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YouTube vs Onsite: Defining the best platform to increase sales.

The author

Egle Gudiskyte

Senior SEO Strategist

Recent studies show that TV viewers are dramatically decreasing, especially among young adults and teenagers.

However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t watch videos or that video advertising is dying.  No, it’s quite the opposite; more than 500 million hours of video is watched on YouTube everyday (Buffer, 2017).

In fact, a study by Wistia showed people spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than pages without video, and Google’s insights show that nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.

So it’s pretty clear that online retailers should be using video in their ecommerce strategies in order to stay above the competition and create outstanding customer experiences.

However, one of the most important elements of a successful ecommerce video strategy is choosing which platform to use to distribute the video content and use it to drive sales. Is it YouTube? Or onsite? Or perhaps both?

Both platforms have their own pros and cons, with each suitable for different aspects of ecommerce strategy. Let’s have a look at a few of the search benefits for each.

Onsite advantages:

  • Driving traffic to the site and increasing conversions
  • Can customise video player

YouTube advantages:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Usually content ranks better than onsite

When is onsite video content better?

Onsite is better to drive traffic to your site and improve conversions and sales. The reason why YouTube is not great for increasing conversions and traffic is because the majority of users go to YouTube to get entertained, not to find products or services.

If you use paid platforms, like Wistia or Brightcove, you can customise your video platforms to create bespoke CTAs to generate more sales. Paid video hosting solutions offer excellent analytics that are more detailed than YouTube.  

For example, you can get more information about the people watching your video content (e.g. who they are, which videos they watch etc.) or heat-maps which can help to improve video production.

When is YouTube better?

YouTube is the second biggest search engine, therefore this platform is better for reaching more people and increasing your brand awareness. But it’s not so good for driving traffic to your site or encouraging conversions.  

YouTube video usually drives traffic to from search or social which means that you won’t be able to drive that many conversions or revenue.

You can create annotation cards with clear CTAs to drive traffic to the site and increase conversions.

For example, Juicy Couture has CTAs “Shop Now” on their videos to increase sales of their sunglasses:

Juicy Couture

However, the video needs to get a lot of views to drive traffic to the site. As mentioned earlier, people generally go to YouTube to get entertained, not to buy products and therefore an average CTR is quite low: approximately 1.3%.

So, for example if you get 20,000 views, only 260 viewers might visit your site. And then depending on how well your landing pages are optimised, the number of conversions will be even lower.

Overall, YouTube is great for brands that are not necessarily hoping to get immediate results but capture target audiences higher in the buying journey funnel and get their brand in front of people.  

What about using both platforms?

Many brands decide to use both; onsite and YouTube platforms. It’s a good approach if you want to be visible throughout the whole buying journey, from brand awareness to loyalty.

Here’s an example of where each platform plays the main role in the buying journey:

The buying journey

However, you need to be aware that uploading videos on both platforms might cause cannibalisation issues. YouTube video usually ranks higher than your domain and users might choose to visit YouTube and share the YouTube video instead of the version of the video on your site.

In summary, your platform choice depends on your KPIs. If you’re using sales and revenue as your main KPI, onsite is a perfect option. If you want to reach audiences higher in the funnel and increase your brand awareness – use should upload your video on YouTube.  

If you want to capture audiences throughout the whole journey and upload video on both platforms, you need to assess the consequences of it. Is it worth using YouTube besides onsite just to get additional reach?