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The Marketer’s Guide to YouTube

If you’re looking to get into video marketing, there’s no better channel than YouTube. They’re the second most visited website on the entire internet, with over a billion users, have virtually no competitors, and consumers are increasingly spending more time watching more online videos.

So with this flood of consumer attention, it’s no wonder companies are putting more of their ad dollars into digital video advertising.

But the good news for you is that you don’t need to flood thousands of dollars in YouTube advertising. If you create a good channel that constantly puts out quality content that people want, you’ll get the attention and eyeballs that you need to drive customer acquisition through YouTube.

Here’s how to do just that.

Part One: Creating a Great Channel Layout & Getting People to Click on Your Videos

This blog post is not going to get into the weeds of how to upload a profile picture, cover image, or the steps to upload a video. YouTube already has those steps. It’s easy and you don’t need any instructions from me. I’m going to use this first part of the guide to talk about why you need a great channel layout.

The first step to YouTube marketing is to have a great channel layout. When people come to your channel, they need to know what you’re about and what types of videos you have.

Here’s how my channel looks:

My value proposition and color scheme is simple and matches my website. The CTA says that I publish videos every day. My trailer is like an extension of the value prop.

People want to learn SEO and social media marketing from me. So, I’ve created a ton of videos on those topics and organized them into different sections:

This organization makes it easy for people to get an idea of what types of content I publish. If you have a lot of videos, I’d recommend you do the same.

Create Regular Content

Consistently updating your channel with content will keep your channel feed active, increase your presence on YouTube, and help you build an audience. You should aim for a minimum of one video per week, but the right amount of content depends on your audience, your goals, and your content.

One simple way to create a steady stream of content is to produce shorter versions of long-form content. Build a theme around a topic and then post bite-size versions of the theme on a weekly basis. This will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

How to Write a Great Title

This is one area you cannot ignore. Titles are very important in YouTube. No matter how great your video content, it won’t matter if you can’t get anyone to actually click on your video in the first place.

There’s a few different tactics I see marketers and creators on YouTube using.

The first one is the sports gossip outlet TMZ Sports. They’re not marketers, but they know how to get attention. And that’s important for marketers. Let’s see if you can find a trend in their titles:

Business Insider follows a similar formula. Let’s see some examples from their YouTube channel:

What TMZ Sports and Business Insider essentially do is write half a sentence and leaves it as a “….”. This means that if you want to find who said what or what the kids should, you’ll have to click on the video to find out.

None of these titles are mistakes. They are intentionally written like this. They write titles to get you to click.

Is it clickbaiting?

A little bit. But you shouldn’t completely avoid clickbait, because some of it works.

Here’s how to do it yourself.

YouTube’s title character limit is 100, but right around 50-55 characters is where they start to cut off the text on the desktop. This is where you write your cliffhanger. Look what TMZ Sports does when they write their titles.

If I had a video about my SEO hacks, I may write a title like this:

Search Engine Optimization | These four SEO hacks will skyrocket your traffic

The part in italics is what will show as the title on YouTube. You see that I leave a cliffhanger that will make people want to click. I also put in the keywords search engine optimization and SEO in there to make it clear what the video is about. I’d then put the Google logo in the thumbnail to catch the eye and make sure people know it’s about Google SEO.

Keywords are the other important thing. You need to make sure you put those keywords in your title so it attracts the right audience. Keywords like social media marketing, search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, ROI, and blogging are all keywords you’ll find me using. If you know your niche, you’ll know what keywords you need to use.

Now that we have the title, let’s move onto the visual title – the thumbnail.

Thumbnails

Don’t skip this part. Choosing your YouTube thumbnail is just as, if not more, important than crafting a great title.

Let’s first go through a couple of the goofy hacks marketers use on their thumbnails.

Arrows and Circles

Marketers are increasingly using red arrows and circles in their YouTube thumbnails and their social graph images. Here’s what I mean:

There is clearly no need for a red arrow here. So why do they add it? Because it draws eyeballs and clicks.

I’ve used this tactic as well:

You may want to give it a shot and see if it increases your views!

Logo to Boost Brand Awareness

Here’s another hack that marketers like to use is putting your logo on the thumbnail. That way, even if no one clicks your video, you’re still drawing awareness and spreading your brand.

CNN puts their logo on every thumbnail:

Look how big that logo is. Does it need to be that big? Of course not, but it spreads the CNN brand, even to people who won’t click and watch the video.

I do the same thing, but instead of a logo, I use my face:

I don’t need to put my face on this thumbnail, but it helps my fans recognize me. And if people aren’t familiar with me, they’ll see the title of this video and wonder who the heck that guy is and may click and video and be introduced.

Just remember that viewers shouldn’t feel like they’ve been tricked into viewing your video. Your thumbnail needs to accurately represent the content of your video.

Cross-Promote with Other Channels

To increase your reach on YouTube, make it a priority to identify and reach out to other similar channels to cross-promote or collaborate in a mutually beneficial manner.

This doesn’t mean that you need a huge following on YouTube already. Gregory Ciotti has a great post on Think Traffic about how he worked with another YouTube channel to create a video based on a popular blog post he wrote – Science of Productivity.

That video alone increased his email subscribers by 7,000!

We’ve covered how to get people to click on your videos and cross-promoting. Now let’s go on to another facet of marketing on YouTube, which covers optimizing your videos for YouTube search.

Part Two: YouTube SEO

YouTube is the second most popular search engine. And with 500 hours of video uploaded every minute, you have your fair share of competitors.

