YouTube Marketing: strategies and best practices

Have you read it right, YouTube marketing? Companies have now understood that the Google video platform is not just a repository of funny videos but a powerful promotion tool.

The web is undergoing the same kind of change that traditional media had from the second half of the last century with the spread of television.

The video support communication medium has always been more appreciated than others, even just for the emotional impact it can generate.

Why do YouTube marketing?

First of all, because people love watching videos and following engaging stories. The advent of platforms like Netflix, Infinity, and Dazn is proof that users not only watch videos but also want to choose their favorite content.

YouTube, however, is not a direct competitor and its mission is not family entertainment. Many will argue that there is various paid content, but let’s be honest, who has ever bought a movie on Youtube?

youtube marketing strategy

In the collective imagination, the red tube is a repository of clips where you can find epic moments to review and share on social media.

The keyword is “search,” too often we forget that YouTube is a search engine and not just any, but the second most used one after Google (what else?).

Let’s look at the numbers

To get an idea of the potential that comes from exploiting this channel, take a look at these numbers (source YouTube for the press):

  • Every month, over 1.9 billion users access YouTube, and every day they watch over a billion hours of video;
  • Mobile devices account for over 70% of YouTube views.
  • YouTube has introduced localized versions in over 91 countries.
  • You can browse YouTube in 80 different languages (covering 95% of users).

Do you begin to grasp the extent of the phenomenon? The potential audience is staggering. And that’s not all:

  • Over 50% of users search for videos before purchasing a product;
  • Over 40% prefer watching video content on YouTube;
  • Channels with a five-figure turnover have grown by 50% in the last year;
  • Since last year, channels with over a million subscribers have seen a +75% increase.

 

Discover insider tips in our free ebook. Enhance your YouTube content to captivate your audience. Download now!

youtube video marketing ebook guide

Before starting YouTube marketing

Don’t ask yourself what you can do for the customer, but what they can do for you. Let’s be clear, you’ll have to get your hands dirty (and your wallet), but the guidelines should be established based on the target you want to hit.

Proper planning can help you avoid numerous headaches. So, get comfortable, be patient, and create profiles for your buyer personas.

It’s crucial to understand where you’re starting from and where you want to go, while the direction and means will be determined later.

Anyone who still believes in the existence of a magic wand that solves problems can enroll in Hogwarts. Here, we’re talking about YouTube marketing strategies.

You can change the strategy, but the goal must be clear before starting any reasoning. Write it on your house walls, get it tattooed on your forehead to read it every time you look in the mirror, just keep it always in mind.

Define a funnel

I was kidding, of course. You haven’t already repainted the house, have you? Coming to our rescue are the dear old marketing funnels.

Here’s an example:

  • Do you need to create/increase Brand Awareness? Use videos on YouTube to inspire potential customers.
  • Want to improve Consideration? Start directing searches, for example, through the Google Display Network.
  • Looking to increase sales, hence Action? Once the product is known, you can guide customers to your site (perhaps with remarketing or shopping campaigns).
  • Want to build customer loyalty? Then we’re talking about Advocacy, perhaps the least digital part of our funnel, online tools can be used, but customer care remains the best tool.

marketing funnels

Establishing KPIs

What sets digital marketing apart from the old-fashioned kind? What makes it such an effective and adaptable tool for various needs? Anyone who answered “the ability to measure data” deserves a prize.

Others can review by reading the article Sales Funnel.

Without our beloved metrics, YouTube marketing would be equivalent to airing a commercial on any television, where the only targeting option is the time slot.

I can know how many people saw it, but how many truly watched it? How many were in my target audience?

In digital, you can monitor the performance at every level of our funnel:

  • Do they see me? Just observe the video’s reach compared to the set target audience, which grows brand awareness;
  • Do they talk about me? This is measurable by the engagement generated by the video that increases searches for my brand and purchase intentions;
  • Do they buy? That’s what interests us the most, observable from the number of leads and calls;
  • Do they trust me? Just observe if they come back to make a purchase.

Preliminary operations

The most pointless question you can ask a Video Marketing Specialist is “How much does it cost to make a video?”. Pointless because you’ll hear in response “How much are you willing to spend?”.

If your budget is worthy of a Hollywood production, then you can shoot a film with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep as protagonists.

