Did Smart Phone Kill The VSL?

18 replies
I launched a Facebook campaign last week and linked it to a sales page with a nice big VSL set to auto-start. Scrolling on my profile one day I come across my own ad. I clicked on it to see how everything looks and make sure it's working. Well it wasn't.

The video wouldn't start. And, since I had hidden the controls like we all do on VSLs, there was really no obvious way to start it playing. After making sure the embed code was right I e-mailed tech support, who told me it's a feature of most smart phones these days. They disable auto-play on videos to save bandwidth and battery time.

Well that sucks! Especially since most people view Facebook on their phones these days. So is the VSL dead now? I'm curious to know how you guys are dealing with this, or if you've even thought about it for that matter.
#kill #phone #smart #vsl
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  • Profile picture of the author IGotMine
    or if you've even thought about it for that matter.
    Not for a second.
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    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      Hey John,

      If there's a way to "set the volume to maximum" my video host doesn't have it, and I don't know why anyone would want to do that. But I definitely get your point. The reasoning behind the whole auto-play, no controls thing has always made sense to me. In my mind it follows the same reasoning we all use when we create a full page landing page or opt-in page with no links or headers anywhere. It just makes sense to eliminate distractions to me.

      But clearly times have changed with the advent of smart phones, so we don't have the luxury of not showing the controls anymore.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

        If there's a way to "set the volume to maximum" my video host doesn't have it, and I don't know why anyone would want to do that. But I definitely get your point. The reasoning behind the whole auto-play, no controls thing has always made sense to me. In my mind it follows the same reasoning we all use when we create a full page landing page or opt-in page with no links or headers anywhere. It just makes sense to eliminate distractions to me.
        First, maybe the volume thing is perceptual, but it seems like those who use the high volume approach sound louder when the audio track kicks in. Kind of like when the TV plays programming at 80% and ads at 100%.

        Where we differ is on the reasoning behind the autoplay, no controls thing being the same as using a lander with no other links. There's a difference between limiting distractions and hijacking control of the experience.

        I've reached the point, with autoplay ads inserted into regular web pages, where I keep the volume on my tablet set to zero unless I want to hear something. Saves me from "treating" the other folks at the coffee shop from some carnie barker cum marketer trying to eliminate distractions by assaulting my eardrums and those around me with pitches that aren't good enough to attract and keep my attention any other way.
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  • Profile picture of the author DripRevenue
    From working with my Facebook rep, my understanding is that you cannot have auto play VSLs at all. With all the reasons you are stating, it seems to be that may be part of the issue. I would suggest that you take it off of auto play and add button controls to the video.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
    Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

    So is the VSL dead now?
    Was it ever alive?

    I realize I'm probably in the minority, but other than for IM products - I don't think VSL's have ever been that effective.

    IMHO, most buyers are NOT interested in sitting through a video sales presentation, and the VSL "hype" was primarily created by internet marketers as a way for them to pre-sell their own 1) video creation tools, 2) video playback tools, and/or 3) video plugins for Wordpress.
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    • Profile picture of the author Gambino
      Originally Posted by Sid Hale View Post

      Was it ever alive?

      I realize I'm probably in the minority, but other than for IM products - I don't think VSL's have ever been that effective.
      I haven't been in the info product world for years but I was scanning Clickbank yesterday to see what was in the marketplace because I have a couple of idle domains that I'm looking to do something with. It seems like a lot of Clickbank products use VSLs (at least in the MMO and fitness markets), so I have to assume they work. Personally, I can't stand them and I can't sit through them either. I'd much rather read and scan a long sales page at my own pace.
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    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      I'd have to disagree there Sid. I think they've been very effective for a long time. Definitely more common in the MMOL niche, but I've seen them in other niches too, although not as common.
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    • Profile picture of the author colmodwyer
      Originally Posted by Sid Hale View Post

      Was it ever alive?

      I realize I'm probably in the minority, but other than for IM products - I don't think VSL's have ever been that effective.

      IMHO, most buyers are NOT interested in sitting through a video sales presentation, and the VSL "hype" was primarily created by internet marketers as a way for them to pre-sell their own 1) video creation tools, 2) video playback tools, and/or 3) video plugins for Wordpress.
      This isn't true in my experience. I've seen VSLs treble conversions and boost revenue by tens of millions in financial and health.

