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An icon of a YouTube video player with icons of hearts and "Likes" floating around the video in a heart-like shape. This is the type of engagement most marketers dream their YouTube video marketing strategy will generate.

Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing

Samantha Scott

Apr 6, 2024

Gone are the days of yesteryear when it comes to the behemoth that YouTube has become. From its humble beginnings — with a vlogger landscape that was like the Wild West, cat videos reigning supreme, and Charlie the Unicorn — YouTube has grown into a landscape quite unlike any other video platform and shows no signs of slowing down. Today, the social channel sees a staggering 500 hours of video uploaded every minute! 

So just how do you break into YouTube’s viewership for your marketing needs? 

Table of Contents

Why Do You Need a YouTube Marketing Strategy?

Look, we get it. Video making and video marketing are time-consuming and difficult to get right when you have limited resources. So you’re probably asking yourself “is YouTube good for marketing?” Simply put: yes.

The proof is in the numbers: views and reach

  • YouTube is the world's 2nd most visited website (Hootsuite)
  • YouTube pays $18 per 1,000 ad views on average (Omnicore Agency)
  • 70% of viewers bought from a brand after seeing it on YouTube (Hootsuite)

You could also invest your time in YouTube ads instead of spending energy on building your channel if that fits better with your budget and current needs.

One of the biggest challenges and conundrums marketers are faced with when using YouTube is how to entice users off the platform and turn those views into website visits and sales. So, you do need to be realistic about that factor when you start thinking about YouTube marketing. Understand that you’re making an investment in creating content that people watch and enjoy within the YouTube platform. The KPIs you establish need to match so you can demonstrate ROI effectively.

SEO Traffic

Another benefit to incorporating YouTube into your marketing strategy is another opportunity to show up at the top of search results on YouTube and Google itself. Google appears to favor video results, so working to optimize your titles to show up for your top keywords will help your brand awareness as an authority in that space. This is especially useful for how-to and tutorial videos as we'll explore later.

Importantly, you also need to consider the YouTube search function like you would Google when it comes to optimizing your videos.

Check out this search on YouTube for “Canon DSLR”. Even though the actual Canon brand has its own YouTube channel, the first four results are to channels other than the official brand account:

Search results for DSLR cameras on YouTube showing 4 videos from different channels

A quick “CTRL+F” for “DSLR” on the videos tab for CanonUSA reveals zero results. Meaning that Canon is losing any search traffic to their channel for people who use “DSLR” instead of the names they use in their video titles. 

Canon camera YouTube page with product overview videos

So when you’re doing your regular keyword research for website content, don’t forget about how you can use those insights to impact your YouTube searches.

What is Digital Marketing on YouTube?

Digital marketing on YouTube follows the same principles as digital marketing on other platforms, with the notable difference being its video-only format. The content medium of video can be intimidating but it’s well worth investing in for marketers. 

Just think of the repurposing content opportunities! The videos you create can be embedded into blogs, emails, on social media, even used as ads! It’s a lot of work, but the rewards can be huge.

Getting Started on YouTube

So you’re ready to start marketing on YouTube — we’re sure you’re raring to go and want to start filming videos, but let’s make sure you are set up for success with a YouTube marketing strategy first. This foundation will help you stay on track with your YouTube content creation and put out polished, on-brand videos your audience will love.

1. Set up a YouTube Brand Account

Anyone who’s tried to set up a YouTube channel, either for a team or business can tell you it’s not exactly the most straightforward process. Because YouTube is owned by Google — a favorite platform for businesses — a YouTube account is automatically created for you already with your Gmail address. You can access it from the google app center at the top right of your screen.  

But of course, you may not want your team channel to be connected to your work email. So the recommendation is to create a common email that everyone involved in your YouTube marketing plan will be able to access the channel through.

Here’s a step by step to creating a brand account on YouTube

Start by creating a Google account 

Use a common email address (such as “marketing@[company-name].com” or “video-marketing@[company-name].com”. Remember that this is the email where you’ll receive notifications like comments on your videos and performance updates for your videos.

Navigate to and select “Sign In”. If you don’t see the Sign In button, first log out of the account you’re using.

