With over 2.5 billion monthly active users, YouTube is the second largest social media platform in the world. But YouTube’s large user base isn’t the only reason brands shouldn’t sleep on including the platform in their marketing strategy.
Recent Sprout Social data shows consumers are increasingly turning to YouTube for entertainment, education and product research. Marketing on the platform can help your business increase brand awareness, build stronger relationships, boost SEO and drive high-converting traffic.
In this article, you’ll learn what YouTube marketing is, why it’s important and how to implement it successfully with proven tips and strategies.
What is YouTube marketing?
YouTube marketing is the process of promoting your brand, product or service on YouTube. Primarily, there are three ways marketers use YouTube:
- Create original videos: YouTube is primarily a video hosting platform. Publishing high-quality videos is key to succeeding on the platform.
- Partner with influencers: There’s a reason brands spent over $600 million on YouTube influencer marketing in 2021. The platform is an excellent place to work with creators and build credibility in your niche.
- Run video ads: 70% of consumers say they’ve bought a product after seeing it on YouTube. Running ads on the platform can deliver high returns for your brand.
YouTube is also the world’s second largest search engine. But ranking on the platform is highly competitive.
There are more than 5 billion videos on YouTube, with 500 hours of content being uploaded every minute. Understanding how the YouTube algorithm works and optimizing your videos accordingly is key to gaining visibility.
Why is YouTube marketing important?
The latest YouTube stats all point to one truth — marketers and consumers love video. Research shows people are 2x more likely to share videos with friends and family over other content types.
And there’s no better place to leverage video content than on YouTube, where people watch over 1 billion hours of video daily.
YouTube marketing has tons of benefits for your business. Below are a few reasons investing in YouTube should be your top priority:
Reach a large audience
YouTube has an incredibly large, active user base. Publishing quality content consistently and partnering with influential creators in your niche can get you massive exposure and traffic.
Better yet, YouTube lets you tap into an international audience. The platform is available in 100+ countries in 80 different languages. With features like auto-translated captions, it’s easy to create targeted content for global audiences.
Improve search visibility
While YouTube is a big enough search engine on its own, it’s also great for boosting your visibility on Google. A significant number of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) now include video carousels, and more than 94% of those videos are from YouTube.
Conducting keyword research on Google and YouTube lets you choose the right topics, match search intent, and optimize your videos to rank higher on both search engines.
Increase brand awareness
YouTube is a great place for generating brand awareness. According to Google, 90% of people around the world use YouTube to explore new brands and products.
Publishing content like product reviews, how-to videos, explainers and video ads can help you spread the word about your business. Additionally, using tactics like visual branding and brand voice consistency can help your audience connect with and remember your brand.
Build trust and credibility
YouTube is the most trusted social media platform for finding and purchasing products. If you’re looking to build credibility around your brand, YouTube is a great place to start.
Video testimonials, brand storytelling, visual tutorials, hands-on reviews and live demos are just a few ways you can shed light on how your product can solve problems. Partnering with creators in your niche can also help you build trust with potential customers.
Drive sales and traffic
YouTube marketing can positively impact your bottom line. In fact, 81% of marketers say video has directly increased sales for their business.
With YouTube’s shopping features like cards, end screens, channel stores and tagged products, marketers have tons of opportunity to sell products both internally and externally through the platform.
YouTube is also an effective lead generation tool. Along with using features like lead form ads, you can share webinar promos and online course trailers to encourage people to sign up.
Additionally, you can add links to landing pages and lead magnets in your video descriptions. Share your videos on other platforms like social media or websites to get more exposure.
Make extra revenue
YouTube can boost your existing marketing strategy, but it can also become an additional revenue stream on its own for your business.
Channels that meet YouTube Partner Program’s eligibility criteria can monetize their videos and make money based on the number of views and engagement. Check out our article on YouTube monetization to learn more about how you can earn revenue on the platform.
YouTube marketing strategies and tips
YouTube marketing is competitive but highly rewarding if done right. Simply creating a channel and publishing videos is not enough. Brands need to strategically approach the process of planning, producing and distributing content on the platform to see tangible success.
Below are some tried-and-true best practices to make the most of YouTube marketing and drive business growth using the platform.
1. Create and brand your YouTube channel
The first step to YouTube marketing is setting up your channel — your brand’s “home” on the platform. This is where you’ll publish videos, create playlists, respond to comments, view analytics and more. Follow this guide to create a YouTube channel for business.
