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YouTube MARKETING POWER
How to Use Video to Find More Prospects, Launch Your Products, and Reach a Massive Audience
By JASON G. MILES
McGraw-Hill EducationCopyright © 2014 Jason G. Miles
All rights reserved.
YouTube Marketing Power
On April 23, 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim uploaded the first video onto their new video-sharing website—YouTube.com. The video was a brief clip titled Me at the Zoo. The goal of the new site was to make video sharing easy and to allow anyone to upload a video and share it with the world. To say they succeeded is an understatement.
The three former PayPal employees had been laboring away for months at their small office above Amici's Pizzeria on East Third Avenue in San Mateo, California. San Mateo is just south of San Francisco in the famed Silicon Valley. By May 2005, they were ready to offer the public a beta test of their new site. Then they officially opened the doors to all visitors in November of that year.
The site took off very quickly. It took the YouTube team just 12 months to scale from 50,000 monthly users to 17 million. That was the fastest growth rate of any website in the history of the Internet, and it has been eclipsed only by Pinterest, which did it in 9 months.
By 2006, more than 65,000 videos were being added daily to the site, and in October of that year, Google announced that it had purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock. Just 19 months after uploading Me at the Zoo, the three founding partners joined Silicon Valley royalty as newly minted megamillionaires.
In November 2006, Salman Khan, a hedge fund analyst, set up a YouTube account to begin helping his cousins with their homework. He thought if he uploaded videos that they could use as a supplement to their homework, it might help them. Today the Khan Academy channel has over a million subscribers and has had over 270 million video views. The more than 2,200 videos on Salman's list teach everything from basic arithmetic to science. Bill Gates has said about the Khan Academy, "You've just got a glimpse of the future of education."
In January 2007, a young Canadian mom uploaded a video of her son singing in a local talent competition. Her 12-year-old son sang Ne-Yo's "So Sick." His name was Justin Bieber. YouTube allowed him to be discovered and helped launch his career. Two years later, his first album went platinum. Today, the official Justin Bieber YouTube channel has over 4.7 million subscribers and has had over 3.7 billion video views.
In 2010, YouTube gained additional recognition after it was reported that the site was receiving more than 2 billion video views a day. That number was estimated to be roughly twice the number achieved by all three major U.S. television networks combined. YouTube was bigger than television.
In 2011, YouTube reported that it had more than 1 trillion total video views. That is approximately 140 video views for every person on earth. The platform has become the number one video-hosting site online, the number two search engine behind Google, and one of the top social networking sites.
The popularity of the site has never declined. Eight years after launching, the company reached an incredible milestone—1 billion visitors a month come to the site and enjoy a staggering 4 billion hours of video.
Visitors watch YouTube videos locally in 1 of 53 countries and in 61 languages. As much as 70 percent of YouTube's traffic comes from outside the United States. The Wall Street Journal has reported that in 2012 the website generated an estimated $4 billion in revenue.
A New Marketing Option
From the beginning, entrepreneurial types saw the potential of YouTube for business. Some of those early adopters were large corporations, some were small businesses and entrepreneurs, and some were just creative video makers who saw an opportunity. This latter group realized they could monetize the traffic their videos would generate and created small video publishing businesses around different niche topics.
The early benefits of YouTube for business were obvious: the site offered a video-hosting service, a social network, and a search engine function, all in one. This level of utility, offered for free, caused a lot of speculation about whether the YouTube business model was sustainable. But YouTube's founders had learned the lessons first pioneered by Google—to give away real value in exchange for massive levels of user adoption that they would later monetize through advertising. However, once Google bought YouTube in 2006, fears about the company's sustainability faded.
In May 2007, YouTube debuted its Partner Program, which allowed users to generate revenue based on the AdSense advertising model. The concept was simple: upload a video, get lots of views, and earn some respectable money.
