Everyone with a YouTube channel wants more subscribers.
I know I do.
In this YouTube marketing guide I’m going to outline some of the quickest and most effective methods you can use to promote your channel and boost your subscriber numbers.
And I’ll also reveal my secret YouTube marketing hack!
Your focus, of course, must be on your channel videos themselves. If your video isn’t good, then no amount of marketing will make viewers subscribe or come back in the future.
The key is to make this process as smooth as possible.
If your video can be thought of as your actual product or deliverable goods then what you will be working on in this stage of the guide is the packaging of your product. Preparing a video optimisation process is like creating a template that can be slapped on effortlessly to every video before you upload it to YouTube.
The video intro is usually going to be the first part of your video that the viewer will see.
- It needs to be informative yet highly attractive to your viewers.
- If it fails to somehow engage the user on a visceral (emotional) level then they might opt to up and leave, especially in this day and age where your user attention span is being challenged by distractions.
- Keeping them watching is critical to the success of the video as YouTube’s search ranking algorithm takes into account the average amount of time that the video is being watched.
- Therefore, the longer you can get people to stop and watch the video then the higher it will rank in YouTube’s search results.
Beware, however, that should you be successful at converting a casual viewer into a regular viewer, that they will be watching the intro multiple times. With this in mind, be sure to keep intros brief.
- Anything longer than a 6 to 8 second intro may compromise the hold over a user’s attention.
While you can certainly go about making your own intro (if you have the skills to do so) from scratch, there are tools available online that can help you such as VideoHive Template and Animoto. You can also choose to be totally hands-off and outsource the job using a service like Fiverr (my preference).
Make sure you have a call to action
You should have at least one call to action embedded in your video. These are not only instructions that you issue visually or audibly through the video itself, but you can also use YouTube to add external links directly within the video that users can click onto. Be sure to time the appearance of the links exactly when the call to action is issued in the video.
Optimise the outro too!
Since there was a video intro, there is also a video outro. Where some would merely put some credits or an ask to subscribe, your goal as a YouTube marketer would be to retain the users’ focus. This means that you do not allow them to wander off to anyone else’s landing page or video.
The video outro, therefore, serves a couple of purposes. On one hand, it may ask the user to subscribe or like the video (which would increase its popularity and help boost rankings). On the other hand, it can also be used to promote your other videos or have the user click through to your website. Camtasia Studio is a tool that can help with this quite nicely.
Once the video template has been created, you can then move on to optimizing your channel.
When first signing up, YouTube will usually walk you through the various portions of setting up your channel. However, to make the highest impact make sure to do the following.
Upload channel art, especially for the header. It brings a bit of personality and identity to your channel. Many users will unconsciously view pages without graphics as incomplete, unprofessional and/or unattractive.
Add channel links to your website and links to social media accounts.
Update the channel description. The user should be able to tell what you and your channel is all about, and what kind of value it will bring to their lives. Do the same for the keywords. You must resist the temptation to throw in every single keyword you can think of in this space. Keep it concise, professional and consumer-friendly.
Finally, play around with the channel layout to see what arrangement or configuration would be the most pleasing and efficient for you and your audience.
Engage Your Viewer
15 seconds or less. That’s how long the average content provider has to persuade the viewer to continue watching the video, which is why video optimisation is so vital. A good way to start is by hitting the viewer with a bite-sized chunk of information on what they will be presented with. Think of it like a set course menu. “Welcome to your dinner. This is what you will be served tonight.” This should be right at the very beginning of the video after the video intro.
There was a heated online discussion about this recently – it was a fair debate but in the end one side clearly won.
Even though YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, its keyword influence is still dwarfed by the Google juggernaut. This is why you should not rely on YouTube’s built-in keyword tool but instead should look towards Google’s tools and AdWords keyword planner.
Brainstorm and really dig deep for words, phrases and terms that would describe your business, your channel and your video. Consider long tail keywords. Then run these through Google and pay close attention to the results generated on the first page. Notice how the results leans towards review videos and tutorials.
Uploading the actual video onto YouTube is the easy part. The interface and prompts put in place by YouTube makes the process painless and intuitive. But before you publish the video, you must optimise it as much as possible to maximise its initial reach.
