ReelSEO recently published an excellent article outlining some of the issues that small businesses face when using Youtube as their primary video marketing channel. They made several salient points:

  • Youtube had 159 million unique visitors and 13.3 billion video views in December alone: a large, engaged audience
  • Roughly half of Youtube videos have fewer than 500 views
  • Top videos are purely entertaining (think music videos, celebrities, etc.) or produced by major companies with major budgets (Jean-Claude Van Damme for Volvo, for example)

As ReelSEO rightly points out, these characteristics make Youtube seem less than small business-friendly when it comes to video hosting, especially for marketing purposes.

Youtube logo

To their list, I would add the following stats about Youtube:

In other words, if Youtube is part of your strategy to drive traffic to your site, Youtube’s high percentage of mobile viewers means your site had better be mobile-optimized. In addition, if you are a local business or retailer that does not have international customers, 80% of Youtube traffic is probably irrelevant to you. When posting on Youtube, you have to weigh the risk that someone might misappropriate your videos. Finally, to gain traction on Youtube, you need to post very frequently, probably more often than you are now. Posting videos at least twice per day is a cadence most small businesses cannot keep up with.

So, what does all this mean for small businesses?

Youtube might have a place as part of your broader content marketing strategy, but it should not be your entire game plan, especially when it comes to video. You can certainly publish videos on Youtube, but they should be short, punchy, entertaining and shareable. That is what their platform is designed for. Interestingly, production quality is not paramount, so don’t sweat it if your video isn’t perfect or doesn’t feature a celebrity.

SEO is actually your primary concern on Youtube, or anywhere else you are posting your videos. Never forget that Youtube is a search engine. Align your video title with your video tags, do some keyword research, and take full advantage of the large video description field. Do not be passive, either. You will have to actively promote your content in addition to optimizing it for discoverability.

You can certainly increase brand awareness on Youtube, and using Calls-To-Action within the video, you can direct people to follow your brand on social media or to your website to sign up for an email list. Email remains the best way to reach and activate your prospects, so using video to grow your email list makes a lot of sense, but Youtube does not provide any tools for doing so within their platform.

There are other places in your content marketing strategy that you should be using video than top of funnel acquisition. Think lower in your marketing funnel, and consider your customer profiles. How did they find your website? Why did they click through to your homepage? What information do they need to make a purchasing decision, or in other words, what problems does your business solve for them?

Video is a great way to showcase your products, ideas, real estate, or services, and to answer those critical questions for your potential customers. This is true whether you are featured in the video, or use an animated character or a customer testimonial. In any of these cases, you need a video hosting solution that will not play other people’s videos after your video ends, driving people away from your site, and poking a giant hole in your conversion funnel. You would probably also want additional marketing tools like built-in email capture, customizable pre-play and post-play screens, and an ad-free viewing environment for your audience. If any of that rings true, then you might want to consider a professional hosting provider like SproutVideo instead of Youtube. We can even help you mass-import your videos from Youtube if you decide to make the switch.

How does Youtube fit into your content marketing strategy? Is it working for you? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below, or on Twitter!

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted February 12, 2014

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