How to Plan a YouTube Marketing Strategy

There are 2.3 billion YouTube users worldwide, and the platform’s popularity has continued to increase significantly in the past few years. This, combined with the fact that the site is the fourth most visited on the internet, only proves just how much incredible marketing potential YouTube has. 

Most social media marketers don't spend enough time on video marketing on YouTube. It's often overlooked by those trying to create a successful content strategy because of how complex it is to manage this type of project. There are, however, lots of tools and methods for creating a YouTube marketing strategy that is both competitive and easy to execute. Here’s a guide on making and executing a YouTube marketing strategy that any brand can do. 

What is a YouTube marketing strategy?

YouTube is a powerful platform for marketing. Whether you’re looking to create a video for your audience or to promote your brand, it has plenty of opportunities to achieve your goals. That being said, you do have to create a strategy for your YouTube marketing itself.

The YouTube marketing strategy you create should be a carefully executed plan that involves consistent posting and a strong understanding of where you fit into your niche landscape on the platform. Your YouTube marketing strategy can be as detailed or as simple as you need it to be. It often involves planning out what you will create and how you'll create it. Your strategy will also heavily rely on target audience information for decision-making.

Many YouTube strategists conduct competitor research at the beginning. You’ll also want to factor in search engine optimization for both YouTube and Google. 

Other factors go into YouTube marketing strategy off-site that you should be aware of. They include your other online properties such as your website, social media, and other content marketing channels. These will help with promotion and, if you already have an audience built up in one area, it will be easy to translate them to YouTube.

If you don't already have an audience of one thousand or more highly engaged participants, you can build one from scratch. Whether you're a startup or an established business, a strong YouTube marketing strategy will help you identify who your content is meant for and what kind of content will help them out the most. In other words, what content will have the most engagement long-term? 

In a nutshell: a YouTube marketing strategy is a roadmap to achieving your goals for this channel. It should be attainable, realistic, and well-researched.

How do you create a YouTube marketing campaign?

In 2021, YouTube is full of amazing creators who have figured out how to conquer the algorithm and have been doing so for many years. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for one more brand. The good news is that a lot of the legwork has been done for you in terms of learning from beginner mistakes on the site

Here’s the simplest and most effective way to create a YouTube marketing campaign that will cut through the noise. Follow these steps to assert your brand as an expert for your topics, no matter what the competitor landscape looks like:

1. Think long-term
You can set a ten-year goal, but this step should be done in a way that works for you. As a general rule of thumb, it takes an average of one to two years to achieve YouTube monetization, which requires a certain amount of watch hours and subscribers for approval. 

2. Choose a target audience
Who do you think is most likely to find and benefit from your videos? Even if you attract other audiences, your north star for content brainstorming, formatting, and editing will be clear if you nail this from the beginning. Age range, gender identity, and interests are good starting points for your research. Pro tip: If there’s a group of people you can easily reach now with your YouTube content, use them as a jumping-off point for faster channel growth. You’ll eventually reach your long-term audience, but growth is slow in the beginning, so reaching more people immediately is a good idea if it’s easier for you. 

3. Strategize distribution
Use your channel niche to create a promotion strategy that works best for your brand. Popular promotional channels include:

  • Social media
  • Facebook groups
  • Instagram Stories
  • TikTok teasers
  • Reddit Forums
  • Quora answers
  • Niche blog communities
  • LinkedIn
  • Free virtual and in-person workshops

Don’t forget about optimizing for YouTube SEO. This can be done in every aspect of your video, from your topic to your title and description. 

4. Consider your content

Think about what your target audience wants to see, what your brand needs to promote, and what kinds of topics will do best on this specific marketing channel (hint: education and entertainment are consistently top performers). Then, decide on what type of video you’ll produce. 

For example, this can be unedited live stream playbacks from virtual events on your other platforms. Or it could be highly edited and original comedy sketches made specifically to rank on YouTube, given what you’ve seen competitors do on the platform already. Whatever format you choose, make sure it aligns with audience expectations based on what’s already out there and also shows off your unique brand of YouTube content. 

5. Use a project management tool 

YouTube video production and distribution is a complex process, which is why a creative project management tool like Wrike is so important to have when you first get started. Whether you’re a solo marketer or working with a hybrid team, the organization and communication features offered by this type of solution are priceless. 

What is the best way to plan a YouTube marketing campaign?

The best way to plan a YouTube marketing campaign is to understand your audience and see what has worked for your brand on other channels in the past. 

To understand your audience, you need to know what they are looking for when they go on YouTube. Consider what other pieces of content you've published in the past have gone viral for your niche. Look at what topics you've covered on your blog or website and identify what has resonated with them. Then, build your strategy around that.

Alternatively, if you're creating a YouTube marketing campaign specifically for a launch, you want to create a series that teases, promotes, and explains what your new product or service does. You also want to consider how your target audience will use the product or service. 

Then, create content that directly addresses questions they've asked your customer support team. You can also search for comments you've seen on social media that need further explanation or highlight interesting uses for your product they might want to know before buying.

