Content Marketing

The No Hype Guide To Video Marketing on YouTube

Let’s get one thing straight, if you want to use video as a way to market your business, you’re going to have to learn about production.

This whole idea behind “all you need is a webcam” is pretty much garbage. Don’t believe me, when was the last time you watched someone’s webcam video for extended periods of time? To be fair, it’s sometimes true that a webcam is all you need, but only if you have an engaging video personality. And let’s face it, being good on video is not a skill that most people are born with.

I’d love to tell you otherwise, but one look at the YouTube Trends blog would suggest otherwise.

Big businesses are savvy now and they’re throwing more money into production. If you want to be competitive, you’ve got to have some skills. 

What Skills Do I Need?

In order to create videos that are going to be worth your audience’s time, you (or a team) are going to need to have a solid handle on at least these 5 areas:

  • Storytelling/Writing
  • Editing
  • Composition
  • Networking
  • A Basic Understanding of SEO

These basic components are in the DNA of nearly every video that spreads online.


This is the foundation. Without a basic understanding of how to tell a story, there is no way you’re going to make a video that’s worth watching.

Being a good writer is not as essential to being a good storyteller, which is why some unscripted talking to the webcam videos can work, but it is certainly essential if your story isn’t compelling enough on it’s own.

Consider these two people talking about food:

(I dare you to watch for longer than a minute and a half)

and the now popular Dayum Drops:

In the Five Guys Review, even though the host is talking to the camera the entire time, his personality, and his ability to move through the story from start to finish keeps you watching the entire time.

In real life, you or I might just cram food into our faces without much thought for story (even if it’s tasty). His expression, however, makes you vicariously experience this moment of bliss when he bites into the burger. His ability to vividly tell the story of eating a Five Guys cheeseburger makes you want that experience, which is a ringing endorsement for the Five Guys brand.

Dayum Drops has such an engaging personality, he can take a mundane event and turn it into an experience with no script at all. On the other hand, the show “Tales of Mere Existence” tells the story of mundane events, but with clever writing and a dry voice over (if only to emphasize the mundaneness of it all):

At the end of the day, good storytelling is the foundational element that separates the competent videos from everything else. It is also often the missing element in most online videos. Without a good story, there is nothing to build on, so the video is destined to fail.

A few key resources on storytelling and writing:

Terrible Mind’s 25 Things You Should Know About Story Structure

Lew Hunter’s ScreenWriting 434

Stephen King’s On Writing


One thing I can say with the utmost sincerity is good video is more about what’s taken out than what’s left in.

If you want to make good videos, you’re going to cut the script. You’re going to move your story structure around. You’re going to shoot things that will never see the light of day.

Editing is the most frustrating, most time consuming, most rewarding experience.

It happens in two phases:

Pre-Production: This is where you’re plan your video. You write your script, figure out your locations, and plan your camera angles.

After you’ve planned your story and written the first draft of your script, it’s important to cut out all of the parts that are superfluous. Then, once you’ve written your script (even if it’s as something simple as a burger review) you need to read it aloud so you can rewrite and cut all all parts that do not move the story forward.

If you’re shooting “on location” it may become necessary to edit the script again. More often than not, you’ll find certain things don’t work as well in real life as they did when it was just you and your computer.

Your script may need to be edited frequently throughout the entire process. So long as your edits are ultimately serving the story, frequent editing is okay.

Post-production: After all of your footage is shot, it’s time to put it all together. This is the part where most people just aren’t willing to put in the time, probably because editing a video is very hard work.

It has been said that in the average 90 minute move there are over 5000 cuts. Editing is what makes the video. It controls the pace of the story.

“The choice and length of shots shape our response to everything we see on the screen… It’s the reason we like movies, because in the end, wouldn’t we like to edit our own lives?”
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing

See what James Cameron has to say about this build up in Terminator 2:

A major Hollywood production shoots nearly 200 hours of film, the editor may work for months, even years, turning those 200 hours into a 90 minute movie. Professional video bloggers do it too, just much quicker.

Try watching only the first 14 seconds of this video. You’ll see what I’m getting at:

Did you watch all 3 minutes? Me too.


You may have heard him mention the “Rule Of Thirds” at the 0:27 second mark in the video above.

