Over the past year, YouTube has dialed up its efforts to help marketers with new features, tutorials, "howcasts," and other useful goodies. Jeff Martin, TouchStorm's Director of Search Marketing, joined the panel at SMX West 2011 for the session, "YouTube Tools & Techniques for Success." Jeff shared in his presentation what he considers to be the best of these power tools for high visibility and engagement, in both in YouTube and in Google Universal Search.
Jeff has extensive background in YouTube marketing having worked both as a successful YouTube Partner with Howdini (see below) as well as directly on several large YouTube marketing campaigns. As such, his tips are invaluable, AND - quite detailed.
So, here is a table of contents so that you can skip to the sections that interest you most:
- YouTube Marketing Strategies - Planning For Success
- Jeff's YouTube Marketing Tactics/Tips/Techniques
- YouTube Tools and Tactics To Avoid
- 3rd Party YouTube Tools
- YouTube Social Video Marketing Tips
Jeff featured HowdiniGuru's YouTube channel for his client case study. As the name suggests, the HowdiniGuru YouTube channel is a hub of how-to videos from experts in their respective fields. Below are some graphics from Jeff's presentation featuring examples of HowdinGuru applies these YouTube tools and tactics.
YouTube Marketing Strategies - Planning For Success
Start with quality video content
The Howdini channel has the luxury of a budget that allows for exceptionally well-produced videos comparative to the quality of television shows. Their experts who come across naturally on camera, the technical quality is exceptional, and they've appeared to master the "how-to" content style.
Now most YouTube professionals won't have all of these things at their own disposal, but Jeff says you should still make the content of your videos your #1 priority.
"If you've got crappy video content, there is not enough holy water nor big enough crucifix to get the demon out of it period… the users are in charge." Says Jeff.
Plan for a large video library
According to Jeff's client experiences, having more videos in your YouTube channel beget more views and search visibility. The Howdini YouTube channel has close to 600 videos, with 8 videos topping a million views and their most trafficked video reaching nearly 6 million views. Some search results on YouTube will pull up multiples of their own videos in the top 1-4 results (do a YouTube search for "birthday cake" and "kitchen design ideas”); and more specific keyword searches pulls up clusters of their own videos right at the tops of the Google's Universal organic results.
Jeff's YouTube Marketing Tactics/Tips/Techniques
1) Create YouTube Annotations + Links
Have a "subscribe" and "next video" annotation links
Annotations can be areas of text or hotspots that you can create after you upload a video. So you can display simple text or create these hot little clickable elements.
One of Jeff's recommendations is to have a "subscribe" hot link as an annotation in your YouTube video. "If someone wants to subscribe to my channel I put in a hot link right in front of them in the player, and also to the right hand side upper corner." Said Jeff.
Jeff also recommends including an annotation with a hotlink to whatever subsequent video you think would be good to follow with for your audience. "I'm linking to the next video and I have a place here if they want to, so I can guide them and basically get them engaged with more of my content and watch more of it." He said.
In the example above, you can see the landing page URL that appears as part of the actual video content, and at the end of the video timeline. "What I like to do in this case is do a 'pause video' with annotations; so you can pause the actual video so it gives your user a little bit of time to think about the action that they want to take. If you have a video and your landing page is only on there for 2 or 3 seconds, you can pause and stretch it out to 5 or 6 seconds. Give your viewers a little bit of time to consider what it is that they want to do, and hopefully get them to take the action that you want them to.”
2) Use YouTube Promoted Video Ad Overlays
Here are some of the specific reasons Jeff says you should use YouTube's call-to-action overlays:
- You can promote the other videos in your library
- It's the only way to drive viewers from within the video directly to your site
- No initial approval process from YouTube; you get it running almost instantaneously
- No cost to you!
Getting started with ad overlays is pretty simple and familiar: First you enter a video into the Promoted Video program, which opens up the option to you on the video edit screen.
The YouTube overlay ad format is similar as AdWords text ads – in that you get a headline 25 characters, 2 lines 35 characters each and a company URL. There are a couple additional features you get:
- You can use a 56x56 image (that you host)
- You can feature tracking/shortened URLs (example: bit.ly)
3) Post Video Responses
Jeff encourages people to post video responses – whether they're submitted by others, or you're submitting them to others own videos on their YouTube channels. "Video responses are a great for turning out more content and getting that content in front of viewers, thus giving your YouTube videos and channel greater exposure. Users can respond with their own videos which are good for engagement and serve as a signal to YouTube." Says Jeff.
YouTube Video responses have limitations:
- A video may only serve as a response to another video, "so no uploading video and displaying 200 different ones. YouTube's keen to that already." Says Jeff
- Only the last 2 video responses will actually appear in your main video page. So if you try to put a third one here or you approve a user generated content, it's going to knock out the one in the bottom right, so you can only have two here at any one time.