A Challenge for Businesses
Because YouTube has been incredibly well embraced by consumers, you would think that businesses large and small would have joined the party and figured out how to position themselves well on YouTube to grow their businesses. Oddly enough, by 2010, only 50 percent of the Fortune Global 100 brands had created a YouTube channel. By 2012 that number had jumped to 79 percent, according to research firm Burson-Marsteller. But many businesses still struggle to overcome the basic challenges of successful YouTube marketing. Although it's difficult to determine exactly what is holding so many businesses back, there are seven common reasons I believe are contributing to the failure to launch:
1. A lack of creative talent to produce engaging videos
2. A lack of enthusiasm for the format and a fear of being on camera
3. Internal bureaucracy and corporate friction that make it impossible to get interesting video content published
4. A fear of taking risks, which produces a bland, uninspired style of video and fails to attract any attention, serving as a self-fulfilling negative feedback loop
5. A fundamental misunderstanding of the site's purpose (many business owners believe it's either simply a video-hosting site or not a good match for their marketing efforts)
6. Failure to clarify a marketing strategy that will work on the YouTube platform
7. An inability to embrace new online video standards and allow videos to be made with lower production values but higher engagement values
Our Journey on YouTube
We started our small business in February 2008 on our kitchen table. We began as an eBay store, selling custom doll clothes at auction. It was a humble beginning. My wife's first custom outfit sold for $39, and we were hooked. Our goal was to do everything we could to improve our auction results.
When we were just starting out, we didn't understand all the potential that YouTube held for our business, but we did want a video-hosting tool so we could make simple videos to promote our new products. Our small business was fairly simple, and we knew videos could help us get it off the ground. My wife would make new designs, and we'd auction them on eBay. As part of the auction listing format, if you know a little HTML, you can embed a video from YouTube that people can play right in the eBay listing. That seemed like a fairly good way to create a competitive advantage and get people to engage with our products. So we made our first video in August 2008, just in time for the launch of our fall line.
We soon realized that YouTube was more than a video-hosting site. People started to comment on and like our videos on YouTube. We had assumed people would just watch them on eBay in the product listing—that YouTube was far too vast for anyone to notice our odd little doll-related videos. But we were wrong. We began to discover that there was a large community of 13-year-old girls on YouTube who still loved American Girl dolls—the type of customer my wife designed her clothes for. They would comment on, like, and share our videos.
We had discovered the social side of YouTube. It offered a social networking element that allowed us to engage with prospects in an exciting way. This level of engagement beyond eBay was incredibly energizing for us. It made us realize that we could cultivate a social following online that would support our eBay sales.
We started to brainstorm ways we could engage with our newfound friends on YouTube. We discovered that contests worked incredibly well for our audience (we'll cover how to run contests later). Our contests are very simple. We ask people to design a doll outfit and make a video about it, and we pick a winner based on her design skills. For the prize, we make the outfit and send it to the winner for free. We've run this type of contest every year for five years. In our most successful contest, we received over 2,400 video entries and over 19,000 video views.
Today, we have more than 10,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel and more than 1.8 million video views. YouTube is consistently one of the top sources of traffic to our e-commerce site, http://www.liberty janepatterns.com.
Our most successful video to date, a simple how-to tutorial, has over 50,000 video views. We've published over 250 videos in the last five years. Most have just a few thousand views. A few have over 50,000 views. One has over 100,000 views. But all of them are working hard for us by positioning us with our ideal prospects.
But our videos aren't just watched frequently; they also accumulate responses from viewers. In our video category, "Howto & Style," we created 6 of the top 50 most-responded-to videos of all time, which is an incredible result. You can see those stats on the third-party analysis site VidStatsX at http://vidstatsx.com/most-responded-how-to-style -videos-all-time. Just look for our "spokesgirl" Liberty. You'll see that there isn't anyone else in our category who has this type of success.
We've taken the lessons learned on YouTube and leveraged them on other social platforms, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. We're proud of what we've accomplished over the last five years with our YouTube channel. But our efforts are a tiny success story compared with the stories of many others who have achieved astounding success on the platform. We'll share their stories throughout this book.
Our Goals on YouTube
You might be wondering what our marketing plan for YouTube looks like. Let me outline the basic elements right up front and then unpack these concepts over the course of this book. Our original marketing strategy included six steps and expanded to these eight:
1. We began our work by simply creating videos that we could use in our eBay listings. This strategy was aimed at giving us a competitive edge on eBay. People would see one of our listings, skim it briefly, and then notice a video embedded. The video was simply more product photography set to music. It also allowed the eBay shoppers to see our YouTube channel name and connect with us outside eBay.