Google homepage with Sign In button. You need a Google account to start marketing on YouTube

Click Create a New Account

Creating a Google account process, step 2

When the option for personal or manage a business appears, choose “manage a business”

Step three to creating a Google account which you need for building a brand channel on YouTube

Fill out the name and email for the account

Last step to creating a Google account showing fields for name, email, and password

Set up your brand account on YouTube

Head to You’re probably already signed in with your shiny new google account but if not, select Sign In from the top right.

Click the icon that now replaces the Sign In button

You’ll see a long list of options

YouTube homepage with menu of options for creating and managing a channel

Choose “Create a channel” from this list

Make sure you click “Use a business or other name” in the dialogue box that comes up. It’s a small CTA so be sure not to miss it!

Enter a name for your brand account. 

(You can always change this later so don’t worry — it’s not set in stone).

Now it’s time to customize!

  • Set your profile photo (this is usually your companies logo)
  • Add a channel banner
  • Add website links, contact information, and a short description of your company or brand 
  • Post a channel description (this is different from your company description as it’s specific to the video content you plan to post)

Add a channel trailer

This is the last step for optimizing your channel before you start uploading videos. Ideally, you’ll already have one ready to upload, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

2. Determine Your Audience

Large group of adoring fans in a crowd. Finding your audience is key for a YouTube marketing strategy

We say it all the time, but it does bear repeating: your goals and content creation strategy should always come back to your audience. This is how you’ll shape your video marketing on YouTube, from video inception to shooting to promotion. Your audience and their interests, need to drive your content. 

That said, it’s perfectly fine to experiment if you don’t know yet what your audience will respond to. And taking risks is fine too, but you should take them from a place of knowledge rather than taking a shot in the dark for the hell of it. 

One of the quickest ways to determine your audience on YouTube is by looking at your competitors. What kinds of videos are they creating and what is their engagement like? 

3. Plan Your Videos

Now the fun part: planning videos! To get your YouTube marketing strategy off the ground, it’s imperative that you start with a very clear plan, and be ready to front-load a lot of content. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself — think of one theme and style for the first video so you can hone in on the equipment you’ll need; the script length and cadence don’t have to change dramatically for your first couple shots. 

Tip: have playlists in mind

One of the least well-optimized features of a YouTube channel is the playlists tab. Mostly because there’s no hard and fast rule to how it should be done and the way you set it up is essentially a matter of personal preference. 

Shooting High-Quality YouTube Videos

If you go through all the trouble of creating a YouTube marketing strategy then you need to pay similar attention to shooting high-quality videos. 

Here are the top 5 things to consider:

1. Lighting & Background

Old fashioned lights hanging from the ceiling. Lighting is a key component to professional video marketing

If you have to be choosy about what you invest in, don’t skimp on #1 and #2 on this list. Nothing is more unforgiving than bad lighting or sound when you’re trying to create polished and professional brand-appropriate videos. If you’re truly strapped, shoot in natural light during the “golden hour” (just before sunrise and just after sunset) rather than your normal house lights.

To make your lighting set up as simple as possible, choose a simple background with very little clutter. This will minimize the number of shadows and distractions you have to contend with. You want your viewer's eye to stay focused on your subject, not that pile of paperclips on the shelf, or your impressive, but not exactly on-brand, collection of comic books on the bookcase. 

2. Mics & Sound

External mics are relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and many are compatible with even the most basic cameras. (Though be sure to check thoroughly that you have the proper inputs and outputs). 

3. Use a Tripod

You don’t need a fancy-schmancy studio to make high-quality videos. Using a tripod instead of opting for a handheld solution will already dramatically improve your video's professional look and feel. 

4. Editing is your best friend

Black scissors on white table with different sizes of paper. Editing and cutting your video is important for a polished look.

The worst thing you can do is shoot too little video, so don’t be afraid to go nuts! Shoot more than you need, use multiple angles and distances from your subject, so you have plenty to work with once you get to the editing phase. Simple editing software will be perfectly fine for the vast majority of video styles. So don’t stress out about needing to take out a second mortgage for a massive editing bay with tons of knobs and buttons or a Final Cut Pro suite. 

iMovie has its limitations but it works and doesn’t have an enormous learning curve. If you’d like to go one step up, Movavi is highly recommended by many YouTubers — it’s a great option if you want to emulate the classic effects used by vloggers and influencers.