This is what he was talking about:

The Rule of Thirds is the basic building block for video composition and is an even older component in that visual language we were talking about earlier.

If your video involves complex movement and editing, you need to storyboard to organize your thoughts. Yes, it takes more time, but it’s a lot less complicated than getting to your set and trying to figure everything out on the spot. One of the major signs of a rookie video maker is someone who is not able to visually communicate the story. Be sure to have an idea of how your story will flow before you start filming, otherwise you risk losing your audience.

Here’s a whole series of videos about storyboarding on Vimeo.


If nobody sees your videos, do they really exist?

The truth is, there are volumes upon volumes of content about how to effectively social network. Heck, I even made a video about it myself:

But in my experience, I’ve found that the best networking for showing off your videos happens in person.

If the thought of showing your videos to people in person freaks you out, there’s a simple solution: Make better videos.

A Basic Understanding of SEO

Basic SEO deals with the findability of your content, but I put this component last because assumptions are too often made that if your video is findable, then it’s going to convert.

This couldn’t be any further than the truth. If your video is good, it’s going to convert. If it’s findable, that’s just icing on the cake.

So what do we do to make it more findable?

  • Keyword Research
  • Title Tag Optimization
  • Description Optimization
  • Video Transcript

Keyword Research

Simply put, what phrases are people typing in if they wanted to find your video?

You probably already thought about these keywords while making your video, but what you probably didn’t realize is that in addition to using the Google Keyword tool,  you should also be looking at the YouTube Keyword Tool.

Don’t make the assumption that because 10,000 people are searching for a particular keyphrase through Google, that they’re going to be searching for it in YouTube as well. Remember, most people are going to YouTube for entertainment or very specific types of tutorials, whereas Google can be used to search for anything under the sun.

For example, Google’s keyword tool returns 49,500 global monthly searches for the phrase “landing pages”, while YouTube’s states “Not Enough Data”. The term “make money online”, however, returns 368,000 and 20,000 respectively. Therefore, look at both places and try to find the middle ground between them.

Title Tag Optimization

It’s important to use your Keyword phrase in the title, but be careful not to make it look spammy.

Here are the first 4 examples for for the phrase “KettleBell Workout”:

Notice how each one gives you a very specific idea of what the video is about. Each one offers something a little different, but gives the searcher the freedom to choose what is going to be best for them. For reference YouTube’s keyword tool shows 21,600 searches for the phrase, while Google says 49,500; that’s a perfect sweet spot for keyword optimization.

Description Optimization

Notice how the words “KettleBell” and “Workout” are bolded in the description area of the videos? That’s because the video producer remembered to add them throughout the description.

Include your Keywords, but don’t overdo it. Google loves going slaphappy on spammy content.

Also, don’t forget to include a link to your desired call to action as high up in the description. If you want people to share the video, use a service called If you want people to opt into a mailing list, insert a link to the landing page you want them to go to. It’s as simple as that.

Video Transcript

This is a big one that many creators often skip, because it can be a bit of a tedious process.

If you were smart in your planning, you created a script of your dialog ahead of time. Open up that script in Notepad, remove everything except the dialog, and save as a .txt file.

Then, add your transcript to YouTube:

Aside from making your hearing-impaired and international viewers happy, this also gives additional content for the GoogleBot to index when they’re trying to determine which videos to rank into the searches.

See, GoogleBot can’t watch videos (poor guy) so he looks for as much relevant information on the page as possible in order to determine what he should put into Google’s main search.

This isn’t a fool-proof tactic by any means, but it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances.

Notice the top two video results in the Google Search for “KettleBell Workout”:

They’re the first and third results from the search we did on YouTube above. The #1 video result here does not have a transcript, but the #2 result does.

So again, it’s not an exact science, but even if you don’t end up ranking in Google, many of your viewers will still appreciate it because having text that coincides with your video often helps people retain the information better.

A Few More Notes

Play to Your Strengths

If you’re not funny, don’t try to ham it up. If you are don’t get too concerned about doing it right.

Even Hubspot has their own in-house SEO rapper:

Encourage Video Responses

On YouTube the hierarchy of social currency looks something like this:

  1. View count (least important)
  2. Like (slightly more important)
  3. Comment (pretty important)
  4. Video Response (most important)

These factors all play into how your videos rank for any given keyword on YouTube. Of these, the video response is the most important because it requires the most investment from your viewer.

