If your digital marketing strategy doesn’t include YouTube, you’re missing out on one of the largest and most engaged audiences in Australia and worldwide.

The second largest website in the world after Google, according to Alexa rankings (and Australia’s second most popular social platform after Facebook), YouTube offers free marketing for any brand that goes to the effort of publishing video content on their site, along with paid advertising options.

So why isn’t every business tapping into YouTube to grow their audience? You might be surprised by how many already are, but others often say they don’t think their brand is a good fit for YouTube, or they don’t have the time and skills to produce videos.

While some businesses can certainly benefit more from video marketing, there could be more opportunities than you think. However, video marketing can take more effort than other marketing channels and even many of the big brands fail to get it right.

Types of video content

Brands have found success with all types of videos, often thinking outside the box, but some styles will suit your brand’s personality better than others. A mix of different styles rather than repetition is more likely to keep people coming back, unless they simply love what you do.

As when planning any new content strategy, you should consider what you want to achieve from the campaign and what your audience wants so you can aim to produce engaging content for them.

Instructional videos

YouTube isn’t just for escapist entertainment. Educational and instructional videos have long been the most popular content on YouTube, which was particularly highlighted during the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.

Whatever you’re selling or promoting, look for the ‘how-to’ video potential by researching what questions people want answered. If you already have instructional guides on your website, many people will prefer to watch the video version and see the step by step process in action.

The guides you produce don’t have to be directly linked to your business. They can also help people to deal with a related problem, and they don’t always have to be serious.

Product videos

If you’re launching a new product or service, people will want to see it rather than just read about it. Product launches, demonstrations and answering frequently asked questions can all be engaging content, even if you’re just clicking icons on a screen.

Interviews

If you have the chance to interview an expert in your industry or other influential figures with an established following, you’ll be reaching their audience as well as you own and helping to establish your channel’s authority as well as increasing views.

Events

If you’re hosting or attending an event, this could give you a wealth of content to share, as long as you have the necessary permissions from whoever features in the video. Live event streaming is appreciated by those who couldn’t attend in person and you can repost edited highlights from your stream later for more content.

Behind the scenes

A tour of your office or profiles of you and your team aren’t the most interesting content you could put out, but these can help to humanise your brand, especially if you don’t normally appear in your videos.

What makes a good video?

Video content is more engaging than text or images by default, but with no shortage of videos to watch, people need a reason to watch yours. See what your competitors and other channels are doing to see the standard you need to beat.

High quality

‘High definition’ is now the standard definition and many people expect even higher resolution. You don’t need to invest in expensive recording equipment to record your videos, but taking some time to check the lighting, choose a suitable background and learn your script can all make a big difference to how professional your video looks in a competitive marketplace.

Ideal length

Long videos get the most engagement on YouTube and improve your ranking on the site, but only when they’re worth sitting through. If a topic isn’t suited to a long video, keep it short and to the point rather than padding it out to 10 minutes with pointless filler and losing viewers, which counts against your stats.

Optimise your videos

While your video’s uploading, you can enter its title, description and tags to help people find it. Once it’s finished, you can choose a thumbnail image to promote it and add other features to improve viewer engagement.

Since YouTube functions as a search engine (the second biggest after Google), you can apply your SEO knowledge to maximise your video’s chance of ranking.

Keyword-rich titles, tags and descriptions

The basics of YouTube SEO are the same as for Google. People enter a search term and the YouTube algorithm displays what it judges to be the most relevant results, which the user can then sort or scroll through. One way it does this is by comparing your keywords against the search term.

Keyword research will give you ideas for what phrases to target in the video title, description (which could include a full transcript for more keyword opportunities) and tags. Placing keywords at the start will make them more prominent. You can also add keywords to your overall channel to describe what it’s about.

Attractive thumbnails

When you upload a video, YouTube automatically generates a selection of thumbnail images from different points in the video that you can choose from. If none of these is suitable, or you want to make more of an impression, you can also upload a custom thumbnail.

Since thumbnails are more prominent than titles when people are scrolling through results, many channels include the video title or other text in the thumbnail. You should check out what successful brands are doing for ideas of how to present your own content.

Getting the most out of your video marketing

It’s disheartening to put time and effort into making a video only to see it get barely any views and interaction. That’s why video marketing doesn’t end at the upload.

Interact with your audience

YouTube is a social platform and your videos are conversations. Viewers are more likely to give your videos a thumbs up and subscribe to your channel when they feel a personal connection, and these metrics are vital for YouTube SEO.

Your audience will expect responses to their questions and other feedback, so you should keep on top of comments with YouTube notifications. Asking your viewers for constructive feedback will help you to improve your videos, and, along with your video stats, to see what’s working and what isn’t.

As your channel grows, you can use tools to auto-moderate comments and post template replies to save time. Monitoring tools can also notify you when your name is mentioned in other videos and comments on the site.

Post regularly

Consistency is important for growing your channel and keeping followers engaged. Plan your content strategy to make sure you have enough ideas for at least a couple of months’ worth of videos, so you won’t wind up with a dead channel.

Videos can be filmed in batches when it’s convenient and scheduled to publish automatically, making it easier to keep to a schedule.

Promote your videos

Just like when you publish a blog post you’re proud of, you’ll want to draw people’s attention to your video content and encourage them to keep coming back for more.

Making guest appearances on other YouTube channels is a great opportunity to promote your own channel. You should also share every upload on social media and post relevant videos to your blog using YouTube embed codes. If you’re including a video in a longer text post, putting it close to the top will improve SEO.

YouTube advertising

If you don’t have the time or patience to grow a YouTube channel organically, or you want to make the most of video marketing, paid advertising on YouTube can be more effective in the short term. This involves creating shorter videos that will be added to other videos on channels that match your targeting.

Types of video ads

The range of video ad options is growing all the time, but the main categories are:

  • TrueView ads – these can be skipped after 5 seconds. You’ll only be charged if someone clicks through to your offer or watches to the end of the ad (or for 30 seconds).
  • Non-skippable ads – these last a maximum of 20 seconds. You’ll be charged per thousand views of the ad.
  • Bumper ads – shorter non-skippable ads that come at the end of videos. These last up to 6 seconds and are charged per thousand views.
  • Non-video ads – overlaid banners, display ads and sponsored cards can also be featured on relevant videos.

Are YouTube ads worth it?

Even though most people skip ads when they have the chance (or block them altogether), paid advertising on YouTube is still good exposure for your brand when the videos are compelling. According to Google, users who watch ads all the way through are 23 times more likely to visit a channel, while even those who skip are 10 times more likely to check out the brand.

You can set your budget to manage your spending and specify the locations, networks and languages you want to target (and avoid) to improve the chance that your ads will be seen where they’ll have the biggest impact.

Whether paid ads or an organic strategy will provide the greatest long-term results from video marketing depends on your business’ goals and how good your videos are.

Read more social media marketing tips in the Civic Web Media blog.