Have you ever come across a company in a small niche that managed to generate millions of YouTube views for seemingly insignificant products? Or at least – products that certainly wouldn’t be something you’d expect users to search for on a video site.
Zappos is an excellent example of the power of promoting on YouTube. They offer a product that would seem to offer minimal YouTube traction (shirts, shoes, apparel) but have been able to generate millions of views with their videos.
Because solid, creative YouTube campaigns can be beneficial for almost any market. They drive more than 250,000 visits per year to their website from YouTube. They have uploaded more than 100 hours of footage. This footage offers a great variety. They’ve uploaded funny commercials, in depth product analysis, fan videos, and pranks from their office among others.
Very few of their videos are directly related to the products they offer. In fact, many of the videos are only tangently related. Many of the videos are uploaded for the purpose of familiarizing users with the company. These videos might include employee interviews, life advice, and in-depth looks into the company’s processes.
You can, and should, do the same for your business!
At the time of writing this, I feel a little strange since I have not implemented many of these same principles on my own for Empowermented. We are still young though – it is in the cards!
Keep in mind that guide will cover the basics of setting up and promoting your YouTube channel. I will be saving in-depth YouTube optimization for another guide.
- YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
- Users are familiar with YouTube. For most, it is their first destination when looking for videos.
- It is much less competitive than Google
YouTube has grown to become the 2nd largest search engine in the world. They service more than 1 billion unique visitors per month, who watch more than 6 billion hours of video in total. That’s an hour for every person on earth.
Setting Up Your YouTube Channel
Your channel is essentially your YouTube homepage. It is where visitors come to find a list of the videos that you have uploaded. It provides you with a range of marketing opportunities.
The debut of the new design – YouTube One Channel, improved channels greatly, giving users more control over the look and feel of their channel.
Your channel icon is connected to a Google+ account for individuals, and is essentially your profile picture. You are given the choice to either upload an image, or choose an image (video still) from a video that you have already uploaded.
Always upload an image. Many choose to upload their logo.
I’ve had my best results when I upload something loud and eye-catching.
YouTube channel art is essentially the banner that goes across the top of your page. It is recommended that you choose a single 2560px by 1440px image. This size provides the best results across a range of devices and resolutions.
The channel art that you choose should depend heavily upon your branding, and the look that you are going for. Remember – this is valuable creative space. Be creative in the image that you choose. This is valuable marketing space that could potentially be used for calls to action, or other marketing materials.
Poke around some successful channels and review how they have used the space.
Channel trailers are essentially a featured video that is shown to non-subscribers when they first reach your channel.
Your channel trailer should;
- Be Interesting.
- Give Viewers an Idea of What Your channel Provides.
- Introduce them to your company.
Additionally, some businesses choose to feature their newest video instead of a pre-made trailer. If your goal is to create subscribers – a video created specifically for this purpose is going to take you a lot farther than the other available options will.
You are also given the opportunity to overlay social profile links, which will hover over the right, lower corner of your channel art. There is no reason not to do this, as it could help to provide some traction on other social services. Fill it out with the services for which you have accounts for.
Creating Effective Videos
YouTube isn’t the same place it was when it first started. It was originally a great vessel for one-off viral videos. Today, YouTube caters more to long term strategies. Producing a wide variety of interesting videos that cater to the wants of your user-base always provides you with your best chance of views and growth. The platform rewards content creators that can produce videos consistently.
Start by determining what it is that you would like to do.
Are you attempting to educate your viewer base? Are you attempting to make them laugh? Your goal doesn’t have to apply to every video uploaded on your channel. You can provide them with a guide or information video one day, then a funny one the next. The main thing here is that your videos are consistent with your brand and part of an overall strategy.
Create a ‘Hook’ at the Start of your Video
Google ranks videos based on a number of factors. The two most paramount factors are the number of views that the video has, and how well the video retains viewers.
That is – videos that keep users engaged and watching the video will rank more highly. What does this mean?
You need to make sure the first 15 seconds of your video are the most entertaining. The point is to catch them early and keep them watching.
English teachers around the world teach their students about writing a proper “hook” that keeps users engaged from the beginning of a speech, essay or article. The same applies to videos. Not only does this help your videos to rank more highly – but it also is just plain old more effective.
Viewer retention also effects the recommendations and suggested videos that often appear on the right sidebar. Viewer retention is a good indicator of video quality – and Google knows this.