The first part to be optimised would be the title. This should include the primary keyword, but shouldn’t be stuffed with so many keywords that it loses meaning to the viewer.
The description is next on the list of things to be optimised, and just like the channel description it should contain sufficient information to let the viewer know what to expect within the video.
The first line should always be a link to a relating post on your blog or website. For the viewer, it gives them something to supplement the information imparted to them from the video. For you, the content creator, it converts the user from a YouTube viewer to a visitor and consumer of your website.
What About Keywords?
Keywords should be included but do not overkill the amount added.
If you have enough space left over in the description area, one of the tricks of the trade would be to include a partial transcript of the video. This, in turn, would allow your video to get picked up for lots of extra-long tails or non-targeted search results.
Tags may be one of the least utilised tools, so optimising them can easily put you ahead in the game. Enter tags that bear your channel or websites name. Do this with different iterations and permutations. Just by doing this to all your videos, you will be increasing the likelihood that YouTube suggests the viewer to view your other videos when one ends.
Other things to optimise would include the thumbnail, the annotations and the closed caption.
Primarily thought of as a way to let the deaf or disabled consume video content, the close captions can also be used to increase the global reach of your videos by providing the captions in different languages.
Furthermore, since the YouTube algorithm can’t understand the context behind the videos, providing it with a transcript via the captions allows YouTube to put a value on the video in a manner in which its algorithm understands. This translates to an increased probability of appearing in related searches and long tails.
How to rank your video
Now that you have created a channel and videos that will most likely attract attention, retain attention and convert viewers to consumers, it’s time to work on how you and your videos can be found in YouTube.
The 5 keys to YouTube ranking
In general, 5 main factors affect a YouTube video’s rank.
There is On page, or the non-video elements of an upload such as title, descriptions and tags. Then there’s the average view duration, also known as the Retention rate. Engagement refers the actions taken by the viewer on your video such as likes, shares and comments.
There’s also Channel Authority which reflects how established the channel is in terms of activity and reputation. Finally, and unsurprisingly, the number of times the video has been viewed is also taken into account.
Marketing is not just selling yourself or your content. It is not just a one-way street. One of the easiest and oldest ways to get eyeballs and engagement on to your content is by showing others the same courtesy.
By making comments on related videos or channels. You don’t really need to post about your own video and content per se, since YouTube will create a dofollow link straight back to your own channel. Instead, focus on having an earnest conversation and try to bring value to that conversation. Be genuine and others will do the same. By simply doing this you can increase authority, increase page rank, as well as potentially increase your reach by tapping into other networks.
It’s going down in the DM, as the kids say.
But seriously, another great way of attracting attention to your channel is by sending messages directly to other YouTube users.
It may seem like a tall order, since there are hundreds of millions of users, but like with most things it can be made easier with a bit of preparatory work. Create a template message, politely asking people to come and check out your channel and content. Then scour YouTube for related videos with high number of comments.
Then go about opening each users profile and sending them a message. Paste your template and send. Attaching one of your more popular videos is optional, but a particularly good move. There are a bunch of other small yet nifty tricks and tactics that you can employ which together can increase the amount of people that will see your videos or land on your channel.
This includes posting or embedding your videos on your own site.
Create a blog post and write a short build up or intro then post your video. The user will then be shot into YouTube where they can watch the video, but more importantly there is a high likelihood that they will also be exposed to your other content.
The only downside is that, statistically speaking, viewers who were forwarded from the website are less likely to leave comments or commit to any other actions such as liking or rating the video. To offset this, it is highly recommended that you include social media share buttons for them to spread the word to their own followers.
You can also engage users in various social networks, forum or Q&A sites directly. Whichever avenue you decide to pursue, remember to do so politely and with respect. Do not spam or insult people by constantly blasting your channel info or leaving video links willy nilly. This leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and they can be slow to forget.
Engage others by providing value. If your content does not offer any value to the current conversation being had, don’t promote it. Instead, try to join in and exchange thoughts. Learn and build relationships. Earn their trust and earn the opportunity to plug your product.
Enter my Secret YouTube Hack!
Yep. This is the secret weapon.
