YouTube Marketing

A Complete Guide to Creating, Promoting, and Optimizing Your Video Content

Let’s talk about YouTube. We’ve all heard of it, and chances are, we’ve all spent a wasted afternoon watching one silly cat video after another. YouTube is a great source for funny, entertaining content, but it’s also increasingly becoming an essential tool for marketers. In fact, nearly half of all marketers (48%) plan to add YouTube to their marketing strategy over the next 12 months according to the State of Inbound report.

Now you may be thinking, that’s great but my audience isn’t on YouTube. Think again. One third of all online activity is spent watching videos, and YouTube has more than a billion active users. The platform is so expansive that it can be accessed in 76 different languages, accounting for 95% of the world’s population. Still not convinced?

  • 3.25

    billion hours of video are watched each month.

  • YouTube reaches more

    18-49

    year olds than any broadcast or cable network on mobile.

  • 59%

    of executives prefer watching video to reading text.

Not only is your audience on YouTube, but as the internet’s second largest search engine, it can help improve your SEO and overall brand presence. YouTube allows marketers to present content in a unique way that is easy for viewers to consume and share.

We understand that YouTube marketing can be an intimidating tool for brands. That’s why we’ve created a complete guide for YouTube pros and newcomers alike. Here we’ll walk through each step -- from how to create a YouTube channel and optimize videos for SEO to how to run a YouTube advertising campaign and interpret video analytics.

Read along, email it to yourself, bookmark it for later, or jump to the section that interests you most:

How to Create a YouTube Channel

So, you’ve decided to create a YouTube channel? Great! We can’t wait to see the amazing content you promote. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that maintaining a YouTube channel takes extra time and planning.

Unlike other social networking platforms, YouTube exclusively hosts video content. If you’re only creating a YouTube channel to upload one video and have no intention of maintaining the platform, you might want to reconsider. You’ll need to set aside plenty of time to plan, film, edit, market, and analyze content on a consistent basis. You’ll need to define your brand’s goals and plan for how video specifically can help you achieve these. However, if you devote an appropriate amount of time and energy into the platform, you’ll be able to create engaging, shareable content for your growing audience.

Creating an Account

Before you start filming video content, you’ll need to set up your YouTube channel. This can get a bit complicated. As you probably know, YouTube is owned by Google. As a result, when you sign up for a Gmail account, you’ll automatically have access to a YouTube account, a Google+ account, and much more. Depending on your business, you may not want to tie your email to your business’s YouTube channel, especially if you need to share access to the account with team members or an agency partner. We suggest that you create a common email account that can be used by multiple people.

To get started, visit Google.com and click “Sign in” in the upper right hand corner.

Creating a Google Account.png Next, click on “Create Next, click on “Create account” at the bottom of the page.

Create a Google Account.png

Enter your name, desired email and password, birthday, gender, phone number, current email, and country before clicking “Next step.” Please note, Google requires all users to be at least 13 years old.

Sign up for google account.png

Agree to Google’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, then verify your account with a code sent via text or phone call.

verify a google account.png

Congrats! You’re now a proud owner of a Google account.

Welcome to Google.png

Setting Up a YouTube Brand Account

Okay, you now have a Google account, and you’re ready to publish some awesome video content, but we’re not done yet! You now need to set up a YouTube brand account. A brand account allows users to manage editing permissions and create a more holistic online presence.

To get started, visit YouTube.com. In the upper right-hand corner, you should notice that you’re probably already logged in. If this is not true, click on the blue “Sign in” button in the upper right-hand corner, and enter your Google account username and password.

Once you’ve signed in, click on “My channel” in the left-hand menu bar.

YouTube brand channel.png

There, you’ll have the option to create a channel right away. Do not click on “Create Channel.” Click on “Use a business or other name” below.

YouTube with brand name.png

Enter your brand account name and press “Create.” Note: You can update or change your channel name from your account settings later, so don’t worry if you need to revise your selected label.

Naming your youtube brand account.png

Now that you have a Brand Account, let’s customize it. Click on “Edit Layout” to get started.