A few effective ways to hook your viewers include;
- Gain their trust with initial branding efforts. Make sure that your video shows who created the video.
- Ask the viewer a question. Playing off their curiosity can keep them viewing until that curiosity has been completely satisfied.
- Give them a preview of the entire video, quickly. They might see something they like and decide to stick around.
Don’t be afraid to dive in head first. Even if you have never created a video before – you don’t need Hollywood level production to be successful on YouTube.
Using Calls to Action
On YouTube, calls to action are going to be your bread and butter. They can be placed anywhere in the video and help to direct the user toward the action that you would like them to take. There are many ways that you can reward or entice them.
Keep in mind that bombarding your users is never the best course. It can confuse them. Focus on directing them toward one (two at most) calls to action at the same time. Make the next step that they should take clear at any given time.
There are a few different ways that you can call your users to action, including;
- Comments. Pretty straight forward. Just like in a blog post – don’t be afraid to ask your users to comment on the content that you have shared with them.
- Subscriptions. Enticing users to subscribe to your channel helps to ensure that they come back and see future videos. These may be the most valuable calls to action that you target.
- Like/Share. Liking or sharing a video on any social network can be valuable.
- Watch more videos. Ask them to check out other videos, and provide a link to those videos.
- End Slates. End slates are portions of video graphics that call users to action at the end of the video.
An End Slate graphic looks like this;
These are important because your most engaged watchers will be the ones reaching this screen. They will be the most likely to follow your calls to action. An end slate can link to other videos on your channel, or use any of the other types of call to action that we have outlined.
For a YouTube channel to be successful, there has to be consistent updates. You need to be actively adding new content in order to increase your presence on the platform and build your audience from the ground up.
How many videos should you be creating? That depends on your industry. Look at your competition and see what they are doing. Try to add at least one video for week. You can have larger gaps between extremely high quality videos that take a great deal of time to put together.
One simple way to ensure that you are always updating your YouTube is to add shorter, compact versions of long-form videos that you are planning on creating. If I were creating a video to accompany this guide, I could break it down into the various sections or subsections. The video for this section would be completely devoted to creating consistent content on the platform. Try to avoid going too short. Make each video at least a minute or two long.
Shorter videos help to ensure that your audience is engaged and make it more likely that they will stick around to see your end slate, which of course if your best opportunity to entice them to follow your calls to action.
Optimizing Your Videos and Channel
So, now you’ve got your content created and added to your completed channel design. If you haven’t had many views at this point – don’t be discouraged!
Hundreds of thousands of minutes are uploaded on YouTube every hour. Think about that. As a user, it would be absolutely impossible for you to attempt to sift through every video that matched the description that you were looking for.
You have to optimize your video for the searching process. It is the only consistent way to be found on YouTube. In order to properly optimize your video, you have to optimize the metadeta.
Video Metadata includes;
- The title of your video.
- The description of your video.
- The tags for your video.
Optimizing these is a good first step.
Optimizing Your Video Title
Your video title is the most important step in the optimization process. Make sure that you are able to properly balance your search optimization (use of keywords) and headline for clicks. Figure out which keywords you would like to target, and see how you can fit those into an interesting headline.
Place your keywords as close to the beginning of your title as you can. If you are going to list your brand, have that listed at the end of the video.
A good video title for a video that would accompany this post might be;
“YouTube Marketing and Optimization Guide from Empowermented”
Try not to be overly tricky with your title. Remember – you want people to continue watching the video. By promising one thing and underdelivering, you make them much more likely to click away, which will hurt your position in the YouTube search results. Be honest and straightforward, but creative.
Optimizing Your Video Description
The most important aspect to take into consideration when you are optimizing your description field is to make sure that you place a link to your website in the first sentence of your description. YouTube videos are naturally truncated, and the user has to click on “Show More” in order to get the full description to display.
Also include links to other properties, such as your social media sites within your description. You may not drive a whole lot of people to those properties – but every bit counts.
As far as keywords go, you need to include a few of your targeted keywords here. I recommend including them naturally throughout the text. Try to find ways to describe exactly what the video provides. For instance, a video for this guide might include a description like this;
“Complete YouTube Marketing Guide From Empowermented. Learn YouTube Optimization, call to action best practices, and advanced YouTube marketing concepts from a professional with years of experience.”