5. Music and sound effects

Lastly, for the finishing polishing touch, add music and/or sound effects to your video. There are plenty of royalty-free options available on sites like Epidemic Sound and Premium Beat. 

Posting Videos to YouTube

You’ve storyboarded, shot, and edited your video — now it’s time to post! Luckily, YouTube makes this very easy and quick.

1. Thumbnail image

If you’ve spent any amount of time on YouTube you’ll notice a definite range in thumbnail styles. Some clearly put a lot of effort into stylizing their thumbnails, while at the other end of the spectrum, some simply select from the suggestions YouTube provides when you upload. 

We suggest something in the middle. You don’t have to go super-stylized, but you should have a thumbnail for your video that illustrates what the video is about. CinemaTherapy shows a good middle ground, and a great example of using two different fonts in their thumbnail images, each representing a different series they do.

Full list of videos on Cinema Therapy YouTube channel showcasing different styles of thumbnails

2. Meta data

Just like when you post a blog post or landing page to your website, paying attention to the title tag and meta description for SEO, the same is true for uploading YouTube videos. 

Your video title can be thought of like a title tag. Eye-catching, click-worthy, and enticing — inspiring users to choose your video over others on the same subject. But just like a title tag written for Google search results, avoid the click-bait temptation! People will bounce from your video and find one that more closely and honestly meets their needs. 

In your video description, make sure you highlight what viewers can expect in the first two sentences. Under the “Read More” you can add other information such as timestamps, a website link, and links to your other social channels. 

3. Tag your video

Make your video more searchable with hashtags. It’s typically recommended to use 3-5 hashtags per video. If you add them to the video description, the first 3 will show up above your title.

Video three quarters of the way through showing a ballerina customizing pointe shoes. Video is tagged with hashtags to help show up in YouTube search results.

You can also add a tag to the title of your video. This is a great option for branded and campaign hashtags. 

5. Closed captions

This is another key SEO consideration. You can optimize the keywords you’ll show up for in subtitles and provide a full transcript for hard-of-hearing viewers. 

6. Cards & annotations

Choose related videos to send people to at the end of your video. A subscribe and notifications button is fairly standard. You can do this during the upload process.

End screen notations of a video on GQ channel featuring Trevor Noah. Next video suggested is one from the same series.

Types of YouTube Marketing Videos

There are many types of videos you could shoot for your YouTube channel. Depending on your brand, audience, and channel goals you’ll probably favor a certain style more heavily. 

But the great thing about using playlists is you don’t have to produce just one kind of video. Independent creators often have their main type of content, plus a vlog playlist. Companies often have playlists dedicated to product announcements, walk-throughs, culture, and recruiting. 

Here are 5 common types of videos you could consider for your YouTube channel:

1. How-tos and tutorials

According to Brandwatch, searches on YouTube that use “how to” are increasing 70% Y/Y. And in 2020 alone, views for videos targeting “beginners” increased by 50% (SproutSocial).

How-to videos and tutorials are a great option for showcasing how to use your own products, but they can also be used for answering common questions within your industry. 

Say you’re an outdoor clothing brand, like REI in the below image, and you know that around the Fall the search volume around snow sports like skiing starts to pick up. 

You could film a series of short explainer videos for beginner skiers, attracting that traffic and using it as an opportunity to promote a new line of jackets or ski goggles that you’d recommend for people learning to ski. 

Another reason to consider using how-to videos is Google’s extremely helpful feature that shows the precise timestamp the user may be interested in:

Google search results for How to Sew a Button showcasing timestamp suggestions by Google for YouTube video results

Consider this when creating your tutorials and make sure to use text at appropriate times, signaling which each part of the video is about.

In the example above, if we take the first timestamp Google recommends, the title card on the video clearly matches what we’re expecting:

Screenshot of YouTube video about how to sew a button

2. Product overview and promotion

Similar to a how-to, this would be an in-depth walkthrough of a product or software program. These are often done through influencers. 

