12 Ways to Get More Subscribers on YouTube
Did you know that 1 billion hours of YouTube are watched by users per day? That’s equivalent to 8.4 minutes per day per human!
With its widespread popularity, it’s hard for marketers to ignore the video marketing channel. But with such high popularity comes high competition. The channel is crowded with an endless library of video content, so how can you stand out?
We’ve all caught ourselves binge watching hours upon hours of cat videos. There is nothing to be ashamed of! The question is, how can marketers steal attention away from these famous cats to get more eyes on their own YouTube channels? This is just what this article aims to provide for you – because if you’ve spent the time to invest in video then not only do you want a return, you need a return!
It’s time to grow your channel’s subscribers through some strategic work. Here are 12 tips to grow your YouTube subscribers, fast!
#1: Clean Up Your YouTube Channel
Before we get into the good stuff, it is important to do some housekeeping. While you may think everything your business does is flawless, you are not Beyoncé, so your audience might not think so... I know, I know, it’s hard to swallow, but it’s important to step away from your self and into the shoes of an outsider from time to time.
Taking a hard look at your YouTube channel and re-evaluating what is on there will likely lead to the realization that a chunk of old content should be deleted—whether it is outdated, poorly produced, or just a flop of a video that should have never made it up there in the first place. If you have something of this nature tied to your brand, it’s going to immediately turn that lead off, and cause them to lose trust in your brand. Delete it and never look back!
This brings me to my next tip…
#2: Only Create and Post Highly Watchable Content
Yes, I know this tip might seem obvious, but YouTube is full of clutter, so it’s easy to feel like you can get away with posting sub-par content. Well, you can’t! The only way to really stand out from the pack and grow your subscriber base it to create the best of the best content in your space.
The key to accomplishing this is planning during pre-production. Here are a few ways you can do this better then your competition:
Do Your Research
Watch your competitors’ videos, as well as videos in industries outside of yours, and jot down notes of the most intriguing parts. Rather then copying what your competition is doing, find a more creative way to do it better. For example, if I was in the gum business (or any other business for that matter) I’d probably take a tip or two from my all time favorite YouTube commercial, The Story of Sarah and Juan. Check it out, and just try and tell me this didn’t make you cry.
It is pretty obvious what is so wonderful about this commercial: the ability it has to elicit powerful emotions. How could your company do this?
You might think you can wing it on screen. Well, you can—but you shouldn’t. You need to plan out your script, do a table read, re-write it, table read, and re-write it again. This process improves your script to make it take on the story you’re trying to convey in the most powerful way. Businesses often underutilize the power of scripting, but mastering this art can take your videos to an entirely new level.
If you’re new to video scripting, check out this guide from Wistia!
Purchase the right equipment for an in-house studio
What is the “right” equipment? And can you afford it? This answer to the latter question is yes! Shockingly enough, the camera isn’t your most important piece of equipment. Why? Well, nowadays the camera on your iPhone is close in quality to a much more expensive alternative.
If you are shooting in-house, the most important equipment to have is a simple background, studio lights, and a tripod. Yes, there are a few other things you might need depending on the video, like props and audio equipment, but nailing down some of the basics and creating a solid in-office studio will lead to better video creation.
Make the first 10 seconds of your video the most memorable
Did you know that a whopping 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds of your video? This is why you need to make the most of the most first few seconds. (PS: If you're looking for more YouTube stats, we've got you covered.)
To make an awesome first impression, don’t start your video with a bland introduction, but rather with the most climactic part of your video. If you start with a bang viewers aren’t going to want to leave.
#3: Execute Top-Notch Channel Trailers
YouTube has this beautiful feature for marketers looking to grow their subscription base, called channel trailers. These are just as they sound, short trailers that automatically play when a visitor arrives on your YouTube channel page.
This is the perfect opportunity to build your subscription base, if, and only if, you create insanely compelling content.
These trailers need to be short (30-60 seconds), compelling, and most importantly they need to give your visitors a reason to stay. Do they need to be hilarious, beautiful, and emotionally charged? It will definitely help! What I really can’t stress enough is the need for an impactful call-to-action that gives the viewer a reason to subscribe.
Check out this awesome example from SoulPancake. Not only is the trailer the perfect length, it provokes motivational emotions, comedy, and ends with a very creative call-to-action.
#4: Make Sure Your Videos Are Under 5 Minutes
So, your videos are all 30-60 minutes because your digital engineering software is complicated to explain? Or perhaps you’re in the law industry and believe the only way to instill trust is to include long video testimonials on your channel?
