YouTube is now the second most visited website in the United States, surpassed only by Google. In 2019 alone, YouTube had approximately 25.19 billion visits per month.
It’s no surprise, then, that YouTube has captured the attention of marketers all over the world.
This massive following can partially be attributed to the ever-increasing power of video. Ever since video content burst from TVs onto computers and mobile devices, video has seen a meteoric rise in popularity.
But marketers must be tactical to compete against the growing pool of 50 million + YouTube creators. Great YouTube marketing balances providing entertainment while raising brand awareness. It might sound daunting, but with a bit of strategy and dedication, YouTube marketing can be successfully done by businesses of any size.
In this post, we’ll cover why video marketing is more important than ever and why YouTube is an ideal platform for it. Next, we’ll set you up for victory by sharing success tactics to implement before filming. Read until the end for our 9 YouTube strategy tips for 2020.
Video Marketing: The Present and Future
Despite the fact that video has been rising in popularity for over a decade, the power of video marketing won’t diminish any time soon.
By 2021, researchers anticipate that the average person will watch about 100 minutes of video per day. Plus, consumers prefer video content from brands; 54% of consumers would like to see more video content from a brand or business they support.
Wyzowl’s annual State of Video Marketing Survey found that 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 89% of those video marketers reported a positive ROI.
Why are businesses of all sizes, in all industries, all over the world flocking to video? Data overwhelmingly demonstrates the steadfast power of video marketing, but we’ll just cover some highlights.
- One third of all online activity is spent watching videos.
- Video is a leading technique to capture mobile users’ attention: over half of video content is viewed on mobile, and 92% of mobile viewers share videos.
- Video consistently out-performs other content formats when it comes to earning engagement and driving conversions.
- Marketers using video grow revenue 49% faster than those who won’t.
- Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs.
- Videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 80% or more.
- Video marketing is nearly synonymous with the rise of social media. Users of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter strongly respond to branded video content.
- Facebook video posts earn an average 6% engagement rate, far surpassing photo posts (4.8%), link posts (3.4%), and status posts (2.2%). Accordingly, the platform now boosts native video content in the newest Facebook algorithm, helping businesses increase organic reach.
- Instagram videos earn 38% more engagement than static photos.
- Tweets with video attract up to ten times more engagement as tweets without. What’s more, Twitter ads with videos are 50% cheaper in cost-per-engagement.
Despite all of these obvious benefits, only 9% of small businesses currently employ video marketing techniques. Many new entrepreneurs mistakenly believe they don’t have the resources or content ideas to pull off a video marketing strategy.
Fortunately for us, anyone can create videos in the age of smart phones and online programs. And, believe it or not, there’s infinite opportunity to create engaging video content for any industry or audience.
When it comes to video marketing, YouTube is just a no-brainer.
YouTube: King of Video
If video is the king of digital marketing, then YouTube is the king of video marketing.
In addition to being the second most visited site in the US, YouTube is also the second largest search engine on the web (again, after Google).
Throw in the fact that Google owns YouTube, and you start to get a clear picture of how together YouTube and Google dominate the internet. In case you’re not already convinced, here’s a few more statistics that illuminate YouTube’s potential to help you grow your business.
- 2 billion unique users worldwide log in and view videos on YouTube. No matter who your audience is, they’re probably using YouTube.
- Users access the platform in 80 different languages and 91 different countries. People from all over tune in, making YouTube a truly worldwide presence.
- Average YouTube visits typically include 6.5 pageviews on average. Among the 2 billion worldwide users, many YouTubers are highly engaged.
- 90% of US shoppers have discovered a brand or product through YouTube, confirming YouTube’s power to influence purchase decisions.
- In an average month, 80% of 18-49-year-olds watch YouTube. The video platform now reaches more individuals between 18 and 49 years old than any traditional TV network.
Before Creating Your First Video
Just like any other marketing platform, impactful YouTube marketing starts long before posting your first piece of content. Keep reading to learn how to set up for success.
1. Research, Research, Research
- Competitor Analysis
A competitor analysis is the only way to guarantee that you’re standing out in your niche. Luckily, most of the information you’re looking for is easily accessible on your competitors’ YouTube channels.Spend some time browsing your competitors’ YouTube channels and notice which videos earn the most (and least) views.Take notes on what they’ve done well and consider how you can adapt some of their successful strategies to work for your business. Keep an eye out for areas where you can outshine their content.
Read the comments on competing videos. This will further reveal what the competition is doing well and not-so-well; make notes!
