Why Your Online Store Needs a YouTube Channel in 2018 (And How to Start)
Posted Jan 11, 2018 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team

Why Your Online Store Needs a YouTube Channel in 2018 (And How to Start)

Having your own YouTube channel sounds hot and tempting. The existing YouTube stars look fun and easy-going, as if it’s a no-brainer to get in front of a million eyes. Even a simple unboxing video of a cool new gadget can go viral.

The thing is, millennials are primarily looking for information on YouTube, not in search engines. If you have a teenage kid around, you can easily prove it: just ask them to help you decide on your new smartphone. The first thing they’ll do is watch some video reviews.

YouTube has become a separate search engine, so it’s time to get in these waters. Writing your first video script takes courage, we get it. However, just like with any content creation, making videos for your YouTube channel becomes simpler with a step-by-step plan.

But first, realize what a YouTube channel can do for your online store:

  • It helps attract customers, especially a young audience.
  • It works for your branding.
  • It allows you to show the product as clearly as possible and create an effect of presence (the product cannot yet be touched, unlike in physical stores, but you can show it from all sides and in action).
  • It works as an additional (and sometimes as the main) channel of communication with customers.
  • It gives a long-term effect: the video hangs on the channel for a long time and the number of views only increases (unlike with Instagram posts).

Discover more reasons to promote your store with content marketing.

This post will help you organize the creation of your video channel, even if you’re not very familiar with YouTube.

Before you start: Do not chase millions of views. For the YouTube channel of an online store, followers and views are less important than website visits and conversions. One hundred views with ten purchases is better than one hundred thousand views and no purchases.

1. Analyze Your Competitors

Take a look at what others are up to. Search for video channels in your niche to find out what content they publish and which videos get the most views.

Let’s take a bike shop as an example. Enter “bicycles” in the YouTube search bar. You will see the three main channels of bicycle shops on the first page of search results among the entertainment channels: Global Cycling Network (over a million subscribers), Specialized Bicycles (250,000+ subscribers), Inspired Bicycles Ltd (53,000 subscribers).

YuoTube videos about bicycles

We didn’t look further into the other store channels, but you should evaluate all the major competitors to see the big picture.

Evaluate their main content elements:

Genres and titles

The videos by Specialized Bicycles are more like short movies. They are cinematographic, outdoor, and almost speechless. The company features the bike model in the title, as well as in a pretty straightforward description.

Inspired Bicycles shares extreme trip videos with riding tricks. They feature several bikes at a time and encourage their viewers to learn more about the featured bikes on their website. The title promotes the company name but doesn’t say anything about the bikes.

The last one, Global Cycling Network, posts helpful content, such as “5 Killer Cycling Workouts for 2018.” It looks like their store is just an addition to their channel, not vice versa. Well, people love helpful content. Good job, Global Cycling Network.

Popularity

Global Cycling Network’s “Cheap eBay Bikes — Which Is Best?” comes forward with 215K views versus their “How Much Can Bicycles Change Communities?” with only 25K views. The first video has more practical value to the audience.

Inspired Bicycles’ most popular video (754K views) features Danny MacAskill, a famous trails bike rider. Unless you’ve got a celeb friend, inviting someone famous to shoot for your brand new YouTube channel can be next to impossible, but keep this in mind as a viral topic.

Specialized Bicycles got a video with over a million views. It’s a short dramatic piece of footage about riding in New York. Featuring the busiest city in the world in the title and editing your video properly are good ways to attract a huge audience.

Do the same for the competitors in your niche. Pay attention not only to their best videos but also to the weakest. Don’t try to remake a video that has already failed on someone else’s channel — focus on something that has been proven to work. Do the research from time to time, not just before launching your YouTube channel.

2. Shape Your Target Audience

This is a very important step. Understanding the needs of your customers is necessary for creating relevant and engaging videos. So try to use the three ways below to understand your target audience on YouTube.

Create the semantic core

“Wow, easy, Ecwid blog,” you may think. Okay, maybe that sounds a bit too academic, but here’s all you should do: choose exactly those keywords that are close to making a purchase.

Such requests include the words “how to choose” or the names of specific products. You can use Keyword Tool to do it  it integrates the keywords from the search engines and YouTube search suggestions and then displays them in one window.