And then cranes and helicopters for the shots, ten thousand extras, IMAX format cameras, and Martin Scorsese as the director.

If, on the other hand, you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars, then you can have a pair of smartphones, a tripod from the Chinese, and my “cousin” as the actor.

Meanwhile, the first thing to do is to open a Youtube channel. It is generated automatically when opening a Gmail account, otherwise, you just have to subscribe to Google’s email service.

Take the test and find out if you have the skills to manage a Youtube channel

social media manager test

How to do YouTube marketing: best practices

Make your YouTube page more attractive by adding a profile picture and customizing the channel graphics (the banner at the top). The first way to do YouTube marketing is to produce videos that position your brand.

Whether you decide to rely on professionals or try it yourself, there are a series of important operations that need to be set up and followed meticulously.

If you’re not a famous musician, don’t expect to get many views at the first attempt. You need to try, make mistakes, and test until you find the practice that suits your needs.

The crucial thing, to start with, is to set certain parameters correctly.

The title

SEO Copywriting experts know that the title, the infamous H1, is the most important attribute of an article. It captures attention, intriguing to the point where you can’t help but click to learn more.

In YouTube marketing, the same rules apply; don’t forget that it must contain the keyword for which you want to be indexed.

An example of what not to do is the film by Michel Gondry titled If You Leave Me, I Delete You. A beautiful film, but only a few people know it.

The original version of it is called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which sounds like “infinite joy of the spotless mind,” taken from the work Eloisa to Abelard by the English poet Alexander Pope.

So it doesn’t attract anyone, it seems more like a low-budget comedy. We forgive them because in 2004 they certainly hadn’t read this article. You, on the other hand, have no more excuses!

Description

You can find the description immediately below the title. There are at least two schools of thought: some claim that making it too long is penalizing, while others swear that the longer it is, the better.

The truth is that we don’t know precisely how the YouTube algorithm works, just as we know little about its big brother Google, they are all hypotheses.

The only certainty is that skimpy descriptions are not well-received in the Mountain View area. So, roll up your sleeves and write more than just a few lines.

Optimize it with keywords related to the video’s topic (and title), and don’t forget, as with any respectable marketing operation, to include a call to action. Which one?

It depends on what you want the user to do, if you want to take them to your site, insert the link to a landing page.

Tags

They are invisible to users but are very important. You can re-insert the keyword (or keyphrase), its related terms, alternatives, and even their translations.

If you want to be found for the search “digital strategy”, remember that “e-commerce” is often searched as “e-commerce”. Clear the sense?

attract public attention

You wouldn’t want to miss out on a good chunk of traffic because of a hyphen! Again, there is no fixed rule on the number of tags.

Let’s say a maximum of about ten, also because otherwise, it means you did a lousy job in choosing the keyword and titling phases, so I recommend starting over.

Cover image

When you launch a search, YouTube will return a series of videos with their respective previews. That is the cover image, it’s the one that appears in the thumbnails.

Overlooked and disparaged by many, it has significant importance, and those involved in YouTube marketing know it well. It doesn’t have SEO value, but it’s similar to the title and has the function of attracting an audience.

Otherwise, the “tube” will do it automatically and choose any frame from the video. Do you know those thumbnails with distorted faces and funny expressions? Well, avoid them if you don’t want to come across as amateurs.

Cards

I know that no one has ever noticed that tiny transparent “i” that appears in the top right corner of YouTube videos. Yet, it’s often there, provided a card has been uploaded.

It serves as a secondary call to action, if you click on it, images (preloaded by you, of course) will appear, containing a link to an approved website, a video or a playlist, another channel, or even a survey.

It always depends on what you want the user to do. They are not very effective because they are almost invisible, but they still fall within the best practices of YouTube marketing.

End screens

They have functions and settings similar to cards, but they are much more important because they appear at the end of the videos, being quite visible.

Their minimum dimensions are quite significant and can be enlarged. They can be placed anywhere in the video but cannot appear before the last thirty seconds of playback.

Keep in mind that if you decide to include them, at least one must link to a video or a playlist. After all, call to action aside, your goal is also to keep the audience on your channel for as long as possible.

Playlists

In addition to being appreciated by the YouTube search engine, they are very useful for categorizing your videos.

Your audience will have an even clearer understanding of the message you are conveying in that group of videos, and they can be included in the end screens.