While testimonials are great, long videos and YouTube do not go well together! Regardless of how complicated the product you’re marketing is, your videos should never exceed 5 minutes.
Why? Well, science. Study after study proves that online video viewers have a short attention span. I mean, did you forget earlier when I told you how 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds? In fact, HubSpot has found that the ideal length for videos on YouTube is a nice and concise 2 minutes. So re-edit those long webinars, and turn them into short, snappy clips.
If you feel like you can’t cut down your content, the tip below will definitely come in handy!
#5: Turn a Set of Videos into a Binge-Worthy Playlist
Do you have a set of videos that go together? Perhaps you do a recurring weekly educational series, or you have a set of webinars around the same theme?
Whatever it is, you should make that grouping into a YouTube playlist. This will allow your viewers to continue watching without having to manually search for and click into the next video.
Why is this good for subscription growth? Well, it will keep people on your channel longer, and show them that you have a plethora of quality content. This will also keep your video content highly organized so your channel doesn’t become a cluttered mess that turns users away.
BuzzFeed Tasty does an awesome job at this. Check out their YouTube playlist page, which is grouped by different categories like, “Dinner,” “Vegetarian,” and my personal favorite because I despise dishes, “One-Pot Recipes.”
#6: Add Powerful CTA’s Into Your Videos
All good marketers know how to create powerful calls-to-action, or CTA’s. So why not use these skills of yours to give users a reason to return to your channel through a subscribe-able call-to-action?
How does this work exactly? If the idea of inserting a CTA into a video sounds complicated, and possibly above your technical capabilities, I’ve got good news: It’s not! YouTube has made this easy by allowing marketers to add end screens and cards into their videos. Let me break down these two options a bit further:
End Screens: An end screen is just what it sounds like, a screen where a call-to-action will appear are the end of your video. Whether you want to encourage viewers to subscribe, point them to the next video, or even promote your website or crowdfunding campaign, you can do all of these things with end cards. End screens allow you to chose from four different elements depending on your goal.
You can even have multiple elements per end-screen (like in the image below). End cards can appear during the last 5-20 seconds of your video, which must be at least 25 seconds long. Check out this link to learn more about end screens.
Cards: If end screens aren’t your thing, check out YouTube cards! These babies allow you to add more interactivity during your video, whether it’s pointing viewers to a specific URL, showing a video or playlist, promoting your channel, or even polling your audience.
Here’s an example of what a card looks like in action:
The only thing to keep in mind with cards is that users do need to press the little “I” icon at the right corner of the video to make the card appear. Check out this link to learn more about YouTube cards.
#7: Create Custom Human Thumbnails
Let’s face it, the reason we’re warned not to judge a book by its cover is because we do it all the time. Your video thumbnail is essentially the cover of your video, so you need it to be absolutely beyond engaging. In fact, I’d argue that the video thumbnail is the most critical item determining whether or not a visitor is going to play or not play your video.
The greatest way to ensure people play your video is by using an image of a smiling human making direct eye-contact as the thumbnail for your video. Why? People relate to other people. Another hot tip to take your thumbnail to the next level – throw a smile on it!
"Smiling is the outward manifestation of happiness and serves to begin to connect us to others," says Dr. Adrian Furnham, an organizational and applied psychologist.
#8: Post Often and Consistently
Yes, I understand this might be hard to fathom at first. Not every marketing team has a full-time videographer to be grinding out content after all.
Luckily, if you followed my advice in Tip #2 about building an in-house studio, scripting and creating well-done videos can easily become part of your weekly workflow. Consistency is key, because subscribers are not going to stay subscribed if you never update your channel or if you update 4 times in one week and then take a month-long hiatus.
If you’re at all into SEO, you have likely heard of Moz. Moz does a great series called Whiteboard Fridays, with a weekly video that breaks down some SEO concept on a crisp whiteboard.
Not only are these videos super-engaging and well produced, but they’re CONSISTENT. They are called Whiteboard Fridaysfor a reason. If you can nail down a re-occurring series like this, you’ll be golden for providing your subscribers consistent video content, leading you not only to keep current subscribers, but also attract new subscribers and increase video engagement.
#9: Invest in YouTube Advertising
The time has come to take your wallet out. You didn’t think all of these tips would be free of charge, did you?
