You share your products with YouTubers because you want their audience to see them. Unlike a typical ad buy, or sponsored content purchase, working with YouTubers to share your products without compensation is a form of PR, which means it's more authentic, credible and engaging than advertising, but for a fraction of the price.
That doesn't mean YouTube placements are better, cheaper ads; they work differently. So how should a YouTube campaign's success be measured, if not like an ad? Let us count the ways.
First, a word about how consumers buy.
We all know that social media and other trusted sources of information now play a much more important role in consumer buying behavior than do brand-driven communications. In fact, Millennials claim not to be swayed by ads at all. According to a recent study by Elite Daily, Millennials also consult social media prior to purchases, trust authenticity over content, and want to engage with brands, not simply be sold to. These factors mean they buy differently than consumers in the past; it's not a linear sales funnel.
While Millennials get all the attention, the truth is most consumers now follow new buying patterns. As we discussed in regards to gaining more media impressions as a key component of your marketing efforts, McKinsey found that after a consumer starts to think about buying, the number of products they'd consider actually increases. It's no surprise then that
In order to get your product into consideration, it has to show up in the places your potential buyer is going to look: organic searches`, blogs, YouTube channels and their friends' social feeds. If an exposure to your product is the initial buying trigger, that's great. But it doesn't mean they're on the path to buying your product. You just kicked off the investigation process. Your buyer still needs to find more supporting evidence that your product is worth a try, and that information can't come from you.
User-generated, third party info is where it's at: Lots of useful exposures to your products in lots of places, generated by people other than you. You need to get your product into the mix of user-generated content, because your finely crafted messaging and tightly controlled sales funnel is largely invisible to almost every consumer who might want your stuff, and is ready to buy.
Does that mean you should never expect clicks and purchases from a YouTube marketing campaign? No. Interesting and highly differentiated products (and offers) get clicks. But because YouTube product mentions are different than ads, there are more ways they can provide value as a part of your marketing strategy.
5 Ways Your YouTube Marketing Campaign Creates Value
1. Honest, Third Party Content
No matter what you kind of content your company creates, it's still branded content. Sometimes, it's super cool content and consumers love it. Creative agencies get paid big bucks to make a brand look cool.
Way back in 2002, when snowboarding had just arrived in the mainstream, it's young stars were fighting to maintain their independent, definitely-not-a-sellout type images. Danny Kass was among the best of the best and coolest of the cool. When asked why he didn't want to accept a lucrative Mountain Dew deal, he provided the pithy reply, "Because I don't want to Do the Dew-- dude."
Even before social media was a thing, Danny valued his personal brand more than the money someone could pay him to endorse theirs. Danny's made a lot of money from endorsements and his own brand since then, but the point remains: his image was important to him, and it still is.
Today, everyone is aware of their personal image and how they can harm or help it with every choice. YouTubers and other influential creators want to serve their audiences first-- authenticity and integrity are central to the choices they make. Product companies can't easily game them, which is why their mentions of your products matter so much.
You get all this, sure-- it's how PR works. But do you also plan to leverage their content to use through your own channels? You should be prepared to tweet, facebook, blog, pin, email, make supercut videos... of every mention you get. When the cool kids talk about your product because they want to-- not because you paid them-- you win. So use it.
2. Total Videos Found in Organic Search
After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. While many videos will only yield a small number of views, search marketing and digital PR pros know that crowding the first few pages of organic search with the results you want is more powerful than just about any paid media strategy.
Sponsored videos you pay for don't get found in organic search because Google only wants to put editorial content there. That's one big reason why giving products away to YouTubers is such a worthwhile strategy.
Google "Aquis hair towels" and choose Video for your search results. A full 8 out of 10 results on the first page are the direct result of placements Aquis secured by working with YouTubers through Content BLVD. The nature of search engine optimization is such that these videos aren't just showing up in isolation. They are all contributing to Aquis' online credibility. Now, the more Aquis does online, the higher every item will rank in search.
So while any given video may not yield a crazy number of views, it will likely add to your organic search footprint. The more videos you get published, the more listings are created in organic search results, helping more consumers find you when they are ready to buy-- not necessarily at the moment the videos are published.