Why is it important? You may have noticed that after watching one video, the next one is randomly chosen by YouTube, so it might not be one of yours.

The only sure way you have to keep users on your channel is the playlist. Once clicked, all the videos it contains will be played sequentially.

Subtitles

They are not essential for SEO or views they are not frequently used. They can become useful for Facebook shares, when videos start automatically, a written sentence could grab attention and encourage users to click to watch the entire video.

youtube search engine

They become necessary only when the video is in a different language than the one spoken by the target audience.

Do not trust subtitles generated automatically by YouTube (especially for languages other than English) and always double-check them.

Files generated by professional software can also be uploaded, or they can be inserted manually.

Urchin tracking module parameters

Better known as UTM parameters. I left them for last because they deserve a separate chapter, but this is not the appropriate place.

There are five parameters that, once inserted into URLs, allow tracking the source of traffic to a website through analytics software.

For YouTube marketing, it is essential to know that all the links discussed so far, those that point to a website (such as calls to action, cards, end screens, etc.), must contain UTM parameters.

Otherwise, you will never be able to determine the performance of various campaigns, improve them, and allocate financial resources effectively.

Other ways to market on YouTube: advertising

So far, we’ve discussed how to correctly set up a channel, essentially optimizing it for SEO. It’s a complex job whose effects will be noticeable in the long run.

If, however, we want faster results, we can engage in YouTube marketing by setting up advertising campaigns.

They are highly effective and yield immediate results, but caution is needed not to become as annoying as TV commercials that continuously interrupt our favorite shows.

There are various types of advertising, all targetable and managed directly through Google Ads.

Campaigns based on reservation

They have the advantage of fixed rates and can reach a wide audience. They are classified, based on the type of payment, into CPM or CPD.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

Represents the amount spent for every thousand impressions. Depending on the format, you can choose between:

  • In-stream standard: lasts between 15 and 30 seconds, cannot be skipped, and is broadcast before the start of a video. Ideal for gaining visibility;
  • In-stream select: broadcasted before the video starts, with a maximum duration of 60 seconds and skippable after the first 5 seconds. It aims to increase the ad’s view count.

choose video format

Cost Per Day (CPD)

It is the amount spent daily to ensure the presence of advertising banners:

  • Custom Masthead desktop: a banner that extends across the entire YouTube homepage, with a format of 970 x 250 pixels. A video can be included, and its purpose is to increase searches related to the advertised brand;
  • Universal Desktop Video Masthead: also on the homepage, the format is 780 x 195 pixels. Videos or animations created with Adobe Flash can be included on the sides;
  • Mobile Video Masthead: similar to the previous ones but specific for tablet and smartphone apps.

Campaigns following the auction method

Carried out with the traditional blind auction method made famous by Google Ads, specifically designed for YouTube Marketing. There are various formats, let’s see some of them below.

TrueView video ads

You only pay if the user watches the ad or interacts with any accompanying function buttons:

  • TrueView in-stream: can be skipped after 5 seconds, can be used for brand awareness, driving traffic to the site, or generating leads

trueview video ads

  • Discovery TrueView: a thumbnail within the video that needs to be clicked to start playback. Used to promote products in discovery locations, such as next to related videos or on the mobile app’s homepage

bumper ads

Bumper ads

Short videos lasting no more than 6 seconds, primarily designed to increase brand awareness. They cannot be skipped, and the costs are based on CPM.

Outstream ads

Specially designed for smartphones and tablets, they are played on sites within the Google Display Network and in apps. Characterized by muted audio (needs to be tapped to unlock sound), their goal is to increase brand awareness.

Costs are measured in viewable Cost Per Mille (vCPM), and you only pay if the video is viewed for more than 2 seconds.

Digital storytelling: the secret of success

Now that you have learned the fundamental techniques of YouTube marketing, let’s move on to the creative part. The success of a video and, consequently, the achievement of a brand’s goals depend on storytelling.

It doesn’t matter what you tell, but how you tell it. Think about the advertisements of the most well-known brands, do they tell you that their products are better than those of their competitors?

Does Nike tell you that their shoes are made with the best materials and cutting-edge techniques? Or does it show you everything you can do while wearing them?

This is storytelling, communicating through stories, for a company, it means telling a product not for its intrinsic characteristics but for the emotions we will feel when using it.

