Shopify spent an estimated $4.2 million USD+ on YouTube ads last month.
That’s A LOT of people watching A LOT of YouTube ads:
- 84,906,000+ views on Shopify ads inside VidTao for March 2022
- That’s at least 424,530,000 ad impressions
Shopify dominates the e-commerce platform market in the United States, controlling 32% of a total addressable market of $153 billion. Compare that with nearest competitors WooCommerce and Wix (22% and 14% of the US market respectively).1
It’s no surprise that Shopify is leaning hard on YouTube ads to drive customer growth.
But what if you’re not a publicly-traded, multi-billion dollar company?
…Is there anything you can learn from Shopify’s YouTube ads that you can apply to your own YouTube ad strategy?
Let’s dive into 3 lessons from Shopify’s YouTube ad campaigns that you can apply today…
Lesson 1 - Go Global
Shopify dominates the US market and is aggressively scaling globally.
Here is VidTao’s ad view data for Shopify’s March 2022 YouTube ads, based on language:
Performance stats from VidTao
Note that 7% of the English language video views are for India-specific videos, like this one (notice the title)
That means over 57% of Shopify’s views are to a non-English language market.
That’s a ton of customers who would have been ignored had Shopify simply focused on their original “Big 5” English-speaking market.
So how can you go global & expand your ads beyond just one language?
It doesn’t get more complicated than this:
Simply take an ad that’s working well for you in English, and translate the voiceover/text to another language.
Check out how Shopify does this with their basic “Claim + Proof + CTA” framework ad (here in English):
Notice how they’ve taken this same ad, translated the text, and run it in another language, like these for example:
Lesson 2 - Mix Up Your Video Styles
Different people respond to different styles of messaging/presentation. To keep things fresh and avoid ad blindness, Shopify is always continuously testing new types of video ads.
Here is a breakdown of what we saw in March 2022:
Performance stats from vidtao.com
Claim + CTA style ads (45.9% of views)
The straightforward Claim + CTA style generated most of Shopify’s YouTube ad views.
Here is the English language Claim + CTA ad we showed in Lesson 1 (like this English language version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3nSqVnb4GY )
Take a look at the ad and you’ll see it has a straightforward structure as follows:
● 00:00 - 00:03 - Promise
○ “Sell products on Facebook and Instagram when you start your online store.”
● 00:03 - 00:10 - Social Proof/Build Trust
○ “With Shopify the e-commerce platform that's trusted by over 1 million businesses worldwide.”
● 00:10 - 00:16 - Handle Objection: “I’m not tech-savvy”
○ “Build your online store without any coding or design experience.”
● 00:16 - 00:23 - Desired Benefit from unique Feature: “Get more customers using X special feature”
○ “Reach more customers with Shopify's social media and
● 00:23 - 00:27 - Handle Objection: “How can I accept payment?”
○ “Instantly accept all major payment methods.”
● 00:27 - 00:33 - Re-stating promise in more detail
○ “Grow your business online with powerful tools that help you find customers drive sales and manage your day-to-day.”
● 00:33 - 00:35 - Presenting a reasonable offer
○ “Starting at 29 per month”
● 00:35 - 00:38 - Call to Action (CTA) + Making offer irresistible
with a free trial
○ “Go to shopify.com and start your free trial today.”
Testimonial Style (15.3% of views)
Seeing someone’s success story with a product gets us to believe that the product can be the key to accomplishing our goal too.
Shopify does a great job of sharing customer success stories, overcoming objections, and showing the product’s easy-to-use interface in the process.
Here is one example testimonial for the US market:
You’ll see testimonials for Shopify’s other languages here:
The above testimonials are a bit more high production value but don’t be scared away thinking you need to hire a full film crew to achieve these kinds of videos.
Shopify also uses User Generated Content (UGC) based testimonials interspersed with in-app screen footage like these:
UGC + Interface screenshots - English -
UGC + Interface screenshots - Japanese - https://youtu.be/re-TuyL9fCQ
Of course, it’s great to do a documentary-style testimonial/user story too, if you can afford to test it. Shopify does an excellent job here with artist Maria Qamar’s success story and how she went from timid creator to rising professional artist:
Motivational (4.1% of views)
Shopify also tests broader, motivational/self-help themed ads that subtly tie in Shopify’s core promise (create the life you want by selling online).
Here’s one they’ve been testing this past month:
Notice the “Do you feel stuck?”
Comedy (1.8% of views)
Shopify also experimented with short, comedy-focused ads around the frustration of trying to set up an online business.
Key Takeaways - Segments of your audience will respond stronger to different styles of creative:
- Humanistic buyers: Show emotional “hero’s journey” stories that sell
- Practical buyers: show the product’s functionality and how it will make their life easier.
- Bargain hunters: frame the price as being a “no-brainer” deal (like this Shopify ad with $100k+ adspend that frames the app as being cheaper than your daily coffee habit: https://youtu.be/zeVCelUq-IU)
Look for example ads to model in VidTao and test, test, test.
Lesson 3 - Imitate Before You Innovate
Take a look at Shopify’s #1 performing video from last month, with over $1 million USD in adspend in the past 30 days and well over $2M overall:
Performance stats from vidtao.com
(Here is the link to watch it: https://youtu.be/A8SmHyP_0_E)
Notice the NAME of the video:
That’s right, Shopify’s best-performing video from last month is modeled from competitor Wix’s best videos.
This emphasizes a really important point, one that is behind why we built VidTao in the first place:This emphasizes a really important point, one that is behind why we built VidTao in the first place:
Imitate what’s working before you try and innovate
First, some context:
Wix was an early adopter of high volume YouTube ads to drive new users to their platform, starting back in 2018, with ads like these:
Each of these ads has tens of millions of views and multiple millions of adspend.
Notice the format? Actor talking face to the camera, with cuts to the software interface to show how easy the platform is to use.
It’s no surprise that Shopify started testing these kinds of ads in 2020. In fact, they literally call it “Wix[title goes here]” to label this video type!
And even 2 years later, this was still their biggest spending video last month, at [insert adspend]
Why does this format work? Here are a couple of reasons:
- Ownership experience - You get to see how easy & useful the product is, with first-hand screenshots
- Personal connection - Using a spokesperson to deliver the product experience is like having a friend take you on a personal tour, leading you to believe that you too can use the product.
So, when Shopify saw Wix’s success with these ads, they decided to test it themselves and knocked it out of the park.
A Note on Not Being Boring/Ad Blindness
Wix is nowhere near Shopify’s scale right now on YouTube. And one reason why might be their lack of diverse video styles. All the ads look the same:
Look at the uniformity of ad styles they are running with (check the thumbnails below from their current highest spenders)
Compare this same “high production spokesperson with screen share” versus Shopify’s wide range of ad types.
So maybe now it’s time for Wix to take a lesson from Shopify…
What are your YouTube ad questions?
In the meantime though, what questions do YOU have about YouTube ads?
Let us know in the Comments section below, and we’ll make sure to cover your question in an upcoming post.
Co-Founder Inceptly.com (High-Performance YouTube Ad Creatives & Ad Management)
Have a great week!
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