YouTube Marketing: The Complete Small Business Guide for 2023

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With over 2 billion active users, YouTube offers small businesses one of the best ways to reach customers and prospects.

YouTube is the second-most popular social media platform and the second-largest search engine. But it can be intimidating to market on a large platform dominated by tech-savvy people, including Millennials and Gen-Z.

Over the past fifteen years, our marketing team has actively leveraged YouTube to market products and services. We’ve created hundreds of long-form and short-form YouTube Videos and have written dozens of articles on leveraging YouTube to educate, build a strong brand, and promote products and services. And we’ve mentored thousands of entrepreneurs, sharing strategies and practices for building strong YouTube brands.

This guide shares the actionable insights, tips, best practices, and expertise we’ve developed after helping over one hundred thousand brands. This guide will help you maximize opportunities for business growth and discover the best YouTube marketing tactics and examples to help your small business thrive.

Here are 10 steps to marketing on YouTube for small businesses.

1. Create your YouTube channel

The first step is to create a Google account to sign up for a YouTube channel. You can use an existing Google account or create one specifically for your business.

Next, log in to your YouTube channel and create a Brand Account. A Brand Account allows multiple people in your business to manage your channel. You can add more YouTube channels later to expand your business.

The third step is to complete your channel by adding:

  • Your “About” information
  • Channel header and profile picture
  • And social media profiles and website links

Your header and profile picture will be your channel’s face. So, use custom or brand-appropriate images for your YouTube header and profile picture. Your branding on YouTube and other social media networks should consistently match your overall visual identity.

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2. Understand your audience

Your content must resonate with your target audience. And to do so, you must understand what your audience wants to see. Ask questions such as:

  • What is my target audience?
  • What kind of content would they like to see?
  • What are they already watching on YouTube?
  • What can I learn from their favorite YouTube creators?
  • How can I customize my content to their liking?

Do primary market research and study YouTube demographics to help you understand your audience better and tailor your content accordingly. If you already have a channel, study your analytics and focus on improving key areas.

3. Research the competition

There’s no better way to quickly get the hang of YouTube than to learn from your competitors – and strive to improve.

Start by watching videos posted by your competitors and observing key elements such as type of content, delivery, and editing. Consider how you can incorporate these examples into your videos.

You can also do a competitor analysis for factors such as:

  • Views per video
  • Frequency of posts
  • Comments and topics
  • Number of subscribers
  • Video content and quality

You must understand how your competitors are thriving on the platform. They will inspire and help you discover new trends to improve your channel.

4. Study your favorite channels

Your favorite channels are your favorites for a reason. Find key engaging elements that you can mirror for your content. Learn from them to help optimize your channel. Ask yourself:

  • Why do I like these channels?
  • What makes their content engaging?
  • What kind of channel art, such as thumbnails and headers, are they using?
  • How do they deliver their content?
  • What can I do to mimic this type of content on my channel?

You need to have favorite channels to get started. Look for popular channels on your desired topics. If you want to create content for entrepreneurs, study popular YouTube channels for entrepreneurs.

Remember to keep your small business’s content appropriate for your audience despite mimicking your favorite channels.

For example, HubSpot’s channel follows a theme aligning with its branding, from content to channel art. The videos are also generally under 5 minutes with timestamps for specific topics. It’s a great strategy to help your audience easily digest your content.

5. Start uploading and optimizing your videos

Now that you have gathered ideas and information for your content, it’s time to plan, film, and upload quality YouTube videos.

But uploading engaging videos isn’t enough. You need to get your videos to be seen by people. Here are some ways to help increase views with video marketing:

  • Keyword search. This helps give you phrases people use to find content, which you can add to your title or description. For example, you can use Google Keyword Planner for keyword searches.
  • Use timestamps. Some people want to watch specific parts of your video quickly. Help them navigate long videos through timestamps.
  • Write a detailed description. Descriptions give people an overview of your videos and help your audience not miss out on critical factors discussed in your videos.
  • Create fun thumbnails. Thumbnails are vital factors in helping attract viewers. You must create fun and appropriate thumbnails that perfectly encapsulate your content or drive people’s curiosity.
  • Engage in the comments. People have specific questions that only video creators can answer. Address concerns and other comments in a friendly manner. More comments also help boost your video’s status on the YouTube algorithm.

