Have you been dreaming of your own YouTube channel for a while, but have no idea where to start? Then, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll give you a complete guide to YouTube marketing strategy, which you can start implementing now to grow your channel from zero.
Together, we’ll discover how to attract visitors to your channel and get them to subscribe, how to create the right content for your audience, how to brand your channel, and so much more about YouTube marketing. Let’s go!
- Understand Your Target Audience
- Know Your Competition
- Define Your Value Proposition
- Brand Your Channel
- Create a Channel Trailer
- Invest in High-Quality Equipment
- Track Your Analytics
- Collaborate with Other Channels
- Find the Right Keywords
- Consider the Search Intent
- Use Your Keywords
- Make Irresistible Intros
- Be Concise
- Optimize the Titles
- Make Custom Thumbnails
- Add Closed Captions
- Include Calls-to-Action
- Cross-Promote Your Videos
Part 1: Tips for the Channel as a Whole
Understand Your Target Audience
By now, you probably have an idea what your channel is going to be about. But, have you thought about your audience, who they are, and why they’d want to watch your videos?
In order for your YouTube channel to be successful, each video should be created having your target audience in mind. It should be perfectly tailored to their interests, needs, and watching preferences.
Image: Local Advertising Journal
Let’s say you have a cooking channel where you upload quick recipe videos on YouTube for people with busy lifestyles. Considering the fact that your audience is very frugal with their time, you’d make your videos short and concise like the recipes. Notice how in both videos each recipe is about half a minute long.
This is but one example of tailoring your videos to your audience.
Create Audience Personas
What if people with different interests and demographics are interested in your video content? In this case, it’s best to segment your audience by creating buyer personas (perhaps we should call them “audience personas” when it comes to YouTube).
A buyer or audience persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer, or in this case, subscriber. It helps you to keep your audience in mind when creating content. Once developed, personas become the cornerstone of your YouTube marketing strategy.
Returning to the example of a cooking channel, you might decide to expand your audience to include people who cook for the enjoyment of it. Now, besides the short videos, you’d start making longer ones as well to cover more complex dishes. In this case, you’d have two different personas to create content for.
There are special templates online which you can use to create audience personas for your own channel. They should look something like this.
Of course, defining your audience is not a one-time business. Even as your channel grows, you should keep an eye on YouTube analytics (which we’ll discuss later in the article) to find out who actually watches your videos.
Learning about the demographics and interests of your existing audience will help you further tailor your content to their needs, and thus, keep your channel growing.
Know Your Competition
The next of our YouTube marketing strategy tips is to analyze your competition, particularly the most subscribed channels in your niche. Doing so is an effective shortcut to understanding what kind of video content appeals to your target audience.
Ultimately, it’s the viewers who decide which channels get to the top. This means that top search results are the closest to what your audience is looking for. Thus, to get there as well, you should learn from your most successful competitors.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t imitate your competitors. Still, getting insights into what they’re doing right will help you with your own YouTube marketing strategy. And don’t limit your observations to competitors alone. You can get lots of awesome ideas from channels in other categories as well.
Define Your Value Proposition
Once you have a fairly good idea about what makes your most successful competitors such, think about the unique value proposition of your YouTube channel. What value can you offer to your audience? Why should people watch your videos over millions of others on YouTube?
Source: YouTube | The School of Life
Also, be sure to communicate your value proposition to your audience. You can do so at the beginning or the end of your videos, as well as in your channel trailer. Simply mention, in a couple of words, what your channel offers and why people should subscribe to it.
Defining and communicating your value proposition is only the first step. What’s important is to actually deliver that value with every YouTube video you create.
Brand Your Channel
It’s no secret that branded YouTube channels perform far better than non-branded ones. Why? Because they inspire trust in first-time visitors and their consistent style makes their videos easily recognizable among thousands of others.
Image: Meraki Design
It’s a rulebook you create for your own channel, where you define the look of your videos (e.g. the styling of your set-ups, your thumbnail designs, your signature color palette and typography style, etc.), as well as the main tone of your videos, how you edit your footage, and other details related to your content.
The goal is to maintain consistency across your entire YouTube channel so that people recognize your videos at first glance. While creating your own brand style guide, feel free to draw some inspiration from our free sample.
Create a YouTube Intro
The importance of channel consistency cannot be overstated in YouTube marketing, which is the reason YouTubers use different tools to achieve such a result. Among them are intro and outro videos, custom thumbnails, signature soundtracks, and other elements that differ across channels. Check out this short and simple intro of the TED Talks channel that sets their videos apart from thousands of others.
You can create a professional YouTube intro yourself using online intro templates. Here’s one such template by Renderforest, which you can customize by clicking the button below.
