YouTube - with its billion unique monthly users, 6 billion hours of footage watched a month and increasingly influential army of experts, reviewers and vloggers - can seem both an exciting and a daunting prospect when it comes to cutting through the noise and promoting your brand.
For ecommerce marketers in particular, the platform presents a very specific set of challenges from a content marketing perspective: how do I reach the right people? What kind of content should I be producing? How do I get people from viewing my videos to spending money in my store?
Here are five ways that online retailers are making their YouTube marketing efforts a success.
1) Make shopping easy
As online retailers plow more of their marketing budgets into content creation, ensuring that this content contributes to making sales rather than distracting customers from the business of buying stuff is a key priority.
Luckily, there are a number of options for ensuring that folk can skip from YouTube to your store within a few clicks, ready to buy all the goodies they’ve seen.Optimise your video description
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many online retailers fail to add any sort of call to action to their YouTube videos.
Adding a ‘shop the look/view the collection/buy now + hyperlink’ call to action in a video description is a simple quick win - ensure yours are above the ‘show more’ fold and link to a specific page where viewers can buy items featured in the video, rather than just a generic page like your homepage.
YouTube lets you insert external links to your website into your videos (instructions on how to enable this here).
Although the external linking process is a tad on the clunky side at the moment, it’s certainly a great opportunity to link specific elements of any YouTube creation to a relevant landing page on your store.
Add links in the form of pop-up overlays (like in the River Island example below), or work calls to action into the video itself that you can then hyperlink from the YouTube video manager (like ASOS have done in the shot below - incidentally, a brilliant interactive video that’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t already!).
2) Get chummy with vloggers
Vloggers are the undisputed kings (and queens) of the YouTube playground and beyond, and brands are fast wising up to the benefits of having a strong vlogger relations strategy.Collaborating with vloggers to create your own YouTube videos
Missguided has done a great job of tapping into the popularity of top fashion vloggers and their eager audiences by creating collaborative videos, hosted on its own YouTube channel. The video below featuring Sammi Maria (whose YouTube channel ‘Beautycrush’ has over a million subscribers) shopping the brand’s new party wear range is a fantastic example of this, and to date has achieved nearly 200,000 hits.
Using vlogger videos that feature your products as social proof
Whether you’re working alongside a vlogger or they just happen to mention one of your products in one of their haul videos, it’s important to get as much mileage as you can from the association.
New Look, for example, has created a whole playlist of various bloggers talking about the brand’s products, which is on display to anyone who visits their channel - a great exercise in social proof.
(p.s. creating Google Alerts for mentions of your brand is a handy way of flagging up any mentions that you weren’t aware of).
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3) Do some cool collaborations
As storytelling become an increasingly important branding exercise, online retailers are starting to experiment with creative collaborations with artists, musicians and other businesses that tie in with their brand image.
Burberry’s incredibly successful ‘Burberry Acoustic’ series featuring acoustic sessions with both upcoming and established artists has achieved over a million views and really puts Burberry on the map as a brand that supports music and British artists. In the introductory video, CEO Christopher Bailey says:
“It’s basically live acoustic sessions with bands that we love, bands that we admire, bands that we believe in and young British new bands, because music is so important to us and I know it is for so many of you guys.”
Similarly, footwear company Steve Madden puts on acoustic sessions - like the one below - accompanied by interviews with the featured artist.
4) Tutorials and how-tos
Creating content that is useful or interesting to your target audience is a cornerstone of content marketing in any industry. And the opportunity for tutorials and how-to videos to achieve viral success on YouTube is vast.
Luxy Hair built a seven figure ecommerce business pretty much entirely through extensive marketing through YouTube (you can read the full case study here). How? Not by creating a bunch of in-your-face ‘buy our hair extensions now!!!’ videos, that’s for sure. Its YouTube channel hosts hundreds of short, brilliant quality hair tutorial videos, each bringing in hundreds of thousands of views a pop.
Last but not least, Victoria’s Secret has added YouTube ‘how to’ videos to its marketing arsenal surrounding the brand’s legendary catwalk shows. Harnessing the hype surrounding the models featured in the show, the brand has created a range of workout videos - like the ‘Candice Swanepoel Butt Workout’ video below - that help the brand infiltrate all aspects of fans’ daily routine.
5) Lay off the hard-sell in favour of brand building
Ultimately, any platform that a brand chooses to promote content must deliver in terms of ROI. But while showcasing new ranges and making them directly shoppable is a quick route to this on YouTube, it’s also a great platform for more slow-burn, brand image-building tactics too (as demonstrated in some of the points above).
I want to leave you with some YouTube videos from online retailers that have the ‘wow’ factor; videos that are so great that they instantly make you think ‘jeez this brand is cool’: GoPro’s breathtaking video of climbers scaling an iceberg, Free People’s short film to accompany its October 2014 collection, The North Face’s brilliant ‘see for yourself cab’ PR stunt and Warby Parker’s ingenious April Fools prank. Enjoy!