Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success

No longer uniquely the home of shaky phone cam footage of comedy pets, YouTube has become a truly global broadcasting powerhouse. Sure, there are still grainy home videos aplenty, but these days YouTube is as much about film trailers, news channels, comedy sketches and even dedicated web series.

With one billion unique visitors every single month, it’s also an invaluable marketing tool, capable of reaching the kind of audiences that TV ads sandwiched between slabs of prime time soap can only dream of.

Of, course, if it were as simple as plastering the web with marketing videos and waiting for your inbox to fill with sales enquiries, everyone would be enjoying the fruits of their YouTube labours.

The fact is, your content is competing not only with clips of clumsy dogs, scaredy cats and video pranks, it’s going head-to-head with your competitors’ output in a race governed by search engine algorithms crunching YouTube’s six billion hours of uploads.

The 4 Key stages to marketing your business on YouTube

Play the game right and you’re in with a fighting chance of seeing your video marketing content emerge as the cream of the crop. Broadly speaking, you’ll need to consider these four vital stages if you want to promote your small business through YouTube:

  1. Build your YouTube channel
  2. Populate it with video
  3. Organise the content
  4. Optimise it for maximum marketing potential

Let’s break them down and examine each step in detail.

1. Your home on YouTube

Throwing content on YouTube and hoping for the best is doomed to failure. To achieve results, you need a structured, considered approach – you need to scratch out a little corner of YouTube and make it your own.

Think of YouTube as a vast trade fair, and your channel as your stall. Your YouTube channel should complement your principal business website, displaying consistent branding, tone of voice and company message, and keeping in line with your business keywords.

Crucially, it also needs to stand on its own two feet.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to use your YouTube channel to drive sales traffic to your main site, but for the vast majority of YouTube’s regular browsers it is your main site. Ninety-nine percent of them will digitally interact with you only via YouTube. Even though your website is a mere click away, statistically only around 1% will make that digital leap.

So – as well as telling the whole story of your product or service and hosting your most outstanding video content (more of which in a moment), your channel should include stuff like contact information, calls to action and any promotions you might be running.

To stand the best chance of translating video views into sales, make your YouTube channel a one-stop destination for potential customers.

2. Creating content

Think for a moment about your own YouTube browsing habits;

  • What makes you click on a video?
  • What makes you share a video with your social media friends and followers?
  • Can you remember the last thing you watched on YouTube and why it stuck in your mind?
  • Was it funny, emotional, informative, amazing, ironic or just plain bonkers?

Chances are, whatever it was, it triggered an emotional response that left an impression.

Balancing content that evokes an emotion with a more logical approach that gives the viewer information about your product, service or company, is an increasingly important skill in modern video marketing.

Indeed, it’s essential if you are to hook the attention of potential viewers and make your content stand out from the millions of other videos out there, whilst remaining ‘on message’.

Emotional and logical content needn’t have to sit together in the same videos all the time. Try mixing it up a bit and create a variety of authentic content, from testimonials, interviews with directors and behind the scenes stuff.

This kind of content is relatively cheap to make and will sit nicely alongside your more high budget slick advertising content. When it comes to the higher budget stuff, you should be prepared to spend a bit of money and put a bit of thought into promoting it.

Whatever it is you are creating though, you should be populating your YouTube channel with marketing content that is entertaining or interesting, that informs or educates, excites or intrigues. If you’re at a dinner party telling a story about what a fine time you had loading the dishwasher, it’s taxi time. Tell us the one about your fight to death with a mutant shark, and we’re all ears.

OK, you don’t want to ‘jump the shark’ with every upload, but bear in mind the average YouTube viewer just wants to be entertained, often for a short period of time. Aim for material that leaves a lasting impression – in a good way – to grip your viewers and ensure they come back for more.

And when they return, make sure it’s worth their while. They don’t want to see the same stuff they were watching last time they visited.

Just like a blog, content should be kept fresh and updated regularly – not only for viewer satisfaction, but also to keep those hungry search bots well fed. It all helps push your content to the top of the search engine pile.

3. Get organised

Like your main business website, your YouTube channel needs to be organised and navigable.

Try to group content thematically and avoid ordering it by popularity – your greatest ever YouTube hit may have been a jaw-dropping success back in its day, but four years on it’s a tired old has-been. Instead, prioritise content that is most relevant to your business today.

That’s not to say you should order by date, either! Again, try thinking back to your viewing habits and apply to them your own content – order it according to likely appeal and draw viewers in using carefully-selected custom thumbnails. In short, give people what they want.

4. Realising potential with optimisation

YouTube is more than a massive video hosting service – it’s a search engine in its own right. The second biggest, in fact, behind its owner Google. That means all the search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies which apply to your main site come into play on YouTube, too.

In the same way that page names and blog titles on your main site should be keyword-rich, so too should video titles, both for clarity and for good search engine ranking. Likewise the name of the actual video file you upload to YouTube should be – or contain – a keyword. A small detail, but one that does have an impact.

Think about the search terms you use when searching for information or videos on the web. Words like ‘best’, ‘tips’, ‘how to’, ‘review’ and ‘DIY’ are all good ones to include in titles.

Video descriptions – often sorely neglected – should be seen not as a chore, but an opportunity to sell yourself and your content.

Again, this is a chance to sow some more keywords, get them in your copy four or five times and at least once in the first paragraph. But keep it natural and be human – search engine algorithms can detect artificiality and patterns and, just as importantly, so can your viewing public.

Finally, get to grips with YouTube’s analytics suite to fully understand what aspects of your video marketing strategy are working well – and where there’s room for improvement.

As well as showing you the simple stuff like which videos are doing well, this tool will also help you understand how viewers are discovering your content, enabling you to tweak future uploads for maximum gain.

With 85% of online adults aged 16-64 stating that they were regular visitors to YouTube, which is 9% more than Facebook, YouTube’s huge marketing potential sells itself on numbers alone.

You need to therefore be asking yourself; could your business work that little bit harder to turn those numbers in its favour. Do it right and the investment will be time and money well spent.

About the author

This guide has been written for ByteStart by Jon Mowat is the MD and founder of Bristol based video production company, Hurricane Media. You can check out their award winning videos on YouTube.

More on ByteStart

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