Make a Custom Header
Creating a custom header is yet another step towards a more professional YouTube channel. Effective headers are those that visually attract first-time visitors and communicate to them what your channel is about. If you have a logo, make sure to include it here as well.
Screenshot: YouTube | NikkieTutorials
Create a Channel Trailer
A channel trailer is an essential component of any YouTube marketing strategy. It’s an introductory video that appears at the top of your channel and is visible to unsubscribed users.
A trailer presents your channel to potential subscribers, explaining what your YouTube videos are about and how people will benefit from watching them. An effective channel trailer will help you get more of your first-time visitors to subscribe.
To find the ingredients that make up a magnetic trailer, let’s first watch one and then analyze it together. Check out this 45-second animation by Kurzgesagt, a channel with beautiful animated videos on a wide range of scientific topics.
If you’re a generally curious person, or you’re interested in science (which often comes with the first), chances are you’d check out their channel after watching this video. So, what exactly attracted you to it? Let’s figure it out by breaking these 45 seconds into four parts.
1. Sneak Peek (0:00 – 0:24)
“Show, don’t tell” — you’ve probably heard this saying a hundred times. Well, that’s exactly what the first part of this trailer does. It offers a sneak peek into their video content, showing what their YouTube videos are like. Right from the first scene, you get the mildly humorous tone of the channel, its vibrant visuals, and what the videos there are about.
2. Value Proposition (0:25 – 0:29)
“We try to explain the universe, and our existence, one video at a time.” As short as that.
3. Sample Videos (0:30 – 0:34)
To excite your curiosity further, the trailer mentions several YouTube video titles from their channel: “What is life? Are there aliens? What happens if you step on a black hole?”
4. Call to Action (0:35 – 0:45)
The video ends with a quick reminder to subscribe to their channel – a call to action, accompanied by a logo animation: “If you want to find out, you should click here and subscribe to Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell” YouTube channel.
And, of course, the brilliant video thumbnail — an animated reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that any sci-fi fan has seen. Do you think one of their audience personas could be a sci-fi film buff?
To spark your creativity further, you can go hunting for other effective channel trailers and dissect them in a similar manner. When creating your own trailer, try this YouTube Outro Pack to include an animated call to action at the end.
Did you notice our call to action?
Invest in High-Quality Equipment
With so much video content freely available on the web, high video quality is taken for granted. While you can certainly get away with low-resolution video stories on Instagram and other social media platforms, YouTube is different.
On YouTube, people spend hours watching exclusively video content, and providing them with high-quality visuals and audio is a must for successful YouTube marketing. Thus, you can’t expect your YouTube channel to grow if your videos aren’t crisp and clear.
Thus, as unfair as it may sound, you can’t expect your YouTube channel to grow if your videos are of low resolution or have poor audio quality.
To help you make your investments wisely, here’s a list of equipment you’ll absolutely need. Plus, an informative video on how to set up your own YouTube studio.
Unless you’re going to outsource your voice-over recordings to a voice actor, you’ll need a good microphone to block out the distracting ambient noise in your videos. You can browse through this list of best microphones for beginners and find something to match your budget and needs.
Also, feel free to check out our complimentary guides on how to achieve better audio quality on your phone and record voice-overs like a pro.
If you’re going to shoot live-action YouTube videos (as opposed to creating animations or editing pre-existing footage), then you’ll naturally need a camera. When it comes to choosing one for vlogging, it’s probably best to ask the pros. Here’s a list of cameras 20 famous YouTubers use for filming their videos.
A high-quality tripod is another must-have for any vlogger.
Whether you’re shooting your videos outdoors or in a studio, you’ll need something to steady your camera on. While there are certainly some budget-friendly DIY ways to do this, like putting a pile of books on a table and mounting your camera on top, this will hardly give you a quality result and will greatly limit your flexibility.
Thus, it’s better to invest in a good tripod right away, as you’ll have to do it at some point anyway. To help you make a choice, here’s a review list of 7 tripods that are best for vlogging.
Are you recording your YouTube videos outdoors or have a large window to provide you with soft natural light? Then, chances are, lighting is not a problem for you. But if the room you’re recording in is poorly lit, you might need to supply yourself with some lighting equipment.
If you’re planning to shoot scenes with a hand-held camera, then you’ll definitely need a stabilizer. It’s a piece of equipment you mount your camera on that enables you to film steady footage even while running.
Track Your Analytics
When you just start out with YouTube marketing, you make certain assumptions about your audience and their interests. As your YouTube channel grows and more people subscribe to your video content, it becomes necessary to better understand your actual audience and put those initial assumptions aside. You do so with YouTube Analytics.
To access it and have a better understanding of what works for your video marketing and what doesn’t, go to your Creator Studio dashboard, and click “Analytics” on the left-hand panel.
