YouTube Marketing Strategy

YouTube Marketing Strategy: 13 Tips to Help You Grow Your Business with YouTube

YouTube has come a long way from the days of cute cat videos. In fact, though it was once a platform for everyday people to share their talents, YouTube has now become a major commercial enterprise. Even your everyday creators can often monetize their content to the point that some people even make a living off of YouTube.

What’s that have to do with us as marketers? Simply put, YouTube has grown from a casual pastime to a must-use marketing modality. In fact, for many brands, YouTube is one of the more important advertising methods. This is true, both in terms of user-generated content and more traditional content marketing.

Like everything else, however, you can’t just throw a random video on YouTube and expect rapid business growth. Instead, you need a YouTube marketing strategy. These tips will help you get started.

Initial Tips to Get You Started

If you have yet to really create a YouTube marketing strategy, you should start with these tips. They help you define your audience, set up your account, and start posting in a manner that’s deliberate and effective. Remember, most of the best buildings have strong foundations, and your YouTube account should be no different.

1. Research Your Competition

Research Your Competition

Begin by understanding what is out there, who is successful, and why they are successful. In other words, you need to learn who your competitors are and how they run a successful YouTube account. This will allow you to form a good YouTube marketing strategy.

But who are your competitors? In this case, they are other accounts in your industry that use the same keywords or that talk about similar products. This can include a variety of businesses, such as wholesalers or retailers that carry our products, competitors in your industry, and even industry publications.

You need to think about more than just what they say or what keywords they use. Instead, their techniques. Do tutorial videos draw a ton of extra views and lots of engagement? Or maybe, those explainer videos they’ve created are making a splash. At the same time, don’t ignore the other features of their account, such as how often post new videos and to what extent they leverage the community tab.

2. Create or Optimize Your YouTube Channel

This is a no-brainer: If you want to get in on the action, you need to show up! Creating a channel also means that you will put some thought into creating an introductory video to welcome new channel visitors as well as optimizing other elements of your YouTube profile. Any YouTube marketing strategy requires making your channel as visible as possible.

Keep in mind that there’s more to creating and optimizing a great channel than including nice introductory material. You’ll need to think about which niche you want to pursue, such as a luxury shoe manufacturer primarily appealing to mid-career adults with disposable income. In this case, your goal should be consistent with your other branding.

Speaking of branding, as you create your account, make sure that each aspect of the account matches your company brand. This includes using brand-appropriate graphics, wording, and logos. Remember, consistent branding helps your online presence to grow across many online platforms.

Further Reading: YouTube Video Optimization: Simple Tricks Beginners Can Implement To Rank Their Videos

3. Set a Schedule to Create and Publish Your Videos

Set a Schedule to Create and Publish Your Videos

Based on competitive research as well as your own keyword research, create an editorial calendar to choose topics for your videos. There are several aspects to an editorial calendar. As its name suggests, part of your editorial calendar is determining which dates you want to publish content. For some social networks like Instagram or Twitter, you want to post every day. For YouTube, with this more labor-intensive content, that might be too frequent. In this case, maybe two or three times a week will do.

Next, develop a list of topics and associate each topic with a specific date. For instance, as I write this blog post, the day I plan to publish it has already been determined. On a different date, I’ll publish something else. Place each topic on a calendar, whether that’s a paper chart or some type of virtual calendar. Having everything written down will help keep you honest.

Functionally, it’s important that you determine which kind of video you will publish on each date. Some topics lend themselves better to tutorials, while others are brand introductions by definition. And if you want to do some brand collaboration, as you would with influencer marketing, you have to think far ahead. Of course, for collaborations, the exact video type might be determined later after a consultation.

Post-Production Tips

Just like with writing a book, only 10% of your job is done when you finish production – the remaining 90% is promotion. In other words, there’s a tremendous amount of work to do after you create your videos. Promotion helps increase the circulation of your work, which in turn helps to boost your influence and grow your account. And for a branded YouTube account, the more people visit your YouTube profile, the greater ROI.

4. Write Engaging, Must-See Titles

Most people don’t think about searching in the context of a YouTube marketing strategy. However, YouTube is a search engine, and titles matter both for SEO and convincing people to watch your video. Especially if your niche is competitive, the chances are that searchers will get quite a few results to choose from.

Of course, you don’t want to practice keyword stuffing. Just like on Google, using irrelevant keywords to a YouTube video, or cramming as many of them into the title and description as possible, can backfire. Even if it gets your video a decent ranking in more search results, the spammy titles are likely to turn people off. Over time, the YouTube algorithm will make your video harder to find, sometimes even for your most important keywords.

