With one billion hours of video being watched on YouTube every day and, according to Google, more than 6/10 people preferring online content over television, it is easy to see why video has often been called the winning media format of the Digital Age.

As visual and emotional creatures, humans find multi-sensory videos more persuasive and engaging than other formats. With 81% of businesses using video as a marketing tool in 2018, you are really missing out if you have turned your back on this avenue. 

As a content strategist, I have seen that the most common issue and deterrent for smaller brands and businesses often lie in the perceived skill sets and resources required for a coherent video strategy. In reality, it should be approached with a very similar mindset to any other long-term marketing effort.

Here’s how even the most modestly resourced marketing team can develop a coherent video strategy – from awareness to conversion and beyond.

Top-of-the-funnel awareness: increase your reach

At this stage, the aim is to get as many eyes on your video content as possible. Users can then be vetted, assessed and segmented for lower-stage tactics. With this in mind, we recommend that videos focused on building awareness are fun, relatable, memorable and emotive. Opt for emotion over logic for the best chance of achieving virality. 

When getting started, it’s essential to correctly prepare your videos for search. With the diversification of SERPs and the inclusion of the video tab, the value of strong Google rankings is immeasurable. The sheer volume of people searching for answers this way is impossible to overstate. Top tips include:

  • Ensure that your videos (titles and descriptions) are properly optimised with high-volume keywords and all SEO elements (e.g. video sitemaps and schema) are correctly implemented.
  • Including a link back to your domain and, where relevant, deeper landing pages. This will provide indirect long-term SEO benefits and also improve your chances of ranking.
  • On YouTube, a popular awareness tactic is to collaborate with established online influencers. In doing so, you combine the potential reach of both parties, broadening your audience and appeal. However, after this flash-in-the-pan industry’s almost surreal rise and inevitable fall, it’s essential that you work with someone relevant and professional. Don’t taint your brand by associating it with a YouTube star set on torpedoing his/her own career. Be the YouFoodz 2.0, not Fyre Festival’s spiritual successor.

As the awareness stage is almost wholly about reach, the key metric to focus on is the number of views. In YouTube Analytics, data can be sliced and diced to allow you to better understand how to tailor future content to your most valuable audience groups; discover new demographic opportunities, and learn which style and formats really engage and inspire.

Mid-funnel consideration: instilling confidence 

The middle of the funnel is where we start to separate the wheat from the chaff. Our goal here is to connect with – and prove our worth and relevance to – all those who potentially need our services and products. Exhibit your value and USPs to show viewers why they should choose you over the competition.

Brand videos and company/culture stories are an effective way to achieve this. Including talking head interviews with employees or existing loyal customers will naturally convey your human side and provide social proof to wavering viewers. Interviewing an industry expert about a topical issue, for example, will help establish your brand as a key player in your sphere, instilling confidence in your mid-funnel viewership.

As this level is about persuasion, plus earning trust and confidence, a suitable and telling metric to focus on is CTR to your landing pages. Channel subscriptions and engagement in the comment section are secondary indications of mid-funnel success as they too show people are responding to your output and wanting to find out more.

The final stage: proof and conversion

The majority of users this far down the funnel have essentially already made their decision to purchase the service or product in question; they are simply weighing up who to buy it from and when. It’s our job to lead them over the finish line.

At this point, we want to be relatively product-focused and keep things more practical than emotional. 90% of customers say that video helps them make buying decisions and that the inclusion of a product video on a landing page can increase conversion by up to 80%. This demonstrates how important video marketing has become. 

Additionally, customer reviews are useful to include at this stage of the customer journey as they still have a significant impact on conversion rates

As well as uploading relevant bottom-of-the-funnel videos to YouTube for long-tail search, make sure you embed them on your domain’s relevant landing pages. This is where customers are likely to look before pressing the ‘Buy Now’ button.

Due to the nature of assisted conversion and research, it can be difficult to assess the efficacy of content directly on conversion. However, you should still keep a topline comparison of conversions vs. videos uploaded. You can then gather more granular data in Google Analytics. For instance, how referrals from YouTube and related social media posts act when they get to your domain – particularly which goals they realise.

Maintaining your viewership: audience retention 

Retention of existing customers is a subject often ignored in sales funnel discussions. However, depending on your business model, it is arguably the most valuable tactic, costing less per conversion than new customers.

If you really make your mark, it’s possible to get your customers to do your marketing for you – an army of loyal ambassadors is the ultimate goal of retention-focused marketing and is the most sincere and appealing form of approval. However, you need to give your customer base a reason to keep coming back to your content – and keep your brand top of mind.

Video series is certainly worth considering because they not only require viewers to return for the next installment but offer cost efficiencies compared to one-off productions. Nevertheless, using YouTube to build a community – in tandem with your blog and social media strategies – is probably the most powerful approach for retention. 

Here are a few easy tactics to generate a loyal YouTube viewership:

  • Encourage user-generated content with competitions and challenges.
  • Reward discussion and conversation in your comment sections. Ask your viewers to ask you questions and leave comments.
  • Provide incentives for community engagement by giving shoutouts to popular contributors in a monthly YouTube video or/and social media posts.
  • Use customer feedback and suggestions to inform the type of video you upload and thank individuals for their recommendations.
  • Include videos (and additional content) in your member newsletter with additional insights and exclusive extras. Including the word ‘video’ in your email subject line increases open rate by 19%.
  • Share behind-the-scenes footage to show your human side and maintain transparency.
  • Organise occasional events or, if this impractical, sporadic webinars. This is an effective way to drive engagement, build loyalty and place your brand at the helm of a like-minded community.

Use Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics to illustrate returning vs. new users – this is a good way to see how well you’re retaining customers. When combined with blog readership growth, the number of bookmarks and channel subscription count, we build a pretty decent picture of how well we’re retaining customers. 

So, keep in mind…

As a small or medium-sized business, it can seem daunting to fully throw yourself into the Wild West of YouTube marketing. But it undoubtedly has the greatest potential of almost any marketing channel.

In the heavily saturated online consumer market, it’s often assumed that a high-risk approach is necessary to stand out and reach that ‘high reward’ grail. While tips may not be extensive, they’re a good starting point to minimise risk and give yourself the best chance of building an effective and stable long-term YouTube channel – without the heavy expenditure you may have expected.