In this article
As a small business owner, you’ve likely got limited resources to expand your marketing strategy.
Which is why you want to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck when doing any kind of marketing at all.
And as every other blog post about YouTube marketing will tell you, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet, making it one of the best customer acquisition channels your business can cash in on.
Since SEO (search engine optimization) is my bread and butter and I have experience helping at least one YouTuber earn six figures each year, I thought it’d be helpful to write a guide to YouTube for everyone else who wants to grow their businesses too.
Based on my experience and what I’ve learned to work, I’ll break down exactly what you need to do to create a YouTube channel, design a solid content strategy, and start marketing on YouTube.
Let’s get started.
The Only YouTube Marketing Tools You Need
Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of how to create a YouTube marketing strategy, you first need to know about a few tools that will help make the entire process easier. These aren’t totally necessary, but they’re exactly what I use to manage my client’s YouTube channel and so they can work for you too.
YouTube Creator Academy
The best (and totally free) YouTube marketing tool out there is YouTube’s very own Creator Academy. It has tons of free resources, guides, and tips for creating quality content and information about how to grow an audience on YouTube.
Remember: YouTube wants you to get more people to watch your videos because they also benefit from having more viewers on their platform.
So take their advice when creating videos for YouTube. They know what works and they want it to work for you too.
A Good Microphone
Though it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of choosing the right camera and lens, that’s not really what makes a high-quality video.
Sure, those things help. But high-quality sound is significantly more important than the quality of the video (and more important than even the video content itself).
In my experience, both as a YouTube SEO and in speaking with other YouTubers, one of the greatest factors in the overall bounce rate is poor sound quality.
In fact, you can shoot your entire YouTube video with just a smartphone and no one would know the difference.
But if you use the built-in speaker that comes with your smartphone device, then everyone would know…
...and click right out of your video.
So invest in a good microphone that connects properly with whatever device you choose to record your YouTube videos with. If you do use your smartphone, then make sure that you have the correct adapter to connect the microphone to your device.
To get started, here are my recommendations:
- Microphone For iOS Devices – Saramonic Blink 500 B3 TX+RXDi 2.4GHz Micro-Wireless Lavalier System
- Microphone For DSLR – Sennheiser EW 112P G4 – A Omni-directional Wireless Lavalier Microphone System
- Microphone For Standalone Speaking - Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording & Streaming
YouTube Audio Library
One of the easiest ways to make your YouTube videos more engaging is to add some music to each video. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something to hum in the background so that it’s not awkwardly silent as you speak to the camera.
YouTube has its own audio library that has tons of free music that you’re allowed to use on your videos.
And I say “allowed” because if you use music that isn’t paid for or royalty-free, then your video content can be removed and your YouTube channel potentially shut down.
If you don’t like the music in their library, then check out these royalty-free options:
Filmora or iMovie
I promise you that you do not need to be a video editing wizard to make quality video content. There are so many free and affordable tools to help you create videos that stand out or, at the very least, pass off as professional.
If you’re a Mac user, then you can use iMovie, which is usually built right into your computer. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that teach you how to use iMovie.
Since I have a PC, I use Wondershare Filmora. It’s $40 a year to use, comes with cool features like royalty-free music, text overlays, transitions, and probably a lot of other advanced stuff that neither of us really ever need to bother with.
Canva is a free design tool that has made life significantly easier for marketers all over the world. You can create basically anything you need, design-wise, right within their platform.
They have tons of templates, fonts, graphics, images, and customization options available in their free plan. If you upgrade to the Pro plan, which is about $12 a month, then you get access to their royalty-free photos and graphics.
In fact, I’ve used some of their images right in this blog post.
It is one of the best (and most affordable) design programs out there and is stupidly easy to use.
You’ll want to use a design tool like this to create your channel art (aka banner), brand profile image, and end screens. (More on that in a bit.)
If you’re serious about growing your audience on YouTube and getting as many viewers as possible, then a tool like TubeBuddy is absolutely essential. It’s pretty affordable and will let you do all of your keyword research and YouTube SEO right within the YouTube platform.
Not only will it show you the search volume for each keyword you want to target, but it will also show you your overall likelihood of ranking for that keyword based on the current data your YouTube channel has.
It also allows you to spy on your competitors by showing you which tags they used in their videos.
But we’ll get more into how to do competitor research later in this article.
All of that being said, TubeBuddy is for brands that want to grow their YouTube channel and make it a strong acquisition channel for their online shop. If you’re mostly looking for a way to incorporate video content into your existing content marketing strategy, then YouTube SEO may not be your top priority.
