This guide will help you navigate all things YouTube marketing for your small business, from building your marketing strategy to learning YouTube SEO best practices.
We’ve all lost more hours than we care to admit down YouTube rabbit holes. Imagine if a video that you made to promote your small business had that same hypnotic effect on potential clients. While we can’t promise that your content will draw as many video views as the Baby Shark Dance, it’s a smart move for you as a small business owner to take advantage of the internet’s largest video-viewing platform, YouTube.
YouTube gives you the opportunity to promote your brand to a large audience, educate existing and potential customers about your products and services, and even create training videos for your employees. Best of all, this costs you nothing. So let’s discuss how YouTube marketing will benefit your small business, as well as the challenges you’ll need to look out for. Then, we’ll discuss six tips for building your own YouTube marketing strategy.
YouTube marketing is the practice of promoting your business on YouTube. It’s worth your attention as a small business owner because it’s an easy way to promote video content to the masses—and when we say masses, we mean 1.86 billion YouTube users worldwide.
You can promote your business on YouTube by introducing your business with a welcome video or creating a tutorial that shows existing or potential clients how to use one of your products. Another example is building excitement over an upcoming service or product with a teaser video.
There are several benefits to choosing YouTube for a marketing campaign:
YouTube is massively popular among social media platforms: 74% of U.S. adults surveyed by Statista in 2020 use YouTube. Facebook came in second at 68%, followed by Instagram and LinkedIn.
In a 2018 survey by Hubspot, 54% of consumers said they wanted to see more video content from their favorite brands. Not only is YouTube marketing a great way to expand your audience, but it allows you to engage with your current customers as well.
The standard YouTube platform is free for anyone creating or viewing videos (YouTube Premium is available for viewers who purchase a subscription). So it doesn’t cost anything to use YouTube to market your business, and it doesn’t cost anything for your audience to watch your content on this platform.
Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of using YouTube as a marketing tool, let’s dive into six tips for building your YouTube marketing strategy.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that while using YouTube can be hugely beneficial for your small business, video marketing will require a significant amount of time, effort, and creativity from your team. The following tips can give you and your team a foundation as you start to build your own YouTube marketing strategy.
When it comes to forming your video marketing strategy, creating a YouTube channel is a no-brainer, particularly when you consider all that it can do for your business.
A YouTube channel is all you need to upload your first YouTube video (besides a smartphone and an idea, of course). However, if you’re a small business owner looking to market your brand, you’ll want to utilize all of the tools YouTube has for just that purpose.
One way to utilize those tools is to link your channel to a YouTube Brand Account, which we’ll talk about next.
A YouTube Brand Account is an account that is specifically for your business. Linking your channel to a YouTube Brand Account gives you the ability to designate others within your business to run your channel with you (or for you, if you prefer). Brand Accounts do not require having a completely separate username or password; instead, anyone running the account with you will be able to log in using their own Gmail account.
You will have control over the amount of access given to each person on your account, and you can assign others to serve as a manager, editor, or viewer. Check out this video created by YouTube to learn more about inviting people to help manage your Brand Account.
For more information on linking your channel to a YouTube Brand Account, check out “How to Create a YouTube Channel”, but once you’ve set up your YouTube Brand Account, let’s venture into YouTube Studio—the ultimate YouTube marketing toolbox.
Note: Throughout the rest of this piece, when we refer to your YouTube channel, we are specifically referring to the channel that’s linked to your Brand Account and not just a personal YouTube channel.
YouTube Studio is YouTube’s self-proclaimed home for creators. It is where you will maintain your channel, interact with your audience, view your YouTube analytics, and learn more about YouTube monetization.
|YouTube Studio features||Feature descriptions|
|Channel dashboard||The dashboard will provide an overview of viewer activity on your channel as well as what’s new on YouTube.|
|Content||All of your uploaded videos will live here.|
|Playlists||This is where you will create and manage your playlists.|
|Analytics||Analytics help you understand your channel’s performance and can get as detailed as the length of time it takes for your audience to watch your videos. They can even provide the typical age, gender, and location of your audience.|
|Comments||You can view and reply to comments left on your videos.|
|Subtitles||Here is where you can add subtitles to your videos.|
|Monetization||If you’ve applied and been accepted to the YouTube Partner Program, you can update your memberships and merchandise settings. Learn more about earning revenue through YouTube ads in “How Much Can You Make from YouTube?”.|
|Customization||Customize your channel’s layout and branding. You can add a channel trailer for people who aren’t yet YouTube subscribers and can change your channel’s name as well as your profile picture and channel banner.|
|Audio library||This library contains free music and sound effects to use in your videos.|
A YouTube channel, smartphone, and an idea may be all you need to upload your first YouTube video, but creating YouTube content that consistently engages your target audience is another story.
So who is your target audience? You likely already have an idea of your primary customer demographic. Who else do you want your content to reach?
It’s important to define your target audience and their specific needs before venturing into the format of your YouTube content. Are you looking to inform potential new clients about your services? Would you like to teach your audience how to use one of your products?
