They say you don’t need to push people where you need to be, you have to meet them where they are. That pretty much sums up any form of marketing. But as true as that may be, we all know it’s easier said than done.
As of 2021, there are more than 31 million YouTube channels and counting. If we consider successful YouTube channels as ones that have 100,000+ subscribers, then you’re only left with 230,000 YouTube channels. To put it in perspective, that’s a 0.007% success rate.
Marketing strategies, although fundamentally being similar, demand different implementations for different platforms. Before we get to YouTube marketing, we have to understand the types of content formats that work for YouTube.
What Content Works on YouTube?
It’s not like you can record yourself doing nothing for 2 hours and hope for a million views because you were just “being yourself” (that actually happened by the way).
Unless what you offer has value in some or the other way, you cannot succeed. That’s the simplest truth to Youtube Marketing. Let’s not make it any simpler.
If you consider successful content on YouTube (being consumed by at least 100k people), it can break down into 3 categories:-
Videos like tutorials, how-to’s, documentaries, product reviews, and many more make up the education content on YouTube. Some of the most popular YouTube channels you may have heard of are VSauce, Ted, Seeker, Mindvalley, National Geographic, and Sick Science.
It doesn’t matter whether you have an educational YouTube channel that appeals to the lowest common denominator, or something highly technical, the education niche attracts a lot of subscribers to the platform.
For instance, sound engineering isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, yet there are channels like Rick Beato (2.19M subs) and In the mix (714k subs) that prove that no matter how outnumbered, their viewers contribute lots of view counts to these channels.
This is a highly unpredictable niche. You may have an outline of what can or cannot work, but success in this field comes with a lot less guarantee than Education, generally speaking. Channels like PewDiePie, T-Series and WWE, all provide entirely different forms of entertainment, yet they’re under the top 10 most subscribed YouTube channels.
Virtually, anything between music, vlogging, fighting, traveling, comedy, dancing, and painting can come under the category of “entertainment”. These categories can further be dissected into so many forms, making entertainment the most common reason for content consumption on YouTube.
Self-promotional content is when you exclusively talk about things that directly relate to the product or service you’re trying to sell. This kind of content is restricted to a limited audience. People who watch these videos are either their customers or are at the very bottom of the funnel.
For example, Hubspot, beyond being a developer of software products for sales and customer service, has an audience of 136k subscribers on YouTube that talks about everything from their CRM tools, Marketing Hub, to helping you master social media and email marketing strategies.
Posting videos on YouTube literally could mean getting paid to build your own business. That’s how powerful the platform is. So if you want to scale your business on a budget, you should start bringing valuable information to your customers and create a loyal community.
Overview of a Successful YouTube Strategy
Beardbrand is a company that sells men’s care products for beard, body, and hair. Why are we talking about them? Because they have a successful YouTube channel with 1.68M subscribers, which is rare for a channel that falls under the category of “self-promotion”.
Here’s what the founder of Beardbrand Tweeted about creating a successful YouTube channel:-
- Post regularly (from 1x per month to 2x per week)
- Key metrics: Average View Duration, Click Through Rate, & Views
- Refine titles, thumbnails, and content to increase those metrics
Companies like Beardbrand didn’t do anything revolutionary. In fact, they all follow the traditional funnel strategy for YouTube marketing where they have 3 unique strategies for the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, respectively.
Top of the Funnel – Create Brand Awareness
The top of the funnel requires you to generate awareness about your brand. Doesn’t matter whether you generate awareness by spending on advertisements, or organically, both are effective, and equally important if done right.
If you have the money to promote your video, I still wouldn’t advise you to advertise in the beginning. Make sure your organic efforts have gained some audience and your channel has some content, so as to know more about your brand.
When it comes to YouTube marketing, the initial efforts of successful channels have been directed towards getting organic attention, which means using the right keywords and tags so as to pop up in search results.
A lot of channels rely on influencer marketing to gain traction, which can either be paid, or if you’re in luck, the influencer might just be happy to review your product/ service in exchange for something in kind, or even for free.
Advertising opportunities are endless. You can promote your video ads on several platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Google, and YouTube itself.