Take a deep breath, I’m not asking you to shell out too much cash, but putting some budget behind promoting your YouTube channel is a pretty full-proof way of increasing your subscription base. The internet is a crowded space, and money talks, so it’s important to invest some of your marketing budget behind your channel.
YouTube makes advertising your channel very customizable with a variety of ad formats, including:
- Display ads
- Overlay ads
- Skippable and non-skippable video ads
- Bumper ads
- Sponsored cards
Similar to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube also allows for video targeting based on interest, demographics, and/or in-market audiences.
If you’re new to the YouTube advertising world, check out this post for some additional tips.
#10: Promote your Channel to Relevant Online Communities
Whether it be a Twitter chat, LinkedIn group, Reddit, or another popular online community in your industry, you should be actively engaging in these worlds and spreading your video content when relevant.
Let’s say you work for an accounting firm and are participating in a conversation where people seem to be struggling with their taxes. This is the perfect time to share your helpful video to introduce your services that some of these tax payers may even take you up on.
#11: Incentivize People to Subscribe to Your Channel
All the parents out there understand the power of bribery. “If you eat your vegetables, I’ll let you watch the iPad for 10 minutes before bed.” These are words that I’ve heard my sister say to her boys time and time again.
The funny this is, bribery is not something that we grow out of. In fact, it works exceedingly well on adults because it’s human nature to love free things. So, yes, you should bribe people to subscribe to your YouTube channel. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it actually works!
Here are two ways to incentivize people to subscribe:
- Run a cross-channel contest: This is one of the oldest marketing bribery tricks in the book, but it works wonders if done well. For instance, let’s say you run a bowling alley in town. Create a contest where you promote your business on Facebook and Instagram, where the guidelines of winning a free night of food and bowling include liking your Instagram post, commenting, and subscribing to your YouTube channel. Inform contestants that the YouTube channel’s link is in your Instagram bio (#linkinbio) so they can easily navigate there and subscribe to your videos. And voila! Your YouTube subscription base has grown overnight.
- Encourage viewers to subscribe for additional benefits in your videos: Another easy way to grow subscribers is by working the viewers that have already landed on one of your YouTube videos. Clearly they are already interested in your brand on some level, so why not use this opportunity to get them to subscribe? Do a subscriber-only giveaway: Announce in the video that if they subscribe they’ll be sent a free e-book or be given a free month-long trial of your software. Of course you’ll need to deliver on those promises, but this is a great way to get more subscribers in the door.
#12: Optimize Your YouTube Channel for Search
Last, but definitely not least, make sure your YouTube videos are optimized to rank in search engine results and in the results that show up when people search within YouTube itself.
SEO for YouTube videos can get a bit technically involved, but there are some very easy wins you can do to get your videos in good SEO shape. A few of these best practices include:
- Create Searchable Titles: Try to align your video with a popular keyword, and make sure to use the keyword you’re targeting in your video title (you can use AdWords or our Free Keyword Tool to do some quick keyword research and pinpoint some good terms people are searching for). Also, make sure your title isn’t too long; I’d recommend keeping it around 50 characters max.
- Add a Transcript to Every Video: Video transcripts are a great way to make your videos more accessible to a larger audience, and they also help with SEO! Transcripts essentially act as page copy, giving your video more indexable text so you can rank for more queries.
- Optimize Your Video Descriptions: Don’t just jam-pack this field with keywords, rather make it an engaging and well-written description of what the video is about, and do use your most critical keywords.
- Don’t Forget About Meta Tags: Meta tags are another way to get your keywords into your video, and make it more searchable. I’d recommend searching for popular videos in your space and seeing what meta tags they use. Again, make sure to not overdo it with the keywords here; just focus on the words that are most critical.
Ready for a lot more YouTube subscribers? Then get to work and make it happen!
To sum up...
Here are the best ways to get subscribers on YouTube:
- Delete any old, low-quality videos from your channel
- Write a great script, use the right equipment, and keep your videos short for maximum engagement
- Create a super-engaging channel trailer
- Edit videos to 5 minutes or under, with an attention-grabbing first 10 seconds
- String shorter videos together into a binge-able playlist
- Add CTA's like end screens and cards into your YouTube videos
- Create a custom thumbnail, preferably featuring a smiling face
- Post new videos on a consistent schedule
- Promote your videos with YouTube advertising
- Promote your videos on other social channels and communities
- Incentivize people to subscribe with contests and giveaways
- Use SEO techniques to optimize your video for search