Over the past few months we’ve covered almost all the aspects of YouTube optimization, from optimizing YouTube videos for search and for paid media, as well as YouTube analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Through that series, I have had a lot of people ask me some very good questions.
One question came from Mark, a chief marketing officer for a human resources software startup. Mark told me that he optimized his videos for a list of specific terms such as “Vacation Tracking Software” but he is not getting any results.
I asked him why he had chosen those keyphrases and what type of video assets he had chosen. His answers baffled me. And after talking to a few more small- to mid-size companies the problem became obvious:
Many marketers like Mark know that they have to use YouTube, be visible, and engaging, but they are just not sure how. In some cases they are even treating YouTube like a single asset, while in reality YouTube is its own multi-faceted channel with the potential to reach myriad audiences and deliver on many different KPIs – and should be treated as such.
In order to help marketers get on the right track and dominate YouTube search results, it’s important to ask some simple questions. The answers to these questions will hold the keys to YouTube success.
- Who is watching our videos?
- What do we want to communicate?
- What do we want viewers to do?
- How should we communicate with them to get them to do X?
- How do we measure success?
- How can we broaden our audience reach?
To translate these questions into actionable steps, I propose the following best practices, in order.
- Define your audience (who’s watching?). One of the first things to consider is the enormous number of distinct audiences available to watch YouTube videos. Let’s take the example of the HR software company. It has three different audiences – HR professionals, technical integrators, and existing customers – all of which have a clearly different intent and consume different types of content. Therefore, the kinds of videos a company creates must vary for each audience in order to attract the right viewers, and many of them.
- Identify priority subjects (what are they interested in?). You know your company and what you generally want to communicate to your various audiences. But what subject will be best suited to YouTube? A good starting point to evaluate the volume (interest level) and similar terms are the Google Keyword Tool and the YouTube Keyword Tool. Generally, YouTube is best for more instruction/tip-based content and Google is better suited for assets optimized to product/category and shopping terms. Diving into this data is a great way to pinpoint subjects to invest your time developing and promoting.
- Define your audience goals (what should they do?). What are you trying to achieve with those different audiences? What is the goal for each? In the case of the HR software company, Mark is trying to push integration to the IT pros who are setting up the business management systems; for the business consumers (the HR professionals), he wants to convert them into customers; and within the existing customer base, he wants to increase sales and adoption of more tools as well as provide customer support.
- Design the campaigns/channels (how do we communicate?). So now, when looking at your audience(s), do you think you need one or multiple channels? For the HR software company, the answer is to have three channels with content relevant to each distinct audience. For example, the content for technical integrators is mostly screenshots and product specs. Therefore, if a potential business customer looked at that channel’s top videos and saw 12 thumbnails of codes and screenshots, she would most likely abandon it. The potential customer might need how-to videos that explain the company’s services, and the existing customers would want videos that highlight new services or offerings. Generally, if the goal and desired actions are different across target audiences, you should have different channels (and content).
- Define the goals and actions per channel/video (how do we measure?). As with anything digital, the real power lies in the ability to measure every connection and therefore create a true measurement for ROI. For Mark’s HR software company, we have three channels for three different audiences. At this point, we would define the KPIs we want to measure against for each one such as view duration, social shares, clicks, etc.
As mentioned in “Optimizing for YouTube Search,” there are various ways to measure engagement on YouTube assets. For example, annotations and bubbles inside the video itself, or links in the description or annotations can be used to measure the amount of clicks and ultimately conversions generated by a specific video.
Sticking with the HR software example, here are the three possible KPIs/measurements:
- Technical integrators. Number of videos viewed (the assumption being, the more technical content they consume, the more they will utilize the platform).
- Existing consumers. View duration/sharing (the assumption being, the more they learn about the other products and new features, the more likely is their interest).
- Potential consumers. Clicks to lead/demo form (the assumption here is if they fill out the form, they are interested, and enter the sales pipeline).
- Broaden reach and understand the demand (analyze and test).
Once you analyze the behavior of your audiences and performance of your videos you will be able to take some of these findings and turn them into actionable insights. One example of those insights for Mark was in the data of the embed locations. One of their integrators had embedded some of Mark’s videos into their site. Monthly, they generated about 400 video views at a 4 percent action rate. However, that site had over 5,000 daily unique visitors, so Mark decided to offer additional video content to that integrator to be placed on more pages across that site. Views are now up about 240 percent.
To build your audience on YouTube, there are a few different tactics to employ; one simple way is to try one of the many advertising opportunities YouTube offers for paid search. When it comes to organic search, however, there are two avenues to acquire YouTube audiences – optimize for YouTube search (after all, YouTube is the second largest search engine), and optimize for video results inside Google search. There are columns on ClickZ about how to do this here and here.
To get back to Mark’s initial problem: before choosing if you want to optimize the videos for Google or YouTube search and what you want to optimize them for, you should evaluate what viewers search for and how much they search on each engine. Go back to the Google Keyword Tool and the YouTube Keyword Tool to understand these opportunities.
In short, your steps for developing better video reach, content, and engagement are:
- Discover and segment your videos’ audience or audiences.
- Identify the topics your viewers want.
- Ascertain your goals for your videos (and for each audience).
- Create relevant content for each audience.
- Measure your videos’ success with key metrics over time.
- Reach more viewers through paid or organic search methods.