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YouTube Marketing Basics

Ben Cecil Content Strategy, Video Marketing

YouTube is a great tool for promoting your brand. As with any aspect of business, you don’t want to just jump in headfirst. Before dedicating resources to building a YouTube marketing campaign you need to understand what YouTube is, what it’s best used for, and its limitations.

What is it?

YouTube is a video viewing website that allows users to upload and share videos with their friends and the public.

What’s it best used for?

In the marketing sense, this social media video engine is best used for building awareness.

What are its limitations?

If your goal is to improve traffic flow to your website, hold on.  YouTube videos aren’t conversion machines, link-building hubs, or magic beans for SEO .

They rarely drive traffic to your website. A recent study found that YouTube videos have a less than 1% percent click–through rate.  This doesn’t mean that YouTube videos can’t improve the aforementioned issues, but if you’re a newbie, you shouldn’t expect it.

Does this mean YouTube won’t help your marketing strategy? Definitely not. It simply means you need to be aware of how and why you’re using YouTube.

You Need to Stick to it.

The most successful YouTube marketers produce tons of videos. The Content Marketing Institute found that the top 25 percent of YouTube channels have an average of 181 videos. How many do the bottom 25 percent have? Just 29.

This doesn’t mean you should throw up 100 sub-par videos. What it does mean is that experience and “stick-to-it-iveness” pays off.  We learn by doing, after all.  Do it a lot.

YouTube Marketing Basics


Each YouTube video includes metadata, comprised of a title and descriptive text which identifies its content and nature. The best metadata is engaging, descriptive, and rich with keywords.

  • Titles – The best titles clearly tell the viewer what your video is about and encourages them to watch. More direct titles like “Two guys fight with swords” tend to fair better than “Art of the Blade: Part 2”
  • Description – Good descriptions expand on the title, informing and engaging the viewer. Always be mindful of commonly searched keywords when writing your descriptions. Additionally, try to include a link to your website or a relevant post where the viewer can get more information.

As you begin to develop the metadata for your videos, pay attention to what is and isn’t working. Take the time to search for similar videos and evaluate their metadata. What are they doing differently?

(Professional Insider Tip: YouTube offers a keyword tool which allows you to search for additional words and phrases to include in your metadata that will help viewers find you through organic YouTube searches.)


You can share links on YouTube in a variety of ways. Some features are only available to “YouTube Partners” – users who let YouTube put ads on their videos. Potential ways to share links include:

  • On-Screen – Links found within a video player screen.
  • Description Text – Links found within the video’s metadata description.
  • YouTube Channel – Links found on your YouTube channel.

Great Resource

Our favorite, Phil Nottingham of Distilled fame just released a great YouTube marketing slide deck.


Creating the Actual YouTube Marketing Videos

Understanding how YouTube works is important, but to really ensure your YourTube content benefits your overall marketing strategy, you need a little more preparation:

  • Clearly define your goals.
  • Harness your inner “Viral Attitude” to create unique videos which engage and intrigue viewers.
  • Develop a template to ensure your YouTube marketing campaign doesn’t just stop after a few videos.
  • Carve out a small budget for YouTube video ads—get it in front of your target audience.
    • We’re partial to YouTube’s TrueView PreRoll option.  This promotes your video, but only charges you if the viewer doesn’t “skip the video” within 5 seconds. If they stay, wonderful.  If they leave, you get a free five-second ad.

Want to learn more about YouTube marketing? I had the opportunity talk with Jeben Berg, one of Google’s creative directors working on the YouTube agency team. He consults with larger brands about how to successfully use the YouTube platform.

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