Your YouTube marketing campaign planning should begin as soon as you have a launch date. You’ll want to post at least once a week for a month leading up to any important dates that coincide with your campaign. 

If the campaign is ongoing, make plans to consistently create and post your videos before ever going live on your channel. Consistency is key for establishing an audience when you're just starting on YouTube and for the algorithm itself. Having systems and tools in place now will pay off in dividends in the future.

Additionally, you need to consider what's realistic for your team. Plotting out what you need to do and when for each element of your campaign will help everyone visually see the workload they're taking on. 

This is a prime opportunity for your project management skills to shine. For example, a Gantt chart may help you understand and justify the expense of investing in a contracted video editor now rather than stretching your team too thin later. Decisions like these can only be made if you first have a marketing campaign management strategy in place before moving on to the next phase of your campaign creation. 

How to assess your YouTube competitors with a SWOT analysis

A competitive analysis is a great way to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for your channel. To identify the right competitors to analyze, start with three to five primary keywords. Search for them on YouTube and see which channels come up the most. Then, once you know who you’re comparing your strategy too, you’ll need to do a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique that helps identify the various factors that could affect a person or organization's business operations. This procedure involves analyzing multiple layers of the company. It helps identify the potential threats and opportunities that could arise from a business venture or project. For YouTube, this means identifying video content gaps and looking for ways you can do what competitor channels are doing, but better. 

YouTube managers use the following framework for their analysis: 

  1. Internal strengths. This can include having a strong project management tool or an in-house team member who has YouTube experience. Build and enhance each of these over time. 
  2. Internal weaknesses. Time poverty is a common example of this. Mitigate the risks of anything on this list getting in the way of YouTube goals before you launch. Eliminate any you can upfront. 
  3. External opportunities. You may find that there aren’t direct competitors in your niche on YouTube already, or if they are, they may be producing low-quality content. That’s where you come in.
  4. External threats. There may be a lot of competition for your chosen keywords. Problem-solve around these and consider what new problems may arise in the future that you can safeguard against. 

Can you promote YouTube video campaigns?

Yes, you can promote YouTube video campaigns using offsite channels, providing incentives for engagement, and with paid ads. 

First, create a website or social channels that include links to your video. Blogs with freebies, shops, and behind-the-scenes information are a popular way to attract viewers from your channel to your other branded properties. 

Next, consider how you’ll reward channel visitors for engaging early and often. YouTube marketing expert Cathrin Manning suggests being engaged with your audience in the comment section of your video the first full hour it goes live. This helps build community and gives people a reason to tune in right away, which is a great ranking boost. 

YouTube ads are also a great way to reach audiences on other related and non-competing channels. Along those same lines, working with an influencer to create a brand presence on YouTube when you’re just starting may speed up your initial growth. 

What are YouTube best practices?

YouTube best practices are critical to know for business marketing teams who want to overcome common beginner mistakes. Here are the top ones to be aware of: 

  1. Create a brand account. A brand account is better than a personal account because it allows multiple users to log in at the same time. This is a great way to keep everyone up-to-date with everything that's happening behind the scenes of your channel.
  2. Use the analytics. It can be overwhelming at first, but YouTube provides a great dashboard with historical channel data for you to keep tabs on your progress and audience. Their reports include data about your audience size, age range, and viewing preferences. It also shows where the majority of users live, as well as their preferred language and how they engage with your videos down to the second they typically click off. 
  3. Create for your audience. Go to the comments section of your videos and read through them to see what viewers have to say. Use this data to identify the types of content that your audience is most likely to consume. Then, create video content that fits their needs.
    Monitor channel growth. Track key metrics such as subscriber count and viewership to see how they measure up against your goals. We recommend tracking these stats at least once per month.
  4. Block competitor ads. You can prevent your competitors from displaying ads on your videos by using the Ad Manager feature in Google.
  5. Be smart about keywords. Identify the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors in YouTube search based on which keywords they use and the new keywords you’ve chosen. Fill in their knowledge gaps within your content wherever possible. 
  6. Use every YouTube feature. Maximize the word count for your description and keyword input. Include CTAs in your script and on the video itself. Add posts to your community board to engage your audience in between videos. 

How to optimize for YouTube

By optimizing your channel, you'll be able to attract more followers and appear higher in search for target keywords. This 11-step strategy will help you get started on the right foot with YouTube marketing. 