Needless to say, the Internet is a vast place and so is YouTube. It is almost impossible for a single person to be on top of the situation 100% of the time. This means that a significant amount of engagement opportunities will inevitably fall by the wayside simply because the content creator was eating, sleeping or resting.
Don’t be upset by this, it just means that you are human.
However, tools do exist that act to collect and manage new engagement opportunities on YouTube. Tube ToolBox and its cousin Tube Assist were once powerful and popular tools that automated YouTube Marketing and made things that much easier for marketers.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this was the case when both of these tools reached their API limits and had to shut down.
Jarvee is a YouTube bot, and you can think of it as a replacement for Tube ToolBox and TubeAssist, such is the power it affords you.
It offers a great amount of flexibility in its ability. You can check the software out here (it has a 5-day free trial). Either way, Jarvee allows its user to search through YouTube’s immensity and engage with fellow YouTuber’s, as well as automate posts.
Buying YouTube Views & Subscribers
This is a controversial subject. Some people like to buy YouTube views, whilst others shun it completely. If you do go down that route, it should be viewed as a tool for a specific job and nothing more. Ensure you use a service with high-retention YouTube views such as UseViral.
A sneaky way to use this service would be to quickly generate a high rank for one of your new videos. Please note that the effects will be temporary at best, so timing will be everything. Begin by uploading your video and setting it to unlisted.
Buy at least 301 views – it’s a well-known glitch that new videos with high traffic levels get temporarily “stuck” at 301 views whilst YouTube checks the authenticity of the traffic. Employ whatever tactics you need to get a few comments and likes, then after 24 hours set the video to public. Refresh the page and your video will appear at or near the top of your target term.
This works by taking advantage of YouTube’s algorithm which shows a slight favourability to the newest or freshest content uploaded. If the video does not gain traction right away its rank will begin to decrease immediately, so time its release to the public so as to gain the most attention.
Do not forget about Google
The largest and most used search engine the world has ever known can do wonders for your YouTube channel. It is equally crucial to attain as high a rank as possible when in Google’s search results. But before you post your video for Google ranking there are a couple of caveats.
Ensure that the video has been thoroughly optimised, include a transcript, choose a video with lots of long retention views and high engagement metrics. These factors ensure that your video can go up against the best of the best that Google can dig up, and still place high on the rankings.
Likewise, do not forget about tried and true SEO link building and social signalling tactics. The same tactics that bloggers have used to gain huge followings can be adopted to YouTube. Creating contextual, authoritative links from high page rank domains should give you a boost in ranking similar to that experienced by many bloggers that have employed the same tactics.
Then there’s the drip feed, as it has come to be known. These are visitors and viewers that have found your content through social media shares, likes and searches. You may not have directly marketed to these individuals yet your videos are piquing their interest. The importance of this is currently increasing when talking about YouTube’s ranking algorithm.
Some Final Thoughts
YouTube Marketing has, of course, been around since the first uploader figured that they can use the site as a way to push a product or service. For a long time, tactics and strategies were hit or miss, but after more than a decade of playing around and developing a deep understanding of YouTube, its algorithms and consumer behaviour, YouTube Marketers have begun refining their tactics into well-honed systems.
The following is one such system that has proven to be effective in acquiring and retaining user’s attention, and increasing clickthrough rates. Gary Vaynerchuk famously said that “Content is king” and this is none truer than in the world of YouTube.
Since its inception and ensuing rise in popularity the video sharing site has grown to be the second most used search engine in the world behind Google.
Coincidentally, Google now owns YouTube, such is its power and sphere of influence. Over 3 billion searches are conducted on YouTube every month. To meet the demand creators, artists and marketers have been uploading content at a tremendous rate. Now, more than ever, consumers have access to more information, than they can ever want, need or consume.
For content creators, the seemingly endless amounts of videos being uploaded to YouTube is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the videos are being supplied to meet an equally high demand, which means that there are more eyeballs on YouTube than there has ever been before.
The downside is that it can feel like one content provider may get lost in the shuffle. In the end, it comes down to fighting for a moment of the user’s attention and then doing what is necessary to not only retain that attention, but also have them invest more time in you and your content. In other words, the real goal of many YouTube Marketers these days is to convert.