The enduring myth about YouTube is that if you simply upload a video, customers will see it. According to the video site's marketing, this illusion drives more than 120,000 hours of new YouTube video each week.
That all sounds exciting. Except this massive video overload also shows the gap between myth and reality. Companies can easily post videos. But if that's all they do, it's unlikely anyone will ever find them.
But there's good news. Direct marketers can break through the video noise and benefit from YouTube. Increasing profit with YouTube, however, takes a combination of strategy and tactics in four critical areas.
1. Identify YouTube's Role in Your Marketing
Online video is used most reliably and profitably when it uniquely moves the sale ahead. Most commonly, this means demonstrating products and services to show how they work and how they affect people's lives. In other cases, it means simplifying complicated concepts to help potential prospects grasp them instantly.
You also can use YouTube to help new prospects discover your product. A "how-to" posting may capture people searching for solutions to a problem. And viral video can attract new prospects as it is passed around. But with 120,000 hours of new video on YouTube weekly, there's only a narrow chance these approaches will find dramatic numbers of new prospects.
A third role is giving prospects a branded video library they can browse—enjoying a "treasure hunt" for useful and convincing details. This works well for high involvement hobby or B-to-B products. Atomic Direct's woodworking client Kreg Tool and metal detector client White's Electronics both have highly effective branded YouTube areas.
Regardless of approach, all your video work should drive to a central Web site and call center where prospects can read the fine print, have live operators answer questions, and order the products or services.
2. Deliver Value in Your Video
Online video faces unique demands for impact. As your video starts, the first 15 seconds must prove that watching the video will be worth the download. And the remaining video must deliver the valuable information viewers want. If you succeed, recent studies show that prospects will watch far more video than you might think.
This demand for value means that not all video will keep people watching. In fact, traditional 30-second TV spots typically lack depth and meaning. (Click, I'm gone.) And vast libraries of corporate video start with self-serving, 20-second animated logo treatments. (Click, I'm gone again.)
Your most effective video choice is to say something fresh and meaningful about your product or service and resolve buyer objections. We call this "persuasive video." In my experience, producers of TV ads don't supply enough substance to persuade. And few corporate video producers currently condense the message enough for it to work online.
Finally, don't waste your prospect's time and attention. Ironically, YouTube needs to learn this. It forces prospective advertisers to watch video where a simple Web page would be more effective. That's a poor use of online video.
3. Drive Prospects to Your Video
With video assets in place, you have to drive people to view them. All too often companies are seduced by the siren song of viral video and choose not to face the hard work of driving viewership. But be realistic. How are you going to drive traffic to your videos?
Surprisingly, offline advertising may be the most effective way to drive online viewing. The online structures for driving video viewership at present are in their infancy and reach only narrow markets of potential prospects.
Last year my agency created video campaigns for the U-be Hair Weave Cap and the MegaMover Transport Chair. Both were posted on YouTube, where they were barely seen. But direct mail campaigns drove people to view embedded video on product microsites, where the videos delivered results that exceeded typical direct response effectiveness.
4. Measure YouTube Impact
Before you post, you need a strategy to determine video's contribution to your bottom line. But YouTube tracks only limited video data, e.g., the number of views and unique views.
So look beyond YouTube to programs that measure more detailed video statistics. One of the best is TubeMogul, which helps post your video to YouTube and other video sites, and then brings together in-depth tracking of all the statistics.
Start to Profit From YouTube
There are many video hosting sites, but YouTube is unique. It dominates consumer mindshare. And Web users are most comfortable navigating YouTube and passing along the videos they find.
So, create a targeted YouTube strategy that leverages video, drives viewership and increases your direct marketing profits. Then stand back. The results can be amazing.
Doug Garnett is founder and CEO of Atomic Direct, an advertising agency specializing in brands, consumer strategy, infomercials and other television. His clients include AT&T, AAA, DuPont and Rubbermaid, as well as emerging brands like the Drill Doctor, White's Electronics and Kreg Tool. Follow him on Twitter at @DRTVGuru or e-mail him at email@example.com.