  1. Conduct research
    Watch channels by your favorite brands or competitors and start thinking about how you can use YouTube to promote your product. This will help you develop a content strategy that fits your brand and the landscape your future viewers are already participating in. 
  2. Understand the algorithm
    Like Google, YouTube uses various unknown factors to rank videos. Then, it uses an algorithm to recommend the best ones. Even though no one knows for sure which factors affect YouTube SEO, we do know that high-quality production, interesting topics, and entertaining or educational content will rank highly in every category. Over time, you can conduct A/B testing to see which site formats, keyword combinations, and other video elements help your channel get discovered. 
  3. Create channel art
    Even before titles, thumbnails are the first thing people see when they search for a video. Using custom art will help your video's thumbnail stand out more. Make sure that the image and title make sense together. And don’t forget your banner. It’s a great place to summarize the primary focus of your channel and introduce your hosts. This space can also be used to promote events or new products. You are also able to link out to your website, social channels, and landing pages at the bottom right-hand corner so design your banner with this in mind. 
  4. Film a channel trailer
    A good channel trailer is like a teaser movie for your YouTube brand. It’s best to create one that’s specifically for YouTube and your specific goals for the platform. The entire purpose of a channel trailer is to create a compelling brand statement that will entice new viewers.
  5. Draft a content calendar
    Although you may only post once per week, there are many steps in between coming up with the idea and hitting publish. Relying on memory or habit for this portion, especially if you have a big team, is a recipe for disaster. A content calendar should organize every pre-production, production, and post-production task you have to complete for the coming week, month, and quarter. It should include individual timelines for each phase and some form of accountability among your team. Your content calendar should also be very easy to understand at a glance so that everyone knows the status of these various moving pieces at any given time. 
  6. Plan out playlists
    Playlists make your channel easier to navigate but they also help boost your YouTube SEO. Design playlists so that they are cohesive and have a definite progression. For example, you can set up tutorials from beginner to advanced levels. You can also create playlists for partner videos. 
  7. Outline your videos
    At the very least, you need to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Prioritize saying a brief description of your video topic in the first few lines of your script to help with SEO and to let audiences know what to expect. 
  8. Create a production workflow
    Templatize your production workflow with a simple task list or within your marketing project management software. YouTube video creation tasks are often repetitive. Some key ones to keep in mind for any video you create are:
    1. Brainstorm idea
    2. Outline script
    3. Define top-of-video CTA
    4. Define the end-of-video CTA
    5. Create shot list
    6. Secure or prep your location
    7. Gather props or supplementary inserts
    8. Film A roll footage
    9. Film B roll footage
    10. Edit your video
    11. Create your thumbnail
    12. Add an SEO optimized title, description, and keywords
    13. Schedule your video for publication
    14. Promote your video release online
    15. Engage with your audience during and after video publication
  9. Strategize when and how you post
    A good time to post is when there’s a high amount of engagement and viewership. This step can be easily done using your channel analytics. You can also schedule videos for release in advance from the Creator Studio or another tool like Hootsuite. Tools like these help keep your videos consistent and on auto-pilot.
  10. Add supporting features
    Adding captions to your videos will make them accessible to non-native speakers and those with hearing impairments. YouTube offers a Creator Studio feature that allows you to view the top languages your subtitles are typically used by subscribers which helps with market research too. If you’ve put the time and effort into creating a video, having your transcript translated is worth it. You can also add clickable links through cards and end screens that give additional information or offers. 
  11. Assess your performance
    Take a moment to review your past videos and subscriptions to see what drives your audiences’ attention. Make a note of patterns you see among your top-performing video topics, thumbnails, and formats. Later on, you can replicate your most successful elements in future videos. Not sure what other KPIs to look out for? Changes in subscriber count, audience demographics, and video playback locations are a great place to start. Comments sections are also ripe with audience feedback. Some are more helpful than others but tracking constructive criticism over time will help reveal creative new ideas. Although time-consuming, it’s important to learn how people are talking about your video and what they think about your channel to help make decisions in the future. 

How does the YouTube algorithm work?

YouTube relies on its algorithm to identify high-quality videos that best match each search query. How does it determine quality and match? Every element of your video is a factor in its ranking. That includes everything from what you say in the video to what colors you use in your thumbnail. 

It also includes direct audience feedback from the number of likes, comments, and subscriptions your channel as a whole earns. If a video doesn’t immediately gain traction after it’s posted, the good news is that YouTube may begin showing it more in search results later on once your reputation with the algorithm is established. 

Pro tip: If you're familiar with Google SEO, you’ll find that a lot of these optimization practices still apply here on YouTube. 

How to manage your video marketing campaign with Wrike

Wrike is a professional services management software that can handle the complexities of a YouTube marketing strategy for a single person or large teams. 

Wrike makes it easy to visually break up your entire production process into separate phases. You can use color coding and Gantt charts to illustrate your project roadmap. This is especially helpful if you’ve got more than one video in production at a time, which is often the case for creators who choose to batch shoot. 

Wrike also offers workflow templates that make it easy to carry out miniature projects within your projects. For example, you may find that your YouTube video editing process involves cutting out pauses, cleaning up audio, and color correction. You can add all of these steps to a repeatable workflow template specifically for video editing that teams and partners can reference for every new project. 

And because there are many different tasks involved with YouTube video creation, you’ll want to stay on top of each of them with individual task assignments that include details such as descriptions, approvals, and individual due dates. 

The tasks within Wrike are also great communication tools because users can chat in one central location about the task they're referring to in that very same task assignment. That way if anyone else joins the conversation later on they easily catch up with what's been said and everyone stays on the same page.

And finally, Wrike offers useful app integrations such as Adobe Premiere that make it easy to provide proofing and approval for every new video. 

Ready to get started on your YouTube marketing strategy? Begin Wrike’s two-week free trial to set your channel up for success with organization and communication tools that will put you ahead of the competition. 

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