If you’re going to go through all of the trouble to upload videos to YouTube anyway, you might as well optimize your content a bit. You might be surprised by the impact it has and the potential customers that you might reach.
How to Create a YouTube Channel For Your Business
Setting up your YouTube channel is the easy part. Literally anyone in the world can upload a video to YouTube (not saying they’re all high quality), so you can definitely do it too.
All you need to get started is a Gmail email address that you can use to create your channel.
Step 1. Create a Business Channel
Once you’re signed in, click on your profile icon in the top right-hand corner so that a drop-down menu appears. Then, click on Your Channel’.
If you want to create a brand account, then make sure you click on “Use a business or other name” at the bottom of the window.
Otherwise, if you already use YouTube and have previously created a channel with your Gmail account (like I did before using it as a demo for this article), then you can create a new channel from your Account landing page.
Note: Whether you create a brand account right away or create a new channel later, you will end up on this page either way.
Enter your brand name, or the name you would like to appear for your brand account, and click ‘Create’.
(Don’t worry, you can change the name later by editing it in your Account Settings.)
Et voila, you are now the proud owner of a branded YouTube channel.
Step 2. Customize Your Brand’s YouTube Channel
The first step in customizing your channel is adding channel art, a channel trailer, and a branded profile picture.
You can do this by clicking ‘Customize Channel’ in the top right-hand corner of your channel landing page.
Once your customization window opens, you can update the layout, branding, and basic info of your channel.
Don’t worry, if you want to change the channel art later, you can do so by clicking ‘Customization’ at the bottom of the menu on the left-hand side panel of your YouTube studio.
To create your channel art, I recommend using Canva, which has templates for virtually everything you need for your YouTube channel.
Alternatively, there are tons of other photo editing programs that you can try, like:
Once you are finished customizing your channel, you have the option to upload a channel trailer. Your channel trailer is like a video version of your channel description and helps build brand awareness for people who are new to your channel.
Take a look at Lululemon’s YouTube channel. Their trailer is one of their popular videos, which gives viewers a taste of the content that their channel regularly produces.
For more detailed instructions on how to upload YouTube videos, do a quick Google search. There are so many helpful videos and blog posts that will teach you the step-by-step process.
For the sake of moving forward with your YouTube marketing strategy, let’s move onto the next step.
Step 3. Do Some Audience Research
Before you create videos, it’s important to do a little bit of audience research. You’ll want to get to know your potential customers and the kind of YouTube content they actually want to watch.
Understanding your audience will help you get your videos in front of their eager eyes, so do not skip this step.
Plus, it will make it a whole lot easier to map out your digital marketing strategy.
I’ve already written a super detailed guide on how to define your target audience, so I recommend following the tips outlined there.
When it comes to YouTube, however, there are a few things you can do to better understand your target audience.
The first thing you need to understand is who your target audience is and how they currently use YouTube. The following questions will help you understand how your brand can fit into their existing YouTube habits.
- Which other channels does your target audience follow?
- Which social networks are they most active on?
- Which of your existing blog posts have the most traffic and engagement? Can those blog posts be turned into YouTube videos?
- Why do these people watch YouTube in the first place? Is it to learn a new skill, be entertained, or learn about a product?
- What problem are they trying to solve when they watch videos on YouTube?
- How do they engage with this content? Do they simply watch the video, do they give it a like, do they leave a comment?
Key takeaway: By understanding what motivates people to use YouTube and how your brand fits into their habits, you’re better equipped to provide that kind of content for them.
Step 4. Understand the Different Types of Videos
According to a 2016 report by Huffington Post, the most common (and highest converting) types of brand videos were
- customer reviews or testimonials
- product demonstration videos
- explainer or tutorial videos
- thought leader interviews
- project reviews and case studies
- video blogs
- event videos
As you begin to do your research, think about these different types of videos and how they can serve your audience. Also, pay attention to how your direct competitors and influencers within your niche produce these different types of videos as well. This will be crucial once you begin the process of creating your own video content.
Step 5. Observe Other Channels in Your Niche
Naturally, doing audience research will give you a list of channels to model your content after. So as you begin to analyze other channels in your niche, go ahead and take notes on those that have the same audience as you. These channels may not be direct competitors, but they’ve got the attention of the people you want to watch your channel.
So if you’re a beauty ecommerce shop, for example, then look at leading influencers in the fashion and beauty niche. They are already creating content that your target audience is watching, so they basically have a content plan laid out for you.
When you’re looking at their channels, pay attention to how they organize their playlists.