5. Customize Your Thumbnails

Thumbnails might be the single most element that is the deciding factor on whether or not someone clicks on your video. Think about it this way — depending on your niche, a lot of the titles will be similar. In addition, especially with a boring topic, it’s easy to randomly choose a video to watch. On the hand, using a great thumbnail really helps your YouTube marketing strategy. You have a great opportunity to add some branding, and in addition, people might decide based on the thumbnail that your video is better than the competition.

Further Reading: The Best 14 Thumbnail Makers for YouTube

6. Increase Engagement with Calls to Action

Let’s be honest — for most viewers, it’s easy just to consume the content and move on. Unfortunately, allowing your content to have lower engagement rates hurts your overall strategy. One of the best ways to increase engagement is simply to ask for it. There are four ways to do this:

  1. Include natural calls to action as part of your video. For instance, you can encourage people to check out a related video.
  2. Include cards throughout your video with calls to action. You can check out my article about YouTube cards on the blog, but in a nutshell, these are the little pop-up images that you’ll often see at the end of each video.
  3. Use your end screen for strategic calls to action. Common examples include adding a subscribe button and sang can channel sponsors (with the opportunity offered also to sponsor).
  4. Write them in the descriptions of your videos. These can be very effective, though you’ll also run the risk that people don’t see your entire subscription. Some people watch one video after another without engaging.

Clearly, there are a lot of ways to include a call to action as part of your YouTube marketing strategy. Keep in mind that you don’t need to use the same one all the time. Depending on your channel and brand voice, you can alternate or combine methods in any way that’s appropriate.

7. Create Playlists to Organize Your YouTube Content

Create Playlists to Organize Your YouTube Content

Once you get enough videos under your belt, make it easy for people interested in specific subject matter to watch only those videos from your channel that they might care about in a convenient playlist. It’s easy to create a playlist — simply visit your account, click on a video, and you have the opportunity to add it to a playlist. Then, once you’ve created the playlists, you can easily add more videos. Don’t forget to give your list a relevant, SEO-friendly title.

One of the best things about playlists actually goes beyond the content organization. When people click on your playlist, they’ll watch one video after another until they get tired of it. Not only does this increase your view count, but it also boosts your channel’s profile in the YouTube algorithm. At the same time, you’re increasing opportunities for engagement and spreading your brand message.

8. Cross-Promote Your YouTube Content

Don’t just rely on the YouTube search engine to grow your channel. Make sure you promote your YouTube videos everywhere on social media, in your email newsletters, and find areas on your website in which you can embed them as well. This way, more people will find out about your video, and they can even help distributed more by engaging with the content on the other social network.

When you embed the video on another website, and especially if it’s your website, you also use this video to drive more traffic. In other words, when people have an excuse to watch your video as is embedded in your website, they’ll have the opportunity to explore other pages of your site. What this means in practice is that people will come to view just one thing and often see a lot more. For best results, if you do any product tutorials or related user-generated content, consider embedding the video on your product page.

Further Reading: 15 Useful Tips on How to Get More Views on YouTube Videos

Tips to Take Your YouTube Marketing Strategy to the Next Level

Building a YouTube channel is a lot of work, even when it’s mostly marketing material. After all, video is the most resource-intensive of the common content formats. And in addition, there’s a lot of competition out there. To build up the following, especially since it’s relatively difficult to place your content as advertising. If you’ve already been doing all of the above, here are some additional tips to help you grow:

9. Be Consistent

This goes without saying that if you want to grow your channel, you need to continue to consistently publish content. This gives YouTube the best chance to understand and recommend your videos to others. November, the algorithm populates watch lists and makes recommendations based not only on human behavior but on its knowledge of quality content in a particular niche.

Besides the algorithm, there’s another important reason to be consistent — your followers want to know when you’ll post the next video. Think about it this way — if your followers never know whether you’ll post on Monday or not, they’re less likely to look for your content on Monday.

The same would go for any other day of the week. On the other hand, a sound YouTube marketing strategy dictates that you post on the same days each week. You can still do the occasional extra, but a consistent minimum keeps your audience engaged.

10. Analyze Your Videos and Adapt What You Learned

Analyze Your Videos and Adapt What You Learned

Now that you have a track record take a close look at your analytics and see what you can do to improve your videos and grow your audience. For instance, you might find that your audience prefers six-minute videos to five-minute videos. Or, it could be that your tutorials are wildly popular and that simple explainer videos are less engaging.

