Founded in February 2005, YouTube has since become the world’s most popular online video destination, enabling anyone to upload and share user-generated video content with the masses. We’ve all followed links to video sensations, and we’ve all passed along videos to our pals, but do you appreciate just how powerful YouTube can be for business–specifically with regard to driving traffic to your website, blog, or other online content?
As the new Social Media Director at BLASTmedia, one of the first areas I’ve been asked to critique for many BLAST clients is their YouTube strategy–how they are currently making use of their YouTube presence. (That is, for those with a YouTube presence. For those without, that’s going to change REAL soon.)
- I find that some of our clients have harnessed the marketing and PR power of YouTube to share national mainstream media clips for appearances our BLASTmedia PR team has landed them. A good example of this is Sleeptracker (featured on our channel at that link–because, no, you don’t have to be hosting content to feature it on your channel player now…simply aggregate other’s).
- Other BLASTmedia clients, like Skullcandy Headphones, have chosen to feature content from Skullcandy TV, a site focused on their core consumers–skateboarders and snowboarders–and dedicated to showcasing action, interview, and event footage from Skullcandy sponsored athletes and musicians.
- Then there are the BLASTmedia clients who have uploaded video content to YouTube, but who are not utilizing their presence there to drive traffic to their main websites. I’ll spare any examples so as not to embarrass anyone–not to mention we’ll be cleaning their YouTube acts up very soon anyway, so it’s only temporary.
But the bottom line for pretty much all of the clients’ channels I’ve looked at thus far (and this holds true for probably 98% of the channels I come across on YouTube): They are missing out on just how valuable YouTube is as a traffic source!
And most likely you are, too…so listen up.
With regard to lead generation and list-building, your YouTube videos are the bait you cast out so your prospects can find you. Even if it’s just small clips of longer pieces of content, uploading some of your videos to YouTube will open up the floodgates for massive amounts of targeted traffic to discover you.
Whether prospects find you by having your YouTube video appear in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) for keywords they are searching, whether they are pulling your videos up in the actual YouTube search results (and yes, people head directly to YouTube to search these days), or whether they’ve just come across your content in the “Related Videos” section next to similar YouTube content, the point is you are missing a REALLY BIG BOAT if you aren’t harnessing that traffic and driving it over to your main website, blog, or wherever you’re (hopefully) building a prospect or customer list.
To illustrate what I’m saying, take a look at this snapshot from YouTube’s analytics tool, YouTube Insight, for one of the videos I use to market my YouTube course, “YouTube Secret Weapon.”
Please note the variety of ways viewers came across that video in that 10-day time period: Google search, YouTube search, External links, Related Videos, and even some through an ad campaign I was running on the site (more on that later in this post).
So how does one take advantage of this YouTube traffic? Traffic, mind you, that is in many cases now pre-qualified as having an interest in what you have to offer or say? Is it possible to increase the chance that those viewers will click over or visit your site in order to learn more?
YES! And for one example of the amount of traffic you can see coming to your site(s) from YouTube, take a look at this screenshot of the Google Analytics report for the website I use to sell “YouTube Secret Weapon” (the site to which the above video traffic was sent).
From June to December 2009, YouTube was our #1 traffic referral source after direct and organic search traffic:
Now granted, this is for a YouTube-related product, so the fact that YouTube is the #1 traffic source might not be too surprising.
So then, take a look at the Google Analytics report for the 2-week time period of February 14 to February 21, 2010 for the BLASTmedia website. [Note that this is less than 1 month after our BLASTmedia YouTube channel was launched (1/25/2010)]:
And mind you in this case above, we didn’t really spend a lot of time promoting our YouTube channel, whereas we have 18 BLASTmedia employees actively tweeting throughout the day. (Although, to be fair, the BLAST team’s goal is not to send traffic back to BLASTmedia.com.)
So what are some of the techniques you can use to make sure that your YouTube traffic gets funneled over to you main website, blog, or other online content?
Without further ado, here are seven (7) ways to get website traffic from YouTube:
- Get your website domain into your actual videos using video editing software. It always amazes me how many people neglect to do this! Remember that the sharing mechanisms on YouTube might lead to your video being embedded elsewhere online, such as in a forum or on someone else’s blog. Since those off-site viewers won’t have immediate access to your YouTube channel or a video’s title and description, you want to be sure your main website domain appears at the beginning, middle, and end of your video. Consider adding it via a watermark so it’s always visible (just don’t obstruct the view). You can always outsource such video editing tasks, or take a stab at using the free video editing software that should have come installed on your computer: Windows Movie Maker for PCs or iMovie for Macs. More expensive video editing programs are also available, such as Pinnacle, Final Cut, and Premiere.