Check out this guide to understand which metrics you should be tracking and how you can adjust your YouTube marketing strategy accordingly.
Use the information to refine your audience personas and your content. And remember that getting analytics insights is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process and an inseparable part of being a YouTuber.
Collaborate with Other Channels
Collaborations are integral to any YouTube marketing strategy. Creating collaborative video content with other YouTubers in your niche will give you more exposure to your target audience, and help you grow your YouTube channel.
Find and reach out to channels that have similar content and roughly the same follower count. This will make it more likely that the other party will be interested in collaboration as well.
Part 2: Tips for Individual Videos
Find the Right Keywords
This might cause some disillusionment, but just vlogging is not enough.
After all, YouTube is a search engine. Unlike other social media platforms, it allows users to search for the content they are looking for. This makes YouTube SEO a key aspect of any YouTube marketing strategy.
And while it means there’s more work for you to do to grow your channel, it also means more chances of doing so organically, without paid advertising.
If you want your target audience to find your YouTube channel, you need to create searchable video content with the right keywords. To do so, first find suitable keywords with a large enough search volume in your niche. You can do effective keyword research using tools like vidIQ, Keyword Tool, TubeBuddy, or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, and then optimize your videos.
Keep in mind that it’s far more likely to rank with specific long-tail keywords than short and broad ones. Let’s say you want to record a video tutorial on how to make homemade ice-cream.
If you search for “homemade ice cream” on YouTube, you’ll see a lot of videos with millions of views. Unless your channel already has a huge follower count, it’s unlikely your YouTube video will ever make it to the top for this keyword.
Thus, it’s better to choose a more specific keyword (and topic) to target. To find such a keyword, look at the suggestions YouTube brings. How about a tutorial on making homemade vegan ice-cream without using an ice-cream machine?
Your keyword would now be “homemade vegan ice cream no machine.” Even though the search volume for this keyword is lower, your video is now more likely to be discovered organically.
Consider the Search Intent
Once you’ve determined the keyword you want to use, understand what exactly people are looking for when searching for it. In other words, what is their search intent? To do so, simply type the keyword in the YouTube search box and see what videos appear at the top.
Just like any other search engine, YouTube wants to rank the most useful and relevant videos for each keyword at the top. This means top results are a pretty good guide of what users are looking for when they search for a particular keyword.
For example, it’s clear from this SERP that users searching for “diy room decor” are looking for list videos. And teenagers appear to be most interested in this craft.
Thus, if you were to make a similar video, you’d know that, first, it can be targeted at teenagers; and second, that it’s best to go with a list-type video for this keyword.
If the search results are quite different from the type of video you intended to make, then you’ll need to find a more suitable keyword to target. However, if they did match your expectations, then watch two or three ranking videos and pay attention to what they cover. Think about how you can address the same topic better or from a different angle. What additional value can you add?
Make sure that what you cover in your own video, as well as the title and thumbnail, actually match the search intent you identified.
In the example above, all the thumbnails are collages of several DIY projects. This makes it clear that the video is a list, and the audience will find plenty to choose from.
Use Your Keywords
Once you’ve decided on your keyword, make sure to include it naturally in the video title, description, tags, as well as in your script. YouTube, like any other search engine, cannot directly understand what a video is about. It does so through various kinds of meta-data, like the ones we just mentioned.
Thanks to its automated caption generator, YouTube can “read” your speech, find out what it’s about, and bring your video up in relevant searches. That is why it’s important to use your keyword, as well as other contextual phrases while speaking.
Most likely this will happen naturally as you expand on your topic. The one thing you should still keep in mind is to include those words and phrases in your introduction as well.
When it comes to the description, insert your keywords somewhere in the beginning, too. And don’t forget to provide links to your social media pages, your website (if you have one), and other useful resources.
Keeping in touch with your viewership on one or two social media platforms can help you build a strong community rather than a passive list of subscribers. But do make sure to provide unique value on each platform and give users an actual reason to follow you there.
Make Irresistible Intros
How many times have you skipped those long and boring YouTube intros? Plenty, for sure. And if two or three skips later you were still left hanging in midair, you’d click the next YouTube video right away. Dull intros are the perfect recipe for poor search engine rankings.
Luckily, such a fate is easy to avoid. All you need to do is jump straight to the point without long, redundant intros. See how effectively Nick Nimmin does this in his videos. Even his logo animation appears after a short hooking intro, not before it.
You can also use the PAS formula in your intros which is a widely used tactic in social media marketing. It consists of three parts: problem, agitation, and solution. Each of these can be a single sentence.
First, you present the problem and have your target audience relate to it. Then, you create more tension and suspense. And finally, release it with the promise of a solution.
