Is YouTube right for my business?
When we asked our marketing directors for their end-of-year marketing predictions in 2015, they agreed that 2016 would be the ‘year of the video’. It’s hard to argue they got it wrong. Nearly 12 months on, and 96% of B2B organisations use video in their marketing campaigns, with 73% reporting a positive ROI. For video, read YouTube. While there are a number of video hosting platforms available—notably Vimeo and Daily Motion—the user statistics are dwarfed by YouTube. With over a billion users, it is the third most visited website in the world, the second biggest search engine, and the largest video distribution platform by a clear mile.
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Although it may be tempting to read the stats, grab a camera and start filming, statistics alone are no reason for a business to jump headfirst into the world of YouTube. As with any marketing decision, the tool is simply the means, you need to be sure it is the smart choice for your business to meet its goals.
Use YouTube when…
1. You have an eCommerce platformAccording to Buffer, consumers are 85% more likely to buy online after watching a product video. For this reason alone, eCommerce businesses should be producing video material. But why YouTube specifically? The answer is, simply, numbers. YouTube is the go-to video platform for people researching products, watching reviews and getting opinions, the only way to tap into this potential audience is to be there. And it’s not just about driving emotional connection and brand loyalty, YouTube can also act as a direct sales platform. If you produce helpful videos inviting people to, for instance, check out ‘winter fashion trends’ or ‘tips for Christmas presents for mum’, you can include in-video links which drive customers directly to the relevant page on your website. Lead a cusotmer straight from a video to an effective landing page or product page, and conversions are likely to grow.
2. You have a compelling storyIt’s not just retail-loving millennials who engage with video; according to Hubspot, 75% of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly. But with 100 hours of YouTube footage uploaded every minute, it’s increasingly tough for brands and businesses to make a dent. You might look at the quality of channels by the likes of IBM or Cisco and be overawed by the production values on display. But you don’t need all that. You need to simply tell your story in an engaging, open and honest way. ‘A day in the life of…’ offers exclusivity appeal and gives viewers opportunity to get to know your business on a personal level. Case studies are super effective—videos of happy customers even more so. But only if they’re happy to be filmed.
3. You have a complex offering which needs to be simplifiedFor businesses with multiple products, technical processes, or a highly segmented customer base, YouTube videos can help ‘slice and dice’ content into manageable, bite-size chunks that are easier for the right audience to understand. A 50-page white paper, for instance, could be broken down into an eight-part video series; an extensive, multi-product FAQ page can answer common questions one at a time; text-heavy online manuals can be summarised in a series of short, episodic demos. Where YouTube helps is in playlist functionality, which can be used to compartmentalise series’ of videos to make it easier for your audience to access and share them. In the Forrester study “How Video Will Take Over the World”, Dr. James McQuivey worked out that video is worth 1.8 million words per minute. If you have an offering which takes even 1% of that to explain, video can help.
4. You want high impact with a low budget
You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to produce a video with impactful, and you certainly don’t need to splash out on expensive lighting, cameras and sound equipment. Okay, so maybe if you’re Red Bull or Microsoft you might, but for small businesses, you can produce something great with an iPhone7 and perfunctory knowledge of iMovie (there are plenty of guides on...YouTube).
Essentially, the quality of video depends entirely on the business and the audience. A rough, on-the-hoof guide can work just as well as a glossy, well-shot piece of art. Just make sure the content is relevant and useful to the end user.
Invest elsewhere if/when:
1. You don’t have a long-term strategy or success metricsAs with any new marketing tactic, businesses need to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, how this fits into their overall communication strategy, and how success will be measured. YouTube is no exception. If your aim is to build a YouTube community, increased subscriber numbers are paramount. If you want to drive people to the website, then referral traffic should be your metric. What do you want viewers to do? What is your key message? Use data to optimise your approach.
2. Your audience doesn’t use YouTubeIt might have over a billion users, but if your customer base isn’t among them, pouring resources into YouTube is a wasted venture. Find out who your customers are, find out what social media channels they use, find out whether YouTube is a channel they frequent (this is actually good marketing practice anyway). Build a customer profile. As always, the medium is the message, and if your profiling insight tells you that your customers foster connections and reside on LinkedIn, or are prolific Twitter users, or are print-loyal and low-tech, it’s going to be a one-way conversation.
3. You don’t have a strong marketing ecosystemWhereas most social media channels are all set to build relationships with customers, YouTube is comparatively one-way. Videos will build affinity, but there’s not enough opportunity to connect directly with your audience to replace any of your social media channels. Without that, a YouTube channel simply becomes a depository site for company videos instead of the buzzing hub of content it should be. Be it LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, a YouTube channel needs to be backed by a strong distribution strategy. On the flip side of that coin, YouTube videos should be driving traffic to your site,too. So if you don’t have the basics right—a well written, attractively designed website that is optimised for SEO, and a solid CRM system—you’ll simply lose customers at the point of conversion.
4. You don’t have the resourcesThe set-up time alone requires a thought-out approach—branding the page, video title optimisation, effective thumbnail images. And YouTube is far from a set-it-and-forget-it channel. To build a dedicated subscriber list, consistency is key, in terms of both quality and regularity. Uploading a few poorly made videos every six months could be more damaging than zero presence. If it’s the right strategy, you then need a solid deployment plan, time in the diary to produce winning content and the man-power to see it through.
A final thought
If you decide YouTube is right for your business, check to see if your competitors are on there too. YouTube has a habit of suggesting similar videos to your own once it’s stopped playing—great for viewers, but less than ideal for businesses who embed a product video on their website only to have their competitors video play immediately it. This can easily be avoided by amending the settings in your YouTube account.
For businesses, YouTube is video. And whether it’s product reviews, behind the scenes insights, news reports or something else, if video is the right strategy for your business, then your business has to have a YouTube channel.
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