A common tactic is to send a new beta product out for free in exchange for a review (but as we’ll touch on later, it’s important to respect the third-party factor). These influencers have large followings because their users respect their judgment and trust they aren’t being “bought” by brands. 

3. Re-sharing an ad campaign

Did you have an ad campaign attached to a hashtag or corporate good policy? Don’t let those videos gather dust once the campaign stops running! Repurpose them into a playlist to give people browsing your channel a sense of who you are as a brand. 

For example, North Face launched their #NeverStopExploring campaign in 2018, promoting the theme of exploration beyond hard-core outdoor feats. In the entertainment industry, you could use this as an opportunity to share all the teaser trailers leading up to the premiere of a show or movie.

Playlist on YouTube featuring multiple videos from the same ad campaign for North Face

Another benefit to having these videos easily accessible through your YouTube is the share-ability and PR opportunities. The North Face campaign was featured in The Drum, where all their videos are posted within the article.

4. Reaction and expert commentary videos

A popular trend on YouTube that is really going strong right now is “Reaction Videos” and “Expert Critiques”. Examples include: “Voice Teacher Reacts to 6 Hardest Vocals Singers Can’t and Don’t Do Live Anymore” (individual channel) or “Movie Accent Expert Breaks Down 32 Actors' Accents” (company channel)

This style of video would be particularly effective for setting your brand up as an expert or authority. Throw it out to your team and see who has impressive credentials such as an advanced degree, many years of practical experience, or a large number of public credits like bylines. 

Then find something you’d like them to react to — you could even do a tongue & cheek version if humor is a primary personality trait for your brand.

5. Testimonials

While they are definitely more canned and carefully curated than, say, a product review by an influencer, video testimonials from real customers can go a long way to bolstering your public image. 

Advertising on YouTube

If creating a steady stream of video content just doesn’t fit into your overall marketing strategy whether due to budgetary or personnel shortages, never fear! There’s another avenue to consider and that’s advertising. You know, those annoying things that play at the beginning of videos and sometimes even in the middle — on videos of 10 minutes or longer...the nerve.

Note: this still involves making videos. You can choose to make an ad out of any video posted on your channel. It just simply means you won’t need to produce at the volume required to keep up a growing YouTube channel. 

1. Setting up a YouTube ad campaign

It’s relatively simple to set up an ad campaign on YouTube using Google AdWords. 

1. In Google AdWords click “Create new campaign” and choose Video for the type of campaign.

2. Go through the normal campaign setup, choosing your budget, timeline, demographic, and any other target audience specifications.

3. In the last step, input your video URL. Here is where you’ll also write a CTA and include a link for where you want those who click on the ad to go.

2. TrueView discovery ads

The other way to advertise your brand on YouTube is through the promoted ad space on the homepage, sidebar, or search result screen.

In the below example you can see the ads that appear for the search “How to Tap Dance”. The first arrow indicates where the ads start, the second arrow is the first organic video result. Much like Google searches, the ads show up prominently above the fold:

YouTube search results with three large ads above the fold

Importantly, the ads in TrueView don’t always link to videos, In the above example, the ad results are all to external websites.

3. Product View Button

Lastly, for videos highlighting products, you can add a “view products” button within the video itself, which opens up a small advertisement on the sidebar without interrupting video play.

This is also a great opportunity for 3rd party review videos, comparing two different companies, like the below example. 

The first screenshot shows a video selected from the search results for the query “Bose vs AirPods Pro”:

YouTube video comparing headphones showing view products button embedded within video

Notice the Buy Products button in the bottom left-hand corner.

Featured products from a YouTube video, shoppable while continuing to watch

After clicking that button, this small dialogue box appears on the right-hand side, above the queue of recommended videos:

Promoting Your YouTube Videos & Channel

You’ve now learned how to create and upload a great video on YouTube — hooray! But the fun is just beginning. Now it’s time to share and promote your video for maximum exposure and views. Don’t depend on the YouTube algorithm to do all the work for you. 