Here’s how to put your best foot forward to make sure get near the top of YouTube’s search results (without having to pay for it):

Writing Great Descriptions

YouTube has a great section detailing how marketers and creators can write great descriptions. I’d recommend you take a look at that if you need a full guide.

The part that I want to emphasize is the importance of using keywords early in your description. Here’s the keywords I put in one of my videos:

When you know what keywords you’re trying to rank well for, you can put those in the title and description. You can also mention those keywords in the video and put those in your closed captions.

Just never force anything and keyword stuff. It just makes you look spammy and untrustworthy.

Your descriptions should be at least one paragraph. YouTube gives you 5000 characters to write. Don’t be bashful. Use as much of it as you need to.

I use my description as a transcript. But I also put links to my blog and social above the fold. So even if people don’t read the entire description, they still see links to read my blog or get in contact with my social:

Write descriptions with keywords. Make it easy for people to find more information about you.

Closed Captions on Videos

Ever remembered a great line from a TV show, typed it into Google or YouTube and found the exact clip on YouTube?

If that great line wasn’t in the title or the description, then you found that because the search engines used the captions to find the video.

That alone should convince you that you need to have captions available for your videos.

You can use the automatic captioning. You can take those and edit them, or add your own.

Tags

The key to optimizing your tags is to place your important terms first. Use quotes for keyword phrases such as “video production” and provide a blend of common and long-tail keywords.

You want to provide enough tags to thoroughly and accurately describe your video. Think about what your potential viewer may be searching for on YouTube.

Comments, Likes, and Subscriptions

When watching a video on YouTube, how often near the end of the video do you hear the phrase, “if you liked this video please give it a thumbs up or make a comment”.

That’s because more likes and comments signals to YouTube that the video is getting audience engagement. People are talking about it and rating it. It struck a chord with them.

And YouTube will rank it higher in their search results.

Another thing that will get a higher ranking is a large number of people subscribing to your channel. And most good YouTube creators and marketers know this. That’s why they ask you to subscribe.

I could write an entire article on getting more YouTube subscriptions. And fortunately, I have. Take a look if you want more subscribers.

Part Three: How to Produce a Great YouTube Video

This is the last part of this blog post, but you should treat it as the most important part of YouTube marketing.

Create a Great Opening and Sustain Viewer Attention

If you’re relatively unknown, then the first few seconds of a video are absolutely crucial to get exactly right. They “hook” the viewer in so that they want to watch your entire video.

I’m sure you’ve all seen some ads from Tai Lopez. But have you actually watched them to truly understand what makes him such a great creator?

This was one of Tai’s ads:

When creating an ad, you have 5 seconds to hook the viewer in so they watch more of your video. You see what Tai Lopez does? The background is him standing in a mansion, and the first thing he says is that he’s going to give you a tour of his mansion. Then he introduces himself. And to keep you watching, he gives you a video tour of the mansion while he talks about himself and what he offers. This is great marketing that few people have done.

Who would want to click “Skip Ad” on this video?

Can you imagine if he was sitting at a desk with a white wall as his background giving the same talk? No one would watch it.

Your videos should work the same way. Even if they aren’t ads, you should treat it them as such. Hook the viewer in with visuals and a few great opening lines. Then keep them entertained. Watch what I do in this video:

My hook comes in with high energy naming companies I’ve ghost written for. The rest of my intro (which is only 15 seconds) outlines what this video is about and why you can benefit by watching the rest of my presentation.

Near the end of your video, it’s time to add your CTAs to get users to check out your website or other videos on your channel. The best way to do that is with annotations.

Annotations

All the arrows I’m pointing to are annotations I play at the end of my videos

Annotations are text overlays that you can place over your videos. With annotations, you can layer text, links, and hotspots over your video to enrich the video experience with additional information, interactivity, and engagement.

Be modest with your use of annotations since too many will turn off viewers and decrease your average watch-time. Here are some ways to use them:

  • Navigate (i.e., next/previous episode, go to channel)
  • Subscribe to YouTube channel
  • Link to other YouTube videos, playlists, channels, or full versions of shorter clips
  • Encourage viewers to “like” or comment on the video

You can customize many different aspects of annotations, including size, color, type, link, and timing. Play around with the different types of annotations to find one that matches your goals.

Avoid placing annotations in the lower third of your video as the YouTube ads overlay can obscure them. Also, the embedded player can obstruct annotations along the very top of the frame.

Finally, be careful that the annotations do not get in the way of the actual content. This can seem “spammy” and may have an adverse effect.

Create Calls to Action

annonying orange cta

The key to a successful marketing campaign, even on YouTube, is creating clear and concise calls to action. Depending on the message, you can use the beginning, middle, or end of a video to direct the actions of your viewers.

Having too many prompts can cause confusion, so keep your CTAs minimal and simple. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for viewers to perform an action.

Here are a few important actions to use on your videos:

  • Subscribe: Give your viewer a reason to subscribe (e.g., new videos every week or never missing an episode).
  • Like / Add to Favorites / Share: Ask your viewers to “like,” “favorite,” and “share” the video so your content appears in more places across YouTube. You’ll be amazed at the reaction you get when you simply ask for it.
  • Comments: Encourage your audience to participate by asking a specific question or requesting a topic they’d like to see covered in an upcoming video.
  • Video Graphics: Create a video “end slate” that appears at the end of the video to direct viewers to your website.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you made it all the way through this massive guide. Now you are set to become the next YouTube star/creator.

Apply the principles outlined here and grow your presence on YouTube. Remember, it may not work on the first try, but continuing to produce high-quality content on YouTube can deliver amazing results.

Success on YouTube comes with time and practice, so get out there and shoot.

What YouTube marketing techniques have you learned?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

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