Edit YouTube Layout.png

Start by adding a channel icon and channel art. These will be the first things users see when visiting your YouTube account so be sure to use images that are easily recognizable and consistent with your overall branding.

A channel icon is similar to a Facebook profile picture. This image will be used across all of your Google properties like Gmail and Google+. Consider using a company logo or, if you are a public figure, a professional headshot.

To add a channel icon, click on the default red profile picture in the upper left-hand corner of your channel. Then upload an image. Google recommends uploading an 800 x 800 px square or round image. Please note, it may take several minutes for your channel icon to appear after uploading.

Next, upload your channel art. Click on the blue “Add channel art” button in the center of your channel. Upload a 2560 x 1440 px image that will scale well -- across desktop, tablet, mobile, and TV. Check out YouTube’s channel art templates for specific design guidance.

adding channel icon and art.png

After you upload your channel icon and art, add a channel description, a company email, and links to your company website and other social platforms in the About section. Your description should provide more information on your company and explain what type of video content you plan on sharing. Search engines look at your description when determining how to rank your profile so incorporate relevant keywords in your overview. We’ll talk more about how to optimize your YouTube channel description below.

youtube-description-example

With the basic profile complete, it’s time to add a few finishing touches! Before we move on, it’s important to get one thing straight -- you can customize the way your YouTube channel looks to subscribers and unsubscribed visitors. This means that unsubscribed viewers would see different featured content than dedicated, subscribed viewers. Pretty cool, right?

One of the main ways you can take advantage of this feature is by creating a channel trailer. A channel trailer is the video version of your description and is shown to all your unsubscribed viewers. Your trailer should be short and sweet (around 30 to 60 seconds). Focus on showing visitors what your channel is about, what they can expect to see, and encourage them to subscribe. Your trailer won’t be interrupted by ads, keeping the user focused on why they should watch more videos from your brand.

YouTube trailer example.png

Ready to get started? First, make sure channel customization is turned on. To do this, click on the gear icon next to the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner of your channel.

youtube channel customizer.png

Next, switch “Customize the layout of your channel” to on and press “Save.”

switching channel customization on.png

Now that you’ve set up your channel for customization, upload your trailer. Click the arrow upload button in the upper right-hand corner and select your video file. Remember to add keywords to your trailer name and description. Once your video uploads, click on the “For new visitors” tab on your channel homepage.

New visitor tab on youtube.png

Then click “Channel trailer.”

add youtube channel trailer.png

Finally, select your uploaded trailer, or enter a URL to a video you’d like to feature, and press “Save.”

select youtube trailer.png

Finally, your channel may be eligible for a custom URL if you have over 100 subscribers, a channel icon, channel art, and is more than 30 days old. To learn more about custom YouTube URLs click here.

Before you start implementing your YouTube marketing plan, you should decide who on your team will need access to the account. Granting access to team members will allow them to help manage the channel through their own Google accounts.

When you grant access to a Google account, there are three options for roles:

  • Owner: Owners have full editing power over all company Google properties. They can add or remove managers, edit business information, respond to reviews, and more.
  • Manager: Managers have the same editing powers as Owners, except they cannot add or remove page roles or remove listings. Anyone editing a YouTube channel must be a Manager or a Owner.
  • Communications Manager: Communications Managers can respond to reviews and do several other actions but they cannot use YouTube’s video manager, upload content, or view analytics.

To add individuals to your account, click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of your YouTube channel. Go to “Overview” and click “Add or remove managers.”

add or remove managers on youtube.png

Click “Manage Permissions.”

manage youtube permissions.png

Then, select the people icon in the upper right-hand corner to invite new users.

add managers icon.png

To grant permission to a person, enter their Gmail address and indicate their role.

assign manager roles on youtube.png

Social Media Strategy Kit

How to Optimize Your Videos for SEO & Ranking

Now that your YouTube channel is up and running, let’s talk about search. Remember how we mentioned that YouTube is the second largest search engine? While creating engaging content is a must, it’s not the only factor for success. There are several things you can do to optimize your videos to rank highly on both YouTube and in Google search results.