Image: Reef Digital Agency
If you’re looking for a short and engaging intro animation, try this Quick YouTube Intro, which has all the elements of a dynamic opener. Simply upload your own images to the template and download your animated intro right away.
Respect the time and attention of your audience. Don’t go telling irrelevant stories that provide no value to your viewers. Most likely, they won’t listen to them anyway, and will simply skip the part.
Thus, plan your speech beforehand, and remove any redundancies before you even hit the record button. And remember, if your video content is not valuable, no YouTube marketing tricks will help your channel grow.
Plan Your Talking Points
Not everyone is comfortable following a pre-written script. If you’re one of those people, simply make a list of the points you want to address. Place your list somewhere near the camera, so you can recall what’s next with a single glance. This will ensure you don’t stray from the subject.
Trim it in Post-Production
If you still catch yourself straying from the main point, don’t stress about it. Simply make a concluding statement and move on to the next one. You can cut the unnecessary parts out while editing.
Optimize the Titles
Titles and descriptions are an important part of optimizing your videos for better search results. When deciding on YouTube video titles, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Include your keyword naturally in the title. It shouldn’t feel forced.
- Front-load your keyword. Put it as close to the beginning of the title as possible, so that the audience sees it at first glance.
- Alternatively, many YouTubers choose to capitalize their keywords for the same effect.
- Match the title with the search intent.
- Mention the “edge” of your video. In other words, what value does it provide that other videos on the same topic don’t? Make sure to convey it with the title.
- Avoid excessive use of clickbait. Seriously, people have seen enough of them on the web and can tell when you’re doing it. Just offer valuable content, and do so consistently.
Make Custom Thumbnails
YouTube has the feature of auto-generating thumbnails for your videos. Our advice is not to rely on them. Your thumbnail is the face of your video. The more tended to it looks, the more chances you have of attracting an audience.
Source: YouTube | Lone Fox
Here are several tips on how to create a Youtube thumbnail, that’s effective and noteworthy:
- Make it descriptive. A mere glance at your thumbnail should be enough to tell what your video’s about.
- This one’s optional, but you can add descriptive text to it, and include your keywords. Make sure to use intelligible fonts, and keep them consistent across your videos.
- Make your thumbnail look polished and attractive. The image should have a high resolution, and ideally have the aspect ratio of 16:9. This will ensure there are no black borders around it. The suggested dimensions are 1280 x 720 pixels.
This is pretty much it when it comes to thumbnails in YouTube marketing. Simple, but effective!
Closed captions have plenty of benefits. They make your video content accessible to a wider audience and they’re inseparable from YouTube SEO. You can add captions to YouTube videos manually, or let the platform auto-generate them. In case of the latter, there might be some mistakes which you can later correct yourself.
Another way to caption your YouTube videos is by uploading a ready file with your captions. You can order such files from transcription services, like Rev and 3PlayMedia. You can also generate them using online tools or software programs. Common formats used for this purpose are SubRip (.srt) and SubViewer (.sub), both supported by YouTube.
Remind your audience to like your video, subscribe to your channel, or check out your social media pages. You can do so at the beginning, middle, or end of your videos, as well as in the description.
Here’s an example of Christian DelGrosso promoting his girlfriend’s YouTube channel with a call to action.
Source: YouTube | Christian DelGrosso
There are different types of CTAs you should familiarize yourself with to start successfully converting your channel traffic.
To make your CTAs more effective, don’t just tell people to subscribe. Explain why they should do so, and how they will benefit from watching your videos. In other words, communicate your value proposition.
And don’t be afraid to get creative with the exact sentences you use. No need to repeat what other YouTubers are saying, word for word. You will soon discover that experimentation is a key part of YouTube marketing.
Cross-Promote Your Videos
While uploading your video to YouTube, you have the option to add cards and end screens. Cards act as links to other videos from your channel. They make it more likely that people will watch another video of yours when the current one is over.
Source: YouTube | Yuya
With cards, first-time visitors are more likely to subscribe to your YouTube channel. Having watched one video, they can now get an idea of what other topics you cover. And if those visitors happen to match your target audience, it’s likely they’ll be interested.
Thus, it’s better not to skip this little step when trying to grow a YouTube channel. Make sure to include cards and end screens with videos on both complementary and different topics. This will give first-time visitors an idea about the range of content you cover, and as a result, raise your brand awareness.
In this article, we listed the most important factors that determine your success on YouTube. If all this seems like too much, don’t worry. None of the YouTubers were perfect at their craft from the beginning.
Still, they kept going and tried to make each video better than the previous one, while simultaneously improving their YouTube marketing skills. So can you!
Often, the first step is the most decisive. How about taking it now and creating a branded intro for your channel? Our templates are at your complete disposal!