Let's take a simple example:
You want to buy a car. You go to the dealer and there is a salesman Your mind instantly goes in self-protection mode (or wallet protection anyway).
Depending on how good the person is ... they will want to gauge your interest (and intent).
You took a step by walking into the lot (announcing the intention to your own brain). You have prepared your brain to see cars. You are not ready to buy anything YET.
Salesman: "Good morning, How can I help you?"
Ball is now in your court ...
You Say: "Oh hello, yeah ... just wanted to see some cars"
You Think: "I just want a f****** car without having to deal with you and I want it wholesale. Man I hate bargaining".
Salesman: "Well, you are in the right place for that ..."
You Think: "Yeah right, you pretending to be polite a** of a human"
Salesman: "Do you have anything in mind? Anything specific you're looking for?"
You Say: "Yes I do"
You Think: "No I don't have a clue ... a Ferrari would be nice"
Salesman: "Very nice. It's always better when you know what you want. It's easier for both of us."
You Say: "Yeah, sure"
You Think: "WTF. I don't really know."
Salesman: "If you can describe it, I can look up my inventory and see what I have available that matches all your criterion".
You Say: "Umm .. Err .. I want a spacious car that is sporty. I need to have tons of space in the trunk (boot) and the ability to fit 5 tall adults comfortably. It should be able to handle zippy driving and should be decent on gas. It snows a lot here so an AWD would be nice.
You Think: "It would be nice to get a good fuel economy. Maybe I should buy a smart car. There's only 2 of us anyway."
Salesman: "That is amazing that you know what you want in such detail. And you're in luck. We have many that match your criterion and believe it or not - I'm actually going to sell you a car today even if I have to bring the price down to wholesale for you. You seem nice and I've already done my quota for the day. This sale is actually a bonus for me.
What should we do today to make sure that you drive out with a new car?"
As soon as you answer that question ...
YOU ARE TOAST!
This is even before he is adding other levels of persuasion such as demonstration (test drive). In his mind he's sold the car. You've already bought it in the head and the rest is a matter of matching the automobile and the funds to your mind and is a minor detail.
So, let's talk to our video sales letter folks.
What is the ONE action you can do to ensure that your prospect actually feels they are in control? Don't autoplay. Ensure that they click play. Some encouraging words such as "Click Play to Watch This Presentation/Video/Message" helps - as long as the headline has already sold them on watching it.
Action one - they clicked play - They are more likely to watch it all the way to the end. They are less annoyed than the person who landed on the page and the video started yelling at them.
Now, they start watching ... 20 seconds ... 40 seconds ... they are zoning out and checking their e-mails and slowly something that completely distracts them and they're out. The video is running in the background (and it really is an audio presentation now).
Something in the audio distracted them from their distraction and they come back and they missed something.
Oh ... what did I miss ... It was interesting ... rewind ... where's the f****** controls. Damn!
Sh**! Now I have to watch the damn thing again.
Well ... Ok ... reload (and bang exit popup).
They're ticked. Close. What a bloody irritation.
Even without an exit popup, they're looking at the presentation and now zone out in 10 seconds. In about 40 they're bored ... click ... gone!
When you send a sales letter (old school long form paper and ink) stuff falls out of the envelope but the letter is stapled together to maintain the sequence. You want them to follow this sequence but ...
If they open it they just got warmer because there is an intent to read
They look at the headline and it looks interesting and they start reading. Looks really interesting ... so they start assessing how many pages there are. Turn page and see a few sub-headings. Turn back to the last page to check the price (because they know something will be sold to them).
Online behaviour is not very different ... Headlines, sub-heads, PSs, prices etc are seen before one gets into the actual message or pitch.
Video unfortunately doesn't have this possibility being a linear medium. It is delivered in sequence.
In a physical letter, when I want to read a page a 2nd time because I went through it too fast, it's easy. On a video ... I need to rewind a bit.
Imagine any sport without action replays and you'll really get this.
Any person who visits your sales page and performs actions on their own is someone you have MORE control over. It's powerful and the best salespeople, copywriters, marketers understand this.
The magalog writers for alternative health are the best I've seen at this.
You can easily jump around with everything leading to that order page.
On single page ads, I think Joe Sugarman is probably the best at it where everything is not just a sequence, it's also leading to the end goal.
Test your video sales letter without autoplay and with user controls. You may be pleasantly surprised.
PS: If you can't get them to watch the entire video (with controls), then something else is wrong. You probably need to look at your script or other engagement factors.