Finally, take a look at the competition’s video descriptions to learn the keywords they’re using. Include these in your keyword research to improve your YouTube SEO and increase your odds of appearing as “watch next” suggestions on their videos.
- Keyword Research
Speaking of keyword research, performing it at this stage will help identify the best content opportunities. Of course, keywords will also play a role in individual video optimization, but the real secret here is to let keyword research guide your strategy from the beginning.Following typical SEO guidelines, keywords should be highly relevant, not too competitive, and earn a significant amount of search volume.
- Audience Research
Finally, audience research is essential to any well-constructed marketing effort, and YouTube marketing is no different. When you’re just starting your channel, you won’t have any YouTube Analytics data available to you, but you can use your other audience research to get started.Make use of your customer persona information and any data from other social media networks. This includes basic demographic data, as well as pain points, preferred media outlets, career position, and more.
If you’ve used videos on other social platforms, pay particular attention to which videos performed the best and identify what worked well so you can build on your video successes.
As you begin to brainstorm video ideas, keep your audience in the forefront of your mind.
2. Optimize Your YouTube Channel
The most successful brands have fully optimized YouTube channels—meaning their channels look good, highlight their best content, and serve as destinations in their own right.
Optimized channels help to promote engagement and increase video views. Before publishing your first video, invest some time into making your new YouTube channel an attractive place for your audience to interact with your business.
- Set Up a Brand Account
When you create a new YouTube channel, you’re automatically given a personal account. On the other hand, brand accounts allow multiple users access to the channel, which is often essential to maintain steady engagement and content posting schedules. Brand accounts also unlock YouTube Analytics, which are essential to tracking and measuring video performance.If you don’t have a brand account yet, you can add a second (brand) channel by visiting your “YouTube channels” page and clicking “Create a new channel.”
- Incorporate Brand Identity
Just like any other social platform, it’s important that your YouTube channel reflects your brand identity. This is essential for cross-promotion, increasing brand awareness/recognition, and establishing trust.The best way to showcase your brand identity on your YouTube channel is through your channel artwork. Upload a channel icon – we recommend using your company logo across all social media platforms to maximize brand awareness and recognition. YouTube recommends an image size of 800 x 800 pixels.
Lastly, add a banner image that represents your unique selling proposition, and/or the value your content provides followers. Recommended size is 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, although it will display differently across different devices. Be sure to preview your channel art across devices and adjust accordingly.
As a general rule, your social media profile images should be consistent across channels and clearly communicate your brand story. This helps customers recognize your social media presence, increasing brand recognition and awareness.
- Cross-Promote with Links in Your Channel Banner
YouTube provides high-visibility link opportunities directly in your YouTube channel banner. This is a quick, easy way to increase cross-promotion to your other social channels and possibly drive website traffic. Add all active social media channels and your website for the best results.
In the example above, popular YouTuber Brad Mondo has incorporated stunning channel art, linked to his social media networks, and a compelling channel description.
- Maximize Discoverability with YouTube Channel Optimization
To be as discoverable as possible, dig deep into your channel settings and follow these tips. First, add channel keywords. These should come from your previous keyword research. In the Creator Studio, navigate to the “settings” menu. From there, you can navigate to the “channel” tab, and add your channel keywords (located under “basic info”).Next, you’ll want to fill in the about section, with particular emphasis on a value-driven description. YouTube only gives you 1,000 characters, so choose your words wisely.
We recommend briefly telling users what your business is about, the kind of content they can expect to find on your channel, listing your posting schedule, and ending with a call to action.
In this example, the educational YouTube channel “Crash Course” highlights some of their guest instructors, promotes their wide variety of courses, and ends with a CTA.
Don't forget to include as much contact and location information as possible because it helps users and the YouTube algorithm trust that you’re a legit business.
- Communicate Trustworthiness with a Verified Account
In order to upload videos longer than 15 minutes and create custom thumbnails for your videos, visit youtube.com/verify. From there, simply enter your phone number and enter a verification code. That’s it; you now have access to custom thumbnails and videos over 15 minutes.
You’re finally ready to make the most of each new YouTube video. Before you start filming, check out our 9 YouTube marketing strategies below.
9 YouTube Marketing Strategies
1. SEO Optimize Each Video to Earn Views
It’s not enough just to optimize your YouTube channel. In order to get the most reach, each new video should be optimized for YouTube search. Your YouTube optimization will evolve and improve over time, but make sure that you hit each of the following points.