Learn more: How to Build Killer Keywords Lists for AdWords

Dive into your analytics

Accumulate information from your existing or potential customers, employees, and store analytics data:

  • Interview your customers. Drop a survey to your email subscribers to find out which topics are relevant to them.
  • Analyze your customer care stats. Whether you respond to customer requests yourself or have a whole team for it, collect the most popular questions and issues to put them on your list of topic ideas.
  • Learn more about your store visitors. Set up tracking for your site search requests to learn what keywords people use to find your products. Select those keywords that convert the most.

Analyze popular topics

Use the BuzzSumo service to spot video content that collects the most likes and shares. A monthly subscription costs $79, but the first ten most popular topics for a keyword are free. After entering the request, you will see some of the popular content pieces on this topic with the largest number of likes and shares.

The most popular articles for the keyword

The most popular articles for the keyword “bicycle” (in the last six months)

Videos on popular topics attract attention. However, attention is not always equal to sales, so it is important to estimate the potential profitability of the topic.

To choose a topic with commercial value for your video, make sure it meets the requests of the ready-to-buy segment of the audience.

For example, people who make purchases on your website came there by the request “How to choose a mountain bicycle.” Therefore, that topic has commercial value for you. But be careful with investing into a “bicycle tricks” video because those who are interested in tricks are not necessarily ready to buy a bike.

If you want more from your YouTube channel than just sales (branding, for example), you can use a wider range of topics that will help you to increase the recognition of your brand. Video marketing provides ample opportunities to work with the target audience.

As seen in section one, a bicycle shop selling bicycles for extreme riding can publish videos from competitions, training videos, and entertainment videos. Such topics will help you to create an image of experts in extreme cycling and inspire people to get into it.

3. Make a Content Plan

Write down the following for each content idea:

  • A publication date
  • A topic/category
  • A title.

Make a plan for at least a month ahead and periodically change it, tracking the popularity and effectiveness of the content.

You need to update the channel regularly, at least once a week, so that the YouTube algorithm ranks your videos higher in the search results.

Here are some YouTube video content ideas.

An answer to a question. Give answers to common questions of your customers or people in the comments.

Product reviews. This is a popular type of content for online stores. It helps to demonstrate the properties of the product to potential buyers.

Office backstage. Customers are curious to look behind the scenes and find out how and what your products are made of.

Interview with experts. Your employees, as well as guest gurus, can share a lot of insights. Inviting an offsite expert will draw their audience’s attention to your video.

Life hacks and guides. These are videos with useful information for potential buyers.

Entertaining content. From “best summer looks” to “10 potatoes that look like Channing Tatum,” everything that can make your audience nod, laugh, say “wow”, or get motivated, will do. But make sure it doesn’t harm your brand.

Stories. Just like those YouTube channels about biking mentioned above, you can shoot stories about pretty much everything that resonates with your brand. Talk to interesting people in your city, tell a customer success story, visit a public fest.

Crash tests. If your product (and budget) can survive it, shoot a crash test. You can find many examples on YouTube.

News. These are videos about company and industry news, reports from events, and reviews of new products and prereleases.

There are more video content types, but keep focused on pushing viewers towards making a purchase. Your videos should convince them that your store is the best place to buy your products. Take notes of what people say in the comments and follow their advice.

Before you publish anything, practise ignoring trolls. To define constructive criticism, check the comment for specific claims. If a person writes negatively for the sake of negativity, you have the full right to filter (delete) such comments. Don’t ever start a discussion with these people. Trolls can use every dirty word to piss you off — and if you are pissed off publicly, it can kill your brand reputation.

4. Create Your Videos

You can organize video production in three ways:

  • Building your own video studio requires equipment, employees, and if you don’t have a room, you’ll have to rent it.
  • Buying the service of a professional studio is the most expensive option.
  • Amateur shooting on a simple camera or phone camera is the best choice for a small business.

“We sometimes shoot up to 20 videos per night, we don’t do much editing. We post it gradually: first, on the website, right away, later on YouTube, 1-3 videos per week,” says Max Oransky, co-founder of Shanti-shanti.rf (an Ecwid store, Russia).

Great content is more important to your audience than the professionalism of the shooting (cat videos stay cute and funny, even at 0.3 megapixels). Just make sure you have a quiet room without extra noise, a good built-in or external microphone, and enough light.

Learn more: How to Create a Professional-Looking Promotional Video With Your Smartphone

5. Optimize Your YouTube Channel

Optimization will help people find your video channel in their search results. Use the same keywords that you used for composing the content plan (the keywords of people that are close to the purchase).

Use keywords in the title and description of the video, as well as in the subtitles and tags.

