When pared down to basics, the process for growth on the web is simple. As long as you have at least a basic audience to start, it’s a short process. First, you identify the demographics of your existing audience, particularly the most engaged users. Then, you take action – run ads, create content, etc – that targets people who are just like your engaged users. Done correctly, you’ll pull in a steady stream of new users who match the characteristics of the people who bring the most value to your channel.
Step 1: Learn YouTube Analytics
Thankfully, if you have a YouTube channel, you already have YouTube Analytics installed. You don’t need to mess around with enabling Google Analytics on your YouTube channel or anything else. Just visit the YouTube Analytics page – while logged in, of course – and you’ll be presented with a detailed overview.
Step 2: Dig into Demographics
The most important information you’re looking for here is your demographics information. There’s a nice, easy demographics button on the sidebar you can check to visit a detailed page full of useful information.
Some important information you can find here includes:
- Gender of your audience. Some channels will be a 50/50 split. Others will be closer to 30/70. If you have a skewed gender bias, you’ll know which gender you should target – if you didn’t know already – in the future.
- The age distribution of your audience. This is helpful to know the general age range of the users who tend to view your videos the most. You can also compare this to gender, to see if there’s a difference in age between genders in your audience. You can also see age by location.
- The locations of your audience. By default this is by country, showing you the age groupings of users in each country, sorted by amount of views. If you’re receiving a lot of views from a country you don’t care about – one of the traditional clickfarm countries, for example – you know to exclude that country in future advertising. Conversely, you know how to include your most popular countries, moving forward.
Step 3: Examine Traffic Sources
Knowing your traffic sources will give you a good idea of where your current traffic is coming from. This will tell you, for example, if the majority of your users find you through the native YouTube search, through a Google search, through a link from a particular website or through an embed on a website, among other sources.
One piece of information you can get from your traffic sources is a correlation between engagement and traffic source. If you find that the majority of your engagement comes from one particular website, it can be worth investigating using that website more heavily in the future.
Step 4: Target your Audience
Once you have your demographic information set aside, you can use it to target advertising and content towards that demographic.
For your content, you’re going to want to produce videos that are as appealing as possible to that demographic. To a certain extent, this means continuing to do what you’re doing. After all, your current audience is engaged with those videos already; you must be doing something right. You can, however, take steps to increase the appeal of each video. Catering to an older crowd? Avoid new jargon and pop culture references they might not understand. Catering more to men than women? Don’t run a video featuring dresses. It’s mostly common sense.
You can also optimize your video description, channel description, thumbnails, headlines and other aspects of YouTube for maximum appeal to that demographic. This will, of course, be a highly individualized process. Your channel, and your audience, is unique to you.
When it comes to advertising, your platform of choice will determine how much and how well you can target your audience. Facebook is great for highly specific targeting. The art of PPC on Facebook deserves its own blog posts, and of course, many have been written about it.
The point is, take your advertising channels of choice and use the demographic information you pulled from YouTube to target ads at people who share a profile with your most engaged users.
Step 5: Encourage Engagement
While you wait for users to come visit, you can take steps to encourage engagement while they’re viewing your videos. Here are a few ways to boost YouTube engagement.
- Create videos that include natural talking points. When you present these talking points, address your audience directly and ask them to discuss those points in the comments. This will help get them talking.
- Monitor and respond to comments. Take part in discussions, thank viewers for particularly insightful comments and, whenever possible, set valuable comments aside to feature in future videos.
- Post videos frequently. Treat your YouTube channel the same way you would treat having a 30-minute timeslot on a major television network. Your users will learn to tune in when they can expect a new video; provide them that consistency.
- Use a video endcap. The endcap is a short 5-10 second scene at the end of the video addressing your viewers, encouraging them to do something. Usually, a channel can achieve some success by including annotation links to one or two other videos on their channel. You can take this moment to ask users to subscribe or rate the video as well.
Step 6: Iterate and Repeat
As you post more videos, you’re going to bring in more users. As you run ads, your traffic is going to increase. You can’t maintain a holding pattern and assume you’re going to keep growing, however. You never know who is coming in with your ads and your content unless you check.
Make sure to keep checking your analytics on a regular basis. Your goal here is to repeat this entire process. Your demographics may have changed, or grown more refined, as your traffic grew. You may need to retarget your advertising to better take advantage of the new information you learn.
YouTube success isn’t going to come in passively; you need to work at it. After all, entire years worth of content is posted every single day on the massive video site; you need to fight to attract attention in that sea of production.