      Its effectiveness has dropped off quite a bit now, which is likely because of format fatigue.

      Cheers,
      Colm
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Did smart phones kill the VSL?

    Nope, they killed the obnoxious no-controls, autoplay with the volume set to maximum VSLs that seem to be the darling of the MMO crowd. Since many of them can't hold attention any other way, they try to hijack it.

    To my mind, VSLs that respect the viewer still work for things that benefit from demonstrations, which would include fitness products like those already mentioned.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark 99
    The VSL is far from dead. It is becoming incresingly harder to make them successfu,l but a good one will stand the test of time. Personal opinion doesn`t come in to it. In 95% of the cases a Good VSL will out pull a good long form... a crap VSL that has no curiosity to suck a prospect in will of course fall flat...
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  • Profile picture of the author BrownMason
    Yes, they really kill Vsl.
    Vsl isnt so effective anymore
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  • Most VSL's can't be run off a direct link, you are likely to lose your Ad Account that way (due to VSL's having very aggressive approach in discussing weight loss, making money, etc.).

    Most people are using a landing page that will then push the user to the VSL, so that it will auto-play at that point; I guess it really depends on the offer/VSL, if you had a really clean one I can see how this would definitely cripple your effectiveness.
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  • Profile picture of the author Derek S
    Autoplay has been LONG disabled on smartphones and now modern browsers are no longer allowing it, no matter what your embed code is set to. Safari already has this in place and Chrome is on its way any update now.

    VSL's are long from dead man! I switched all my long-form sales letters to VSL's back in 2012 and they are the norm now. I've processed millions of sales with just a simple VSL and a buy button in the parenting niche.

    The rules never change... Your headline is the first indicator of conversion rate. You have to entice them to the best of your ability to click that play button.

    They clicked your ad and clearly want the info, so it's second nature for them to click play to get that info from the video...

    The one place you'll see videos not convert as well, is with individuals in their "golden years". Seniors and "old farts"

    There is a good reason products like Old School New Body haven't switched to VSL's

    The largest red flag in this thread is why you are sending FB traffic directly to an autoplay VSL and how you didn't notice until later on in the campaign your lander was messed up on mobile!
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  • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
    Thanks for all the input everyone. I'll admit I'm really late to the party when it comes to using VSLs. That explains why I wasn't even aware that mobile devices had disabled the auto-play feature. But the good thing is I'm in a niche that doesn't typically see a lot of them, so the saturation isn't there for my audience. I sent the traffic to a landing page that had a VSL set to auto-play. That's the way I've seen many funnels set up.

    It took me a minute to see that it was happening because you don't typically see your own ad in your newsfeed. I saw mine because people were liking and sharing it,so I got the notification on my fan page.

    Up to now I've had a landing/sales page with a talking head video of me, and that's made sales just sitting on the site with no paid traffic. I wanted to see what a VSL would do to increase sales, so I thought I'd run some traffic to it to get a better idea. I'll make a couple of changes and try it again. Namely changing the embed code to show the play button.

    I've written a couple of blog posts about the subject so next time I'll try sending traffic to the article, then encouraging traffic to click the link from there.

    Thanks again everyone!
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  • Profile picture of the author colmodwyer
    Ron,

    You should also ask if it even makes sense to send mobile traffic to a sales page. Consuming a sales pitch and ordering from a mobile is cumbersome.

    Looks like your market is young and tech savvy, so perhaps it does make sense for you. But you should consult the data.

    Cheers,
    Colm
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  • Profile picture of the author kazimuhith
    Did Smart Phone Kill The VSL?

    No it didn't. I have had sales of Clickbank products that have VSL on smartphones and tablets. The users have to manually start the video , so the VSL should have that play button visible. Otherwise it will fall short in smart phones.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rory Singh
    I thrive on highly compelling VSL's.

    No it's not dead on smart phones but it has to have someway for your visitors to click play.

    And your marketing message along with the back ground colors and Ad copy have to be very compelling also.

    I have been testing one very good affiliate product that is converting very well based on the low amount is of traffic that I have been sending to the thing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    The VSL is alive and well. There's absolutely no such thing as an effective medium to communicate and sell... ever being dead.

    If you think you're dependent on auto start to convert, nope. I never automatically start a VSL. It's not compliant on most ad platforms.

    It's always comes down to how effective your copy is, which is a conversation for another thread.

    Mark
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