Then I might link to my social properties. In that description we target several keywords without overdoing it. Those keywords are;
- YouTube Marketing
- YouTube Marketing Guide
- YouTube Optimization
- YouTube Call to Action
- Advanced YouTube Marketing
These keywords range from highly competitive (YouTube Marketing) to non-competitive (YouTube Call to Action). Remember – your YouTube description isn’t a place for tags, or stuffing keywords. You can make your descriptions a bit longer and target a fair amount of keywords but also remember that your description provides an excellent copywriting opportunity, and another place to ask your users to take action.
Your tags are going to be one of the most important considerations for optimization. I have found that tags don’t offer huge benefits – but they can keep you from showing up for certain keywords. When creating tags, put your most important keywords and terms first. Add 5-10 long tail keywrods as well. Create tags that accurately describe your video. Think about what your users might be looking for when searching for a video like yours, and add those keywords to your tags.
Most underestimate the importance of thumbnails. Your thumbnail is the first thing that a user sees when they are first presented with your video. For all intents and purposes – the thumbnail for your video is the “cover” of your video. You want to make sure it entices users to click on it.
The most popular YouTube channel is that of PewDiePie. Here is an example of the types of thumbnails that he creates, which are exceptionally consistent with his brand;
Uploading custom thumbnails is an absolute must to get people clicking on your video when it pops up. This will help you to attract a larger audience.
Here are some things that work well;
- Very High Resolution Images
- Close Ups of Faces and Objects
- Bright Colors
- Gives an Idea of What the Content is About
Annotations are small text popup overlays that can be placed at various points throughout the video. These can not only be used to enrich the users experience (provide them with further information or links to resources) but can also drive engagement and give you the opportunity to call your users to action throughout the video.
Keep in mind that most users find calls to action in annotation form to be a bit annoying. They need to be subtle, and provide some additional value to the individual that is viewing the video.
Some of the common ways in which YouTube annotations are used include;
- Navigation. You can send them to other related videos, or invite them to check out your channel.
- Subscribe or Like. This is perhaps the best way to use annotations. If the user does not make it to the end slate, you want to make sure that you give them ample opportunity to subscribe to or like your channel throughout the video.
You can customize annotations in a variety of different ways;
- Size. Annotations can be any size as they overlay videos.
- Color. Annotations can be any color offered by YouTube.
- Timing. You get to choose exactly when your annotation will be displayed.
There are also several different types of annotations that are available for you to choose from.
Keep in mind that YouTube ads in the lower half of the video might obscure your annotations. I would recommend placing them in the upper half of the video.
Using and Analyzing Youtube Analytics
As with your website, how can you know how to improve without looking at your analytics? They provide you with an overview and insight into your marketing efforts. But, to make the right decisions you have to have an understanding of what you are looking at.
Viewership gives you stats for all of the different videos and your channel as a whole. You can use your viewership numbers to analyze a number of different things;
- Most Viewed Days. This can help you to understand the most productive days to release new videos.
- Most Viewed Weeks. Are there certain times of the week or month that your videos receive the most views? This can be great for planning content development cycles.
- Individual Videos. Which videos have been your most successful? Plan future content that shows promise.
Use your viewership numbers to understand why certain videos perform better than others and split test those videos. Maybe certain headlines work better than others?
Time Spent Watching
YouTube also offers information about watch-time. This information is provided on an individual video basis. Getting views is definitely important, but some views are more valuable than others. Additionally, some videos will perform better than others. You can examine what it was about some videos that made the viewers stick around and why others leave. When you identify a video that performs well, you can drive traffic to that video from others on your channel.
It is important that you understand where your traffic is coming from. You receive referral information for both your channel as a whole, and for each individual channel.
Knowing what videos are sending traffic your way, how well your video is performing in search (both on YouTube and in Google) and understanding which annotations are sending users to your video is invaluable.
Promoting your Videos
It is important that you have a good understanding of how you can go about promoting your videos. Promotion is every bit as important as optimization. The YouTube search function is only one traffic source that you have at your disposal. Remember that you can try to acquire traffic from many sources – from social media, to blog outreach, to search engine optmization.
Like any piece of content – it is all about finding your target audience and giving them what they want. It starts with creating solid videos and it ends with promoting those videos in an effective manner. You can also couple videos with other pieces of content (like blog posts or infographics) to build or expand upon what you are talking about in a visual manner.
YouTube marketing can be cumbersome when you are first starting out. The views don’t come easily – but once things are ramped up, you’ll be glad that you took your time.