But simply creating a channel is not enough. You also need to brand it properly to establish consistency and generate brand awareness.
Customize these elements on your channel so it’s aligned with your branding style guide:
- Profile picture
- Banner image
- Channel description
- Social links
- Channel trailer
- Custom URL
Additionally, ensure your video thumbnails, titles and descriptions are all on-brand, even if you need to optimize them for SEO purposes. You can create a branded thumbnail template based on what works for you, and keep all future thumbnails consistent with that design.
2. Define your YouTube audience
Before you start creating content, know who your videos are for.
Not all potential customers are watching your videos on YouTube, so find out who makes up your target audience on the platform.
- Are they males or females?
- What’s their age range?
- Where are they located?
Additionally, consider your audiences’ interests to create engaging videos.
- What kind of content is your target audience currently watching?
- Which channels are they subscribed to?
- Why are they on YouTube in the first place?
Use a mix of social media market research, analytics, and social listening to understand your audiences’ problems, questions, and goals — especially in terms of online video consumption.
Build an audience persona to visualize your target audience and keep it in mind every time you create a video for your channel.
3. Conduct a competitive analysis
Identify channels your audience is watching and learn from their efforts. This is important for spotting trends, finding keywords and understanding audience interests. Analyzing the competition also helps you set realistic goals and benchmarks for video performance.
Scrutinize competing videos and dig deeper into your competitors’ strategy. Understand what’s working for them and what’s not. Use that to fuel your own YouTube marketing strategy.
- What does their posting schedule look like?
- How are they engaging with their audience?
- What type of videos do they publish?
- What do their thumbnails look like?
Moreover, find content gaps your brand or channel can fill. There may be dozens of video opportunities your competitors are missing out on. Take advantage of those keywords or topics before they catch up.
4. Create quality YouTube video content
There are billions of videos on the platform and not everything is worth watching. Users have to sift through the noise daily to find meaningful content on the platform. This is also why YouTube’s smart algorithm favors some videos over others.
To stand out, you need to consistently create high-quality videos viewers love watching and engaging with. Check out these YouTube video ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Research audience pain points, analyze trending keywords, and practice social listening to find topics and inspiration for your videos. Also, use good quality equipment, build a powerful story, and invest in editing and post-production to make your videos look professional.
5. Experiment with YouTube Shorts and other features
YouTube Shorts is a recent feature that lets you leverage the power of short-form video — the latest short-form video marketing feature for quick content viewing and increased mobile usage.
Use YouTube Shorts to reach mobile-first audiences and drive more engagement for your brand. Shoot videos up to 60 seconds long in vertical format, and creatively use the built-in audio, text and filters to make your videos stand out.
Also, leverage features like live streams, premieres and 360 videos to consistently deliver unique video experiences to your audience.
6. Optimize your videos with SEO best practices
YouTube SEO is an often overlooked aspect of video marketing on the platform. But it’s crucial for showing up at the right time. Otherwise, your videos will get lost in the sea of unwatched content and stay there for good.
Optimizing your videos starts at the beginning of the video creation process — during ideation. Conduct keyword research to find the right topics and angles for your videos. Then, optimize the following elements when publishing on YouTube to maximize visibility:
- Titles and descriptions: Use primary and secondary keywords naturally. You can also translate your video titles in multiple languages to reach a global audience.
- Thumbnails: Browse top videos and identify which thumbnails perform well for a particular keyword. Thumbnails with faces, expressions and text often stand out from others and drive more clicks.
- Tags: Add relevant words and phrases to tell both YouTube and viewers what your video is about. While tags are less important than they used to be, they can still impact your search rankings.
YouTube’s algorithm also favors videos that see more engagement. Promote your videos on other platforms like social media and forums to get more views and give it an initial push.
Also, link to your video from other videos on your channel using cards and end screens. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask people for likes, comments and shares. You’ll be surprised at how effective proactively reaching out can be.
7. Actively engage with your audience
YouTube marketing is all about building an engaged subscriber community. And interacting directly with your audience is a great way to do that.
Respond timely (and nicely) to the comments on your videos. Take audience questions seriously and answer them quickly to resolve any issues.
Additionally, create interactive video content on YouTube to engage with your audience. For example, host live Q&A sessions and webinars, publish behind-the-scenes content and premiere videos to watch together with your audience in real-time.