Here are some great ways to share your masterpiece:

1. Embed in blog posts and around your site

Videos look great in a blog post, breaking up text and providing context to the subject of the article. This also provides a nice linking opportunity from the video on YouTube itself.

For example, the “How to Sew a Button” video from above is run by a channel called “Treasurie”. She uses that video to link to her blog where the video content has been repurposed into a descriptive and lengthy article

Good example of a lengthy YouTube video description including link back to website and multiple social handles.

2. Emails

Spice up your email game by either including the video straight into the body of the email, or enticing people over to your YouTube channel with a link! The latter is the safer bet as videos don’t always show up the same in an email depending on the recipients' settings and email provider.

3. Share on social media

This is a nice twofer. It’s widely recognized that video content performs better than static posts on most social media channels. Louder for the people in the back: Social media video generates as much as 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (Influencer Marketing Hub)

So, what better way to promote your YouTube channel while also increasing your engagement metrics on Facebook or Twitter?!

And if you have a variety of types of video, you can reserve social for more lighthearted fare since “73% of consumers want to see videos on social media that are "entertaining." (Influencer Marketing Hub)

4. Share in forums and Q&A sites

Remember those how-to videos we recommend for their great SEO value? Well, they have another benefit as well. Forums and sites like Quora are great places to share your video — focus on the most relevant questions though — don’t spam users on irrelevant threads. 

What Metrics Should YouTube Marketers Track?

Once you have your YouTube channel up and running, you need to start tracking analytics to determine what works and what doesn’t. Like other social media platforms, YouTube metrics factor into your ranking in the algorithm, so they’re worth taking seriously!

Here are 4 key metrics to track on YouTube:

1. Watch time

A YouTube ranking factor, so it’s important to pay attention to. Which videos are grabbing people at the outset and keeping them entertained? 

The Retention Rate metric will tell you the average percentage of time spent watching your videos. Those videos with a higher retention rate are worth adding CTAs to like “next video” or “you might also like”.

2. Source of traffic

Where are your viewers coming from? This is crucial for helping you hone your YouTube marketing strategy as you continue to learn a) what your subscribers respond to and b) where they find you. 

Did a blogger share one of your videos in an article on their website? Did a video get posted to Twitter or Facebook and shared around? 

3. Engagement

Are your videos being shared? Commented on? This is another key thing YouTube takes into consideration for rankings.

It’s also important to start understanding which videos get the most subscribers. Views and comments are one thing, but which videos do people see and decide they want to subscribe for more content? It could come down to a number of factors, from the presenter's personality to the subject matter, but the more videos you post the quicker you can gather these learnings.

4. Demographics

Lastly, keep an eye on your demographics to get a handle on who your audience is. Knowing the location, gender, and age range breakdown of your audience should continue to inform the type of content you produce.

Working With YouTube Influencers

Another great avenue for YouTube marketing is to work with influencers and brand ambassadors

Tip: Use an influencer marketing hub to manage, measure, and improve your influencer marketing efforts.

It’s relatively easy for individuals to monetize their content creation and get paid on YouTube through ads, as well as sponsored videos. As a brand, it’s a good idea to research influencers in your industry and keep a list of people you’d like to reach out to. 

Tip: Agree on basic terms with your influencer partner but do not force too many stylistic parameters. The point of sponsored videos on YouTube is that they fit seamlessly into the influencer's brand (thus not pissing off their subscribers — the very people you’re trying to attract to your products). 

Skillshare, Audible, and Native deodorant for example all work regularly with a wide range of YouTube influencers and each influencer has a very different audience and style of video.

A popular fashion and crafting YouTuber, Rachel Maksy has partnered with some of the above as well as GlassesUSA. In the below video she showcased their merchandise as parts of outfits from “different eras” in accordance with her personal brand.

You need to trust the creative freedom of the influencer (and for this reason, be sure to vet thoroughly) — do your research and watch their other sponsored videos. Is their interpretation and video style something that you feel comfortable tying to your brand? And if you’re happy with the partnership, nurture the relationship — influencers on YouTube often work with the same brands on multiple occasions.

So there you have it! Are you ready to see how Meltwater can help you with your YouTube and social media marketing efforts? Fill out the form below for a free demo.