Millions of businesses trust YouTube to host their marketing videos. Most are making some very common mistakes. Perhaps you are too.
YouTube can be a very powerful ally in the world of video marketing, but only when you use it in the right way. In order to do so, you need to understand what YouTube really is, know when to upload to YouTube and when to not, how to do it right, and how to recognise success.
To help bring it all together, we’ve summarised our best YouTube tips into the Seven Deadly Sins that you don’t want to be committing.
Sin 1: Treating YouTube like free video hosting only
If you want YouTube to work for you, you need to be able to discern when it is right for you and when it isn’t.
YouTube is essentially free video hosting for anyone, but if you only think of it like that, then you’re only seeing half of the picture. First and foremost, YouTube is an advertising platform, designed to attract and retain as much traffic as possible so it can earn more money from advertising.
The more videos hosted on YouTube, the better it can attract visitors and the longer it can hold their attention. YouTube wants all the video content it can get hold of, that’s why YouTube offers a free service, because your videos make them money!
Now you see the truth of YouTube’s interests, ask yourself, does this conflict with your business goals and best interests? The answer is, sometimes it conflicts, and sometimes it doesn’t. When you understand what YouTube really is, you’ll be in a better position to know what type of videos you should upload to it.
Sin 2: Uploading the wrong type of video to YouTube
YouTube is great for getting discovered. It’s great for top of funnel marketing. It’s all about educating or entertaining your audience to introduce them to your brand.
When you upload the wrong type of video to YouTube, all you’re going to get is a handful of views and not much else. When you upload the right type of video, you’ll get people watching to the end, sharing it with their friends and colleagues and looking for more of your content.
Because so many people treat YouTube simply as free video hosting, they host absolutely all their videos on YouTube, when in reality, videos that have a place on your website probably shouldn’t live on YouTube too. You need to decide whether your video’s purpose is for discovery, top of funnel marketing, or conversion/sales, middle or bottom of funnel marketing.
When you have videos that are educational or entertaining, then you’re ready to upload the right type of videos to YouTube, and then all you have to worry about is optimising them correctly.
Sin 3: Forgetting to optimise your videos
Optimising your videos is all about understanding how audiences discover and engage with content, and using that knowledge to expand your reach as far as possible.
Here’s what you can do to optimise your YouTube videos to be discovered:
- File name
Which of these should you focus on? Trick question. You should do something to all of them. They will all help your video appear in the right search results, and make your video more appealing to get more views.
If you forget to optimise your videos, then they won’t get found in search results and no one will watch them, which means your discovery video won’t be discovered and will just be a waste of time and money. Ouch!
So let’s assume you have optimised your videos, so you can start getting some views. Now you need to turn your attention to making sure that viewer experience is the best it can be.
Sin 4: Being too careless to brand your video
The viewer watching your video might have never seen your content before, and might know nothing about your company. By branding your video properly, you can ensure they have a good viewer experience, and remember who you are when it’s finished.
One way to do this is by having a logo intro or outro, or having your logo in the corner of the video throughout. If your video features a live person on screen, they could possibly be wearing branded clothes, or have clear branding somewhere in the background.
Basically you want to include brand elements in the video to subtly identify the video as yours. You don’t want someone to watch your video, really like it, then instantly forget who you are.
If you brand your video effectively, you’ll leave a better impression on anyone who views your videos and will stick in their minds longer. If it makes a good enough impression on them, they’ll likely look you up later or view some more of your content, or share it with others.
That should all add up to a great number of quality views and shares, but remember, success is often difficult to measure on YouTube. You need to make sure you’re not making this terrible mistake.
Sin 5: Measuring success in raw view count
Maybe it’s because it’s the easiest metric to view on YouTube, but all too often people measure the success of their video by the raw number of views that it has racked up. Not only does this figure not really mean anything, it also makes marketers focus on the wrong goals.
Let’s get this straight:
Getting a million people to view your video is better than counting a handful of viewers, I agree. But focusing just on the view count is like putting all your effort into increasing your website traffic without caring what that traffic actually does for your business.
You might have a video with 400 views that has a better ROI than a different video with 10,000 views or more. If you spend your time chasing views, rather than revenue, you’re completely missing the point. View count is what people refer to as a ‘vanity metric’, it’s something that looks good, or makes you look popular, but doesn’t really provide any business value necessarily.
So when you’re thinking about tracking the success of your videos, look for more than just number of views, otherwise you’ll end up wishing for something that isn’t realistic or worth your time.
Sin 6: Wanting/Expecting videos to go viral
If one more person emails me saying they want to produce a viral video, I’ll probably scream. Why?
Virality is not a metric, it isn’t a goal, it’s a means to an end, although I’m sure you’d agree that having a million or more views on your video wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
The truth is, almost every viral video that has ever been, has been a surprise hit. The creators didn’t go out of their way to produce the perfect shareable video and absolutely smash it, they just captured something that happened to resonate with the right people at the right time.
Viral videos tend to be the ones that appeal to the widest range of viewers, which is why they are shared so much. The question to ask yourself is, how many of these people are the people you want to reach? If your ideal customers are small business owners in the UK, surely you should care much more about how many of them have seen your video, rather than anybody anywhere in the world.
Trying to create a viral video is like the exact opposite of creating a targeted and focused viewer experience that will drive the right kinds of actions from the right people. So leave virality to fate, and focus much more on how you can drive more actions.
Sin 7: Not including any post-roll call to action
As a general rule of marketing, always include a call to action. If you have a video on your website, the action you might want your viewer to take is to buy your product, so you would have a call to action to lead your customer to do this.
On YouTube, product videos are not usually appropriate, so you will have a different kind of call to action. You might want your viewer to:
- Visit your website
- Share the video on social media
- Subscribe to your YouTube channel
- Watch another video of yours
If you have a video that doesn’t include a call to action and just finishes, YouTube offers it’s own call to action, which displays a variety of related videos to entice the viewer to stay around on YouTube’s site. Sometimes these related videos will be others of your own videos. Other times, they’ll be videos belonging to your competitors. That’s a risk you don’t want to take.
Instead of leaving it up to chance, either have a clear call to action at the end, and allow the video 5 or 10 seconds of freeze frame at the end, or insert a post-roll call to action. That is, when the video has finished, include a separate video add-on that encourages the viewer to take an action of your choice (subscribe, click, share, etc). You can have separate calls to action on all your videos, or use the same one at the end of every video if that suits you. But don’t let your viewers be shown a dozen competitor videos to choose from as soon as your video is over.
Recovering from the deadly sins
Remember YouTube is about discovery, not loyalty. The viewers probably don’t care about your company at this point, they just want what they can get out of your videos. So make sure you recognise YouTube for what it really is, upload the right content in the right way, and think about and measure success with metrics that really mean something for your business.
If you can avoid committing these seven very serious sins on YouTube, you’ll find your video marketing greatly improves and benefits your business in much more noticeable way.