2. When we realized there was an eager audience on YouTube ready to watch our videos, we began making videos for them, asking them to comment on and like our videos as well as subscribe to our channel.
3. We created design contests that engaged our community. We asked viewers to create a video as their method of responding to the contest, and we promised to give them a terrific prize.
4. We began leveraging YouTube's "Call-to-Action overlay" feature on our videos to help drive traffic to our e-commerce site and brand ourselves more strongly on YouTube.
5. We learned to use YouTube's "Promoted Videos" feature to gain viewers and subscribers. We run these specifically when we have a big contest under way.
6. We began strategically embedding videos in our sales pages on our website, http://www.libertyjaneclothing.
7. We discovered that people love how-to and tutorial videos and began making them for our audience.
8. We learned to use the YouTube Partner Program to earn additional income from the advertising that runs on our videos. Although this isn't our primary objective, it does provide a small ongoing stream of income that helps grow our business.
You might be thinking that none of these steps sound very difficult or overly clever, and you're right. They are not rocket science. The marketing tactics we use on YouTube are designed to give our customers a good video-watching experience, bond them to our brand, and set ourselves apart from the competition. None of that takes tricks or gimmicks or secret tactics. It simply takes a consistent and determined approach.
Finding Your Way to Business Benefits
There are countless YouTube success stories in every possible industry. The real question is: Are you going to be one of them? You probably fall into one of these three categories:
1. You've never tried YouTube, and you're skeptical, but you're looking for another marketing channel and are willing to give it a try.
2. You tried YouTube and didn't seem to find any success. Maybe you have a channel that is languishing with a handful of subscribers and no social engagement, and you suffer from a lack of dedication to creating new videos. There are literally millions of small businesses in this category.
3. You're on YouTube and consider it a successful marketing channel, but you want to find more success and discover new marketing techniques.
Finding your way toward a successful YouTube marketing strategy starts with the realization that there are barriers and obstacles that you need to overcome. When you do, you'll realize a set of business benefits that are incredibly potent. In the next chapter, we'll dive deeply into the business benefits of YouTube, but let me briefly mention them now. A successful YouTube marketing strategy will result in the following business benefits:
1. Traffic to your website. Effective video marketing allows you to drive traffic to your primary e-commerce site. This happens through the links placed in your video descriptions and on your channel page. Once viewers are on your website, you can sell your products, sign people up for your newsletter, or get them to jump into your other social media platforms to discover more about your brand.
2. Bonding opportunities with prospects. When you create effective videos that meet your target market's needs, you position yourself to truly bond with new prospects. Your brand becomes memorable in a way much more powerfully than via print. People will bond with your brand and appreciate that you've made a video that will help them, make them laugh, or educate them about a topic.
3. A product launch resource. When you create videos in conjunction with a new product, you give your prospects and customers another way to experience your new product or service. The video might explain the product in a way that a print piece or simple product description never could.
4. Search engine assets. When you make a video, you benefit from exposure on the top two search engines online. First, Google indexes YouTube videos and displays them prominently when people search for your topic or keyword. YouTube itself is the second leading search engine behind Google. People go to YouTube and search for a topic. Your video could be just the thing they are looking for, and they'll become exposed to you and your brand.
5. A social media platform. YouTube is a social media platform. It is commonly left off the lists of top social media sites, but it is a powerful platform. There is no doubt that on YouTube, people subscribe, like, and comment. You can engage with these people and build real rapport and friendship.
6. A video-hosting service. Before YouTube, if you wanted to have videos hosted online, you'd have to pay for that privilege. YouTube offers it for free. You can host videos on YouTube, then embed them on your website and many other sites, such as eBay.
7. An advertising channel. YouTube offers several ways to advertise to find new customers. And the beautiful part is that it is incredibly cost-effective. It's a little-known secret that advertising on YouTube is incredibly inexpensive, because the site's advertising platform is not as popular as Facebook or Google AdWords. In fact, in Part 5 of the book, I'll show you how to get ad traffic from YouTube for free.
Excerpted from YouTube MARKETING POWER by JASON G. MILES. Copyright © 2014 Jason G. Miles. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education.
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