A while back I was blogging about how to start a vlog, and I wanted to follow up on that with some great advice on creating a really solid platform for that vlog in the form of a successful YouTube channel.
A strong YouTube channel can do wonders for your marketing and reach, as well as providing a hugely powerful SEO boost for your website by allowing you to embed video content directly onto your site.
If you are looking to start a YouTube channel, I highly recommend that, in addition to posting your videos on YouTube, you create a blog post on your website for each new video you upload. Embed the video directly in the post, and include a written version of the content for maximum SEO benefits.
In order to do that you need somewhere to host your videos, and my recommendation is YouTube.
As the largest video sharing site online, YouTube is unsurpassed as a video marketing platform with well over a billion users and in excess of 4 billion daily views. If you’re looking for the perfect platform to host a new vlog, it’s ideal. Even if all you want is somewhere to host the occasional video created for you business, YouTube is still the best option.
But taking full advantage of the site means creating a thriving channel, and for a lot of people this is a daunting prospect despite the benefits.
And yet, with those benefits including the ability to reach any kind of audience, any niche, and deliver to them content in the form that has come to dominate marking in recent years, it’s definitely worth doing.
Here’s everything you need to know to create a successful YouTube channel for your business:
Understanding Your Audience
As with any form of content, your videos are created for your audience and your YouTube content creation strategy should begin with a clear understanding of the audience you want to attract.
Everything you create should be developed with their needs, desires, and preferences in mind. Having a clearly defined niche for your YouTube channel is super-important but also a little tricky because it often needs to be a lot more specific than the niche you have for your business as a whole – even if that niche is already very well defined.
It’s important to have a very clear picture of your ideal client for your marketing as a whole. There are, however, three core things it’s important to determine about your ideal client as far as YouTube is concerned:
- The area they are interested in and the level they are at within it. For example, my niche is digital marketing, that’s my ‘area’, if I were starting a YouTube channel I would need to pitch it at a specific level of digital marketers – total beginners, established business owners, experienced marketers, or other professional digital marketers like myself. You may already know this for your overall ideal client profile, but it’s likely you will need to be even more specific for your channel (at least initially).
My overall marketing has two levels of ideal clients, those who want to learn digital marketing for themselves, and those who want someone else to handle it for them. Trying to pitch a YouTube channel to both wouldn’t be easy, so I’d ideally pick one or the other.
- Exactly what they want to do or achieve.
- The manner in which they prefer to consume their video content – i.e. tutorials, strategy overviews, demonstrations, reviews, presentations. Beyond that, whether they prefer talking heads (as in, you personally speaking directly into the camera) or information-based footage like a slideshow or animated whiteboard video.
You are going to have preferences in all three areas, particularly the last one – there will be certain things you’re more comfortable doing. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
A successful YouTube channel is one that understands the specific type of video its ideal clients love, and consistently provides it on a regular basis.
How To Create A Successful YouTube Channel
YouTube is essentially a giant search engine, and as such marketing on the platform has a lot of similarities to SEO. Certainly having a successful YouTube channel will do wonders for the SEO on your website, driving traffic and generating leads.
That’s really what content marketing is all about, so let’s dig in. There are several crucial areas that you will want to focus on in order to give your channel the best possible change at success…
Entertainment Vs. Accomplishment
Before you start creating videos, ask yourself exactly why your ideal clients are going to be watching them. When you boil it down there are really only ever two reasons:
- They’re looking for entertainment
- They want to accomplish something
Your video needs to provide at least one (but ideally both!) of these things. Knowing which your audience wants most will help you effectively pitch your channel and put your resources into creating the specific type of content the people you most want to reach, most want to watch.
The ‘why’ behind your audience will shape the type of videos you create and exactly how you create them.
For example, in either case having a really long introduction to your video isn’t going to help you. If they’re looking for entertainment they will lose interest, and if they’re looking to accomplish something they will want to get right to it.
