of every retailer and every product to ensure each had correct photography as well as accompanying video.
"We want to make sure that we’re leveraging that asset and giving us the best possible chance for conversion. Buying a $130 item sight unseen is a hard sell," Crock said.
To serve consumers in-store looking to purchase a Step2 product, the team used QR code posters to guide visitors to the site to watch product videos.
For example, at Toys R Us has a pull ticket system in which customers can grab a ticket for a Step2 product that is not set up in the store.
The customer takes the ticket up to the counter instead of picking up a box and taking it to the counter themselves.
The item will be displayed via a large poster with the pull ticket, along with a QR code. When a customer scans the code, the product video will launch on their device, providing more value to the customer rather than simply purchasing based on an image alone.
Step #3. Receive video feedback
At the end of every Step2 product video, viewers are encouraged to rate how helpful the video was to them.
Each month, the Step2 team as well as a dedicated team at the video marketing agency evaluates the feedback.
In any case where negative feedback was received the teams would look at what was different about that particular video and what information was lacking from the video.
Typically, Step2 has not received many low ratings, but they use additional commentary from customers to help inform future video efforts.
This includes questions such as how high a platform is off the ground, and other questions customers were hoping to get answered. These are incorporated into future videos for similar products.
The teams also analyzes if there are any drop-off points in a video, where a customer stops and doesn't return to finish watching.
They will look at those points and look at what was happening in the video at that very point. This could be an instance where a feature that doesn’t interest many customers is being discussed.
Early on in the partnership, the team found that while working with children to produce product videos may be difficult, adding in children interacting with toys better fit the target demographic.
The team discovered that when viewers rewind back to the point in videos where children are interacting with the product, it often initiates in an add to the cart.
Views are also a crucial metric both teams track.
"What we're trying to look at is if 'X' video is getting a ton of viewers — purchase intent may be there. How many of those products are we actually selling, and does that jive with what we're seeing?" Crock said.
If a video is receiving many views but is not converting in purchases, that tells the Step2 team there may be a problem with that product because it's not resonating when customers see it in action.
Sharing metrics also evaluated, as Crock explained, "any time you can get at least one share, that’s gold to us because that's word-of-mouth marketing for us."
The results the team has been able to achieve speak volumes about this strategy: video converts.
Through implementing product videos, Step2 has seen that viewers are 174% more likely to convert than non-viewers.
"Video lets us connect with moms in an authentic way, whether they’re on our site, a retailer’s site or in a retail store," Crock said.
Crock advised other marketers that the task of creating product videos, especially if there is a large assortment of SKUs, can be overwhelming — but to take it one step at a time and find a partner that can work to achieve your goals.
"This was not the easiest sell internally from the get-go. It took me championing this and getting buy-in at the right level and then seeing the results. So, start small. Pick your top five products that you are interested in testing, and work with a company that can give you those metrics back," Crock said.
In the future, Step2 will be working to create category-level videos, showcasing multiple products at a time, based on successful test results from initial launch.
- Product video
- Product video on partner site
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