If you're not using the video site to market your company, you're missing a huge opportunity.
Not marketing on YouTube yet? You probably should be.
Here are a few usage stats that may convince you: The Google-owned video website now attracts more than 800 million unique users per month, and accounts for more than 3 billion hours of video watched on YouTube per month. More than 10 % of all YouTube views now come from mobile devices--and traffic from mobile devices tripled last year. Moreover, although YouTube does attract a global audience, nearly a third of all its traffic comes from the U.S.
Bottom line: If you're in business and trying to connect with your audience, you can't afford to ignore YouTube as a digital marketing channel.
So how can you approach your efforts on YouTube? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning and measuring your campaigns:
1. Know Your Audience
One of the biggest myths about YouTube is that you have to have a funny viral hit in order to be successful. This isn't necessarily the case. If you know your audience, experiment with content your customers can relate to; if you don't know your audience well, these content experiments can help reveal useful audience information.
Here's the key: You don't need to connect with the whole YouTube audience. They just need to engage with the right audience. Rokenbok Toys, for example, cares about families who are in the market for children's construction toys. This means that they didn't need to create a video that had mass appeal. They needed a video with personal appeal to people interested in construction toys.
2. Use How-To Video
On YouTube, searchers look for the term "how to" three times more than they do "music video." By generating how-to video content, not only are you sharing your unique expertise with your audience and potential customers, but you're also laying the foundation for the kind of loyalty and relationship building that can lead to real business gains.
Take a look at the videos posted by BBQGuys.com, an online retailer for grills, in their YouTube channel. They have how-to videos for using and shopping for grills, as well as recipes like this:
3. Target Your Local Market
While YouTube has a global reach, many businesses also use ad campaigns to reach specific audiences or geographic areas. YouTube offers four types of pay-per-performance "TrueView" ad options to promote your videos, helping you target ads to the audiences and regions that you care about to make the most impact.
For example: The Carmel Mission Inn appears to be focusing its marketing initiatives on geographic targets closest to its location--it comes up in search results for "Pebble Beach hotels," but not "San Diego hotels." That makes its campaign efficient and more likely to convert viewers into customers.
4. Review Your Analytics
As always, you need to be able to understand how your efforts are paying off. YouTube Analytics measures data such as views, audience retention, subscribers, viewer sources and demographics, call-to-action clicks, and mobile access.
Just as it helps to analyze your Google Analytics, knowing what works on YouTube (or doesn't) can help you be a better marketer. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
What keeps people watching: Learn what kind of content is most interesting to your audience and where their interest drops off. Look for correlations like viewer retention compared to overall views, and see how your videos compare to other videos of similar length.
How people find your videos: See which sites and other sources are driving traffic to your videos, playlists or channel in YouTube's traffic sources report (a sample is below), and dive into the data on a per-video level. This can help you better invest resources in the campaigns or channels that are driving the most people to your content.
Why people subscribe to your channel: Building your subscriber base is crucial to developing a loyal following, so dive into the subscription report in YouTube Analytics to see what videos drive the most subscribers. Examine the dates or videos where there was a high gain or loss of subscribers: What did you do differently on those occasions? Identify key content trends that drive up your subscriptions, and then apply those success strategies elsewhere.
Understanding what works in YouTube means you can attract more viewers; more viewers means an increased likelihood that your video will be shared--which, in turn, builds your reach and audience. No wonder you'll be smiling.
Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader HOLLIS THOMASES, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies. @hollisthomases