- Get your website domain into your videos using the YouTube Annotations tool. If you don’t have time or money to delve into video editing, your domain can be added to the beginning, middle, and end of your videos using YouTube Annotations—a way to add interactive commentary onto your videos from within the YouTube interface (and without having to use any video editing software of your own). Add such annotations after your video is uploaded. You control what the annotations say, where they appear on the video, and when they appear and disappear. You can even create a live link from an annotation to another YouTube video, channel, or search result. Good news: Annotations will also show up on YouTube videos embedded elsewhere, off of the YouTube site (but they won’t show up on mobile devices…yet). For a terrific example of YouTube Annotations in action, see our featured BLASTmedia video, where we use them to add information, reinforce our domain, and link to various client videos and playlists.
- Ask and You Shall Receive. This is one of my favorite YouTube tactics: It never hurts to ask your audience to do what you want them to do (and this works for getting them to rate your videos or to subscribe to your channel, as well). My “Ask and You Shall Receive” rule goes beyond simply flashing your website domain on the screen. Say it out loud several times, and for goodness sake, tell us what all we’ll find when we get there. “Visit my website at www.xyz.com because I’ll give you (more information, a free report, a downloadable coupon).” Or just drop hints to tempt us to go there. Bribery often works, too. Within your video offer something free, include a cliffhanger, or hold a contest. For viewers to take advantage of your offer or have their curiosity satisfied make them head over to your main website. Meanwhile, think of ways to offer extra value to your audience, and they’ll become loyal fans who promote your videos for you.
- Hyperlink your website URL as the first item in your video descriptions. Why first, you ask? So it will always be visible–and CLICKABLE–even if visitors don’t click on the “more info” link on the description that accompanies it. You also want to signal to prospects that this video wasn’t made by some hobbyist, but by a professional with a full online presence. IMPORTANT: In order for it to hyperlink, be sure to use the format “http://yourdomain…” in this space. Without the “http://” it will do you little good outside of a visual reference:
- Treat the description area of your YouTube channel like it’s a mini sales letter and hyperlink to your site. Start by telling your audience about you and your level of expertise within your niche area. Be sure to also discuss some of the benefits people will gain if they venture over to your main website. But most importantly, don’t forget your URL! You want to make sure this is present not only in the spot YouTube designates for you to do so, but also in your channel description. (Note: In your Channel Description area, which differs from the “About Me” or personal performer info area, be sure to include your domain in the form of “http://yourdomain…” so that it hyperlinks.)
- Include your domain address on a customized background image for your channel. While they can’t be clicked upon (unless you have YouTube partner status), a back ground images for your channel that features your web domain at least gets it in front of visitors’ eyes. This is a major branding opportunity, let alone a space to visually broadcast your domain. Consider having a designer adapt the visual look of your main website to your channel, both making it a more inviting hub for your content, while also allowing you space to the left and right-hand sides of the channel for your blog or website address. For a great example of this, see BLASTmedia’s YouTube channel background design.
- Use YouTube’s Call-To-Action (CTA) Overlay ads. These are the semi-transparent pop-up overlays appearing on the bottom 1/3 of the video players that link viewers to any third-party website you choose. (And no, they aren’t just reserved for partner videos anymore.) For example, you could run an overlay on your own video inviting YouTube viewers to click and sail right through to the corresponding website you’re promoting. This is incredibly handy for generating engaged, well-targeted traffic to your website. Even better: When you are running a CTA ad on one of your videos, that video will AUTOPLAY when it is made to be the featured video on your channel. (This is also no longer a benefit only reserved for partners.) In order to run a CTA ad, you must first run a “Promoted Videos” campaign. To do this, you have to have a Google Adwords account tied to your YouTube channel (super easy to do). But don’t think that means you’ll have to spend a fortune on advertising to get the CTA ad capability: Simply run a campaign for a penny a click, and if you don’t want it ever showing up, don’t pick popular keywords. You can also set a very low daily budget for how much you’re willing to spend. Then, just by having that “Promoted Video” campaign (YouTube’s PPC program) running, you will have enabled the ability to run a CTA ad on that particular video. Remember: These ads not only give you space for a special message to your viewers, but they are also CLICKABLE. And unlike YouTube Annotations, you are able to link outside of YouTube–allow viewers to click through to your actual website or blog.
When it comes to getting traffic to your website, it’s time to start looking seriously at your YouTube strategy. Do you have a channel? If so, does your channel offer visitors information about where to go to learn more about your products or services? Are your videos just haphazardly tossed up onto the site without being edited to include your main website address? If your videos are embedded elsewhere online, are you communicating what action you’d like a viewer to take after watching?
Within the social media space, I’ve found that YouTube is unsurpassed as a free marketing & PR tool, especially when it comes to lead generation and list-building via the website traffic it generates and refers to my main websites. Now take these tips that I’ve presented here, and go get some traffic from YouTube!
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