3. Total Social Shares
We've seen an interesting phenomenon occurring when YouTubers feature products they found through Content BLVD. As smart media producers, YouTubers tend to share their videos across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more. They talk about products before and after creating their videos. And, surprisingly, their social activity about a product or video can garner more engagement than the video itself.
Loyal followers are all too happy to share what they consider to be worthwhile posts from their favorite influencers. Again, while a single video may not grab the views you hoped it would, the ripples of influence often reach far beyond YouTube itself. Be sure to listen and watch for these value-added mentions and share them with your own followers.
Let YouTubers know about your other social media handles, so they can mention your company directly. Influence is media agnostic. Just ask your customers.
4. Total Video View Counts
No doubt about it, if your product is seen by a lot of viewers in the first few days after it's video is published, you're ahead of the game. Not only is it creating brand awareness, but your target audience is tuning in because they like and trust the YouTuber's channel, and those feelings tend to rub off on your product.
At the same time, a popular video may contain a less-than-ideal mention of your product, while a barely-seen video may showcase a testimonial or review you are eager to use and share as much as possible. A large number of video views is a great result, but far from the only result that matters.
Many more YouTubers discussing your product will do your brand more good in the long run than a single video with lots of views. (See reasons one through three, above.) That's why total views across videos is more important than the number of views any one video captures.
5. Feedback and Impressions You can Use
When we first launched our private beta in the spring of 2015, a number of product companies and their agencies saw an immediate benefit: unbiased product feedback. Many companies spend huge sums of money recruiting users who can help steer their product development and marketing efforts.
Our marketplace helps make that process happen with a tiny fraction of the time, effort and expense it would otherwise take. Not only do YouTubers provide unbiased feedback, but the discussion of your product in the comments section often holds key revelations that you need to hear. Is something unclear about it's use? What's their opinion of it compared to competing products?
It's normal for people inside your company to be crystal clear about what makes your product different and better. Those ideas, however, aren't always apparent to, or appreciated by people outside the company, even would-be supporters.
And, in the event the YouTuber is unwilling to share a product with their audience because they don't like it, that becomes a valuable learning opportunity for you. We're working on ways to solicit more feedback directly from YouTubers, so you can use Content BLVD to market your products, and also learn how to develop and market them better.
By connecting with YouTubers who are also part of your target customer base, you're gaining value that you just don't get by pushing out a marketing campaign with no built-in feedback.
6. Clickthroughs to Your Website
Any marketer would love more clicks. If you don't get customers to the right page, how else would they buy? It's a valid question, but if it's your only measure of success, then you're missing out on a great deal of what we discussed above, given that the typical buying process is now a consumer-driven investigation, rather than an ad-driven funnel.
If clicks matter most to you, you'll need to focus on giving customers a great reason why. Are you offering a discount? A special deal? A giveaway? Is your product something that's truly different and interesting? Does your website or product page offer some other kind of value that is clear and compelling? Of course, special deals can be hard to work into an earned media placement without it seeming like an infomercial, defeating the honest and authentic nature of the mention, so use the tactic carefully.
Aquis Hair Towels reported a 44% increase in website traffic during the first few weeks of their Content BLVD campaign. A high quality product with clear benefits, a raving YouTuber user base and free product giveaways helped make their product stand out. Increased clicks can and do happen.
But remember, consumers are exposed to hundreds of products a day (some say thousands). Well over 99% of those exposures trigger no clicks. Yours has to be different in some substantive way in order to earn one. Generally speaking, PR efforts aren't click magnets. (Of course, these days, neither are ads.)
This is when you get the money. Aquis succeeded in ramping up their sales by 20%! Given that they were pushing no other marketing channels at the time, it seems their Content BLVD campaign was a clear success. That kind of outcome from just 22 YouTube videos is the exception, not the rule, and it's significantly influenced by the wide appeal of their high quality product.
If your YouTube marketing efforts directly drive sales, that's fantastic. Revenue, however, is only one of many good reasons why you'd choose to put your products in the hands of influencers. So before you begin choosing YouTubers and shipping products, take the time to consider the outcomes that are most meaningful to you. Sophisticated consumers demand sophisticated marketing strategies.
How else do you gain value by working with YouTubers? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! And if you enjoyed this article, please tweet: