In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Clum Creative is featured as one of the Top Video Production Companies in Cleveland. Check out their profile here.

YouTube is a massive platform that empowers thousands of creators to make revenue and share their content with the world. As a business, finding a vein of new traffic and viewers coming through YouTube can mean incredible things for your brand and your revenue. Finding success on YouTube, however is rare. Luckily, there are plenty of companies who have crossed this threshold before you and it’s entirely possible to grow with the right strategies.

As the partner of several content creators I’ve managed to develop a list of best practices for marketing on Youtube. Here are some of the most vital.

Identify a Community

It’s important to understand that YouTube is divided into a multitude of unique niche content communities. Unless the content you’re creating is something truly groundbreaking you will likely need to insert yourself into an existing community in order to attract an audience. Examples of these communities are around formats, topics, or specific hobbies such as sports, books, music genres, hair & makeup, video games, motivation & advice, cooking, and many more.

Finding success on YouTube comes down to finding a way to connect your existing product or service with an overlapping content community. For example, if you are a e-commerce website for selling speciality cooking spices and herbs, creating content in the cooking tutorial niche could be a profitable avenue for you.

Once you determine what that niche might be you must find an intelligent way to tap into this existing audience. If you come to the conclusion there is not a relevant community for your idea you should consider finding another line of marketing that is more profitable, such as adwords, SEO, or another method. Not every business is designed or destined to have YouTube success.

Within an existing YouTube Community you will identify influencers and videos that are already popular in the space. Figure out why people are watching them and pay close attention to the topics they do and don’t cover. Not only will this provide you with ideas on how to differentiate yourself but it will give you a good reference point for the next phase.

Release 20+ Pilot Tests

Now that you have discovered a vein to draw an audience from you will have to test and develop a working format. You can start by creating an influx of videos targeted towards the community you’re trying to join. For example, if you decide to make video game reviews, you should upload 20-30 videos relevant to that community. Try out different themes and topics then monitor the response. In this case, a gaming channel might test videos covering children’s games, PC games, RPGs, and so on. The purpose of creating such a large amount of content is to find out how people react to different types of videos.

Testing doesn’t end with the topics being covered. Here’s a handful of things to test and try throughout your pilot releases:

  • Production Style
  • Thumbnail
  • Title
  • Topic
  • On-camera talent
  • Length

These pilot tests should take place over a period of time that makes sense for your particular niche. Upload frequency is another metric you can test in order to perfect your YouTube strategy over time. Whether you upload one video a day or one a week, the point is to learn which approach works for your viewers and what doesn’t. YouTube is all about timing and momentum. You never know what video is going to get picked up by the algorithm. Pick a community, try things, see what works best, and then go from there.

Respond to Demand

Use traffic and engagement as your compass. The sooner you learn what your audience wants to see the sooner you will be able to leverage that and make a place inside your niche. If you notice more people are commenting on a video than usual, ask yourself why. Maybe it featured the most popular game of the year or perhaps the video had a really great thumbnail. Observe the behavior of your audience and respond to consumer demand.

Another critical component of building traffic is the ongoing relationship with your viewers. If people are commenting on your videos then you should make time to engage them. Create a dialogue in order to learn more about what people want. Get in touch with early viewers to ask them why they watched or what they would like to see more of in the future. If people are saying they liked a particular video, try creating 2 or 3 more that are similar in nature.

Feedback and traffic will provide you with plenty of indicators on how to move forward. If the gaming channel in our previous example discovers a surge in traffic when covering newly released games, it’s a logical assumption that such content should become a primary focus. React to consumer demand and you will grow an audience of happy viewers.

Watch Time Graph

Optimize Videos for Watch Time

YouTube wants people to spend more time watching videos on their platform. In fact, the site optimizes search and discovery for videos that increase watch time on the platform. Watch time can be defined as the total amount of time viewers are watching your videos. Creating high retention videos will ultimately improve your total watch time. Despite the popular meme suggesting audiences have short attention spans, longer videos have been found to outperform shorter ones. People will tune in longer if you keep them interested enough.

Experiment with videos that are around 10 minutes or more. Produce in a way that compels viewers to keep watching- if the content is relevant enough they will. If you’re working from a script try to write in a style that gets directly into the topic and avoids using lengthy intros. If you’re going to expound on a topic, be sure to keep it moving visually with editing effects.

Analytics will allow you to track which videos are grabbing the attention of viewers. Keeping an eye on this gives you the secret on how to be viewed more and how to be viewed less. Remember that watch times are arguably more important than comments or likes. If you are able to accumulate more watch time YouTube will prioritize your videos in the algorithm.

Keyword Search

Aside from being the most popular video site on the web, YouTube is also home to the second most popular search engine. Millions of people are using the platform to search for videos including the ones who will likely fit into your target audience. If you can identify the keywords they will be using to find your videos you can increase the likelihood that your video will appear at the top of their search results. Optimizing your videos around these keywords will result in more views, comments, likes, and subscribers.

Create a list of potential keywords to include in titles, descriptions, tags, and your script.

There are a number of ways to find effective keywords for your videos. The easiest method is taking search suggestions from YouTube’s Autocomplete feature. If you wanted to create a video related to “gaming tips and tricks” you would simply type this into the search bar. The search suggestions that populate underneath are the most popular keyword searches related to the phrase you typed. Not only will this provide you with excellent keywords, it can also be a great source of ideas for video topics you have not yet covered on your channel.

Try using a site such as Keyword Tool to cover a wider spread of possible search terms. This tool will allow you to automatically generate hundreds of variations of your keyword.  

An additional method for finding useful keywords is studying the videos of your competitors. Go to the channel of a bigger YouTuber in your niche and sort their videos by most popular. Examine what keywords these videos contain in their titles and descriptions. There are also ways to view your competitors tags by using a chrome extension such as TubeBuddy. Doing this with popular videos will supply you with keywords that are proven to draw traffic.

There is plenty more to cover regarding the use keywords on YouTube. Do your best to research what works and understand this process will be an ongoing part of your strategy.

Promote Your Videos

One of the more proactive steps in this process is finding ways to drive traffic directly to your videos. You can work to do this organically or experiment with paid advertising services. Both of these methods are important and what works for one YouTuber may not for another.

One of the best ways to promote your content for free is finding platforms that will allow you to link to your videos. Sites like Quora, Reddit, or blogs that are relevant to your audience are great for getting eyes on your channel. However, you will need to get creative on how you approach this. If you try to spam your videos you can easily get yourself banned. Every site has different guidelines but the goal is to create high-quality posts on these sites and insert a link to a relevant video. Using this strategy should attract high-retention viewers who already have an established interest in the topic your video is covering.

Other tactics for attracting organic viewership include inserting a video link into your email signature or embedding it on your website. One of my favorite ways to get traffic on YouTube is through the creation of playlists. Identify 4-6 of your videos that have a common theme and group them together on your channel. Playlists automatically play every video inside the collection making it a simple hack to acquire thousands of extra monthly views.

As previously stated, paid advertising can also play a major role in your strategy. If you have a budget you can pay to run ad campaigns for your YouTube videos through AdWords. The service allows you to place ads before or alongside videos in order to drive views and subscribers to your channel. Once you create your ad you can then set a budget and target your desired audience. Targeting can be based on demographic, location, language, and interests. You can even limit your ads to viewers who are subscribed to certain types of YouTube channels. Attention paid to video ads on YouTube is 1.8x higher than on other social media platforms making it a valuable resource for marketing your channel.

YouTube Search Example

Be Patient

At first glance this tip could seem like a feel good statement to encourage the slowly growing creator. However, the fact is that rushing the growth of your channel could very well impede your progress. If you’re coming across as inauthentic or self-promotional, there’s a chance it will turn off the very people you’re trying to create a connection with.

Build a presence on YouTube before you try to push your third party website too heavily. YouTube wants you to keep people watching on their platform and viewers want valuable content that doesn’t just seem like a sales pitch. You can always focus on promoting a product or selling merchandise down the road. Establish your content on YouTube then drive them to your site once you have hit your critical mass within that community.

Set a goal for your channel and determine what growth strategies are within your means. Whether you’re launching an ad campaign or using guerilla marketing, the best way to get eyes on your channel will be to create good content people actually want to see.

Mike Clum Headshot
Mike Clum

Mike Clum is the CEO of Clum Creative, a video production company serving marketing departments and entrepreneurs across the US. Clum also produces the Teddy Baldassarre YouTube show which is one of the leading online media outlets in the watch industry.