Next, look at their most popular content by clicking the ‘Videos’ tab on the top menu and then sorting by ‘Most popular’.
This will show you what their audience likes the most and the types of videos that perform well. If you want to dig deeper into these popular videos, then install TubeBuddy and see which tags they are using on their videos.
These tags work a lot like keywords and will clue you into which keywords work well and how to incorporate them into your own video titles and descriptions.
Next, pay attention to how they formulate their titles. Notice how things are phrased, where capitalization is used, and other click-baity details that might help the video get more clicks.
For example, this video title uses a fairly popular click-baity title that includes
- A numbered list (5 easy makeup techniques)
- A ‘power word’ (easy)
- A formulaic approach to high-converting titles (‘that will’)
- And her branded name in all caps at the end of the title
Now, pay attention to how these channels encourage viewers to engage with their content. Do they ask them to subscribe or leave a comment? What are the different types of calls-to-action they include throughout the video? What do they include in their end screens?
Key takeaway: Since these channels are already so popular with your target audience, it’s important to pay attention to the tactics they use and see how your brand can use them too.
Step 6. Optimize Your Videos
Whether you want to simply build brand awareness or you want to grow a massive audience, there are a few key metrics that you want to pay attention to as you’re designing your video marketing strategy.
Because YouTube wants people to spend as much time as possible on their platform. So channels that can help them do that will be rewarded.
The better your videos perform, the more that YouTube will recommend your videos. This is the key to growing your channel and reaching a larger audience.
These key metrics are how YouTube determines which video content to promote and share with viewers and will guide you when optimizing your videos:
- Total watch time
- Average percentage of video viewed
- Average view duration
- Audience retention
- How many times viewers re-watch your video content
- Overall engagement with your video
- Click-through-rate from YouTube search
- Click-through-rate on the cards
- Subscriber growth rate
- Unique viewers
So when you’re optimizing your videos, you’re doing it to both help your target audience find you and to get them to watch as much of the videos as possible.
I’ll go over exact steps for optimizing your videos in the next section.
Key takeaway: The more time you can get people to spend on YouTube, the better your channel will do.
Step 7. Upload and Schedule Your Videos
Once you’ve got your channel set up, your audience pinned down, and your competitors analyzed, it’s time to start uploading some videos to YouTube.
I’ll walk you through the steps for uploading your video here and in the next section I’ll give you detailed tips about how exactly to optimize your video.
You can upload your videos either through your channel dashboard or by clicking ‘Manage Videos’ in the top right-hand corner.
From there, you’ll be able to select your files right from your desktop.
Once the video is uploaded, you’ll be able to fill in all of the details such as the video title, description, tags, thumbnail, and which playlists to add it to.
Once you’ve added these details, click ‘Next’ to add any cards or end screens.
On the next window, you’ll be able to either publish immediately, set it to private, or schedule it for a future publish date.
Hit ‘Save’ and you’re ready to go!
7 Simple Tips For A Powerful YouTube Marketing Strategy
Now that you’ve got your branded channel set up and you know what kind of content you’d like to produce, it’s time to promote your YouTube channel to your audience.
To do this, you’ll be addressing these three areas:
- The YouTube algorithm
- Your target audience
- Your existing audience
By following the tips below, you’ll have a better chance of not only building brand awareness through video marketing but also of reaching an exponentially larger audience by rigging the YouTube algorithm.
I’m just going to outline exactly what I do for my client so that you can see how it works in real life. She doesn’t have 1 million+ subscribers, but she does make over $1 million each year, largely thanks to her YouTube channel.
So these simple tactics work.
If you follow these steps with unrelenting dedication, your YouTube channel will be a profitable acquisition channel for your business.
1. Make Compelling Titles
When you’re making titles for anything, whether it’s for a high-converting product description or for a blog post, it’s super important that it is compelling enough for users to want to click on it.
It’s sometimes difficult to understand what exactly makes a title compelling.
Luckily for you, there are millions of marketers who are obsessed with identifying what makes a title compelling, so they’ve done all of the hard work for you. Collectively, marketers have tested different titles over the entire internet and have been able to identify what kinds of titles get the most clicks.
Based on what they’ve found, most good titles follow a basic formula.
Most high-converting titles will include either:
- A numbered list
- An emotional pull
- A power word
- A promise of some kind
- Or a thought-provoking question
Let’s take this example that I used in another article I wrote about powerful words that sell:
This title includes:
- A numbered list (16 Weird Tricks)
- A promise of some kind (That Will Leave You Impressed)
- A power word (Impressed)
- A thought-provoking question (Scratching Your Head)
Now, this title is from BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed is notorious for creating click-baity titles. So, of course, they would smash all of the recommendations into a single title just to get the highest conversion possible.
