Video Player

Last week I reviewed the strengths of three different video hosts, Wistia, YouTube and Vimeo Pro, for lead generation. This week, I’ll pit them against each other and discuss some of their common features and tools.

By the end of this article, you should be able to assess your goals and decide which video marketing host is right for your small business.

Let’s get started…


Powerful analytic tools are imperative in ensuring your videos are achieving your goals. Unfortunately, this is where Vimeo Pro falls flat. Their analytics are too simplistic to be particularly useful. While YouTube and Wistia are relatively close contenders in this arena, in my opinion, Wistia comes out on top.

Wistia has two analytical tools that set their insights apart from the other players. First, you can drill down to see the analytics of individual viewers. YouTube doesn’t provide such granular data. Second, Wistia provides a heat map tool which highlights parts of your video that are being watched, re-watched, and skipped. If you start to see trends in viewer behavior, you can get actionable insight into what may or may not be working in your videos.

Engagement and Interaction

Video should no longer be a passive experience. We want to encourage the viewer to take the next steps toward using our services. While Vimeo Pro doesn’t offer anything of the sort, both YouTube and Wistia have viewer interaction features.

Wistia has two tools: Turnstile and Call to Action.
– Turnstile is a tool that allows you to collect e-mail addresses.
– Call to Action is a tool that allows you to create clickable links at the end of your video.

YouTube’s tool is Annotations.

Annotations are pop-up boxes with comments which prompt you to subscribe or watch another video. They even allow you to link to your website if you verify you own the domain with Google.

While YouTube is lacking the e-mail turnstile, they are considerably more flexible in the placement of their annotations. You can put them anywhere in your video, and, even better, make them invisible. If you use invisible annotation rather than the ones pre-built by YouTube, you can integrate the graphics in your video in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

YouTube Annotations Example

Unfortunately, I feel Wistia needs to work on making their interactive tools fit seamlessly within videos. Currently, all their tools bring up separate screens that feel like a departure from the video. Also, you can only use the Call to Action tool at the end of the video after you have likely lost many of your viewers. I feel this demonstrates the need for a new tool or total paradigm shift of the feature to be truly beneficial to a small business.

Email Marketing

Wistia is a clear winner when it comes to integrating with your email marketing strategy. They allow you to easily add video thumbnails directly into the body of your email and send the user to a custom landing page or website. Even better, they tag the user’s interactions by email address which will integrate all of the users’ viewing metrics within the Wistia analytics tool.

Doing anything similar with either Vimeo Pro or YouTube is an extremely manual process and, at the end of the day, is much more complex.

Player Customization

Both Wistia and Vimeo Pro, unlike YouTube, provide a way to customize the appearance of your player. You can change the color scheme and distinguish which features the player will display. They also have unbranded players so you don’t have to feature someone else’s logo on your website. Not only does this look more professional, but if someone clicks, say the YouTube logo, it will send them away from your site (argh!!).

For the advanced user, you savvy developers, both Wistia and Vimeo feature open API’s that allow you to freely manipulate the way the player interacts with your site via Javascript.


Well, the price is certainly right for YouTube – hard to argue with free. But as we have seen, YouTube lacks a certain set of features needed by most video marketers.

As of October 2014, Vimeo Pro stands at $200 per year and Wistia’s lowest paid package is $25 per month or $240 per year (if you make annual payments). This is actually a very recent price and package restructuring for Wistia, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it change if they don’t see the results they expected.

So, which video host should you use?

The truth is that a combination of hosts is usually best. In general, I recommend using Wistia and YouTube in conjunction while putting Vimeo Pro on the back-burner. Vimeo’s focus is more on the artistic video community and video production professionals, which is why I personally use it as a video producer. They have some great features supporting those areas, but from the small business perspective, Wistia’s offering is more attractive.

To summarize, if the goal of the video is to send traffic to your website, I would recommend using a Wistia embed. But if you’re looking merely to make as many impressions as possible, YouTube is the best channel.

How do you choose which platform to upload your videos to? Want to know more about video marketing? Tell us what you’re curious about in the comments!

About the Author: George Goodman is the In-House Video Creator for Pagemodo, who focuses on strategically implementing and testing video for maximum results. He also gets down with the funk music. Get more from George on Vimeo.

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