Practical Ecommerce

Using YouTube Videos to Drive Ecommerce Sales

The use of video by ecommerce merchants can increase sales. We recently spoke with Ian Hackett, senior director of ecommerce and user experience at TRX Training, a retailer of exercise equipment, about the use of video for product sales. TRX Training has an extensive YouTube channel, and it also features videos on its own ecommerce site.

Practical eCommerce: TRX Training uses video in innovative ways. Before we get into those video strategies, could you tell us a little about TRX? What do you sell? Where are you located?

Ian Hackett

Ian Hackett

Ian Hackett: “We produce our own product. Our founder, Randy Hetrick, invented it while he was in the Navy SEALs. We produce best in class training equipment, workout programs and education courses around our two main product lines: TRX Suspension Trainer and TRX Rip Trainer. Suspension Trainer uses your body weight for resistance and Rip Trainer is about core stability and balance. So they are nice complementary products to one another.

“We are located in San Francisco, downtown in the financial district. Randy founded the company in 2004. We went online in 2005.”

PEC: Can you tell us approximate gross sales?

Hackett: “The annual gross sales are in the $40 to $50 million range.”

PEC: You have an impressive array of videos on YouTube. Do you also have videos on your site, Trxtraining.com?

Hackett: “Yes, Trxtraining.com is our digital flagship. We have all of our content, mostly videos, that we feel complements the blog content that we put up, as well as we utilize it on the product detail pages to sell. It kind of gives life to the product. “

PEC: Let’s move to your YouTube channel. You have an extensive line-up of your product and exercise videos on YouTube. Why put them on YouTube?

Hackett: “We wanted to distribute the content where the users were searching for it. When we first launched our channel, a few years ago, YouTube was the top traffic site at that time. We wanted to make sure our videos were where the users were looking for them, so we started building out our channel then. We’ve evolved it, in partnership with our YouTube team, into giving us more navigation material, and then looking at the suite of Google products that we then pick and choose what we use on that channel.”

PEC: Are you concerned that people go to Google, search for products that your company offers, and get to your YouTube channel, instead of your ecommerce site?

Hackett: “Not a concern. We look at it as a complementary content vehicle. We do link back from YouTube to our website.”

PEC: How do you know that the YouTube channel is producing sales?

Hackett: “We track all of our channels through Google Analytics, and we see a significant number of users coming from YouTube. About 7 percent of our search-engine-marketing sales came through YouTube during the last holiday season.”

PEC: TRX Training places the new TrueView ads on its videos on YouTube. What are TrueView ads?

Hackett: “TrueView is part of the Google AdWords interface. The benefits we found were that users can skip the video after 5 seconds — if they don’t want to continue with that video — and we’re not charged for the ad. If they do want to engage further, after those 5 seconds, they essentially opt into it. Our TrueView ads link over directly to Trxtraining.com.”

PEC: Say you’ve got an exercise video on your YouTube channel that contains an ad at the bottom of it. What would that ad link to?

Hackett: “One of the ads we have running right now is on a couple of the specific workout videos. It links straight into the store at Trxtraining.com.”

PEC: So you could keep the video up on YouTube and change out different promotions that you are having at Trxtraining.com with those TrueView ads?

Hackett: “Yes. If it is holiday time and we have a couple of different promotions during that period, we will swap out the ad. It is really quick and easy for us to manage and promote our products.”

PEC: You pay for those on a per click basis?

Hackett: “Yes.”

PEC: Tell us about the videos themselves. How many videos do you have on your YouTube channel?

Hackett: “There are almost 400 videos up there right now. There are videos that will show you how to do a specific exercise. There are also videos that we take on our trade shows. We go to a lot of commercial and industry trade shows in the fitness market. We have fun. A lot of people come up and have a good time. They do demos and we film them on occasion and we post those videos for a bit more of a lifestyle, in action, video shop. That is kind of the various types of content that we have up on YouTube.”

PEC: How long are the videos, on average?

Hackett: “We try to keep them around 60 seconds. Some of the trade shows go a bit longer, up to about 4 minutes. People get a little zealous on the video camera, but we do try and keep them between 60 and 90 seconds for the majority of them.”

PEC: How do you produce the videos? How much do they cost?

Hackett: “We are fortunate to have an in-house video production team. We do all of our own programming. We develop the programming and then we deliver it, via the workout videos. We have six full time video team members who range from editors to videographers to the director. It takes them anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of hours for each video. A lot of the time our exercises or workouts are just training tips that we do. It is something done on a handheld or a foot cam.”

PEC: What is your advice for smaller ecommerce merchants in terms of video usage?

Hackett: “It doesn’t need to be movie studio quality anymore. It is more important to get the content to the users, to get it in their hands and let them start exploring or being familiar with your content.”

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