With 2 billion unique users watching 1 billion hours of video every day, YouTube offers an excellent platform to market your business. Add that to the compelling nature of video in marketing and you have a winning combination. In fact, video marketing has helped marketers to increase traffic, generate leads and reduce the number of support calls.

So there’s no doubt that leveraging YouTube will help you achieve all of these goals and more. This post shows you some of the most essential steps for YouTube marketing and how you can get the most out of the network.

1. Create and brand your YouTube channel

If you haven’t already, make sure you start by creating a Brand Account on Google. When you create a Brand Account, you can authorize members of your team t0 manage your YouTube channel; something you won’t be able to do on a personal account.

Ideally, pick a channel name that’s either similar or consistent to your business name so it’s easy to recognize. And don’t forget to upload channel art that aligns with your brand’s visual identity.

2. Understand your audience

Marketing on YouTube is mainly about creating content to reach and engage a target audience. And for that, you need to know what that audience likes. What kind of content do they want from you? When are they most active? Where is your audience mostly based? How often do they expect to get new videos from you? All of this and more will help you craft a winning YouTube marketing strategy.

The YouTube Analytics tab will provide you with valuable insights into your subscriber demographics and watch time. This will help you identify which regions of the world your videos are reaching, what time people are viewing your videos, how old your viewers are and what gender you mostly reach. Use these insights to plan your YouTube content strategy.

You could also take a YouTube survey asking your viewers what they’d like to see from you as Cut did in the following post on their Community tab. They sourced a poll to their audience asking which mother-daughter pair they’d like to see in an upcoming episode. It’s a clever way to use your audience’s input in your content. Additionally, the comments on your videos can also help you understand your audience and further inform your YouTube marketing strategy.

3. Learn from the best

While understanding your audience will give you an idea of what content to create, it won’t necessarily help you get ahead of the competition. For that, you should look directly at your competitors and learn from their YouTube marketing strategies. What are they doing right and how can you replicate that? What mistakes are they making and how can you capitalize on that?

Find your competitors’ channels and watch their most popular and least popular videos. Try to identify what resonates with the audience and what complaints they have about those videos. Beyond judging the content for yourself, you could even go through the comments to see what people are saying. Also, think about the content that you find interesting and informative. Would you watch your competitor’s videos and find the content valuable? Use these insights to inform your YouTube content strategy.

For example, let’s say you’re competing with the following video on designing an abandoned cart email. You can see that there’s no video description, which you can capitalize on by creating a compelling description for your video. Plus, the comment shows someone complaining that there’s no proper intro in the video. Capitalize on this as well by creating intriguing intros on all your videos that call out the real life problem you’re solving for your viewers.

Additionally, go through your competitors’ video descriptions (if any) to identify the keywords they’re using. If you find any that could be relevant to your channel, use them for your YouTube SEO. You could apply the same research strategy on your favorite YouTube channels as well.

4. Nail your YouTube SEO

While marketing on YouTube is mostly about creating quality content, optimizing your videos for visibility is equally important. It won’t matter how entertaining your videos are if people can’t find them in relevant search results. That’s exactly why you should invest your time and effort into YouTube SEO.

At the least, your YouTube marketing efforts should include the basics of YouTube SEO, such as:

Optimizing your titles and descriptions with keywords

In many ways, the YouTube search engine works similar to the Google search engine. It will prioritize high-quality content that’s relevant to the search term. And one of the ways it will determine the content’s relevance in a search is through the terms and phrases in your video titles and descriptions.

For example, see how the top search result for “juggling football” is a video titled “soccer/football juggling tutorial.” It specifies that the tutorial is about juggling in soccer specifically and not about juggling in general, making it relevant to the search. A brief look at the description also shows that they’ve used multiple variations of the keyword there as well.

Use your competitor research from earlier and conduct keyword research to discover the most relevant search terms your target audience is using. Then use these terms seamlessly into your titles and descriptions for a better chance at showing up in the right search results.

Creating eye-catching thumbnails

It’s not enough that your videos show up in relevant searches; you also need people to click on them so YouTube can further determine your content’s relevance. That’s where your video thumbnails enter the picture. Your title may give people an idea of what your video is about, but your thumbnails give them a glimpse of your video quality.