If we can tell a story, it will stay in people’s memories much more than listing the physical properties of the items we want to sell.

How to build a story

It’s better not to start with a chronological list of events but rather with a particular aspect that struck you. 

Additionally, even if you are not particularly experienced, you can use video recording apps that will help you leverage this type of communication to your advantage.

However, remember to consider various parameters that can influence the construction of a story:

  • Define goals and target audience
  • Engage in story-listening, observing what potential customers talk about
  • Identify the media and channels to be used
  • Establish the tone of voice, understood as the narrative register
  • Define the message to be communicated
  • Choose the appropriate storyteller, who can also be an influencer or a blogger
  •  

The suspension of disbelief

In literature, it indicates the reader’s willingness to set aside doubts that may arise from a fantastical narrative and trust what the author writes to fully enjoy the emotions generated by the story.

It is a concept that depends on two important premises:

  • Plausibility: something that appears true in that particular context and within the rules established by the author.
  • Coherence: because a detail that is estranged from the established rules could undermine the entire narrative structure.

Elements of a successful story

To generate emotions and be remembered, a story must follow a logical path and have a structure that includes a series of elements:

  • The hero undergoes a “journey” of victories and defeats
  • The goal is the task the hero must accomplish
  • The conflict through which the hero must go to achieve the goal
  • The mentor (or the “magical” object) that resolves the conflict
  • The moral is the concept to be conveyed
  • The ending is preferably open-ended to generate curiosity

 

Explore all the elements of Storytelling by downloading the free resource

storytelling ebook guide

Tips from a YouTuber

In conclusion, we went to ask a professional YouTuber for some advice for those who want to try their hand at YouTube marketing. His name is Amer Nour, he is 27 years old, and he is better known as Dragon.

He started four years ago making gaming-related videos, and today he is a YouTuber with over six hundred thousand followers (or if you prefer, 600k), mainly focused on the current title, Fortnite.

For some time now, he has also been dealing with high-tech topics, which is why he is contacted by important brands. Below you can see one of his latest videos.

interviewer of a youtuber

How do you choose video topics and tools?

amer nour the youtuber

I choose them based on trending topics. I do a lot of YouTube research trends, focusing on the main tendencies of the moment. Once I identify the news everyone wants to hear about, I proceed with the production of the new video.

The tool I usually use is the entire web, concentrating on industry websites and blogs. I especially choose American ones to get news ahead of the market.

interviewer of a youtuber

How can you monetize with YouTube?

amer nour the youtuber

First of all, with advertising, through Google AdSense, you can insert advertisements that appear at the beginning or during the video. It’s a long and complicated path because you need to have several views.

To be able to insert ads, you need at least a thousand subscribers to your channel who, over the past year, have achieved at least four thousand hours of total views.

The secret is to offer a quality product, preferably before others! Upon reaching a good number of followers, you can then be contacted by companies in the industry asking to make videos about their products, for example, testing them or doing unboxing.

interviewer of a youtuber

How do you promote and manage live streams?

amer nour the youtuber

Live streams are a very useful tool, and you need to use them with a certain strategy. For example, I only do them when I want to showcase a special event, such as the latest game releases or the launch of some new high-tech tool.

Users appreciate them a lot because they are a way to interact with them by reading the chat and answering their questions live or proposing interactive content. In a sense, they make fans feel involved in the YouTuber’s production.

interviewer of a youtuber

Looking back at your first videos, what mistakes would you avoid?

amer nour the youtuber

My first videos date back to four years ago, and looking at them today makes me smile a bit. I didn’t yet have a deep understanding of the YouTube platform or its real potential.

I started like everyone else, making mistakes and trying to improve each time. I tried to do my best, but as a self-taught person, I made many technical errors in editing my videos at the beginning.

Certainly, I didn’t entertain in the right way, the first productions were simple clips that showed my desktop while I played, but I didn’t use a webcam to record myself, and only my voice could be heard.

Followers appreciate direct contact, and being able to see the speaker is essential, so I recommend showing your face!

A big thank you to Amer for giving us this interview, now you have the basics to think about a YouTube marketing strategy for your company.

To continue learning, you can try one of the Digital Coach courses, YouTube and Online Video Marketing and Digital Storytelling.

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