9 Advanced Tactics for Promoting Your YouTube Channel and Increasing Subscribers

|Will Fleiss

How to Gain More YouTube Subscribers to Your Video Channel?

Promoting Your YouTube Channel

Here are 9 tactics that will give you the best chance to rise above the noise:

  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. Make playlists
  8. Consistency pays off big time
  9. Engage with viewers through contests, response videos, and collaborations

300 hours of YouTube video are uploaded every minute—if you want to get noticed, you have to get serious about promoting your channel. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not going to happen on its own. Let’s take a deeper dive into 9 best practices and how they can help you grow your numbers.

1. Create Great Custom Thumbnails

You have a split second of a viewer’s attention as they are deciding which video to watch. Other than your video’s title, your thumbnail is critical for enticing that click. Don’t miss this opportunity to design an image that reinforces what your video is all about. VICE’s 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

See what your video would look like when promoted on premium websites like CNN

Promote your video

Keep a few rules in mind for the size of your custom thumbnail because it will also be used as your preview when someone embeds your video on their site. Google recommends that your thumbnail:

  • Have a resolution of 1280X720 (minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
  • Remain under the 2MB 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

I know, it seems obvious, but that’s how people decide what they’re going to watch, and creating engaging titles is not as simple as it might seem. You want something descriptive enough to make someone want to watch, but not so long that it’s cut off when displayed. You need to make it sound exciting, but not so over-the-top that it looks spammy. Try to include keywords for search and irresistibly clickable adjectives.

3. Reverse Engineer Google’s SERPs

There are several different YouTube optimization techniques to improve your search rankings, but the SEO tactic that will have the most lasting effect is all about keyword research. One way to think about video keyword research is by reverse-engineering Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

The idea here is to focus on keyword searches in google that will almost always serve you video results. For example, if someone googles for “cool dance moves” it makes sense that google would serve a results page full of videos because nobody really wants to read an article about cool dance moves. Here’s a screenshot of that search:

Google search result- cool dance moves

If you find a lot of video results instead of just text listings on page one, that’s 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 more related to the video you are producing, and potentially less competitive to rank for.

4. Use Calls to Action to Engage Viewers

Having a viewer watch your video and then leave means 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 get people to take one of these actions:

  1. Direct Host-Mentions. This is actually a style of video where you talk to the camera and tell people what to do. In this video example at the 4:30 minute mark, you can see that the author directly tells you to “let us know in the comments down below.”CTA comment on Youtube Video
  2. End-cards. An end-card works similarly to a card except that they appear at the end of a video and take up the whole screen. For example, in the screenshot below you can see College Humor’s end-card featuring large subscribe button. This button is clickable so it makes it easy to take that next step.3. Video Descriptions. Video descriptions are important. Put a link to your website or your social accounts in your description and actually ask people to click! Below is an example of a very thorough description section from ThinkTank:

Example for a great YouTube Video description

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

When uploading videos to your channel, you will have the option to either allow or not allow embedding. The embed feature allows people to take your video and then publish it on their website, blog, channel, etc., which will help you gain even more exposure. Just make sure you specify that you must get credit each time your video is re-published. You can turn on the embed feature by visiting the Video Manager, clicking Edit under the video you want to edit, then going to Advanced Settings and making sure the embed option is checked. Below is a screenshot of what you’ll see:

Embed Your Videos

All someone needs to do in order to embed your video is copy and paste the link that will show up when she clicks share, so the more shares you get the better.

6. Cross-Promote Your YouTube Channel Everywhere

This may not seem like an advanced tactic, 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.

See what your video would look like when promoted on premium websites like CNN

Increase your YouTube Subscribers

Quick Case Study

Life Net Inc. found in their study that the highest YouTube views occurred during the active advertising of the video, but not surprisingly, this ongoing optimization was required to keep the momentum going. Simply optimizing a page and then moving on to the next video isn’t enough. You have to continue to promote, perform keyword research and make changes, and moderate and respond to comments in order to keep your numbers up. Below is a screenshot from the case study that shows how your numbers can change the minute you stop optimizing

highest YouTube views occurred during the active advertising of the video

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 up your search rankings, and most importantly, they make the next video in the list autoplay after a previous video finishes. That’s one less click a user has to make to watch more of your content. You can experiment with including some videos in the playlist that aren’t yours but are very popular, hoping to snag viewers through search who will stick around to watch your stuff. Playlists also give you more opportunities to associate your videos with keywords. The playlist description can associate new keywords with your videos and open up new search opportunities.