“But how to I encourage video responses?” you ask.

Chances are, your customers are going to be pretty camera shy, which means you’re going to have to think outside of the box.

The most obvious thing you can do is network with fellow YouTubers since you already know they’re comfortable on camera. Because video comments and responses are so important, you may consider responding to one of their videos first before asking for the return favor.

Inbound Links

Just like other web content, links and embeds on relevant, high quality websites signal to YouTube and Google that your video is one of the good ones.

If you need places to scout for links, plug in a major competitor’s channel URL into

If you’re not a paid member, you’ll only get 10 results, but this provides you with a starting place to give you an idea of where else you should look.

It may seem counterintuitive to encourage inbound links that point anywhere other than your website, but remember that YouTube and your website are two entirely different properties. Having different people link to each place means you have more chances of dominating the search rankings with your content on a given keyword.


Like I said in the beginning, if you want to use video marketing for your business your first concern should be creating high quality videos.

If your video isn’t funny, or shocking, or scary, or extremely informative and full of personality, the effort of marketing and promotion will be fruitless. Focus on marketing only after you’ve created something worth marketing, otherwise it’s just a ton of wasted effort.

Have you noticed the “recommended videos” that show up on the right sidebar when you’re watching a video on YouTube? Those are the videos that have the highest retention rates, so if people aren’t watching your videos all the way through, you’re not showing up as recommended. If you’re not showing up, you’re missing out on more potential viewers.


Facebook Comments


  1. ctheisen says

    I’ve gotta say I disagree with quite a few assessments. The you need to be great at production and editing point isn’t 100% true. While you need a basic understanding of those things there are tools and services now that allow you to not need the editing and production chops you once did to produce consumable video that drives your goals. Most of my videos that have performed the best were filmed with Flip cameras. With phones being able to shoot in 720 or 1080 now the highly produced and highly edited content doesnt have to be the only way you go. When it comes to transcripts you are right, most people miss that. Most people also miss that for around $1.50 per minute there are great companies that will auto transcribe your video and they do a great job on accuracy. I’d caution people to have a script in the first place and would steer them to bulleted talking points so having a script handy means your video probably isnt as consumable if you let the story and subjects mold the video instead of the other way around. Lastly you talk alot about YouTube video responses and optimization. While I’m with you 100% on the things you need to do to help your video get views on YouTube I’d argue people concentrate to much on this. Tag it, title it, optimize it for YouTube then do nothing else with it on YouTube. Embed it on a channel you own like your site or blog and then drive the traffic to that space. Once a video is on YouTube driving traffic to YouTube is a waste if you first don’t drive traffic to where its easier to convert people to whatever your goal is. You aren’t wrong with most of this, I’d just hate for people to read this and think video is so daunting that they don’t even want to start. If you are in charge of video and nothing else at your company then these are great tips, otherwise I’d look at other methods of creating great, consumable video content that drives towards goals.

    • says

      With the high volume (and only increasing) of video content being posted and shared, the cream is gonna have to eventually rise to the top, which means (soon) your production quality and storytelling ability will be what sets the barrier to entry.

      Everyone is now officially a video critic and will immediately qualify or disqualify your content based on initial impression and presentation. THEN your ability to make your audience forget about the critique and focus on the message is what will set it apart.

      If it’s too easy, then everyone does it, if everyone does it, then where’s the value in “watching yours”? Creativity and the art.

      • ctheisen says

        Fair enough but Ive seen plenty of well produced content that looks great but doesnt do or say what i wanted it to. Thats why I think the storytelling or problem solving ability of the content matters more than the production. I’ve watched videos all the way through on how to change my headlight that had horrible production value but from the start I could tell the content would solve my problem. I’m not saying don’t think about production value, Im saying it wouldn’t be as high a priority on my list. This also goes back to promoting the video on your channels. Its easier to stand out when you aren’t up against hundreds of other suggested videos and searches. Leveraging your channels helps you standout by not getting lumped in with everyone else in the first place. Any traffic you get from YouTube searches and suggested videos should be gravy, not the goal.

