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YouTube for E-Commerce: How to Sell Without Selling

17 min read

YouTube is an excellent platform for promoting your e-commerce business, but many stores haven’t capitalized on what it has to offer.

At some point, you’ve probably contemplated creating videos to market your e-commerce business. But issues like affordability and lack of time have gotten in the way. That’s how it is for most businesses, but the ones that invest their efforts into video marketing often separate themselves from the pack as far as having a memorable brand that drives engagement.

In this article, we’ll dive into why YouTube is a worthwhile platform for e-commerce marketing, along with some strategies to boost sales by leveraging this super popular video social media channel.

But first, let’s get down to some basics.

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Why YouTube is Essential to Marketing

To better understand how YouTube might be a vital resource for your e-commerce marketing toolkit, take a look at these video marketing statistics:

  • 70% of businesses say that videos boost brand awareness
  • 51% of businesses agree that videos increase traffic
  • Videos help businesses get 66% more qualified leads
  • 85% of people say that videos help them connect with brands more effectively
  • 88% of businesses that use video report a positive return on investment.

Trends forecast that video traffic will make up 82% of all consumer traffic by 2022. This means that thriving businesses will likely become more and more reliant on some form of video marketing for your e-commerce business.

Here are six reasons YouTube is essential to your e-commerce marketing strategy:

It elevates your brand

With more than 2.5 billion monthly active users, Youtube reaches more US-based 18–34-year-olds than any TV network — on mobile alone! Everyday, users watch over a billion hours of video, and generate billions of views.

YouTube is also the world’s second-largest search engine and second most visited site after Google. It processes more than 3 billion searches a month and is a more significant traffic driver than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask, and AOL combined.

So rest assured, your audience is already hanging out on YouTube. All you have to do is introduce them to your business’s videos, and voila! Increased engagement.

Besides blogging and sending out email newsletters, all businesses strive to succeed with YouTube, no matter how big or small their current subscriber count.

By doing so, brand recall and your overall online presence will grow. People will start taking your brand more seriously because being active on YouTube proves you are willing to invest significant time and energy into your brand.

Consumers like the idea of engagement, not just on the consumer level, but also on the management level: they want to see that you are passionate about what you sell. In other words, your enthusiasm is infectious. Showing it off over YouTube is an easy and effective way to get others to care about your brand.

It builds a following

They say: follow your passion, and the money will come. When it comes to building a successful e-commerce business, you need to find your target audience and get them interested enough to follow your brand — then the traffic and sales will come.

The bigger your following, the better your credibility and thus, the quicker the eventual conversions. To build a genuine brand following, you need to connect with your audience authentically right from the start, and YouTube is the perfect platform to do that.

Posting authentic videos (that aren’t overly promotional) on YouTube can help you connect with users and build a sizable fanbase.

Don’t believe us? Take Daisy Jing, CEO of Banish, a natural skincare e-commerce brand. She realized that she needed to create an authentic connection with her target audience, who had the same problem she was trying to solve: acne.

Instead of a flashy marketing video, she used her YouTube channel as a way to share her story — and it worked.

She created her own line of skincare products and grew her e-commerce business to $3 million in revenue. Her channel now has nearly 70 million views, and it’s turned into a community that still drives sales.

To meet your end goal of generating truckloads of traffic that convert that into sustainable sales, you need a strong audience and that’s why Youtube is where you need to be.

You can create informational videos

Did you know 94% of people watch explainer videos to better understand a product or service, and that 93% of millennials watch how-to videos on YouTube? 44% of people are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.

All this points to YouTube being an ideal platform to share how-to and informational videos that explain complex topics to the layman.

The key here is to find out what problems your audience is facing and then create videos that answer their queries in a helpful way.

Once you build a decent following, you can continue using YouTube to share informational content related to your products too. This helps build your authority and convince people that your product/offering is better than your competitor’s might be.

It expands your content portfolio

Most modern businesses are aware of the importance of content marketing.They churn out blog post after blog post in the hopes of boosting their search rankings and online visibility.

Research has shown that the modern audience has a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish. This makes the case for expanding your content portfolio with visual graphics to attract and engage new audience segments.

After all, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual — and a great way to do this is through videos.

Videos invite more engagement from potential customers, as they feel more connected to your brand in the early stages of their buyer’s journey. Videos also tend to be more memorable, bolstering your brand’s customer experience in an indirect yet powerful way.

Depending on what your business is about, you can:

The easiest way to start leveraging YouTube is to repurpose your top-performing blog posts into videos. That way, you already know that you audience is invested in what you have to say.

Source: Social Champ

These two content formats complement each other well. Embedding videos within your blog posts can dramatically increase engagement through social shares, and also boost the average time spent on your page.

This will lead to an overall increase in your store’s rankings on Google.

You can provide product reviews and FAQs

84% of people trust online reviews and testimonials as much as they would a personal recommendation. Furthermore, 69% of online shoppers want more reviews from e-commerce sites, and 55% of consumers use videos for purchase decisions.

What does that all mean? That people are more likely to purchase a product if they know how to use it or know that it works for others. As a business, this often means that you should be providing information beyond product descriptions.

Social proof in the form of product reviews and testimonials (on your store, social media channels, and review platforms like Yelp) is pivotal to turning strangers into customers. Product reviews in the form of YouTube videos work exceptionally well. It’s a simple formula: tell a story, educate, and recommend, all in one neat video package.