- Set the Tone with Strategic Video Titles
Your video title essentially functions as your headline. As such, it’s incredibly important that your title be enticing to your target audience and optimized with appropriate keywords.If you’ve followed our advice, you’ve already conducted your keyword research and built your content around keywords you feel confident you can compete well for. Use keywords naturally and honestly in your title; clickbait is universally hated, and it will be punished by YouTube’s ranking algorithm.A quick note—although YouTube allows a maximum of 70 characters for a title, we recommend sticking to 60 characters or fewer so titles aren’t cut off on smaller screens.
- Stand Out with Custom Thumbnails
Your YouTube video thumbnail is the image users will see in their search results, home pages, and recommended feeds. Since it takes up more space than even your video title, an appealing video thumbnail is key to earning views.By default, YouTube provides creators the choices of freeze-frames from the video itself to serve as the video thumbnail. However, the “serious” YouTubers create custom thumbnails for each video and we recommend all businesses do the same.
Custom thumbnails look more professional, helping your content stand out. Optional text overlay in a custom thumbnail can help provide more context to your video title. Generally, custom thumbnails are instrumental in earning more views.
- Hook Searchers with Compelling Video Descriptions
Video descriptions should briefly explain your video topic, incorporate appropriate keywords, link to your other online presences, and include hashtags.
Typically, only the first 100 characters or so will display in search results and below the video itself. With that in mind, always front-load your keywords at the beginning of your descriptions to help users understand your video topic.
Towards the end of your description, be sure to include links to all of your social media accounts and relevant website pages. Remember: every video has the potential to convert strangers into fans, so it’s best to constantly re-introduce yourself.
Use a small number of extremely relevant hashtags in your video to better appear in search results. Never use more than 15 hashtags in a description, otherwise all hashtags will be ignored by the search algorithm.
Also feel free to link to other playlists on your channel, particularly if they’re related to that particular video topic.
2. Increase View Time with High-Quality Videos
Now, “create high-quality videos” might sound obvious, but it’s important to understand exactly what a high-YouTube video looks like.
The YouTube algorithm favors videos with longer watch times, because the platform calculates total watch time as the strongest indicator of video quality.
With that in mind, it’s essential to capture viewer attention early and then find ways to hold that attention. YouTube has acknowledged time and time again that the first 15 seconds are crucial for grabbing viewer attention.
If you’re unsure just how to accomplish this, watch videos from successful channels and you’ll start to see some common techniques you can adapt for yourself. Some attention-grabbing ideas also include:
- Opening with a teaser to inspire curiosity.
- Setting expectations by opening with a summary.
- Create a standard opening sequence or theme (similar to those found in TV shows).
- Ask questions to generate engagement.
- Tell viewers what highlights they can look forward to at the end of the video.
Also, keep in mind that more than half of videos are watched on mobile. Mobile viewers often watch without audio, so it’s important that videos are formatted for mobile and work without audio.
Videos 3 minutes or shorter generally load better for mobile users. To accommodate viewers who prefer to watch without audio, include subtitles.
End screens also provide opportunities to further brand your content while including CTAs. End screens are a YouTube feature that typically appears in the last 5-20 seconds of a video. End screens can help direct viewers to the next video of a series, back to the channel page, or even to other web pages.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to follow YouTube’s video specifications and recommendations. Here’s a quick run-down:
- Aspect ratios – Only 16:9 and 4:3 are supported.
- Recommended specs – .MOV, .MPEG4, MP4, .AVI, .WMV, .MPEGPS, .FLV, 3GPP, or WebM
- Maximum file size – 128 GB
- Maximum length – 12 hours long
3. Invite People to Stay with Playlists
Once you’ve uploaded your first few YouTube videos, start organizing them into playlists.
When videos are organized into playlists, all videos in that list will auto-play until the playlist ends. Keeping people on your channel boosts your average watch time statistic.
The higher your average watch time, the more likely your videos will appear in search results and “Up Next” watch recommendations.
Don’t forget to include relevant keywords in playlist titles for an extra channel SEO boost.
4. Set Expectations with a Posting Schedule
If you’re still thinking of YouTube as simply a video search engine, you’re forgetting that many people watch YouTube in place of traditional television. So you should treat your YouTube channel like a TV station, because many of your followers will!
Following a regular posting schedule indicates a level of professionalism, builds trust, and hopefully creates anticipation for your next video. Be realistic in your posting schedule, and aim to have several videos ready ahead of time in case of unexpected scheduling issues.