        • says

          I can agree, channels must be established and built, before thinking of web video content.

          I do think production value is (and will be) a key component. Not scripting or props, but the lighting, color, framing, audio recording, etc…we create trust and associated value with the visuals produced.

          If you’re just putting content on the internet to purely share something, that’s one thing (changing a light bulb, building a bird house), but if you’re sharing a message or promoting a brand, production HAS to be a priority.

          • says

            Totally agree, and the scripting and props are really dependent on what kind of video you’re doing too.

            Even with something like changing your car’s headlight, right now, there might not be videos produced at a higher standard but that’s because AutoZone hasn’t created that video yet…

            …or if they have, they didn’t optimize it fully to outrank the guy who did it first on his cellphone camera 2 years ago and got all the shares in forums and backlinks from the auto blogs, shame they didn’t send more links to the video page.

    • says

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts :-) The point about production is that Somebody has to do it. And this post is really for those who are looking to produce on their own.

      Most people will take their editing into their own hands, which ultimately makes or breaks a production. I did 22 episodes of my first youtube series on nothing but a flip cam, but we made it work because our understanding of lighting for the equipment that we have, and the editing that was involved. (It must also be disclosed that I’ve been a hobbiest video editor for nearly 14 years)

      IF you don’t have that sort of understanding of editing and most importantly timing, then yes, you should use a service, but that doesn’t by any means nullify my point that the editing should still be there.

      Nothing in this post talked about actual equipment, because that’s irrelevant if you know how to work within the limitations of the gear you’re working with (see the video from the video blogger I embedded)

      In terms of having a script, many of the videos I’ve watched from people without scripts decend very quickly into ramblings and uh’s and ahs. (watch the first food video review) Bulleted talking points are a great idea, IF you’re comfortable giving presentations, and really at the end of the day, that comes down to the style and format of the video that’s being produced.

      Thanks for the point of the transcription service, would you mind posting a link?

      In terms of Youtube optimization, it’s very much in line with what you said in this comment from another article. “I will say that Google likes itself some Google owned properties…”

      It’s like any other SEO and this is about getting your videos higher in the Youtube and Google search rankings, #2 and #1 search engines respectively.

      By pointing links to your Youtube video/channel you’re signaling to google that these videos are worth ranking.

      Yes you should ALSO do that on your own website, but if you’re only doing title/tag/description optimization, it’s like writing a blog post but never encouraging people to talk about it. To get higher in the rankings, thereby exposing more people to your brand, you have to follow the same principles of SEO both on page, and off page.

      I now see that I failed to mention in the article that it’s about balancing it in your link profile, because you’re right, it CAN be a waste of time to drive traffic to your youtube channel, but again this depends on how much you want to focus on discovery vs. engagement and your own views on strategy.

      Even if the tone of this comes off as combative, what you’ve said here offers a balanced perspective on this whole conversation and is very valuable to anyone who reads it. Could you link me to your videos, I’d love to take a look and see what you’re doing :-)

  2. Fade Adenile says

    Thanks for these insights. Just to motivate you readers, let me give you some facts about youtube:
    top 3 website in the world
    more than 1 billion unique visits
    over 6 billion hours of video are watched
    100 hours of video are uploaded
    70% of traffic comes from outside the US
    localize in 56 countries and 61 languages

    Imagine the number of customers that you will be able to tap using the power of Youtube. I found a free marketing report, shoot me an email if you want the link

  3. Jon @ Vidyard says

    Just came to this post via Jay Baer’s tweet – great writeup!

    I noticed that Video Responses are rated highest in your hierarchy of social currency on YouTube, so I wanted to share the news that YouTube is actually getting rid of Video Responses as of September 12th:

    Not sure how they’ll be filling in the blank on this in terms of rank.

    Agree with ctheisen’s comments on driving viewers back to your site – if your aim is to build a following on YouTube, then by all means host your content exclusively on YouTube. However, if your aim is to drive awareness about your product or service, make sure your YouTube annotations and description link back to your site. Embedding your video on your site is also key – since you’ve probably put quite a bit of effort into your video, it’s worth having multiple avenues for viewers to see it.

  4. mohammad umair says

    Don’t want to be a spoil sport but couldn’t help but say that the core content of your article appears too late in the article.

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