So make sure you use customized thumbnails that instantly catch the eye and compel people to watch your videos. Select an appealing image from your video as the thumbnail, then add graphics, text overlays and filters as needed to make the image pop.

Cross-promoting your videos

Since the number of video views plays a role in YouTube SEO, you should also get viewers to watch as many of your videos as possible. So try cross-promoting relevant and related videos by displaying end screen recommendations at the end of your videos. Here’s an example of Great Big Story recommending related videos within their Around the World playlist series. Make sure the recommended videos lead to a logical progression of content that your user will be interested in, such as a playlist.

Also, you should cross-promote your videos using other social media platforms to get as many views as possible. In some cases, you might even find opportunities to embed your YouTube videos on relevant blog posts. Here’s the same Great Big Story video posted on their Twitter profile:

5. Have a consistent publishing schedule

Consistency is the key to YouTube marketing success. Creating and editing quality content takes time, so you may not necessarily be able to publish a video every day. But make sure you have a posting schedule and follow it religiously.

This will give your audience an idea of when they should expect your content and help you engage them more effectively. The more content you publish, the more opportunities for engagement you’re opening up. This could eventually help you gain more visibility in people’s feeds. Plus, having a proper publishing schedule makes it easier for you to plan your content and schedule videos ahead of time.

In fact, you could use the calendar view option on Sprout Social’s YouTube publishing tool to better plan your video content alongside your social content. This will help you visualize your overall or single-network content schedule and understand your post volume across the week or month, so you can seamlessly make necessary adjustments.

6. Offer captions and subtitles in multiple languages

According to YouTube, about two-thirds of a channel’s views will come from outside the home country of the content creator. So even if you hadn’t intended to build an international audience, there’s a good chance your channel already has viewers who speak other languages besides English.

Effective YouTube marketing involves catering to this existing audience and enhancing their experience as well as attracting more viewers who share similar characteristics. This makes it crucial to provide closed captioning and translations of your content. Based on the insights from your YouTube demographics data, find out which countries your viewers come from and prioritize English and other languages accordingly. Also, adding closed captioning assists with making your videos accessible to all viewers.

If you’re worried about the cost of translating your content, note that you don’t necessarily have to spend a dime. YouTube lets you crowdsource translated captions from your fans for free. For this, go to the Creator Studio and turn on community contributions under “Subtitles.”

Keep in mind, you can always provide subtitles or closed captioning with or without timestamps yourself. Just upload a supported transcript file in the Advanced settings of your video options.

7. Partner with influential creators

With hundreds of thousands of loyal fans, influential YouTubers have the power to effectively market your channel and products. Consider partnering with them to amplify your YouTube marketing efforts. Collaborating with YouTube influencers gives you an opportunity to reach a new audience as well as provide some credibility or endorsement behind your products.

The actual approach and campaign type may vary depending on your end goal and your product. Is it brand awareness? Newsletter signups? Or farther down the marketing funnel?

For example, TruAudio partnered with What’s Inside?–an influential YouTube channel with over 6.8 million subscribers–to promote their products. The channel provided viewers with an in-depth look at how the product works and linked to the product homepage in the description.

But if your plan is to promote your YouTube channel or a specific video on your channel, you could also get the influencer to share those relevant links in the description box as well. You might even co-create a video with the influencer and publish it to your channel instead, depending on your goal and approach to YouTube influencer marketing campaigns.

8. Invest in YouTube ads

While proper YouTube SEO can go a long way, solely relying on organic reach won’t get you scalable results. For that, you need paid advertising to reach a highly relevant audience through means other than YouTube search results. Invest in YouTube ads to promote your content and products through other channels and drive more viewers to your channel.

You have the option of running a few different YouTube ad types and expand your reach by keyword or audience. Run a few different paid ad promotions to test which is successful for your goals.

Perfecting your YouTube marketing

The steps outlined in this guide show you some of the essential steps to get started with YouTube marketing. But note that to perfect your efforts, you should consider YouTube marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy instead of a standalone initiative.

For instance, include videos into your overall content strategy  to create a perfect balance  with other content formats. And add YouTube into your overall social media strategy so you can seamlessly manage it with other platforms.

Learn how to easily integrate YouTube into your existing social social media strategy with our free social media toolkit.