Be sure you include your brand logo on your videos (intros and outros are an excellent places to have your branding). YouTube won’t let you replace videos, so it’ll live at that link for life once you upload a video. The only way to change it is to upload a new video (which won’t inherit comments, views, or anything else from the prior video).

6. Stay consistent with video uploads

Consistency is key to growing your channel. You won’t always have time to create content. So, it’s essential to set a realistic schedule for video uploads.

YouTube creators have a designated day of the week for uploading content. This helps your audience know when to expect a video from you and will help you build brand awareness and brand equity. And it gives them something to look forward to.

7. Optimize your channel to attract subscribers

Start by creating a short channel trailer that encapsulates what your YouTube content is about and organizing your videos into playlists.

You want people to grasp right away what you’re doing. A channel trailer and sorting your videos into playlists help keep things organized and make it easy for people to navigate your channel.

Another way is to incite a call-to-action within your video. You can do this by:

  • Asking people to subscribe to your channel, like or comment, and share your video.
  • Engaging with your audience. Respond to some queries related to the video to boost engagement.
  • Direct viewers to other videos using a custom end screen.
  • Use closed captioning or upload your captions. This helps your content be more accessible to people. Translate your videos to other languages.

8. Use YouTube advertising

YouTube ads are one of the fastest ways to grow on the platform. You can choose either video ads or banner ads.

For video ads, you can make your videos skippable after 5 seconds. People generally choose to skip after 5 seconds if given the opportunity, so create video ads that are fun and engaging.

But before trying out paid advertising, make sure to have the following:

  • A good grasp of your audience
  • Channel art that aligns with your branding
  • Over ten videos on your channel so people can get a sense of who you are

For example, Nike’s popular 2020 YouTube ad featuring famous athletes showed success’s significant ups and downs. This led to millions of views.

You might not have Nike’s marketing budget or access to Lebron James, but you can still create fun and engaging ads for your target audience.

9. Partner with influencers

YouTube pioneered influencer marketing. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience easily.

Influencers already have an existing audience that you can leverage. And if their audience overlaps your target audience, you can reach a more extensive and leverage the influencer’s established trust and credibility with their audience.

As a small business, you must find an influencer who fits your niche and budget. Do your research and look for micro-influencers who match your brand well.

10. Monitor progress

Don’t forget to track your progress monthly. Use YouTube analytics to know which videos your audience likes, monitor channel traffic, and get more insights through built-in reports.

You’ll want to track your channel growth monthly for:

  • Views
  • Top videos
  • Impressions
  • CTR (click-through-rate)
  • Subscribers
  • Duration of views

Your monthly analytics will serve as your benchmark. Amplify your efforts in areas your channel performs well, and adjust your marketing strategy for weaker areas.

Six proven tips to promote your YouTube channel

Working with influencers and optimizing your channel are great ways for channel growth. But there are more proven strategies to help boost your channels’ engagement:

  1. Write engaging titles. Your video title should inspire curiosity in people without using a clickbait headline. People want to see entertaining content with substance. For example, you can use attention-grabbing phrases such as “Must-see,” “Best-of,” and “How-to.”
  2. Cross-promote your videos on YouTube. Get the most out of your new content by promoting older content in the description box. Ensure it’s related to your new content, and use fun and short captions.
  3. Host a contest or a giveaway. This is a proven strategy to boost traffic in your channel and other social platforms. Cross-promote it on your other social media accounts to expand the reach and simplify the contest rules.
  4. Start a YouTube series. Learn what content your audience likes and start a series about it. Beginning a series helps you stay on track while giving your subscribers something to look forward to that keeps them returning to your channel.
  5. Try live streaming. Experiment with a YouTube live stream talking about topics that your audience likes. Remember to keep it casual and acknowledge your viewers. Many influencers, for example, build their audience by live streaming.
  6. Always promote on social media. Videos always get the most engagement on social media. Make sure to share your videos and promote your YouTube channel regularly. This also helps you stay active across all platforms, and you can reuse the content on each platform.

Growing your YouTube channel requires patience, understanding data and trends, and experimenting with various tactics. You could get lucky and go viral overnight, but this doesn’t guarantee stable growth. That’s why investing in smart marketing strategies is vital to build long-term growth.

We regularly update this YouTube marketing guide. We most recently updated this guide on February 25, 2023.

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