Your videos should not only cater to the needs of your target audience, but they should be timely and relevant. As an up and coming YouTube marketer, it’s a good idea to ask yourself these two questions: What sort of content does my audience need at this moment, and what sort of content is performing well for other brands?
In 2019, Gartner highlighted McCormick as a Genius Brand, noting the company’s particular success using YouTube as their main social media platform where they indulged viewers with popular content formats such as short-form tutorials, ASMR videos, and even DIY slime tutorials (full content available to Gartner clients).
The reason McCormick became so successful on YouTube is that they discovered who made up their audience and made sure to connect with them in ways that both met their needs and were culturally relevant. Other brands and influencers also did a great job of this in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when viewers wanted to feel united, even if they were at home by themselves. This explains the popularity of the “with me” trend (“Get Ready With Me,” and “Cook With Me” to name a couple) that originated in the beauty community around 2010, but really boomed in 2020. Content that is timely, relevant, and familiar can go a long way with your audience.
We know what you’re thinking: “I’m a small business owner, not an influencer.” Still, it can only benefit your business to define your audience and make note of the ways they currently prefer to consume video content. Your audience will be more engaged with your content, and you’ll be more equipped to meet their needs, whether those are learning more about your services or figuring out how to use one of your products. And because you’ll be uploading content that’s more in line with what viewers are already searching for, following the trends could actually help you optimize your YouTube channel so that it ranks higher in search engine results.
The process of optimizing your YouTube channel to increase its ranking in search engine results is called YouTube SEO. Like Google or Bing, YouTube also operates as a search engine and has its own algorithm that calculates the order in which your videos will appear to viewers.
The first thing you will want to do to optimize your YouTube channel is create a list of keywords based on the types of videos you will be creating; you can use these keywords later when you upload your videos. YouTube’s search suggest feature is an excellent keyword tool.
Say your business offers a gutter cleaning service, and you’d like to create a YouTube video to show potential customers some of the work your team has done. When you type “clean gutters” into the search bar on YouTube, you are instantly provided with a list of phrases that viewers have actually searched for.
Another way to come up with keywords is to select a popular video in the realm of your subject matter and make note of the keywords in its title and description. To find videos in your subject area with the most views, click on “Filters” in the upper left corner of the search results page (shown below).
Then, select “View count” so that the most-viewed videos appear first in your search results.
Then, take a look at one of the first videos that comes up. What words are used in its title and description?
Since, in our example, “how to clean your gutters” appears in both the title and description, it’s probably a good choice to use it in one of your videos. And while it may seem counterintuitive to show potential clients how to clean their own gutters if it’s a service you provide, there are still plenty of people who would rather hire someone to do it for them.
YouTube analytics is another great place to brainstorm keywords. Select “Reach” in the Analytics section of YouTube Studio. If you scroll down to “Traffic source: YouTube search,” you can find out what terms users typed into the search to find your video.
Optimizing your YouTube channel and videos is an art form. When you’re intentional about your video titles and description, your channel will have a better chance at ranking in search engine results, and your business will have a better chance of expanding its audience—which is what YouTube marketing is all about.
We would be remiss to not delve a bit more into the most useful YouTube marketing tool at your disposal. YouTube Analytics provides key metrics and reports to help you better understand your video and channel performance.
There are a few ways to access your YouTube Analytics.
Sign into YouTube Studio. Then, from the left menu, select “Analytics.”
Sign into YouTube Studio. Then, from the left menu, select “Content.” Then, point to one of your videos and select “Analytics” (shown below).
There are five sections within YouTube analytics. Let’s take a look at each:
|Overview||This section summarizes the performance of your channel and videos. You’ll be able to see your views, watch time, subscribers, and estimated revenue if you’re in the YouTube Partner Program. You’ll also see reports for your typical performance, top videos, latest videos, and stories.|
|Reach||This section summarizes how your audience is discovering your channel. You’ll see information such as traffic source types, impressions (how many times your thumbnails were shown to viewers), and YouTube search (traffic from search terms that led viewers to your content, as we discussed earlier).|
|Engagement||This section summarizes how long your viewers tend to watch your videos and contains reports for your top videos and playlists. You can also view your channel’s most effective end screen elements (features that appear in the last five to 20 seconds of a video).|
|Audience||This section indicates who is watching your videos: when they’re watching, how long they’re watching, their age and gender, where they’re watching from (based on IP address), and even the other videos your viewers are watching.|
|Revenue||You will only see this section if you’re in the YouTube Partner Program. This section helps you track your earnings through ad revenue on YouTube.|
It’s important to designate someone specific to maintain your business’s channel, brainstorm content ideas with you, and help track your YouTube analytics. Lastly, it’s also smart to start a social media calendar to keep track of your activity across all of your marketing channels.
With these tips, you and your team will be well-equipped to start building your own YouTube marketing strategy. If you've found this article helpful, there are even more resources for your YouTube channel on our site:
The applications mentioned in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
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