YouTube is pretty much the ideal platform for consumers when it comes to researching products or services in advance, because of the amount of visual information it can provide to the potential customer or client. YouTube is currently fighting it out with Facebook to be the top social media network in the U.S., but a new study from Aol Platforms confirms that for paid advertising campaigns, the video site comes out on top for converting consumers, ahead of its nearest rival.

The research states that YouTube is the best at introducing new products, and for closing sales, with Facebook coming in behind, and Google+ (yes, really) in third place. YouTube was found to be 9x more effective overall than Twitter for initial product visibility for the user, although sponsored Tweets are 30x more likely to lead to a direct purchase.

Social Networks and the Customer Sales Life-cycle

Paying to advertise on social media is an increasing effective marketing strategy, particularly since sites like Facebook, and now YouTube, are becoming less generous with pushing visibility via organic traffic. As the line between the 'traditional' web and social media continues to blur, a mix of paid and non-paid marketing across different channels is paramount to ROI. Understanding what works and what doesn't throughout the customer journey.

Consumers are exposed to, and go on to research, services and products that they are interested in a different ways.  AOL Platforms  identified the three main stages of the purchase process on social media:

  • Stage One: The consumer is introduced to a product via their social network feeds.
  • Stage Two: Consumers are exposed to re-targeting ads that drive them back to the product they were originally looking at.
  • Stage Three: Consumers actively search out the product or service they have been exposed to in stage one and/or stage two. It's at this stage that the consumer is in a state of mind to make a purchase.

The customer journey is different depending on which social network they are using. AOL Platforms, using Convertro data, confirmed that:

YouTube is the strongest social network at introducing new products to the consumer (18%) and for driving sales conversions (14%) (Click to Tweet)

funnel-position-social-network

That compared favorably with Facebook who came in second place for introducing new products (11%) and closing sales (10%).

Convertro CEO Jeff Zwelling, CEO believes that YouTube is a vitally important part of the customer purchase funnel because "YouTube’s own search volume and preferential positioning on Google’s results help drive large amounts of traffic, of course. But when you get to YouTube, the content is rich, descriptive, and usually helpful".

Methodology & Report Access

AOL Platforms analysed data from 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions during Q1 2014. Social purchase interactions were tracked through Convertro’s attribution technology, which confirmed which sites affected online sales and at what point in the purchasing decision they had influence on the consumer. You can download the report here in return for some registration details.