Sometimes a retailer needs more than decent photos to sell its products, especially for a complicated topic and product. Proov—which sells ovulation tests for women who are having trouble getting pregnant—found video ads and how-to videos on its ecommerce site to be the best way to help consumers learn about its product and, ultimately, make a purchase.
“It’s a hard-to-understand thing we’re selling,” says Ellen Schell, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Proov.
ProovTest.com’s tests help women determine if they’re ovulating properly rather than tracking when they’re ovulating. CEO and co-founder Amy Beckley had seven miscarriages over a three-year span, and the doctor diagnosed her with “unexplained infertility.” After going through expensive in vitro fertilization (IVF) and successfully having a son, Beckley still wanted to have another child. She took matters into her own hands by tracking her ovulation and discovered she had imbalanced hormones, so the doctor gave her a supplement to fix it and she was able to get pregnant with no issue.
In 2017, Beckley founded Proov’s parent company MFB Fertility Inc. and invented the now FDA-approved Proov test to help women pinpoint their ovulation issues without having to wait for a doctor for answers. She initially sold the test on Amazon.com for a time before she created the brand Proov with Schell and launched its ecommerce site in October 2018. The test can be purchased direct-to-consumer on ProovTest.com, Target.com, Amazon.com, FSAStore.com and in California-based Target stores. 90% of its sales are made online. Amazon is No. 1 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, Target Corp. is No. 12. FSAStore is No. 1202 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Next 1000.
With a product in place, the challenge was how to market it and explain how to use it to the consumers who needed it, Schell says.
“We have these detailed instructions and try to do a lot of written word that educates people. But people don’t want to be educated through the written word; they want to see it visually,” Schell says. “They want to hop on YouTube to see how to fix a sink, change a tire. So, we needed to cater to both the research types and the people who want to watch a three-minute video and call it a day.”
Initially, Proov chose to work with an unnamed video production company that cost $25,000, and Schell had “tons of buyer’s remorse” with the results—or lack thereof. Proov then found photo and video production company Soona a little over a year ago. The first video it created with Soona cost about $500 to shoot and Schell starred in the video, explaining what the Proov test is and why it’s important.
“The video did OK but didn’t light the world on fire. That wasn’t a big deal because it was only a couple hours of time, and it wasn’t that expensive compared with other video companies,” Schell says. “There’s no blueprint on how to market our product because we’re creating a category.”
Soona then shot other videos promoting Proov’s product, such as an unboxing video of the ovulation test kits. Soona also provided all of the retailer’s product photography and enabled Proov to use the photos in different situations and test different messaging.
“It’s a challenge to figure out how to educate and market for this emotionally stressful situation with sensitive and informative messaging,” Schell says.
If Proov needs more footage or photos, it is not a big deal because the cost is a few hundred dollars compared with thousands of dollars with other studios, Schell says. It also takes about one week between shooting the video, discussing any edits and receiving the final product. The company doesn’t have a set marketing budget and it changes daily depending on what ad it wants to promote through Facebook.
The unboxing video of the test kits did well on Facebook, Schell says. It is its best-performing video advertisement to date with more than two-times return on ad spend (ROAS) on Facebook and about 40% lower cost-per-transaction than other videos it has marketed, she says.
About 70-90% of its sales come from people who have watched or seen ads, Schell says. The rest comes from referrals or word of mouth. “It’s hard to say definitively because a lot of times it’s multiple things that drive purchases,” she says. “For example, someone hears about Proov from a friend, they go to our website, they are retargeted with ads and the video ultimately gets them to convert.”
Once the pandemic hit the U.S., Proov was nervous about its sales tanking, despite the success it found with its videos. But the company quickly pivoted as it saw fertility clinics limiting appointments due to safety concerns from the coronavirus. Schell says that many women who were about to start IVF treatment or preparing to talk to their doctor about that route had those appointments canceled. So, Proov ran messages on Facebook every day for the first few months of the pandemic offering a 30% discount on its test kits.
“We said we want to be there for you until clinics open again, but in the meantime, you can gather information about your body and find out if you’re ovulating properly,” Schell says. “We’re giving you the tools to potentially fix something before you walk in the door or to have that information when you can go to your appointment again.”
This tactic of offering a discount worked, Schell says. Its sales so far this year are more than two-times that of 2019’s sales, and the company hopes to end the year at three-times its 2019 sales. Plus, its sales have been consistent every month so far, she says.
Proov plans to continue making unboxing videos for its current and upcoming kits, as well as educational content. Its upcoming video will be another how-to as part of an onboarding email for shoppers who have bought the product and what to expect when using it.
“The metric for this one won’t be sales-related, it’ll be reviews,” Schell says. “When we get a bad review, I know it’s because someone didn’t read the instructions properly. So, if they’re not going to read the instructions, I need to meet them where they are with video.”