YouTube analytics can be a lot more complicated than I’m mentioning here. It can also be a lot more narrow, depending on what you’re looking for. For example, you can easily see how many video views you get from the YouTube creator studio. On the other hand, a quality social media dashboard can help you see a lot more information than YouTube automatically gives you.

With that said, every number you can get, whether through YouTube or a third-party app, has a lesson to teach you. As with many other things in marketing, you should double down on the things that work well and discontinue or drastically scale back the things that don’t. Additionally, you might find missed opportunities, such as a keyword you aren’t maximizing or an audience that you should pursue. By studying the numbers, you’ll be a distinct advantage over those who don’t.

11. Try YouTube Advertising

YouTube advertising is a no-brainer if you want to take advantage of the audience you already have as well as the potential user base that YouTube has. What makes them special is the ability to post video ads. These usually play either before or after a featured video, and they can include a link to your website or even a standalone video. Since it’s long established that video advertisements are highly effective, this is well worth trying.

Guess what? You don’t have to start from scratch just to make a YouTube video. Instead, you can repurpose your longer videos to suit the advertising environment, such as making just a clip or a preview of the longer video. I’ve also seen brands make a full-length video and post it as an and. And if the and is placed on an irrelevant video, viewers might find it annoying. With few exceptions, this may not maximize your ROI.

12. Try Influencer Marketing

Try Influencer Marketing

Yes, influencer marketing works as well on YouTube as it can on TikTok or Instagram. In fact, you can have a whole lot of fun with influencer marketing on YouTube. Why? Because the potential for long format video gives you and your influencer partner a lot more flexibility on what you can do. For instance, Instagram and YouTube allow for live streaming, while tick-tock does not. This means that you can do more events-type collaborations on those platforms.

Another option I love with YouTube is influencer-led tutorials. While it’s easy to have your employees demonstrate the use of a product, it’s the end users who come up with innovative applications for products that supplement the manufacturer’s initial purpose. Additionally, you get access to authentic voices featuring your product rather than someone with more of a vested interest.

Besides authenticity, influencer marketing is an important part of your YouTube marketing strategy because it gives you access to the influencer’s audience. This is true whether the resulting videos are posted on the influencer’s channel, your channel, or both. One reason for this is that influencers have their own fans, and those fans will often watch anything that the influencer produces. Likewise, your audience will see that this influencer approves of your products. They might check out other material by that influencer, which will increase the influencer’s credibility and yours.

If you want to look more into the benefits of influencer marketing, I’ve written several articles on the subject, including this one.

Further Reading: YouTube Influencer Marketing: The Definitive Guide of 9 Campaign Types [with case studies]

13. Learn from Your Favorite Channels

We started these tips by looking at your competition. It’s time to think bigger — What can you learn from your favorite YouTube channels that you might be able to implement in your own YouTube marketing strategy? This type of analysis can help you find some groundbreaking ways to grow your channel.

Here, you may not necessarily view each competing channel as a threat or something to surpass. While this may be true to some extent, you want to look at this learning process as a collaborative approach. Your competition is also analyzing your success, so this is a real back-and-forth. In addition, some of the things that you find they be beneficial to both parties.

Here’s an example — let’s say that close to you and your competitor are having trouble marketing a particular product. The commenters on both your video and their video indicate the same weakness, such as a missing feature or a way to improve your product that will make it more user-friendly. Both marketing and the R&D department can benefit from this information. Often, this type of competition results in better products for both companies’ consumers.

Here’s another way it can help to see how your competitors are marketing themselves. You might find that your competitors have started presenting their products in a way that’s really unique. Without copying them, you may be able to draw some inspiration from that creativity. Sometimes it’s as outlandish as making fun of the advertisement, and in other cases, you just simply borrow a presentation idea. Either way, inspiration for new material is often just around the corner.

Further Reading: Brand Video: 10 Examples, 10 Types & 6 Tips to Inspire You

Conclusion

Whether you have a large company or a small local business, a YouTube marketing strategy is an important way to get ahead. While there are opportunities for video marketing across other platforms, one of the advantages of YouTube is that it has among the fewest restrictions for content. All but a few industries can freely build a YouTube channel, buy advertisements, and increase their influence. Of course, as with other social media platforms, not every piece of material needs to be industry-specific. You can always see something inspirational or uplifting, such as showcasing your company ideals through an illustration rooted in current events. Nonetheless, the trick is to always have and follow your editorial calendar and make sure that everything enhances your YouTube marketing strategy.

Further Reading: 13 Cool AI Thumbnail Makers for YouTube

Hero Photo by Collabstr on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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