The first step to becoming a YouTube marketing pro is creating and optimizing your video’s metadata. Simply put, metadata gives viewers information about your video, which includes your video title, description, tags, category, thumbnail, subtitles, and closed captions. Providing the right information in your video’s metadata will help to ensure that it is properly indexed by YouTube and appears when people are searching for videos like yours. Be succinct and straightforward when filling out your metadata -- your content could be removed if you try to promote it with unrelated keywords. Check out the video and tips below to learn more about optimizing your video for search.

Title

Just like with on-page SEO, it’s important to optimize your video’s title and description. The title is the first thing people will read when scrolling through a list of videos, so make sure it’s clear and compelling -- it should make searchers curious about the content or be instantly clear that your video will help them solve a problem. Do some keyword research to better understand what viewers are searching for. Include the most important information and keywords in the beginning of your title. Finally, keep titles to around 60 characters to keep text from being cut off in results pages.

Description

YouTube will only show the first two to three lines (about 100 characters) of your video’s description, then viewers will need to click “show more” to see the rest. For that reason, be sure to include any important links or CTAs in the beginning of your description, and write the copy so it drives views and engagement. Below this, you can include the video transcript. Video transcripts can greatly improve your SEO because your video is usually full of keywords. You can also add a default channel description that includes links to your social channels, video credits, and video specific time stamps. You can also include #hashtags in your video titles and descriptions -- just be sure to use them sparingly. 

Tags

You’ve placed keywords in your title and description, so now it’s time to highlight your main keywords in your tags. Using tags is a way to associate your video with similar videos, broadening its reach. When tagging videos, tag your most important keywords first and try to include a good mix of more common keywords and long-tail keywords. 

Category

After you upload a video, YouTube will allow you to choose a video category under “Advanced settings.” Video categories help to group your video with related content on the platform. YouTube allows you to sort your video into one of the following categories: Film & Animation, Autos & Vehicles, Music, Pets & Animals, Sports, Travel & Events, Gaming, People & Blogs, Comedy, Entertainment, News & Politics, Howto & Style, Educations, Science & Technology, and Nonprofits & Activism.

YouTube metadata

Thumbnail

Your video thumbnail will be the main image viewers see when scrolling through a list of video results, and it can have a large impact of the amount of clicks to and views your video receives. YouTube will auto-generate a few thumbnail options for your video, but we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. YouTube reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.” When filming, think of high-quality shots that accurately represent your video. YouTube recommends using a 1280 x 720 px image to ensure that your thumbnail looks great on all screen sizes. 

One thing to note: You must verify your YouTube account to upload a custom thumbnail image. You can do this by visiting youtube.com/verify and entering the verification code YouTube sends you.

SRT Files (Subtitles & Closed Captions)

Not only do subtitles and closed captions help viewers, they also help optimize your video for search by giving you another opportunity to highlight important keywords. You can add subtitles or closed captions by uploading a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. You can also provide a full transcript of the video and have YouTube time the subtitles automatically, type the subtitles or translation as you watch the video, or hire a professional to translate or transcribe your video.           

To add subtitles or closed captions, head to your video manager then click on “Videos under “Video Manager.” Find the video you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then choose “Subtitles/CC.” You can then choose how you’d like to add subtitles or closed captioning.

YouTube Subtitles and Closed Captions

Cards and End Screens (Annotations)

Starting in May 2017, YouTube will no longer allow users to add annotations to their videos. Instead, they are encouraging users to incorporate cards and end screens in their videos to poll viewers, link to external sites, or direct people to other videos. Thankfully, cards and end screens are as easy to add as annotations. Cards are small, rectangular notifications that appear in the top, right-hand corner of both desktop and mobile screens. You can include up to five cards per video, but if you’re including multiple cards, be sure to space them out evenly to give viewers time to take the desired action.

To add a card, head to your video manager, click the drop-down edit arrow, and choose “Cards.”

YouTube cards

Then, click on “Add Card” and choose to create a Video or Playlist, Channel, Poll, or Link card.