Short intros work best in videos, allowing you to immediately deliver a hint of the great value to come. If you’re aiming to entertain your intro needs to immediately do exactly that so they keep watching. And if it’s aiming to help them accomplish something it needs to immediately identify exactly what that will be and (ideally) how effective/easy your method is.
Quality Trumps Everything Else
YouTube may be a thriving platform but it’s far from the saturated environment of the blogosphere.
This is good, it makes it easier to stand out.
But unlike the veritable plethora of blog posts out there, a good chunk of channels on YouTube are creating seriously high-quality videos. The ones geared at business, in particular, are especially high quality, because the makers understand that nobody wants to watch videos that are low quality, and perception is everything.
Low quality videos give the impression you run a low quality business.
The majority of business know that if they can’t create videos of at least fairly high quality right from the start, it’s not worth the investment. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a massive amount of money on your videos, but it does mean they need to be in focus, the camera needs to be steady, and the resolution needs to be strong.
This is actually perfectly achievable with a webcam provided you think it through, and the more you can invest in equipment like lighting and high-end cameras, the better your quality becomes. If your videos are animated or include CGI elements it’s again a case of knowing they need to look decent.
If they don’t they’re never going to perform.
So while a lot of channels start off with a very basic setup, the quality of their videos tends to be high from the outset, with the constant aim of all channels being the continued development of that quality.
This is massively different from the blogging situation, as a lot of businesses still churn out blog posts that are of low quality, low value, and don’t even look particularly good.
It’s only in the last few years that the marketing world has finally come around to the notion of investing heavily in incredibly high-quality free blog content. The difference this has made is massive, but it’s still relatively new.
If you look at some of the earliest channels on YouTube that gained success and those that are currently most successful you will see that right from the birth of the platform businesses understood the need for the best possible quality.
What that means and how it is achieved has evolved and changed since, and will continue to do so, but always remember: quality first!
Don’t forget that quality includes maintaining a consistent brand throughout, so take the time to create templates for bespoke video thumbnails, as well as the cover images and other graphic elements used on your profile, and fill in relevant copy in all areas of your YouTube channel.
Build Your Reputation And Profile
Building a solid reputation and profile on YouTube requires three things:
We’ve already touched on quality but ensuring that quality is consistent and continues on a regular basis over a protracted length of time is essential.
You’re not going to gain a following dedicated to your videos overnight, nor are you going to achieve it with just a few videos, no matter how high the quality of them might be.
Expect to be putting out content for at least a year on a very regular, consistent basis, before you start seeing amazing results.
That’s not to say it’s impossible to achieve success sooner, but it’s really a long-game (as is most content marketing), so you’re going to need to prepare for that at the start.
The name of the game on YouTube is very much the same as it is on your email list: building your subscriber base. The more subscribers you have, the more people will be notified when you publish a new video, the more people will share it, the more new viewers you will attract, and the more your number of subscribers will snowball.
Optimise Your Videos For Search
Now you’re clear on the quality and regularity needed, it’s time to turn our attention to the BIG aspect of video marketing that makes or breaks the success of your YouTube channel: SEO.
Just as your primary goal for your blog posts is to rank highly in search engine results, the same is true for your YouTube videos.
The better your videos rank, the more easily you will grow your subscriber base, the more effective your channel will become at promoting your business.
Your videos won’t just show up on the search results pages (SERPs) on YouTube, they will also appear on Google SERPs, so your SEO is a double whammy when it comes to promoting your channel.
Maximise your search ranking (both on YouTube and Google) by including some essential keywords in your video wherever possible:
- What is…
- How to…
Beyond that you will also have keywords relevant to the topic of your video, as you would if you were optimising a blog post for SEO.
How To Optimise Your Video Metadata
Optimising your videos for search is utterly crucial on YouTube, because it’s the big thing that’s going to get you noticed. While you might use other ways of promoting your videos (we’ll get to those in a minute), SEO is the one that’s going to keep working for you for the whole life of your video, and is never going to cost you a penny.