But, uh, it really works.
That’s exactly why BuzzFeed is so popular and so well-known for its click-baity tactics. Because people click on their titles.
That doesn’t mean that you need to create cheesy titles in hopes of tricking people into watching your videos. Instead, it means that you should take some time to consider how to work these factors into a title that works for your audience.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are certain title formulas that tend to work well. Get to know these formulas and try them out on your own titles. See what gets the most clicks from your audience and then do more of that.
It’s really that simple.
2. Create High-Converting YouTube Thumbnails
Your thumbnail is the little image that people will see before they click on your video. In a way, it is the visual counterpoint to your title.
So if people aren’t too fussed with reading all of the titles on the page, then they’ll scan their thumbnails for the most interesting image.
According to Derral Eves, a top YouTube consultant and strategist, a thumbnail with a bright background or text and funny faces convert the best.
Look at Lego’s YouTube channel, for example.
You’ll notice that the thumbnails for their Homeschool playlist (on the top row) consistently include not only a person but a person making a funny face.
A funny face, or basically anything that isn’t just your standard smile, is intriguing by nature. It’s outside of the norm and so triggers our brains to pause and say, “hey, what’s that?” It’s an evolutionary mechanism that has helped our species learn how to work with others for our own safety and survival. Since the industrial revolution, however, it has since turned into a primal marketing tactic.
You’ll also notice that the second row is made up of thumbnails that simply have a bright background and a single overlaid image.
And if you want to dig a little deeper, you might notice that the titles are a little formulaic too.
But let’s say that your brand isn’t necessarily suited for bright colors or interesting facial expressions. Tech companies, for example, are better suited for thumbnails that tease the viewer about their products.
Take Apple, for example.
You’ll notice that all of their thumbnails feature dramatic contrasts between the text overlay and the background. They also often feature the product right within the thumbnail.
And because it’s Apple, a brand that is known by possibly 90% of the world’s population, they don’t need to worry about click-baity titles. Just really good thumbnails.
Key Takeaway: Make your thumbnail stand out with bright colors, interesting facial expressions, and dramatic contrast.
3. Make Compelling Content (Like Mr. Beast)
Mr. Beast is one of the most, if not the most, popular YouTuber of all time. He has grown his channel exponentially without much technology or even real substance…
...yet has millions of new subscribers month over month and at least 10 million views on every single one of his YouTube videos.
Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about hacking the YouTube algorithm.
Before I reveal his secrets to you, however, it’s important to note that the type of channel that he runs is likely very different from the type of channel that you will run. So it wouldn’t make sense to try to grow your following based exactly on his tactics.
You can, however, learn about his tactics, why they work, and how to apply them to your own channel.
In this video, he says that Mr. Beast follows a ‘viral formula’ by addressing one or more of the following in each of his videos:
- Money-related content
- Content that causes or records a person’s reaction
- Funny and shocking pranks
- Some kind of challenge that seems impossible to complete
- Features other YouTubers
- Suspenseful drama
The extra step that Mr. Beast takes to making his videos viral is combining as many of those tactics as possible into a single video…
...over and over again.
But, of course, the viewer doesn’t know this until he or she watches the video. So Mr. Beast makes sure to highlight these features in both his titles and thumbnails.
Another key part of Mr. Beast’s strategy is that he grabs your attention almost immediately upon starting the video… and that’s exactly how I got sidetracked while writing this article into watching the full video about how he made his friends compete to win an entire island.
According to Paddy Galloway, this works because Mr. Beast
- Uses an intro hook where he explains exactly what you can expect to see in the video, enticing you to continue watching until you see it
- Always has videos within 10 to 20 minutes long, which seems to be exactly the amount of time that most people are willing to sit and watch videos for
- Saves the juicy part of the video until the very end, so that you have to watch the full video to get what you want
Each of these tactics helps increase watch time, which is an extremely important ranking factor in the YouTube algorithm.
If you don’t have millions of dollars to give away to your buddies, then consider how you can use these tactics in a way that fits your brand.
Think about what your hook would be, what viewers would wait until the end of the video for, and how you can convey this in your title and thumbnail.
4. Include Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
A call-to-action is basically some kind of instruction on what the viewer should do next. The most commonly used CTAs on YouTube ask the viewer to like the video and subscribe to the channel.
The purpose of a CTA is to help move your audience along the marketing funnel, from a curious viewer (Awareness Phase) to a potential customer (Interest and Desire Phase).