8. Create a Weekly Video Series

This is the perfect reason to subscribe to a YouTube channel. If you know what to expect, such as a video on a certain topic or with a certain person every Friday, you will be more likely to subscribe. Of course this also helps you feature your other videos to YouTube subscribers, so it’s a great option all around. Probably one of the best examples of this is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos. They keep internet marketers coming back for more, and on their page you can see that they are all located in one place on their channel page because they are so regular:

Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos

As you can see, Moz has a very organized channel thanks to the different categories they’ve created.

9. Engage With Your People

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

I know that was quite a bit of info, so here’s a quick recap for you to take away and start cracking!

  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. Make playlists
  8. Consistency pays off big time
  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.

I have another option for you to consider, and while admittedly a biased recommendation coming from me, I would be remiss not to mention it, as thousands of marketers, bloggers, large brands, and YouTube stars use it every day to promote their YouTube videos. I’m referring to Outbrain Amplify, the content amplification side of our content discovery platform. With Amplify, you can have your videos 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.

What content marketing tactics are you using to promote your YouTube channel and increase YouTube subscribers?

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

Start your campaign

Will Fleiss

Will Fleiss

Will has been doing online marketing for 10+ years, spending time on the agency-side at BKV, Ogilvy, and Converseon and... Read more

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  • krishsanju| November 3, 2016 at 3:03AM

    Can you clear my doubt.If i does not add ‘call to action’ in my YouTube uploading videos..can i get subscribers???

  • shruthikasuresh| November 4, 2016 at 12:00AM

    How to cross promote my youTube channel like crazy.I did in get clear idea..can plz explain one more time???

  • abhilash| December 1, 2016 at 12:00AM

    thanks dear

  • Vrisha malan| December 9, 2016 at 9:09AM

    As a startup as YouTuber, this is quite important, and these days viewer demands new and variety content every time they watch a YouTube channel. It’s an invaluable information published here for me to get more subscribers on YouTube channel.

    Thank you for providing such kind of excellent content, I create an original and engaging video stuff, but still I am not getting that many subscribers?? But after reading your blog I hope, I can improve my youtube uploading process I will get more subscribers. More Subscribers equal that more money. The best way that I choose is – Optimize your video descriptions & Meta tags. These two factors are essential, and every YouTuber should follow from day 1.

    Quick question, do you have any suggestions for how to keep your viewer’s attention for the whole of the video when people have such short attention spans nowadays?

  • Mary Grace Faulkerson| January 9, 2017 at 10:22PM

    Great artilce! Thank you for sharing such helpful tips 🙂

  • Creative House| February 18, 2017 at 1:01AM

    Now a days call to action button most powerful and working method for youtube growing. Thanks to share your call to action experience.

  • Raichel Simon| March 23, 2017 at 3:03AM

    there are lots of tricks that we can promote our youtube channel, Thanks for all these tips. I want to use call to action feature and adword + google plus connection also.

  • Jari Becker| April 25, 2017 at 3:03AM

    Thanks for sharing your views. I have a channel of home automation services. Will implement your suggestions on my channel. Call to action is a new thing to learn for me. I will try this.

  • CyberNext| May 16, 2017 at 9:09AM

    Interesting information.

    It seems we can do a lot of things with out videos on youtube. Thank you for the information.

  • ts| June 25, 2017 at 3:15PM

    i think is better and i like the this info

  • Katherine Lane| July 11, 2017 at 10:22PM

    Thank you for this article! This is surely beneficial to those YouTube enthusiast as well as those businesses who seek for tips on how to market their YouTube videos!


  • Jenny Roberts| July 19, 2017 at 9:21PM

    Thank you for sharing it with us, it is very helpful, I will use these tips.


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