It’s also not very time consuming – certainly not compared to other options like social media and email marketing – so let’s really focus on getting it right, starting by optimising the metadata for your video.
This is done in three crucial areas:
- Your title
- Your description
- Your tags
Resist the urge to stuff in your keywords as much as possible, ideally you will use one of the keywords included in the above list, plus one keyword for your topic in your title.
In your description you can get away with using either or both of your keywords more than once, especially if you tweak them slightly. For example, it’s easy to naturally work ‘how to’ into a description more than once in separate sentences, while simultaneously including your topic keyword a couple of times too. The important thing to remember is not to force it – if it sounds clunky or unnatural, don’t shoehorn them in.
When you’re tagging your video focus on tags that truly represent what your video is about, what it will help people achieve, and the niche it’s aimed at. Try to include your keywords wherever relevant, but again, don’t stuff them in.
Unlike blog posts which have multiple areas you can easily optimise for search YouTube is fairly limited by comparison, so make the most of what you have. Your description is the main source of information used by YouTube’s algorithms, so make it count!
The title you choose is equally important. Remember that all the rules that apply to writing great headlines for blog posts are equally true for videos. The difference is that you have 100 characters for your video title, and you should keep it to 70 at the most.
Include A Strong Call To Action To Subscribe
The final crucial aspect of optimising your videos is including a strong call to action encouraging viewers to subscribe.
Because your subscribers are shown all your new videos a good number of them will end up watching them all, and they may well share them too. This will boost your rank, and snowball the whole effect.
And while some people will naturally subscribe, the majority of them will need a little nudge. There are a couple of really easy ways to do this:
- Literally use the words ‘subscribe to my channel’ in your videos – ideally once at the start, and once at the end.
- Once you’ve uploaded to YouTube you can edit it and add a clickable subscribe button to the end so viewers can subscribe from the actual video, even if it’s not being viewed on YouTube itself.
How To Promote Your YouTube Channel
If you’re looking for other ways to promote your channel beyond SEO there are quite a few:
- Use cross-promotion with other popular channels with a strong base of existing subscribers who are your ideal client. By getting in touch and offering to create guest videos for them, while hosting one of theirs in return, you can both benefit from access to new viewers. Just be careful to select channels that are in your niche but aren’t in direct competition with you.
- You can also cross-promote on other social media channels, and share your videos on your other platforms. Just be aware that for Facebook, you’re actually better off uploading your videos as native Facebook videos than you are sharing the YouTube link – you can include a link to your YouTube channel in the description and encourage people to signup, and you’ll get much better reach on the video.
- Share your videos with your email list. Email marketing always benefits from additional content, so when you’re writing our weekly newsletter, pop in links to any new videos. And when you’re creating your nurture sequences, don’t neglect the power of using some powerful videos as part of the content you share.
- You can buy ads on YouTube to promote your channel and this can be very effective, but it’s important to have plenty of existing content on your channel, all geared towards gaining subscribers before you invest in paid advertising. Otherwise, while you may boost your views through the ad campaign, you won’t actually reap any tangible benefits. (Views themselves are a vanity metric in many respects, as having more views on your videos looks good, but doesn’t actually benefit you if it doesn’t lead to subscriptions, repeat viewings, and eventually sales.)
Add Lead Magnets To Your Descriptions
Speaking of getting the best ROI on your channel, whether you’re paying for ads or not gearing everything towards building your subscriber base should be your focus, and this doesn’t only apply to YouTube subscriptions.
If you haven’t already, start creating content upgrades for your regular content (whether it’s on your blog or your new YouTube channel), and develop at least one truly powerful lead magnet for your website.
Add links to these in your video descriptions to drive traffic to your website and encourage people to subscribe to your email list, as well as your YouTube channel itself.
If you’re looking for more ways to create a successful YouTube channel check out my blog post on how to start a vlog.