Let’s face it: YouTube is kind of intimidating.
Yes, it’s dominated by entertainment brands, cat videos, and homegrown creators with millions of followers. But it’s also full of opportunities to reach new audiences: almost one-third of all people on the internet use YouTube.
But with so much competition out there, you might be wondering how you could possibly make an exciting channel out of your business. And even if you did have a video idea, why not just bang it out into a blog post instead, right?
To ignore YouTube is to leave money on the table for your business. Many entrepreneurs have used the video platform to build niche communities of followers and grow their companies. And we’re not just talking about tracking vanity metrics like views and subscribers. We’re talking about driving real results, like increased sales and boosted email lists.
Answer frequently asked questions
You don’t need to write a Hollywood script to succeed on YouTube. You can start by simply answering people’s questions. After all, if you run a business, you likely hear the same points from your customers over and over again. Each answer you have is video gold; that helps you establish yourself as an industry expert, and build trust with potential customers.
“I had about 10 clients and I didn’t have time to answer their questions about social media individually, so I created a tutorial for them,” she said. “I barely had any subscribers on my YouTube channel at the time, but the next thing I knew, my tutorial had thousands of views.”
The resulting video was less than five minutes long, and Lenarduzzi filmed it right from her apartment.
She continues to survey her community to find out exactly what they want to know. She’ll ask questions like, “What is the #1 thing you’re struggling with when it comes to using social media for your business right now?” or “If you were to sit down and have a tea with me for 20 minutes, what would be your #1 question you’d have to ask?”
As a result, her videos drive between 200 and 400 new email subscribers each week.
Marketer Ryan Hanley used this technique as well. While working for The Murray Group Insurance Services, he created a YouTube series called “100 Questions Answered in 100 Days.” He polled people on Facebook, asking them about the one insurance question they want an answer to. He then collected the responses, narrowed them down to 100, and made a corresponding video each day for 100 days.
The videos are low budget, just him sitting in his office — and many of them only have views in the 4 figures.
But in that timeframe, the company generated over $5,000 directly from people calling in from the campaign (after downloading a PDF lead magnet, more on that below). One video about New York State short-term disability (with 1,600 views) even went on to generate almost $30,000 in revenue from new clients.
As Blake said, “I can see in real time what the community is talking about and what they want answers to. I’m immediately solving a problem they have right at this moment. They’ll be like, ‘Oh, you read my mind!’ No, I just listened at scale.”
Choose the right lead magnet
Subscribers and comments are nice, but they won’t pay the bills. Once you hook people with your videos, you need to drive them to make a purchase or sign up for your email list. You can do this with the power of an irresistible lead magnet, such as an e-book, guide, or even another video that people can “unlock” by submitting an email address.
“The content of your freebie should be directly related to the content of your video, that way you’re building a highly targeted audience,” Lenarduzzi, the social media marketing coach, said. “I find for my business that checklists, cheat sheets, and PDFs work best.”
For example, one of her highest converting lead magnets is this YouTube channel checklist for growing your audience. She uses it to accompany relevant videos, such as “How to Build Your Brand Using Video.”
“I grew my business to six figures within one year of using YouTube by selling my products and services to the highly targeted list I built,” Lenarduzzi said.
While this strategy works, Blake still warns not to overuse it for three key reasons:
- Lead magnets take viewers off of YouTube. This can hurt your reach since YouTube wants people to stay on their site. They’ll penalize your search rankings if too many people bounce from your channel.
- People will get bored or frustrated if they see you pitching the same thing over and over.
- You can see diminishing returns if you’re promoting your asset to people who have already downloaded it.
That’s why Blake suggests switching up your lead magnets, and only using one video each week or each month to grow your email list. This frequency will depend on how quickly your audience grows (how many new eyes will see your old lead magnets) and how often you upload videos.
As Blake said, “I’ve seen videos that have generated 500 new email signups within a 48-hour window by highlighting an existing lead magnet.”
Include a call to action
How do you get people to actually download your lead magnet? Provide them with a compelling call to action.
Designer Chris Do, for instance, adds slides to the end of his YouTube videos, directing viewers to his website and other content channels. Take this slide, which is a YouTube call to action overlay that invites people to learn more at his website.
“From year to date, we are seeing over 200% increase in revenue and breaking daily/monthly revenue records,” Do said. “There’s a direct correlation to the number of subscribers we have and the number of sales and email signups.”
Peter Kirby of Salvage Audio, a company that produces and sells handmade wooden speakers, also stresses the importance of calls to action.
“I always try to include a subtle call to action in the beginning of my videos and a more direct one at the end,” he said. “I include trackable links in the top lines of the video description to the calls I make in the video.”
Here’s how that looks on his most-viewed video.
“I had a 61% increase in holiday sales through SalvageAudio.com in 2016 over 2015 without changing anything but starting the channel,” he said. “I actually had to put the channel on pause for a few weeks to get all the orders out.”
“There needs to be genuine passion and value behind your videos. Viewers can smell fake passion for a mile away,” Kirby said. “There’s a reason why you started the business you did and I’m pretty sure some form of excitement had to do with it. Base your channel around that excitement.”
In the end, you have to entertain, inform, and delight your viewers. Show them something they haven’t seen before, and give them a piece of advice that can change their lives for the better. This may sound daunting, but remember that you can kick off your channel with just a 2-5 minute video that’s filmed right from your home or office. And once you deliver value to your audience, you can start to ask for something in return.
As Do said, “If you create content that people find to be valuable, you will develop a deeper relationship with your audience and they will be more inclined to support your initiatives and campaign goals in the long term. Deliver value first. Market to them second.”