Middle of the Funnel – Trust Building
Middle of the funnel has people that already know your brand but are yet to buy your products or services. Use social proof to your advantage by interviewing your clients, doing podcasts, and also focus on the core mission of your brand in your videos.
Show them what’s the greater message of your brand, what “feeling” it represents. Remember, if people connect with your brand emotionally, you’re more likely to win their trust. You’re probably doing a grim smile, aren’t you?!
YouTube marketing requires you to optimize your video content. Focus on the 3 parameters that YouTube considers before deciding whether they should promote that content or not:-
If your content has a high click rate, watch time, and send you positive feedback about your video, it means you’re doing something right. It could be your video title, what type of video it is, your thumbnail, etc.
Bottom of the Funnel – Stay Relevant
In 2021, The YouTube video marketing strategy is easy and you can actually climb up pretty quickly. The algorithm is pretty generous. But as with all things in life, it gets more and more difficult to stay relevant as your channel starts growing, which causes you to innovate.
In pursuit of doing something unique, you might even risk being a bit unrelatable, but that’s also how you get more detailed insights about what your audience really needs. Your unique content will help you develop a more specific archetype of your target audience.
I can’t count how many channels started out in one niche and ended up in entirely another because of experimenting with their content. Even though you should put your best foot forward (that which makes you “you”), you should also make sure that it’s relatable to your audience.
Try to get your subscribers to join your email newsletter and/or get them to join your community on social platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Discord, etc. These are ways to get as close to your “fans” as possible and nourish loyalty among them.
Just stating the obvious, but if you’re already successful, try investing in tools that make your video look professional. Invest in Adobe tools like Premiere Pro, Lightroom, etc.
Metrics for YouTube Marketing
To understand the YouTube Marketing strategies, you have to understand its algorithm, but here’s the harsh truth – there’s no “hack” to making your video pierce through a platform that pumps out 500 hours of videos on average every hour.
YouTube analytics offers you so many metrics that will guide you into building your YouTube marketing strategies. The information is so much that it’s almost distracting. The only metrics you need to care about are:-
Click-through Rate (CTR)
This tells you how many times your video has been clicked compared to the total number of impressions. You can improve your CTR by creating an eye-catching thumbnail and title. Let me give you an example.
So many successful haircut transformation YouTube channels have noticed that when they create a thumbnail where they show both “before” and “after” of the transformation, they will get fewer clicks and engagement on their videos.
In the above example, there was no reason for the audience to click on the video simply because they already saw what the after looked like. The lesson here is to monitor the analytics and see what really works for you.
If you want to grow and retain your audience, then do not use misleading images in your thumbnails. Using clickbaits in your YouTube videos is fraudulent and isn’t even going to work in the long run.
Here are some quick tips you can take away:-
- If you can, use a face in the thumbnail, making it as large as possible, and have an appropriate expression. You can even use the face of an influencer in your niche.
- Text generally takes value away from images. Avoid using it in your thumbnail.
- Make sure that thumbnail content is in the video otherwise it will look clickbaity.
- Look for YouTube channels that are targeting your audience and look at what works and adopt the ideas in your thumbnails.
Average View Duration (AVD)
This indicates how much duration of video was consumed by the viewer, which is in direct correlation with the quality of your content. Improving the AVD of videos on YouTube is the hardest area to improve.
With so much content out there, people can get highly specific about what they want to watch, and all it takes is a second to get bored and click on a new video from the “related videos” section. The key is to keep your audience satiated.
The modern strategy is to make the videos shorter and the algorithm pushes them because it’s merely a 10-second video of a cat cuddling with the owner, but I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t be reading a blog on YouTube marketing if your strategy revolved around creating such videos.
The goal is to have a high view duration but consistently for all your videos. And don’t be afraid to create 30 minute long videos as long as you are providing value while keeping the audience captivated.
In fact, YouTube incentivizes you to make longer videos by letting you add advertisements at the 8-minute mark. If your video has a 6-minute AVD and a high CTR, there’s a good chance that you’re outperforming most videos than most YouTubers in your niche.
Keywords are the most important and are still underestimated at times. Well, it’s 2021, you can’t take a shot in the dark anymore, but that’s also a good thing because if you optimize your keywords right, you’ll reach the right audience, and FAST!