So if someone ends up on your video and watches the whole thing, you don’t want to lose them again to the cyber-stratosphere where you may never see them ever again. Once you’ve got them on your channel, you want to keep them in your orbit.
Too many space puns? Okay, okay.
To keep them in your proverbial orbit, and moving along your customer funnel, you can tell them about some other cool related content that you have on your website. This moves them from a ‘curious viewer’ to ‘engaged user’.
And once they get to your website, you can guide them to your products with yet another CTA.
So whenever you release any kind of content at all, especially on YouTube, be sure to include some kind of CTA. Ideally, it is relevant to your video, helpful to your audience, and a nudge down the funnel.
Some useful CTAs that you could use on your YouTube channel would be:
- “Click the Like button”
- “Be sure to subscribe to my channel”
- “Leave a comment with the next product you’d like me to unbox”
- “Share this video with your friend”
- “Click the link in the description for more information”
5. Create A Schedule (And Stick To It)
One of the things that my YouTube client says worked for her right from the beginning is to create a publishing schedule and then stick to it religiously.
So if your audience expects to see a product review video on the first Sunday of every month, then make sure to have one ready for them.
And if they expect to see a new behind-the-scenes video every Sunday, then it better be there waiting for them first thing on Sunday morning.
Not only does it build anticipation in your audience, but it also allows your channel to ride the momentum from your previous video.
You see, when my client has a hit video that gets over 10,000 views within the first week, her video that comes the following week automatically gets more impressions right off the bat. YouTube’s algorithm decides which videos to promote based on user engagement for previous videos. So if you can get that engagement up on a consistent basis, then your videos will naturally get a gentle push from the algorithm.
Even if your schedule is just two videos per month, then follow that schedule and devote your video marketing energy into making them as successful as possible.
The algorithm will notice and remember as much when suggesting your future videos to a wider audience.
I mentioned earlier in this article that there are certain types of videos that work best for branded channels. I suggest picking a few of these types and creating your video schedule around them.
For instance, these are the most successful types of videos:
- customer reviews or testimonials
- product demonstration videos
- explainer or tutorial videos
- thought leader interviews
- project reviews and case studies
- video blogs
- event videos
So your schedule could look like this:
- Sundays - customer testimonials
- Wednesdays - product demonstrations
- Fridays - explainer videos
You can create any kind of schedule you want, rotating between these types of videos. There are tonnes of project scheduling tools to keep yourself on track, most of which have a free version. Whatever you choose to do, do it consistently.
6. Drive Traffic To Your Video In The First 24 Hours
Because the YouTube algorithm is bent on user engagement and watch time, one of the most powerful things you can do as a creator is drive traffic to your videos within the first 24 hours of being live.
The way that my YouTube client does this is by scheduling her videos for early Sunday mornings, before anyone in the US is awake and online. Then she sends out a newsletter on Sunday morning that arrives to her audience’s inboxes just as they’re waking up. In the newsletter, she talks about what’s in the video, why she created it, and who it’s for.
Then she asks everyone to go watch the video, give it a like, and then comment with a phrase that matches the video’s theme for the week.
Within 10 hours of being released, her video gets upwards of 7,000 views and hundreds of comments.
She does the same on her social media accounts, where she has about 30,000 followers on Instagram and 15,000 followers on Facebook.
I only share these numbers so that you can see that you don’t need millions of followers or subscribers to have a successful YouTube channel. You only need enough to push your video into the YouTube algorithm.
7. Share Your Videos In Your Blog Content
Once the first 24 hours have passed and you’re waiting for the YouTube algorithm to be kind to you, it’s time to pull your videos into your blog content.
Or promotional material or sales page or whatever.
The idea is to make use of your videos, keep the views in an upward trend, and provide more value to your audience.
For me, this means that I embed my client’s YouTube videos in her site content.
I do this for a few reasons:
- It increases time on page, which is a huge ranking factor for Google’s algorithm
- It provides more value to the reader visiting the page
- It gives us another way to rank for keywords on Google
- It sends more people to my client’s YouTube channel that may not have otherwise found her there
No single video of hers has ever broken the internet, but there is enough of this activity going on that she’s able to earn several million dollars every year. And that’s really the whole point, anyway.
Considering the success of some YouTube influencers, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to wrap your head around your own channel. But don’t worry so much about it. Instead, follow my tips outlined in this article and adjust your tactics based on what brings you the most success.
Within a year or two, you’ll have a well-oiled machine that will support your brand’s mission and bottom dollar.