5. Maximize Reach with Translations & Transcriptions
According to YouTube, more than 60% of a channel’s views come from outside the creator’s own country. Although Americans make up the majority of YouTube viewers, over 2 billion viewers tune in from all over the world.
Now, you might be thinking that you don’t have the time or resources to translate your videos. Never fear! You can crowdsource free translations from your followers. Simply enable community contributions for videos, and viewers will be able to submit their translations.
Submitted translations require creator approval. YouTube provides a Google-translated estimation of the translated text. Naturally, translations should be on-topic, logical, and reflective of your original intent. Although crowdsourced translations aren’t failsafe, it can help foster a sense of community while providing a starting point for increasing international reach.
6. Increase Engagement by Building Relationships
YouTube is all about collaborations and community. It’s awfully hard to build either of those without actually engaging with your audience.
Users who receive reciprocal engagement are more likely to care about your brand, subscribe to your channel, and watch more of your videos. Reciprocal engagement can happen in many different places, including video content itself.
For example, if you’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of feedback to a particular video, comment, or product—acknowledge it. You can include a brief note at the beginning of a related video, or perhaps even create an entire reaction video.
Always read and reply to comments, especially in the early days of your YouTube marketing efforts. This is by far the easiest way to start genuine conversations and build relationships.
Videos from other creators can inspire content as well. If another creator in your niche has started a conversation you’d like to contribute to, you can link to their video (with permission) and add your thoughts. Relationships with other YouTubers can lead to partnerships, reciprocal promotion, and other benefits.
Asking questions is a tried and true technique for generating social media engagement. YouTube creators will often ask viewers to leave feedback on their thoughts and what type of content they’d like to see next. Once you have a loyal following, these answers can start conversations and remove the guesswork of choosing video content.
In addition to its spirit of community, YouTube is unfortunately full of trolls. Be sure to moderate comments to show appreciation to your loyal audience, answer questions, and remove spam.
7. Mix it Up with Partnerships
Crossovers, guest appearances, and other partnerships continue to charm YouTube viewers. Partnering with like-minded creators fosters relationships and introduces your channel to a new group of viewers.
Choose your influencers wisely, however. Creators you partner with should be well matched, especially in values and chemistry. The internet is forever, so be sure that you are comfortable with any potential partners being associated with your brand.
Similarly, don’t bring on guests you have zero chemistry with—that’s just not fun for anyone.
8. Self-Promote to Grow Your Following
Viral sensations aside, social media empires are rarely built on just one platform. You’ll want to leverage all of your social media presences to promote your YouTube channel.
Sounds easy enough, right? Not quite.
It’s not always best to post a YouTube link on your other social media channels.
Since each social platform wants their native video content to succeed, they’re not likely to serve your YouTube links very well. The Facebook algorithm particularly punishes non-native videos in favor of videos directly posted to the platform.
However, a great alternative is using Facebook ads to boost your YouTube links. Try to encourage engagement on the Facebook post to make the most of your ad spend. This can also be a great alternative if YouTube ads restricts your ability to promote videos for any reason.
Depending on your strategy and how much time you have, you may want to upload a teaser video to other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with a link to the full YouTube video. The native video pleases the social media algorithms, but users have to click through to your YouTube channel to see the full video. Win-win!
9. Monitor, Analyze, and Adapt
After each video, monitor a few different feedback areas to gauge reactions and learn more about your audience.
First, we suggest reading (and responding to!) comments. Users will often leave their thoughts, suggestions for future content, and let you know what they liked.
Of course, you can’t forget to check in with YouTube analytics. While there’s all kinds of valuable data available to you, we recommend at least keeping an eye on the following:
- Major changes in subscriber count
- Shifts in audience demographics
- Video playback locations and traffic sources
- Device data (mobile, desktop, smart TVs, etc.)
- Major traffic sources
These are important because they help keep your content relevant for your audience, understand where users discover and watch your videos, and refine your strategy.
With more than 2 billion active users, YouTube is so much more than the “funny video site.” Marketers around the world have grown their businesses through YouTube marketing, and you can too.
As always, ground your YouTube marketing tactics thorough research. Remember to focus on entertaining, educating, and engaging your audience.
YouTube might feel overwhelming at first, especially for small businesses, but the platform provides all the tools you’ll need to succeed. Follow this guide to make the most of what YouTube has to offer, and you’ll start to see great results.
Our tip: Once you’ve mastered YouTube marketing, consider YouTube ads to amplify your content.