YouTube Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

By James A. Martin | Posted March 16, 2015

YouTube is a powerful marketing channel for small businesses. With a YouTube video or ad you can potentially reach far more viewers than you would with a Super Bowl ad—and at a tiny fraction of the cost. Recording a Google Hangout on Air and posting it to YouTube is an effective, easy way to reach target customers through video.

I recently attended the Search Marketing Expo conference in San Jose, Calif., and learned some great YouTube marketing tips and strategies during a session called "YouTube Success Stories for Marketers." Here are some of the key takeaways from the session.

YouTube Advertising Tactics & Strategies

During his presentation, Jake Larsen, owner of Video Power Marketing, noted that advertisers paid $4 million for a 30-second spot during the recent Super Bowl. The football playoff drew an average of 114.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in U.S. TV history, according to Nielsen.

By comparison, YouTube has approximately 1 billion users and more than 4 billion views daily. "That's like 40 Super Bowls happening every day on YouTube," Larsen pointed out.

With such a large potential pool of viewers, then, the return on investment (ROI) for advertising on YouTube can be substantial, Larsen said. "YouTube ads are one of best ways to get your message out there—at a low cost—to specific types of people," he said.

YouTube tips for small business marketing

For example, many businesses place a hyperlink to their website at the end of a YouTube ad or video. Visitors who go to a brand's site after viewing its YouTube video or ad are twice as likely to convert into customers as those who arrive from other sites, he said. Also, those visitors are likely to "spend more money, more often" with a brand after watching its YouTube spot.

YouTube marketing is also a more consistent way to reach targeted audiences. Google constantly changes its search engine algorithms, and "one small change" can ruin your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, Larsen noted. Meanwhile, pay per click (PPC) campaigns, such as Google AdWords, are "competitive and expensive," and they don't always deliver the targeted, motivated traffic marketers seek.

TrueView, Google's video advertising platform, features a brand's promotional spot in display ads or "in-stream" ads—the promotional spots that play at the beginning of a video, which you can skip after about five seconds.

Larsen said that you can target TrueView ads to desired demographics, down to viewer interests and zip codes, and that you can even place your ad at the beginning of a competitor's video. "This is one of my favorite places to target an ad," he added.

Larsen also cited two more advantages to video marketing:

1.      Videos are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results pages than other content

2.      Video has a 43 times higher click-through rate (CTR) than text-based content

Larsen said YouTube's cost-per-view (CPV) structure makes it possible to get "almost free targeted traffic" from your ad. Using YouTube's video ads, which are managed and tracked as part of AdWords, advertisers can pay per view, rather than, say, per click.

You only pay the maximum CPV bid if a viewer watches 30 seconds or more of your ad, and you pay nothing when viewers don't initiate the video or stop watching before the 30-second mark. Because many people don't watch beyond 30 seconds, this amounts to virtually free exposure for your brand on YouTube.

The trick, though, is to make sure your ad makes a strong impression immediately. "You need to grab their attention within five seconds," Larsen said, "and get them to click to your website before the 30-second mark."

In a separate presentation during the session, Hugh Burnham, Web marketing manager for HP's Snapfish division, added that viewership of YouTube ads often drops off significantly after 12 seconds.

Snapfish made an 8-second in-stream spot for a Black Friday promotion that offered free shipping and 40 percent off custom greeting cards. Because of the ad's brevity and aggressive promotion, its CPV costs were 30 percent less than an earlier, longer YouTube video ad. More than 4.5 million people saw the Black Friday spot three or more times over its two-day run. The ad received a total of 15 million views, 34 million impressions, and 270,000 clicks, Burnham said.

Creating YouTube Videos from Google Hangouts on Air

Advertising can still be too costly for some small businesses. Fortunately, there are much less expensive ways to create YouTube videos. Case in point: Google Hangouts on Air.

"Creating a YouTube video can be intimidating for many businesses," especially small ones, said Grant Tilus, inbound marketing manager at Collegis Education. "Budgets are tight, and you're not a trained videographer. That's why you should try Google Hangouts on Air."

Google Hangouts on Air lets businesses connect with customers and prospects through real-time video interactions and tutorials. You can record the live video, optimize it with keywords in the title and description, and post it for perpetual playback on YouTube. (You can download or view Tilus' presentation on Slideshare.)

Hangout Air's Lower Third feature

Hangout Air's Lower Third feature lets you add a speaker's name and company onscreen.

Though Google Hangouts on Air has been around for three years, not that many brands use it, with some noteworthy exceptions (such as Best Buy and GoDaddy), Tilus said. And yet, these videos are easy and inexpensive to produce and can help you attract targeted traffic.

With planning your Google Hangouts on Air, "think about where you have authority, and why people should listen to you," Tilus explained. "Look at what others are doing with this format. Ask yourself, 'What are you an expert in? How can you differentiate yourself?'"

Focus on providing "real value," Tilus added. "These videos aren't ads. They should educate, perform, and persuade. Think of the needs of your audience first, and your business second."

Successful Google Hangouts on Air begin by stating the "who, what, when, where, and why," followed by a worthwhile discussion of the topic and concluding with specific takeaways," Tilus said. As with any video, "length matters," he added. "A video of 1 to 2 minutes won't get you much engagement. Otherwise, your video should only be as long as it needs to be."

Other tips Tilus shared for successful Google Hangouts on Air:

  • Pick a host who is good on camera and will represent your company well
  • Record the video against a clean, well-lighted background
  • Showcase your brand by using Hangout's Lower Third feature, which keeps the speaker's name and company name on screen throughout the video. Use other tools where appropriate, such as screen-sharing and showcasing hyperlinks.
  • Research the best keywords in advance to use in your Hangout title and description.

James A. Martin is a content marketer and SEO consultant and frequent contributor to Small Business Computing.

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