Video Marketing Basics: A 6-Step-Guide for Creating Killer YouTube Videos

Alex Sobal
Posted by Alex Sobal on April 25, 2018

If you haven’t hopped on board the video content marketing bandwagon yet, it’s about time you did. Today, more than 400 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute, and viewers watch more than 5 billion videos each day. If you think all these viewers are only there to watch cat and baby videos, think again. According to the Forbes Insights survey, 52% of senior executives say they watch work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly, and a further 75% say they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly. 

Simply put: almost everyone (even high-ranking B2B decision makers) loves watching videos, and they’re only going to watch more as technology makes it easier for them to create and share video content.

That said, if you’re ahead of the curve and already create video content for your brand, take a second to pat yourself on the back. As more and more companies move their marketing efforts online, the internet is getting flooded with marketing content. And while it might be easier than ever to create and share videos online, a large portion of today's online marketing content still comes in written form.

Videos, however, are a more dynamic medium than written copy, and can be extremely effective at convincing potential customers to convert on your brand’s offers and service. You’ve heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so a moving picture with sound has to be worth considerably more, right?

Yes and no.

Given the public’s exposure to professionally produced TV ads and product videos over the past half-century—and more specifically internet videos the last 10 years—viewers are conditioned to expect a certain quality from your brand’s video content. It’s certainly commendable if your company is one of the few in your industry creating videos, but they’re effectively worthless if you aren’t taking the time to make sure they don’t look professional, aren’t optimized for search engines, or give viewers the right impression.

Rather than putting in all the effort of creating videos, only to see views and leads slowly trickle in, we’ve put together a list of different ways to optimize your company’s online video content. By following these 6 tips, you’ll learn how to create high-quality YouTube videos that not only help you appear higher in the search rankings, but also lead to more conversions and sales.

6 Different Ways to Improve Your Brand’s YouTube Videos 

1. Start With a Plan

As Alan Lakein once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While on-the-spot videos might make sense for an improv comedy channel, they don’t tend to work well for professional purposes. Before you start filming, figure out: 

  • What you want the video to accomplish

  • What audience you want the video to target

  • What kind of video you want to make (e.g. tutorial, demonstration, video blog, etc.)

  • What you will say/film to accomplish your video’s goal

  • Who will be featured in the video

  • What video and editing equipment you’ll need

  • How long you want it to be, etc…

The goal here is to have everything figured out and written down before you start filming, so that once you start, you can create the awesome video you envisioned in the first place. The more details you can hammer out beforehand, the greater your chances of knocking your viewers’ socks off.

2. Get the Right Equipment for Your Videos

There are several reasons why brands are hesitant to create video content, but one of the main reasons is simply because they think they need a bunch of fancy equipment to make everything look good. On top of that, they think they need an expert video production crew to operate that fancy video equipment. In reality, however, once you’ve figured out what type of video you want to make, you’d be surprised at how “low-tech” some of the necessary video equipment might be. Today, you can get a camera capable of capturing 4K video for less than $1,000, and most of today’s smartphones are already equipped with an HD digital camera. Filming can be as simple as recording a video on your camera or iPhone, and you’ll also want some other tools like a tripod, microphone, and lighting. All of these things are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and help create high-quality, professional videos.

As a matter of fact, here’s a short list of video equipment we recommend you should use:

6 Basic Pieces of Video Equipment Every Company Needs

3. Optimize Your Title, Tags, and Video Description

Once you’ve created your video and started the upload process on YouTube, one of the first things you should do is fill in your video’s title, tags, and description. These are what search engine crawlers will comb through whenever someone makes a search inquiry, so it’s important to be thoughtful about the keywords and video tags you use.

When it comes to your description, think of this as your video’s meta data. Use this area to give a written description of what your video is about, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to include some extra links and timestamps. If you’re making a video about financial planning best practices, don’t be afraid to include a link to your financial planning eBook. Likewise, if there are certain areas of your video you know viewers will want to fast forward or go back to, you can share a timestamp in your description to help them find it right away. There’s a 5,000-character limit on descriptions, and while it isn’t necessary to write a novel, it doesn’t hurt to give viewers additional, helpful information and crawlers more content to crawl.


With video tags, the best thing you can do is to simply be honest. Though you might be tempted to use a few tags about a viral, trending topic, the extra views you receive because of your trickery will only end up hurting you. YouTube knows how long the average viewer stays to watch a video, and if your video misleads viewers into watching, they definitely won’t stick around long and you’ll take a hit in the search rankings. You can use multiple words in one tag (e.g., “Video Marketing Tips”), but you’re limited to 500 total characters, which can add up quickly. Treat these tags as you would any blog keyword tags, and try to think of all the phrases and keywords your target personas would use to find a video like yours. If your video features something that’s hard to spell, you can even use a deliberate misspelling to attract those grammatically incorrect searchers (e.g., “Wiedert Group” as well as “Weidert Group”).

4. Make Use of External Links

If you’ve watched enough YouTube videos, you’ve probably seen those little boxes of text that pop up while a video is playing. These are called “annotations.” These clickable annotations almost act like a slide-in CTA, and can encourage viewers to take an action while watching your video. While most people think they can only use these to add additional comments to their video or link to something else in their YouTube channel (e.g., another video, subscribe button, etc.), you can actually use these to link back to your website. This is extremely helpful if you’re trying to get viewers to convert on an offer, or even help them find additional tips in one of your blog posts. In fact, here’s a great 4-minute guide on how to do it: 

Once you have your website linked, just make sure that your popups aren’t annoying. Your video should be the center of attention, and distracting links will just make your viewers want to stop watching. Instead, plan for your links to show during a moment of down time in your video so that it can be the main focus without taking anything away from the rest of the video. If you properly plan ahead, you can even make comments about the link while filming, and add them in once your video is uploaded. Not only will this help draw the viewers’ attention to them, but they’ll also notice the added creativity and professionalism.

5. Use a Custom Thumbnail Image

Your video thumbnail image is one of the first things people will see after they search, so it’s important to use an image that not only fits your video description, but also captures the searchers’ attention. Looking at the two videos below, for example, which would you rather watch based solely off the images? For me, the answer is obvious: Video #2.


When you upload your video, YouTube will automatically generate several thumbnail images using scenes from your video. However, if your account is verified and in good standing, you should have the ability to upload a custom image of your own. Once your video has reached the end of the processing stage, you should see an option to choose a custom thumbnail under the “Video thumbnails” section. Just remember to keep the file size under 2 MB, and use a resolution of 1280x720 for the best results.

6. Ask for Comments, Likes, and Subscribers

Though you might find it a little annoying when people ask you to share, comment, follow, or subscribe to something online, it’s actually a tactic that’s been proven to work. In the Twitter world, asking users for a retweet actually gives that tweet 12x higher retweet rates than those that don’t, and you can expect to see similar results when asking for likes and comments on YouTube. Of course, a lot of this depends on how you ask and how good your video is, but you can certainly earn additional likes, subscribers, and comments just by asking. This is helpful, because the more likes and comments your video receives, the higher it will rank in YouTube's search algorithms.

YouTube is the most popular video hosting platform in the entire world, and the 2nd most popular search engine. Your clients, customers, and prospects are all using YouTube and other video platforms to find information and help them make important decisions, and it’s crucial that your company has a presence in 2018 and beyond. For more information about how your company can optimize your video content on YouTube, make sure you download our free eBook “How to Use Social Media to Attract More Visitors to Your Website.” 

Use social media to attract visitors to your website

Topics: Video Marketing, Marketing Technology

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