Types of YouTube cards

Once you’ve created your card, drag it to the spot in the video you want it appear. Your changes will be saved automatically.

Positioning video cards

End screens allow you to extend your video for 5-20 seconds to direct viewers to other videos or channels on YouTube, encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel, or promote external links, such as ones that direct to your website. End screens encourage users to continue engaging with your brand or content.

To add an end screen, head to your video manager, click the drop-down edit arrow, and choose “End screen & Annotations.”

YouTube end screen

Then choose which elements you’d like to add to your end screen. You can add elements by importing an end screen you used in another video, using a template, or creating elements manually. It’s important to keep in mind that YouTube requires users to  to promote another YouTube video or a playlist in part of the end screen.

how to add youtube end screen

end screen example

Playlists

Are you creating videos around a few specific themes? Playlists might be the perfect tool for you! Playlists allow you to curate a collection of videos from both your channel and other channels. Not only do playlists help to organize your channel and encourage viewers to continue watching similar content, they also show up separately in search results. Creating playlists provide you with more discoverable content.

To create a new playlist, go to a video you’d like to add and click the under the video. Next, select “Create new playlist.” Type in the name of the playlist you want to feature and click “Create.”

youtube playlist

How to Create Videos for Social Media

How to Create Videos for YouTube

Once your channel is setup, it’s time to start populating it with content. This is where the fun begins! In this section, we’ll talk about some different types of videos you can create and walk through how to film and edit videos. Overwhelmed? Feeling uninspired? Check out our list of great video advertising and marketing campaigns for creative ideas to inspire your next project .

8 Types of Videos to Create

Before you start filming, you need to decide what type of video would help you achieve your goal. In a recent article from the Huffington Post, companies seeing the highest rates of success on YouTube ranked different types of videos by their level of importance and effectiveness. Before you start thinking of ideas, filming, and editing your video, consider this list of video types.

1) Customer testimonials

Customer testimonials are short-form interviews with satisfied customers. Customer testimonials can help build company and product credibility.

2) On-demand product demonstration videos

Demonstration videos are short pieces of content showing the benefits and proper use of a product.

3) Explainer and tutorial videos

Explainer videos are in-depth videos explaining how to use a product or various parts of a product or service. Tutorials can be used to answer customer support questions or explain a new product feature. 

 

4) Thought leader interviews

Interviews with experts or thought leaders can help amplify your company’s credibility in an industry.
 

5) Project reviews and case studies

Project reviews or case studies recap a successful campaign or project and often include statistics and results.

6) YouTube Live

YouTube Live allows users to broadcast live content to viewers. Live video allows you to easily share unfiltered moments, and lets your audience participate with real-time comments. Live videos on YouTube are recorded and appear like an other video upload. You can easily start a YouTube live stream from your phone or desktop by following these steps.
 
youtube live example

7) Video blogs 

Video blogs are daily or weekly videos documenting daily life or events. You could also record a video that gives an overview and the most important tips from a blog post so your audience has multiple ways to digest the content.
 
 

8) Event videos

Event videos feature in-person experiences at a conference or expo and can be a great way to show the excitement of a crowd.

 

How to Write a Video Script

Define Your Goal

Like any good campaign or content generation, it’s important to establish what you want to accomplish with your video before you get into the nuts and bolts of bringing it to life. Do you want to increase awareness for your brand? Drive inbound website traffic? Add subscribers to your channel? Increase social shares? Or do something else entirely? Establishing a singular goal at the start of the production process is key and will allow you to focus the video’s script and strategy on accomplishing it. It’s perfectly OK to have multiple goals for your YouTube channel, like increasing brand awareness and adding subscribers, but the best practice is to focus on one goal per video. 

Create a Storyboard and Write the Lines

Once you’ve established the goal for your video, it’s time to put on your creativity hat and start working on your storyboard. A storyboard is like a blueprint for your video and serves as an outline for the shoot. You’ve probably even seen one before. Storyboards look a bit like comic strips and include rough sketches of different scenes paired with short descriptive information about the scene, camera position and motion, and dialogue. They vary in the level of detail included, but your storyboard should, at the very least, include:

  • A frame for each major scene or location change.
  • Basic descriptive information about the scene (time of day, weather, mood of the characters, etc.)
  • Lines for each scene.
  • Camera direction for motion and details on if you want tight, medium, or wide shots.  

