The Marketing Buzz

Tips, insights and thoughts for marketers

YouTube – a key growth channel for businesses

YouTube provides businesses with an authentic, engaging platform for building and delighting audiences.  But why do over a billion people use YouTube to share video content when they could go to their existing Facebook or Instagram accounts?  The biggest selling point of YouTube is that most often users show up with a need in mind – “how to” searches are growing 70% year after year.

Brands have an opportunity to showcase their products or services by responding to these “how to” questions and to be there when the consumer needs them.  Below are 4 key channel growth levers to help your business build an audience on YouTube.

Branding your YouTube channel

On YouTube, knowing why your channel exists and what it means to accomplish is the first step in defining and differentiating your brand. Your channel should serve as an extension of your brand consistent with the identity created on your website and other social media channels.  Effective channel branding elements are:

  • Add easy recognizable brand channel icon and art - the first thing users will see. The recommended dimensions are 2560 x 1440 px.
  • Complete the basic profile with a channel description, company email and links to social media sites. Your channel description should be a brief summary of your company and the contents of the video.
  • The channel trailer serves as the video version of your channel description and is shown to all unsubscribed viewers. Have fun creating the trailer, focusing on why viewers should subscribe, but keep it short and sweet about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • When you upload a video, YouTube automatically lets you choose from 3 thumbnail options. Choose the one that best represents your content and brand or create a custom thumbnail.  90% of best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.
  • Cards are a piece of real estate that you can use to direct your viewer back to your website, a survey, other videos and so on. They are small rectangular notifications that appear in the top right-hand corner of the video on both desktop and mobile screens.  You can use up to 5 cards per video but be careful not to confuse or overwhelm the viewer.  Cards are an opportunity to capture those about to lose interest in the content.

YouTubeBuilding a community of loyal subscribers

The key to channel success on YouTube is subscriber count.  Below are ways to grow your audience:

  • Keep to a publishing schedule. Sticking to a regular release schedule will help you build a viewership by setting your audience’s expectations and giving them a reason to come back.
  • Ask people to subscribe. People are more likely to take action when you ask them to.  Add the ask within the first few seconds of the video before viewers drop off - create a custom subscribe button (watermark) within the video.
  • Use strategic sections to attract subscribers. Sections allow you to group related videos together, making it easier for viewers to recognize the types of content offered.

Optimize your videos for search

There are several ways to optimize your videos so that they rank highly on both YouTube and Google search results.

  • Video titles – should be clear, concise and up to 60 characters. Include keyword in an obvious, and yet natural way.
  • Video descriptions – include keyword, important links or CTA’s in the beginning.
  • Channel keyword tags – include mix of common and longtail keywords.
  • Category – exist to help viewers find your content. Be sure to select a category that best represents the content you put forth.
  • SRT files – subtitles and closed captions expand the potential reach of your video by making it available to a larger audience including deaf, hard of hearing viewers and the ability to translate is available for people who don’t speak the default language. SRT files are another opportunity to highlight keywords.
  • Video thumbnail – as stated earlier 90% of best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails, which allow creative flexibility. It is recommended that you use a 1280 x 720 px so it looks good on all screen sizes.

Content Strategy and Analysis

What is the driving success on your channel?  These steps will help you pull in information that will help you with marketing strategy to amplify your content performance.

  • Audience analysis – use the demographic report to learn about who is watching your videos then create content that matches those viewers unique needs and interests.
  • Engagement analysis – to identify interaction patterns and trends, look to the following reports for insights; comment, sharing, like/dislike, subscriber and watch time reports. Each of these reports can be analyzed to identify formats, topics and lengths that appeal and engage your audience.
  • Retention analysis – look to the absolute audience retention report which shows you how much of the video was watched, which areas were engaged with and when they left.

YouTube is a powerful channel to include in your marketing mix. 6 out of 10 people today prefer online video platforms to live TV.  And, within 7 years, it is estimated that 50% of viewers under 32 will not subscribe to pay-TV service.

The GRI Marketing Group is a growth agency that helps marketing executives in technology, publishing and business services that have annual revenue over $10 million.  If you would like to learn more, please contact Brian Snider at 203.261.3337 x 11 or


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