8. Attract more YouTube subscribers to your channel
Subscribers are the bread-and-butter of all YouTube channels. The more subscribers you have, the more exclusive features you’ll be able to access. Plus, YouTube’s algorithm is likely to rank your videos higher if you have more subscribers.
Create problem-solving content that meets audience goals to get more YouTube subscribers. Ask people what they want to see on your channel and keep your promises. People subscribe to channels they’re getting value from and want to see more of.
Also, promote your videos outside of YouTube to widen your reach, and build relationships instead of pushing out one-way content.
Finally, stick to a consistent publishing schedule so subscribers know when and how often to expect your videos. Consistency is the key to YouTube marketing success. While creating and editing quality content takes time, make sure you have a posting schedule and stick to it.
Having a proper publishing schedule makes it easier for you to plan your content and schedule videos ahead of time and sets and expectation for your subscribers. YouTube channels with consistent publishing are generally favored by the algorithm as well.
9. Use YouTube ads to drive targeted traffic
Running YouTube ad campaigns can help you reach a wider audience, drive traffic to your website and deliver personalized messaging to your target audience.
YouTube supports three types of ads:
- Bumper ads: These are short, non-skippable ads that run before a video starts.
- In-stream ads: These can be skippable or non-skippable, and run at certain points throughout your videos.
- Overlay ads: These are non-video ads that appear as banners or text on top of or below your videos.
Be careful about your goals when running ads on the platform. YouTube ads are not meant to replace your organic strategy, but to boost it. Also, views acquired from ads don’t contribute towards monetization revenue.
10. Partner with YouTube influencers
There are millions of creators on the platform with thousands of loyal subscribers. Brands can partner with YouTubers in their niche to promote their products and services in creative ways.
Does it work? 70% of marketers believe so!
Here are some ideas for YouTube influencer marketing campaigns:
- Unboxing videos
- Product reviews
- How-tos and tutorials
- Day-in-the-life vlogs
- Contests and giveaways
Set a budget prior to working with creators and use influencer marketing tools to narrow down your search for the perfect brand partner. Set expectations upfront, share creative briefs and involve creators in the planning phase to streamline the process.
Additionally, plan ahead for product deliveries, and consistently measure performance during and after the campaign to tweak your future strategy.
11. Monitor your YouTube analytics
Tracking YouTube analytics helps you identify your best (and worst) performing videos, understand what type of content resonates with your audience, and find out which specific factors impact video performance.
You can access the platform’s built-in analytics in YouTube Studio. Track metrics like views, subscribers, watch time, audience retention, traffic sources and devices. Also, analyze audience demographics and interests.
Knowing this helps succeed on the platform and create an effective long-term strategy. It also helps you focus resources where they matter.
All-in-one social media management tool
Sprout Social can boost your video strategy by providing you with a set of YouTube management tools. These include (but are not limited to):
- Scheduling and publishing video content on your channel
- Tracking video analytics and insights related to your audience
- Practicing YouTube listening to find conversations in your niche
- Managing YouTube comments within the Smart Inbox, next to your other social profiles
Better yet, Sprout lets you manage all your social media profiles from a single dashboard. Connect your account with YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest and WhatsApp to streamline social media management across all marketing channels.
Channel and video branding tool
Canva is an online design tool that lets you create branded visuals for your videos and channel. Use and edit templates for YouTube thumbnails, profile pictures and banners. You can also add creative intros and outros to your videos using the tool.
Video marketing and analytics tool
VidIQ is a specialized video marketing intelligence tool for YouTube creators. Its key features include daily video ideas, keyword research, optimization suggestions, competitor analysis and performance metrics. The tool also comes with a free Chrome extension for easy access.
Keyword software tool
Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool used for keyword research and site analysis. The platform also offers a YouTube Keyword Tool that lets you find trending keywords in 170 countries. View detailed reports for each keyword showing search volume, clicks, questions and other data.
Grow your business with YouTube marketing
YouTube is one of the best platforms for brands investing in video marketing. With billions of users and sky-high engagement rates, it offers marketers a golden opportunity to connect with their audiences.
Ready to dive into YouTube marketing? Don’t forget to keep track of your progress and pivot your strategy as needed. Read our article on video engagement metrics to keep an eye on the most important YouTube benchmarks for your business.