- You can only use the last 100 videos that you've posted. "Likely that's not a problem for most people." Says Jeff.
Jeff also encourages requesting video responses to your own videos. "You can either put it in your video when you produce it, or you can do it after the fact." Says Jeff.
4) Create YouTube Series Playlists
A playlist in YouTube is defined as 2 or more videos that you aggregate, with a unique URL to send people to. Jeff said that playlists themselves are great for getting your video content in the top section of YouTube video pages, which is either labeled "Related videos" or "suggestions." This allows you to use more popular videos in your playlist to drive views to your newer, less popular content. Playlists can also appear inside search results sometimes (although those results are sporadic.)
Jeff explained that to set this up, you need to use what's called the series playlist option, which inside your "edit video" page.
5) Leverage YouTube Closed Captions
Use natural language over modest (not-forced) keyword optimization
YouTube captions are a text translation that appears with the video and syncs on playback. Jeff explained that some of the benefits of captions include search visibility (being indexed by both YouTube and Google); and it can create international appeal when translated. (YouTube currently supports 140 languages)
Two recommendations on YouTube captions from Jeff:
- Don't force optimization into the captions. They'll appear unprofessional when what is spoken isn't matching the text on the screen
- Draft your scripts beforehand with your keywords in mind for natural optimization
6) Stay Active - YouTube Activity Feeds
YouTube's activity feed is the only tool that allows you to mass feed with both your friends and subscribers simultaneously. Your activities feed into the YouTube home pages of your subscribers and friends.
Jeff explained some specific actions you can do with your own YouTube activity feed:
- You can insert a custom message (called a "bulletin”) with a video – where you can attach a video and drop it into the feed at anytime that you want to. "For example: If you're reading content, like Easter's around the corner so if you had any sort of content from last year, I don't have to re-upload anything, I can simply create a bulletin, drop a video in and put it back into my feed." Said Jeff.
- If you upload like, comment, favorite or subscribe to another channel, it can go directly into your feed.
YouTube Tools and Tactics To Avoid:
"Video is obviously a new frontier and there's a lot of tools that are emerging and some of them can carry somewhat I call frontier-like risks attached to them. And if you're using them but you don't have a strategy behind them, they can wind up hurting you." Said Jeff.
With that in mind, here are some things that Jeff says you will likely want to avoid.
- Features that try to simulate video watching just to inflate your views or the automated liking.
- "Disliking" by using multiple accounts or something that flags third party video that rank about you just to get them removed. "That's just plain dirty – please, just don't do it.”
- Spam comments or auto vote your comment up. "That does zero for your site or your video. "
- Spamming users inbox who have no interest in your content and if you have no interest in creating a relationship with.
3rd Party YouTube Tools – "Exercise Great Caution"
Jeff also said to be especially cautious with any 3rd party tools for building YouTube views to your videos and channel. "These vendors will say their tools claim that they don't violate YouTube's Terms of Service, and that they send real users to your site. But they don't tell you where these visitors come from. " He said.
Even if they do have examples of viewer increases, Jeff said you need to seriously look into the promises that the vendors are making, and be careful about the quality of traffic – likely it will be untargeted traffic or empty views. "You didn't get anything out of it other than you got the view count number to go up one notch. But you didn't get any engagement out of it." Explained Jeff.
YouTube Social Video Marketing Tips
Jeff offered these final presentation tips for smart-and-sensible YouTube social engagement:
- Find useful relevant popular videos that you can comment and respond to and actually add some value.
- Find engaged users with whom you might actually create a relationship. "It might turn into influences for you, just like on Facebook and Twitter." Said Jeff. "This also helps you find related channels that you can cross promote with – partners will tell you that is critical now to find somebody that you can partner with that is already in the spaces that you want to get in.
- Use YouTube's Tools and any 3rd party tools for keeping track of your YouTube visibility and engagement levels.
About YouTube Video SEO Expert, Jeff Martin
Jeff Martinis the Associate Director of Search Marketing TouchStorm, managing search marketing and video optimization and distribution strategies for several name brands. His consulting client list includes: American Airlines, Sony, Experian, Zales, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and Travelocity. He has also been featured in Forbes, Wired, Internet Retailer, Revenue Magazine and The Age. He also served as a subject matter expert in the Lane's Collectibles v. Google case in the field of fraud around paid search advertising.
Jeff is also on the board of directors for the Dallas-Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association. You can follow Jeff here - Twitter.com/Jeff_Martin.
If you would like to see Jeff Martin's SMX West 2011 Presentation, "New Tools & Techniques for YouTube Success," here's what you can do: Visit the Touchstorm website at http://touchstorm.com/smxwest2011, fill out the form, and they'll email you the webinar information as soon as it's scheduled.
Some images ©2011 Touchstorm, LLC. A Diginary Holdings Company