Decide on Additional Multimedia Elements

If your video is going to include graphics, title slides, or other multimedia elements, you should plan out the placement and content for those pieces in advance. These elements can be incorporated into your storyboards so the video’s content flows seamlessly. 

Determine the Length of the Video

At the same time you’re creating your storyboard, you’ll also want to decide how long your video you should be. On YouTube, videos under two minutes receive the highest levels of engagement. Your video should be just long enough to deliver the key messages that align with the goal you set in step 1. If you do create a longer video, experiment with how you present content -- the pacing, story arc, and visuals -- to keep viewers interested throughout.

Pick a Filming Location(s)

You’ve determined your goal, created a storyboard, and decided on the ideal video length needed to deliver your message. Now it’s time to find your filming locations. In the film industry, this step is called location scouting, and like every other step in this process, it’s an important part of creating a compelling video. To get started, take a look at your storyboard, and create a list of the different locations each scene requires. Depending on your video concept, you may only need one location or you may need a new location for each scene. 

Friends, coworkers, and even family can be great resources here for finding the locations you need. Keep in mind that for some locations, like businesses and other private property, you will need permission from the owner to film. To keep things simple, it’s best to find your locations through people you know -- at least for your first few productions.

It’s important to visit each location you plan on using before the shoot. On your scouting trips, make sure you’ll be able to capture the kinds of shots you want for your video. Typically, it’s better to have more space so you can adjust the camera position as needed. You should also check for any loud or ambient noise like busy roads or air conditioning units that could interfere with your audio when filming, and you should consider light and time of day. While the room might have sufficient light in the morning, you may need to bring a lighting kit in to film during the afternoon or evening.

The Ultimate Toolkit for Social & PR Branding

Create and sustain an image to attract and retain audiences.

Learn More
How to Monitor Social in 10 Minutes a Day

Use your time more wisely! Start smart social monitoring immediately.

Download Now
The Essential Guide to Internet Marketing

Learn the building blocks for successful online marketing.

Read More

 

6 Essential Tips for Shooting Quality Video

After all that prep work, it’s finally time to start filming your video. Don’t own a fancy camera or have budget to rent one? Don’t worry! Advances in smartphone cameras have made it possible to film great content with just a phone. If you are filming your video with a phone, be sure to turn it sideways and film in landscape mode. This will prevent awkward cropping or framing when you upload the video to YouTube, which natively supports the landscape format. No matter what you’re filming with, these tips can help your video to look professional and stay engaging for your viewers.

1) Use a tripod

You want viewers to focus on your story, not the shakiness of the camera. For static shots, be sure to place your camera on a tripod or another level surface.

2) Put your camera into manual mode

If you’re able to, set your camera to full manual mode. This will allow you to adjust the focus and other settings as needed to properly expose and focus your shots. 

3) Shoot from different angles and distances

For each scene, make sure you film from a few positions so you can edit between the clips. For an interview or video focused on a single individual, this may mean moving the camera from facing the scene head on to filming from a 45-degree angle. You can also try to move the camera closer and further away or zooming in and out for more variety. Cutting between different angles and distances will keep your video visually interesting and engaging for your viewers. 

4) Film more than you think you need

You can always cut out footage, but sometimes it’s not possible to go back and capture more. To make sure you have the clips you need, shoot multiple takes of each scene. To make sure you don’t miss a moment, try counting down from 5 before you start the action and before you finish recording. 

5) Try introducing motion

If you have a slider or steadicam, try including camera movement to your video. Even subtle movement from left to right or in and out can add intrigue to your clips. 

6) Use a good microphone

If you plan on having speaking in your video, be sure to use a high-quality microphone to capture the audio. There are many different microphone choices that record audio separately from the camera. There are even mics you can plug into your smartphone for better audio on the go. 