Optimize your title, description, and tags by incorporating relevant keywords because that’s what search engines pick up when someone searches for that keyword.
More than its search feature, the viewer relies on suggested videos when they’re looking for something. So they’re either scrolling through the home screen, or from the “related videos” section, which is visible after the viewer has already watched a video on that topic.
What’s your best bet as a new YouTube channel? By not just utilizing keywords for search optimization, tags, and descriptions but by also having a captivating title. The only way someone is going to click on your video is if they come across something to get some value out of.
Engrossing Your Viewers
According to Creator Insider, people on average watch 200 channels every month, they may not even be subscribed to those channels. Even more astonishing, 10% of your viewers watch your channel more than any other channel.
Since we’ve already talked enough about optimizing your title, tags, and descriptions by incorporating keywords, let’s focus on how you can get your viewers to stick around for more content.
Playlists and Cards
When you aren’t creating content, it’s best to spend your time sorting your content and segregate all the videos into different playlists and create YouTube cards.
Playlists are a great way to get your audience hooked. Good thing about playlists is that your viewers will likely go through all the videos in it, and even end up looking at the ones that didn’t get enough views. This gives more overall views on your channel and more watch time.
You can even add other channel’s videos to your playlist if you want to make it any deeper. You can create multiple playlists, segregate them into different categories and leave it to the viewers to figure out what they’re more interested in.
YouTube cards are pop-ups that show up while the video is already playing. The above image shows the type of cards that can be used on YouTube. Using cards is like striking while the iron is hot.
You get to take advantage of the viewer’s momentum. If they like the video they’re watching, you could present them with another video that elaborates on a subject you were just talking about in this video.
When your viewers comment on your videos, make sure you reply to them so that they feel valued, which also gives them a reason to come back to your channel for more and even induce them to comment more on your other videos.
Not only does having more comments help the algorithm to rank your video, but it also helps you get valuable feedback from your viewers.
It’s especially useful when you have a new channel because responding more means building rapport with your viewers directly, that will only help you grow your channel faster.
You should want to turn to advertising after a point because if you don’t, your competitors will always have an upper hand. We all know how effective advertising is on YouTube. For example, if you’re watching a review of a camera, you could see an ad for camera accessories.
This also raises a concern – What if your competitors advertise on your video? Well, that happens all the time, but you can block their websites through AdSense so that they’re unable to advertise on your videos.
If you’re starting out, you’re probably trying to keep your YouTube marketing costs at the minimum, and that’s only fair, but it will progressively demand more investment into advertisement as you grow.
Also, YouTube also allows you to include a Call-to-Action button in your advertisements. Make sure you use it to link to your online store. You can even use it indirectly by directing it to a blog post where you can include a hard CTA or collect email addresses.
YouTube Shorts (and more)
YouTube has already perfected the analytics for creators to understand what exactly they need to put forth and when. Now they’ve introduced features, which make life convenient for viewers. I’m mainly talking about video chapters and the ability to schedule video publishing.
If that wasn’t enough, wait till you hear about YouTube shorts. Well, just like Instagram has Reels and Facebook has Facebook shorts, YouTube has joined the parade with its very own YouTube shorts.
YouTube shorts are vertical format videos that can be as long as 60 seconds, which you can use to give your channel updates to your viewers. It’s obvious that vertical videos are designed for mobile users, after all, mobile users make up about 3/4th of the YouTube visitors.
Rumor even has it that YouTube shorts have wildly unfair advantages as well. I’m only going to focus on the qualitative advantages of it but if you really want to scratch the itch, here’s how well the YouTube shorts’ algorithm works.
In the end, your time and effort should be invested in growing organically on YouTube. This is a time-consuming process but to understand YouTube marketing, you need to know the platform inside and out to be able to capitalize on it.
And when it comes to advertising, make sure that the first 5 seconds of it hook the attention of the reader, because it’s the exact amount of time it takes a viewer to skip your advertisement. Convince your viewer to stick around and watch the entire video.
All in all, it’s incredibly difficult to grow on the platform, mainly because of the commitment it demands of you. But if you are consistent and incorporate the right YouTube marketing strategy, you’ll see its impact on your business.