Keywords in the title of the video and the description

Keywords in the title of the video and the description

Take a look at YouTube’s ranking factors to understand what affects your video rankings. Keywords are not a cure-all. Many users view the content that YouTube displays in the list of similar and recommended videos. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely only on optimization, but you can’t abandon it.

6. Engage Your Viewers

YouTube doesn’t tolerate weaknesses when it comes to content quality. If your videos start to get fewer views, they will go down in the YouTube ranking and get even fewer views. Likes and comments also count for ranking — the more, the higher.

So here’s how to keep a hungry, but easily distracted YouTube audience engaged.

Don’t make super long videos

The video length should be equal to the viewer’s interest in it. The next Tarantino movie can last three hours, but who cares? A long promotional video might not be appreciated so well. Relatively short videos (4-20 minutes) usually gain more views.

Engage your viewers with:

  • Up-to-date, trending content
  • An involving, intriguing script
  • Clear, distinctive speech and suitable music
  • A transparent headline
  • A relevant description.

It’s easier said than done, so we’ll show you an example.This reviewer of the thinnest Acer laptop doesn’t simply read out its parameters. He makes a sensation out of it with the help of intonation, funny lines, and video editing.

Laptop review on YouTube

Be this excited about your videos and people will love you

Offer exclusives and bonuses:

  • Promise to reveal a secret at the end of the video
  • Drop a contest in the comments (“How do you want us to test this product? Submit your idea to the comments and we’ll do the one we like the most”)
  • Use YouTube’s interactive video ads to link to more content
  • Mention a coupon code somewhere in the video, etc.

Related: 25 Proven Contest Ideas to Promote Your Online Business

Use YouTube Analytics to improve your content: see at what moment viewers give up on watching your videos.

For example, if your viewers tend to leave from the very beginning, there can be two reasons: the wrong audience or a boring intro. If the video is turned off in the middle, it’s possible that the script is not dynamic enough.

7. Stimulate the Clicks to Your Store

The video channel doesn’t sell itself — sales will occur only after viewers go to the online store. They’ll be reluctant to leave YouTube, so make it super easy for them to find and buy your products.

Keep the store link visible

Be sure to add a link to your site to the description of each video and to your channel description so that customers can go over it and make a purchase.

The homepage link is good for the channel description, but it’s better to give a specific link (to product page/category) under the video that mentions the products from that category.

Linking in YouTube video descriptions

Link your video descriptions like a pro (product pages, time on video, social media)

Add a call-to-action to your video

Encourage people to click the link below to learn more about the product multiple times per video. Use all the kinds of links that the player provides.

There were other tools earlier on YouTube that helped to convert viewers. Annotations have been disabled since May 2017. Interactive tips and end screens are now available only to channels with monetization enabled, that is, those who allow YouTube to use their videos for the advertising of other products or services. But it’s unprofitable for most business channels to post other people’s advertisements in their video.

To lead the first viewers to your YouTube channel, try paid advertising. The bids on YouTube depend on the topic and category of the video. The higher the competition, the higher the price. Also, different ad types have different bids.

Advertising is configured in your Google AdWords account. There you set up the target audience, the budget, the period, and the places where the ad will be broadcast: in the search, before watching the video, or on the Display Network.

Learn more: YouTube Director: How to Create Video Ads for Your Store

9. Track Performance

Track the performance of each video. Use separate UTM tags for each video to understand where exactly store visitors come from and which videos work best. You can adjust an inefficient video, too (add an overlay, graphic elements, divide a long story into several short parts, etc.).

“We add a link to our store in every video and in their descriptions. These links generate 500-1,000 visitors a week. Conversion to the checkout from YouTube videos is not very big (1.5 times less than the store average), but often, it’s visitors from YouTube who buy expensive products.

Also, we place videos on the product pages. About 10% of the site visitors watch them, some of them make a purchase after viewing. Some people don’t notice links to the site on YouTube, they watch the video on the channel and then Google the store name. Those visitors are harder to track.” — Max Oransky, co-founder of Shanti-shanti.rf.

***

To sum up, here’s how to start selling on your YouTube channel:

  1. Analyze your competitors and the needs of your audience, find out which topics are the most relevant.
  2. Make a content plan, select the topics, and set the keywords for shooting the videos.
  3. Consider how to keep viewers engaged.
  4. Arrange, curate, and optimize your videos.
  5. Advertise to generate the first views on your channel.
  6. Regularly analyze the progress and look for improvements.
About the author
Anna is a content creator at Ecwid. She loves big cities, pasta and Woody Allen's films.