How to Edit Your Video Content

Tools

There are many options for editing tools and software. Depending on your operating system, your computer may come with free editing software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. These programs provide basic editing tools, like the ability to cut clips together, add titles, and add limited effects and color correction. There are also higher end, more expensive options such as Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premier CC, which offer an array of editing tools. YouTube even has its own online editing platform you can use to compile your clips and edit together your video. 

Video Thumbnails

Once your video is ready to upload, YouTube allows you to select the video thumbnail that will appear on your channel, in search results, and on the right-hand column. We recommend uploading your own custom thumbnail. 

Watermarks

You can also add a custom watermark to all of your videos. To do so, navigate to the branding section of the Creator Studio. The watermark serves as a custom subscribe button that viewers can click anytime when watching your videos. 

To add a watermark, go to your “Creator Studio.” Then click on “Branding” under “Channel.” Follow the instructions to upload a file.

add a watermark.png

Music & Sound Effects

Professional quality music and sound effects can often be the difference between a successful video and one that comes off as an amateur production. Fortunately, cinema quality sounds are now readily available, even if your videos don’t have Hollywood-size budgets. When selecting music for your video, it’s important to first consider the overall mood you’d like to create. Music is one of the most valuable tools for setting the tone of a video and often informs the editing style, camera movement, and on-camera action. If you’re introducing your brand to a new audience, you probably want to select music that is upbeat and energetic. The second key part to picking music is to make sure you have the necessary permissions to use the song. What you’re looking for here are songs marked as “royalty free.” This doesn’t mean the music will be free, but it does mean you only pay a flat rate to use the music and won’t have to pay additional royalties or licensing fees on top of that.

YouTube has a library of free sound effects and music to use in your videos. Some other great resources for royalty free music are Pond5, Epidemic Sound, and PremiumBeat. Both services include thousands of professionally recorded and produced songs in a multitude of genres at varying lengths and tempos. PremiumBeat and Pond5 both include a large library of sound effects to add texture and depth to your videos. Sometimes, it only takes a subtle sound effect layer in the background of a scene to elevate the production quality of your video and really pull your audience into the story.

How to Market Your YouTube Channel & Videos

Now that you’ve produced a video and optimized it for search, let’s talk about how to market your YouTube channel and videos. While ranking high in search results and having a large subscriber base are ideal, those goals can be difficult to achieve when you’re just starting out. That’s why it’s important to always spread the word about your YouTube channel and videos across other platforms. Fortunately, YouTube and other platforms make it easy to share video content. Below are some tips for how to best promote your YouTube content on other channels.

Social Media

Sharing your videos on social is an easy way to add additional insights to your video and engage with viewers. YouTube makes it incredibly simple for you and others to promote your video across other social networks. To share a video, just click the “Share” tab underneath the video. There you can select where to market the video. YouTube even provides a shortened URL to your video for convenient sharing. 

When promoting your YouTube channel or videos on your social media sites, consider the best marketing strategy. Simply sharing the video on your timeline or feed may not be the most effective option. Think of why you made the video. Maybe you created a tutorial because users were asking a lot of questions about how to use your product. In that case, it might be best to respond to those questions with a link to your video. If you created a video as part of a larger campaign or global trend, be sure to include relevant #hashtags where appropriate to ensure your video is included in the conversation.

Blog Posts and Website

Market your YouTube channel and videos on your website and blog. First, add a YouTube follow icon to your website and blog so your audience can easily find your channel. Second, embed relevant videos on your website or in blog posts. Consider creating a YouTube video to accompany a specific blog post or sharing customer video reviews or case studies on your website. Not only will this help market your YouTube channel and videos, it will also drive traffic to your website.

To add a YouTube video to your blog or website, copy the embed code under the video you want to feature. Check out our step-by-step instructions here.

embed a youtube video.png

Email

While you’re on the quest to find and attract new customers and leads, don’t forget about the ones you already have. Share your video content and channel with relevant email lists. Encourage your contacts to check out a blog post you’ve embedded a video in to increase both the video and website traffic or direct them to a relevant playlist you’ve curated. Sending an email newsletter with valuable information and content is a great way to keep your contacts engaged.

Q&A Sites

Do your videos help solve a problem or answer a question? If so, engaging with popular question and answer sites like Quora might be a great marketing technique for your business. Monitor questions and share video content users will find helpful.

Collaborate With Others

Does your company have a relationship with another company that has a great YouTube presence? Ask them to collaborate! Collaborating with others is a fun way for both channels to gain exposure to another audience. Create a video or playlist together. There are a lot of options to creatively collaborate with other brands, just make sure that their audience and goal is similar to yours. The partnership should align with your  marketing strategy. 

Engage With Viewers

Finally, be sure to engage with your viewers. Respond to comments, answer questions, ask for feedback, and thank viewers for their support. This is an easy task to let fall by the wayside so try to choose a dedicated time to check video interactions and respond to users. 

Social Media Content Calendar Template

Understand YouTube Analytics

Alright, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your YouTube channel. You’ve created interesting content, optimized it for SEO, and shared it across different platforms … now it’s time to measure your success.

Understanding YouTube Analytics can seem daunting at first. Let’s face it, interpreting a bunch of numbers and strange looking graphs can be pretty challenging. Thankfully, understanding YouTube Analytics is pretty straightforward once you know your way around.

Determine Your Goal

First things first, you can’t measure your success without determining your goal. If you’ve filmed, edited, uploaded, optimized, and shared your video and still don’t know what goal you’re trying to achieve, we have an issue. Your goal should drive your video strategy from beginning to end.

You should focus on targeting one goal per video. Some of the most common video goals are to increase brand awareness or views, clicks, or inbound links and social shares . Depending on how you use the video in your marketing material, the goal could be to increase the open rate of an email series or improve the conversion rate on a landing page. YouTube is a great platform for growing brand awareness.

As the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube allows your videos to be seen through organic search or paid advertising. Video is a great way to humanize your brand by showcasing real employees, customers, or partners. It also allows you to build credibility by publishing informational content that helps your target buyer. Promoting your videos through paid advertising versus organic search can impact the type of video you should create. If you’re planning to increase awareness organically, consider filming the history of your company, customer reviews, or product tutorials.

Key Metrics to Track

Now that we’ve talked about why determining a goal is so important, we can discuss how to effectively measure success. At first glance, YouTube analytics can be pretty overwhelming. On the flip side, it’s frustrating when you post a video and don’t receive as many views or as much engagement as you were expecting. YouTube analytics shows you how viewers found your content, how long they watched it, and how much they engaged with it. Let’s start by going over what exactly you can measure and how to find it.

First, head to youtube.com/analytics. You should be directed to an analytics dashboard that shows an overview of how your videos have been performing during the past 28 days. You can adjust the analytics timeframe by clicking on the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner. The overview report features some top-line performance metrics, engagement metrics, demographics, traffic sources, and popular content.

You can also filter your results by content, device type, geography or location, all video content or playlists, subscriber status, playback type, traffic by different YouTube products, and translations. In addition to filtering results, YouTube allows you to display your results in a variety of different charts and even an interactive map.

youtube analytics dashboard.png

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for reporting and measuring the success of a campaign, below are a few key metrics that you should pay attention to.

Watch Time and Audience Retention

Watch time reports the total number of minutes your audience has spent viewing your content on your channel as a whole and by video. This helps you see what pieces of content viewers are actually consuming instead of just clicking on and navigating away. Watch time is important because it’s one of YouTube’s ranking factors. A video with a higher watch time is more likely to rank higher in results. YouTube provides a line item report on watch time, views, average view duration, and average percentage viewed for individual videos, location, publish date, and more. A video’s average percentage viewed, or retention rate, indicates the average percentage of a video your audience watches per view. A higher percentage means there’s a higher chance that your audience will watch that video until the end. Try placing cards and end screens in videos with a higher average percentage viewed rate to improve the number of views your calls-to-action receive.


