Video Marketing

9 Advanced Tactics for Promoting Your YouTube Channel

Will Fleiss
Will Fleiss

Promoting Your YouTube Channel

Here are 9 tactics for promoting your YouTube channel:

  1. Create thumbnail images that draw viewers in
  2. Give your videos irresistible titles
  3. Use search keywords that show mostly video results from Google
  4. Include calls to action
  5. Make sure you’re allowing people to embed your videos
  6. Cross promote your YouTube channel like a pro
  7. Create playlists
  8. Consistency pays off: produce a regular video series
  9. Engage with viewers through contests, response videos, and collaborations

Let’s take a deeper dive into 9 best practices and how they can help you gain more YouTube subscribers:

1. Create Great Custom Thumbnails

In an information-overloaded world, it appears that we humans have developed the ability to take in marketing messages very quickly. That might be a reason why short-form video ads are all the rage. It’s also the reason why you need to capture your viewers’ attention – fast – to get them to even click on your video. How can you do that? With the thumbnail image.  Other than your video’s title, the thumbnail image is critical for enticing that click. Don’t miss this critical opportunity – make sure to create a YouTube thumbnail image that reinforces what your video is all about. Check out this example from VICE. Their use of thumbnail optimization led to a promotion on YouTube’s homepage, and one of their most popular videos to date:

Thumbnail for YouTube Optimization


Apart from featuring in YouTube’s search results, your custom thumbnail will also be used as the preview when someone embeds your video on their site. So it’s important to keep a few rules in mind. Here’s what Google recommends for your thumbnails:

  • Resolution of 1280X720 (minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Use image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
  • Stay under the 2MB size limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio.

You can upload a custom thumbnail as soon as you upload a video by simply choosing the custom thumbnail option. To add one to an already-existing video, go to your Video Manager, click Edit for the video you want to work with, and then click Custom thumbnail.

2. Give Your Video a Killer Title

When potential viewers are searching YouTube, it’s your video title that’s going to do most of the work of grabbing their attention. Yet creating engaging titles is not as simple as it might seem. Firstly, make your title descriptive but keep it short enough that it won’t be cut off when displayed.  Make it exciting and interesting, but don’t resort to clickbait-y titles. And don’t forget to include keywords for search, preferably in the first half of the title.

3. Reverse Engineer Google’s SERPs

There are several video SEO optimization techniques to improve your search rankings. But if you really want to have a lasting impact on your search ranking, do your video keyword research by reverse-engineering Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

Some Google keyword searches will almost always serve video results. If you can find the keywords that bring the most video results, you can then use them to improve your video’s search ranking.

For example, let’s say you do a google search for “cool dance moves”. It makes sense for t Google to serve a results page full of videos. After all, who wants to read an article about cool dance moves?

Here’s a screenshot example:

Google video search results - Outbrain blog


If your Google search gives you a lot of video results instead of just text listings on page one, then you know you’ve pinpointed a great keyword to work with. You may want to try related queries such as “awesome dance moves” or “cool dance skills” to see where you may be getting results that are even more closely related to your video –  and potentially less competitive to rank for.

4. Use Calls to Action to Engage Viewers

Your YouTube videos have a purpose, whether it’s to promote your brand or lead the viewer to click on your website. However, if a  viewer watches your video and then just leaves, you may not have given them a chance to do anything else to engage with your channel. According to YouTube, there are four main types of user action: subscribe to the channel, watch more videos, like or share a video, and leave a comment. YouTube gives several options for including CTAs within a video to encourage viewers to take one of these actions:

  1. Direct Host-Mentions. This is a style of video where the presenter talks directly to the camera and tells people what to do next. In this video example, at the 4:30 -minute mark, you can see the presenter telling the audience, “Let us know in the comments down below.”Youtube video comment call to action - Outbrain Blog2End-cards. An end-card works similarly to a card except that it appears at the end of a video and takes up the whole screen. For example, in the screenshot below you can see College Humor’s end-card featuring a large subscribe button. This button is clickable so it makes it easy for the viewer to click – and for CTR to rise.Promoting Your YouTube Channel - Outbrain Blog3. Video Descriptions. Video descriptions are important. Put a link to your website or your social accounts in your description, and invite people to click! Below is an example of a very thorough description section from ThinkTank:

Youtube description example - Outbrain Blog

5. Allow (and Encourage) People to Embed Your Videos

When uploading videos to your channel, you will have the option to allow embedding. Allowing embedding means that people can re-publish your video on their website, blog, or channel, which will help you gain even more exposure. But you want full credit for your video, of course!