YouTube is also an excellent option for posting FAQs about your brand or its products. And doing so is a good idea because if people have to work too hard to learn about your offerings, they may shop elsewhere instead.

By answering frequently asked questions before they even pop up in a potential customer’s mind, you address concerns surrounding your brand and its products before your buyers second guess their purchases.

Short (30-to-60 seconds) FAQ videos are an easy way to address common customer service questions and free up your support team for more complex issues. This leads to happier customers who feel like your brand truly cares — these customers are then more likely to remain loyal and become repeat buyers.

It enables cross-promotion

YouTube already boasts highly established channels in every niche. When you partner with a channel, you get a considerable increase in visibility and credibility.

For example, DJI partnered up with Peter McKinnon to promote their new drone, and within a week, the video garnered nearly five hundred thousand views and twenty-four thousand likes.

Peter McKinnon has over five million subscribers. If he gives a thumbs up to the product, his following is more likely to check it out, trust the product, and even buy it.

Partnering with influencers will help your brand’s YouTube channel grow. Often, the YouTuber will link out to your channel from their video description.

Cross-promotion can take other forms as well. These include partnering up with a non-competing brand to recommend each other’s products, reaching out to journalists for more coverage, or using your YouTube videos in other marketing materials such as newsletters and social media.

Strategies for YouTube Marketing

Many e-commerce brands try their hand at YouTube, don’t see substantial results, and give up almost immediately. This is a big mistake! Considering more than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s an intimidating landscape.

To steer clear of YouTube marketing mistakes and correctly leverage this platform for growth, here are five great strategies you can get started with.

Use paid ads

Paid ads are a quick way to get in front of your audience and generate leads from YouTube.

YouTube offers several ad formats to choose from to engage viewers with your content:

    • TrueView In-Stream: This ad appears before, during, or after other videos on YouTube and instantly immerses viewers. After 5 seconds, they can keep watching or skip it. You pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds (or the whole duration, if shorter) or interacts with your ad.

    • TrueView Discovery: This ad appears next to related YouTube videos, YouTube search results, or the YouTube desktop and mobile homepage. You pay when a viewer clicks your ad and begins watching your video. Use this format to reach people in moments of discovery, when they’re searching or browsing videos.

    • Bumper Ads: This ad is 6 seconds or shorter and plays before, during, or after another video. It cannot be skipped. Use this format when you’d like to reach viewers broadly with a short, memorable message.

All you have to do is create your video, set your ad budget, and target the desired audience (demographics, location, context based on the data in your CRM software). There’s no minimum price to run an ad, and you can change your targeting and budget at any time.

The most effective ads:

  • Make the first 5 seconds count by evoking curiosity.
  • Drive interactions through interactive elements.
  • Provide exact next steps, such as clicking through to your landing page.
  • Have an enticing title with a short and compelling narrative.

Partner with influencers

As we touched upon earlier, teaming up with established YouTube influencers is a great way to build your brand’s visibility and credibility.

YouTubers with a large subscriber base charge heavily for a sponsored video. If you have a smaller budget, pitch to smaller channels with a more focussed and engaged audience that aligns with your target buyer persona.

You can partner up with a YouTube influencer by:

  • Sending free samples of your products for a review video.
  • Providing them with an affiliate coupon code that they can share with their viewers.
  • Helping them create content for their video by showing them your business behind the scenes.
  • Hosting a sweepstake, giveaway, or contest with them.

When you build a win-win relationship with a YouTuber, you turn them into a brand advocate for your e-commerce brand. They may speak for your brand even after the partnership ends, providing long-term benefits.

Add links in the description field

Linking back to your e-commerce store in the description of your videos is a super effective way to send your viewers to a relevant landing page.

As such, YouTube viewers expect and look for links in the description. Make sure to leverage this space to drive traffic back to your store.

In any YouTube video, only the first three lines of the description are made visible. You have to make them count. Shorten longer links to make them cleaner, easier to read, more trustworthy, and more uniform.

Use end screens in videos

End screens are a powerful tool to engage your viewers when they’re done watching your video. It’s the perfect time to nudge them to check out your store, recommend videos for further watching, or invite them to subscribe to your channel.

As shown above, when you hover over the image, the card expands and prompts you to download the free eBook. YouTube offers various types of calls to action to choose from, such as download, buy, visit, and more.

However, linking to websites is only available to members of the YouTube Partner Program. You can link to your merchandise site as long as it’s on the list of approved sites.

Engage with your audience

Finally, interact with your viewers in your videos. Show them the “human” side of your e-commerce brand, and ditch the salesman approach.

Ask questions, and encourage feedback. Strive to respond to every comment you receive in a personalized, one-on-one way.

Your viewers will only remain interested in your channel if you put in the efforts to engage with them, and show that you value their opinions.

Wrapping Up Selling on YouTube

Video marketing might be more expensive and time consuming than email marketing or blogging, but when done right, it can bring in greater returns.

With e-commerce, potential customers can’t touch, taste, or try your products first-hand before taking the plunge and clicking “buy”. Videos go a long way in reassuring them that they’re making the right decision by providing a more dynamic sense of your products. It’s also a great way to educate potential customers without being salesy, and improve customer service by enabling a self-service alternative.

YouTube is the perfect platform to get your videos in front of your audience, build brand credibility and authority in an authentic way.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get started with a branded YouTube channel for your e-commerce store.

Do you want to learn more about selling on YouTube?

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About the author

Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot Sales, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIN, Twitter, or email:

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