youtube watch time graph

Sample watch time line chart

youtube watch graph

Sample watch time multi-line chart

Traffic Sources

The traffic sources report shows how viewers are finding your content online. This provides valuable insight on where to best promote your YouTube content. For example, you can see if viewers are finding your content through YouTube search or Twitter. To view more in-depth traffic reporting, click on the overall traffic source category. This data can help refine your YouTube marketing strategy. Be sure to optimize your metadata based on your findings.

youtube traffic source graph

Sample traffic sources overview bar chart

youtube traffic source graph

Sample external traffic sources bar chart

Demographics

The demographics report helps you understand your audience by reporting on their age and gender. You can then break down age groups and genders by other criteria like geography. This report will help you better market to your YouTube audience and understand if your content is resonating with your established buyer personas.

youtube demographics graph

Sample demographics bar chart

Engagement Reports

Engagement reports help you learn what content is resonating with your audience. Here you can see what viewers are clicking, sharing, commenting, and promoting. You can also see how your cards and end screens are performing in your engagement reports. Cards and end screens reports help you learn what your audience is engaging with so you can optimize your calls-to-action in future videos.

Guide to Social Media Advertising

In addition to driving organic traffic to your content, there are also several paid options for promoting your video on YouTube. In this section, we’ll dive into some of the basics on how to run a YouTube advertising campaign.

The Cost of Advertising on YouTube

YouTube uses a cost per view (CPV) model, which means you only pay when someone engages with your video ad. If your ad is skipped, you aren’t charged for that view. The exact cost per click varies varies on keyword competitiveness but on average it’s around $0.06. Once you set your daily campaign budget, YouTube will display your ad until the daily budget is spent.

The Types of YouTube Ads

Video Discovery Ads

TrueView video discovery ads appear on the YouTube homepage, within search results, and as related videos on YouTube video watch pages. When a user clicks on one of these ads they will be redirected to the promoted video.

youtube homepage discovery ads.png

YouTube discovery watch ads.png

discovery ads.png

In-Stream Ads

In-stream ads refer to ads that play within a YouTube video itself. TrueView in-stream ads play before a viewer watches the video they’ve selected on YouTube. These ads can be customized with different overlay text and CTAs and viewers usually have the option to skip the ad after watching the first five seconds. In addition to the pre-roll in-stream ads that play before the video, there are also mid-roll video ads that appear midway through YouTube videos that are 10 minutes or longer.

youtube in-stream ad

For a full list of the advertising options on YouTube, visit this page.

Setting up your campaign

You can create a campaign using any video you’ve uploaded to your YouTube channel. First, go to your Google AdWords account to start the campaign setup.

Select your video by copying and pasting the YouTube URL into the Video ad box.

adwords campaign setup

Add headline and description text for when your ad shows up in search results and pick a thumbnail.

choosing a video campaign thumbnail

Select where you want to send users who click the ad. You can pick between your YouTube channel or a website.

adwords criteria

Set the daily budget for your video ad, and determine the maximum price you will bid for each view.

adwords budget

Select the location of users you want to see the ad. You can also exclude certain locations where you don’t want the ad to run.

adwords geography

Add additional targeting to your ad to further define the audience. You can target individuals by gender, age, interests, and numerous other demographic and psychographic differentiators. Link your AdWords account to your YouTube channel and click “finish” to start running your ad.

adwords demoraphics finalizing adwords campaign

Conclusion

With more than a billion active users, YouTube is not just the place for funny videos anymore. Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines. YouTube is a serious marketing platform that provides your brand with the opportunity to promote content in a truly visual way.

It’s essential to practice inbound marketing techniques when marketing your YouTube channel and videos. Create content that shares an interesting story and provides your viewers with valuable information. Market that content across different platforms, including social, email, and your company blog or website. Optimize your content by including cards and end screens with clear CTAs.

YouTube may seem overwhelming at first, but the platform makes it very easy to share and digest content. Your audience wants to learn, be entertained, and engage with your brand through video, so, be sure to follow this guide to make the most out of your YouTube marketing strategy.

Created By

  • Alicia Collins

    Content Strategy @ HubSpot