Make sure you specify that publishers credit your video every time it is used.

To turn on the embed feature, go to Video Manager, click Edit under the video you want to edit, then go to Advanced Settings and make sure the Allow embedding option is checked. Here’s a screenshot:

Embed Your Videos

After you’ve allowed embedding, it’s really easy for others to re-publish your video. All they need to do is click the Share button on your video, then copy and paste the link into their site. The more shares you get, the better!

6. Cross-Promote Your YouTube Channel Everywhere

This may not seem too advanced, but you’d be surprised how many people forget the power of their other owned properties for advertising their YouTube channel. Be consistent about how you incorporate videos into your email newsletter, blog, email signature, and other social media accounts. Find ways to make your videos relevant to all your other content and leverage those eyeballs.

7. Behold the Power of Playlists

There are lots of reasons to group your videos into playlists. Playlists make your videos easier for people to find, they can help boost your search rankings, and most importantly, the next video in the list runs on autoplay after the previous video finishes. That’s one less click a user has to make to watch more of your content. Experiment with including some videos in the playlist that you didn’t produce, but which are very popular…

This way, you can gain viewers who are searching for high profile videos, and who may just stick around to watch your stuff as well. Playlists also give you more opportunities to associate your videos with keywords. The playlist description can include new keywords and open up new search opportunities.

8. Create a Weekly Video Series

A regular video series gives potential viewers the perfect reason to subscribe to your YouTube channel. If they know what to expect, such as a video on a certain topic, presented by a regular host every Friday, they will be more likely to subscribe. Probably one of the best examples of this is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos. They keep internet marketers coming back for more. And because the videos are published so regularly,  they are all located in one place on their channel page, making it organized and accessible:


Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos

9. Engage With Everyone You Can

Engagement goes both ways: if you want people to engage with you, you’ve got to engage with them. This can mean responding to comments, subscribing to other users’ channels, creating response videos, running contests for viewers, collaborating with other brands, and anything else you can dream up. YouTube is in many ways a social media community, and as with any social media, your engagement needs to be real-time, relevant, and genuine. Engaging directly with viewers through contests and responses will keep people coming back and create loyal viewers. Engaging and collaborating with other brands will expose your videos to a whole new audience. The more you understand YouTube to be a two-way engagement portal, the more successful you’re going to be in the long term. Don’t talk at people, talk with people.

Quick Recap

There’s a lot to chew on here, so we’ve created a quick recap for you to take away:

  1. Create thumbnail images that draw viewers in
  2. Give your videos irresistible titles
  3. Use search keywords that show mostly video results from Google
  4. Include calls to action
  5. Make sure you’re allowing people to embed your videos
  6. Cross promote your YouTube channel like a pro
  7. Create playlists
  8. Consistency pays off: create a regular video series
  9. Engage with viewers through contests, response videos, and collaborations

Hopefully, these tips will give your video promotion a kickstart or the boost you need to keep your subscriber numbers climbing.

One last tip: If you’re one of the thousands of marketers, bloggers, or brands worldwide who use a YouTube channel to promote your product or business, there’s another powerful video advertising tool that you can use.

I’m referring to Outbrain Amplify, the content amplification tool that’s driving video discovery. With Amplify, your videos are recommended on premium publisher websites like CNN, ESPN, Slate, VentureBeat and thousands more. Check out this case study to see how VISA has used video content on Youtube and Outbrain Amplify to influence decision makers across the globe.

Which content marketing tactics are you using to promote your YouTube channel and increase your YouTube subscriber base?


I’d love to know what’s working and what’s not!


Will Fleiss

Will Fleiss

Will is the founder of Shared Audiences, a social media advertising company. Previously, Will served as Outbrain’s Global Head of Content Marketing. He has also led growth and marketing at health and education startups TrialJectory, Bakpax, and Knewton. Earlier in his career he received training at renowned agencies Ogilvy and BKV. Will lives in Connecticut with his wife, two girls, and their dog. He loves podcasts and his favorite movie is Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.