YouTube is constantly changing and evolving. Long gone are the days when funny cat videos and dogs on skateboards dominated. Today, YouTube is also a place for marketers.
Over 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day – that’s more than Netflix and Facebook videos combined.
1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day
But, here’s the kicker… 62 percent of businesses use YouTube as a channel to publish video content – that’s crazy!
Crazy-crazy for you-because when used effectively, YouTube is an extremely powerful business tool. But to increase your sales, you need to get more free YouTube views.
In this article, you’ll learn 18 ways to get more views on YouTube, build your brand, and increase your sales.
But first, let’s talk briefly about how to create a video on YouTube.
How to Make a Video on YouTube
- Plan Your Video
Before you start making a video for YouTube you need to plan what you want to produce. Generate a storyboard outlining each scene or section of the video. Think about the messaging you want to portray to your audience and plan where in the video you will include calls-to-action. This is important as you need people to want to do something after watching the video.
- Write Your Script
Based on your video plan, begin writing your video script. Try to keep the language relatable and appealing to your audience. If your video is a beginners guide, don’t use too many technical terms. If you are making an in-depth YouTube video, make sure to include terms that are specific to the industry to build trust with your viewers. Don’t create a long script if your storyboard is short as it will mean a lot of lingering on screens that will not make for a good viewing experience.
- Create a Shot List
Having a shot list will encourage you to think about the smaller details, like lightning direction and camera placement. Make sure to create one once you’re done writing your script. It should include all of the things that help give a sense of direction to your production, such as the camera setup or action/dialogue each scene requires.
- Organize Your Scene
Will your video be animated, live-action, or real-time? What kind of props will you need when making your video so that your YouTube followers will stay engaged during your whole video? These questions are important to answer as they will help make your video look more professional. Invest in branding to add to the background of your videos and thumbnails so that your video looks top quality.
- Prepare Yourself
If you are starring in the video, or just directing it, it is important to prepare and practice so that the real thing will go off without a hitch. The devil is in the detail when it comes to making a YouTube video, so practicing will account for all the things that could go wrong when shooting.
- Edit Your Video
After doing a few takes of each scene the magic starts – you can start editing your video to omit small mistakes or elements of scenes that don’t fit. Take the time here to ask whether each line sounds natural, and delete lines that don’t fit into the overall video.
- Upload YouTube Video
Within the YouTube platform, you can upload your video, including a title, tags, and a description for your audience. These things will help your audience to find your video through. If you are planning to create more than one video on a particular topic, you can create a playlist and add it to this. Think about adding cards and captions to your video to help users navigate more effectively around your channel.
- [Additional Tip] Go Live
Once you have enough experience creating videos, why not try going live and talking to your audience in real-time. Answer questions from your audience in the moment and give your viewers the ultimate viewing experience.
How to Get More Views on YouTube
Now let’s jump straight into the specifics of getting more views on YouTube.
1. Create Compelling Content
It won’t matter how many hacks or ads you use if your videos aren’t good. So how can you create compelling content that will get more views on YouTube? Well, one of the best ways is to create ‘how to’ videos:
Simply identify what your ideal customers most want to know, and then create videos that meet their needs. Does this work? You bet. YouTube creator Graham Cochrane racked up 51 million YouTube views by focusing on how-to content.
Cochrane finds video ideas in the comments of his social channels. If that doesn’t work, he asks his community what they’d like him to make videos about.
Cochrane said, “An amazing thing happens when you ask people what they need and want, and then you go and make it for them — they think you read their mind!” Bottom-line: Consistently create content that solves your ideal customer’s problems or meets their needs. It’s the way to develop a loyal community of fans and get more views on YouTube.
2. Encourage Viewers to Subscribe
Have you ever heard the saying, “Your best new customers are your old customers”? In other words, retaining customers can be a powerful way to grow your business. Well, the same holds true for YouTube views.
Which is why one of the easiest ways to get more views on YouTube is to encourage your current viewers to subscribe because gaining subscribers will increase the number of views on each new video that you release. How do you get viewers to subscribe?
The best way is simply to ask at the beginning and end of each video!
But don’t just ask viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel. Make sure that you also prompt them to turn on the notification bell after they’ve clicked ‘Subscribe.’
This way, once a viewer subscribes, they’ll be notified every time you upload a new video. Growing your subscribers is vital to getting more free YouTube views, so start asking your viewers to subscribe now!
3. Create Playlists to Keep People Watching
YouTube’s own statistics show that “top-performing brands on YouTube build and promote twice as many playlists as the bottom 25%.”
Why do playlists work so well? Auto-play. It takes effort to pull your attention away from videos you’re enjoying when they just keep playing. In fact, there’s a cognitive bias at work called ‘loss aversion.’
Loss aversion states that the pain of losing something is twice as bad as the pleasure received from gaining something equivalent. For example, loss aversion suggests that people will work twice as hard to keep $100, as they will gain $100. Auto-play uses loss aversion to reframe the situation.
The question is no longer, “Do you want to watch another video enough to actively click play?” Now, the question is, “Do you want to stop watching enough to actively click away?”. It’s subtle but powerful, and if your content is good, viewers will often keep watching. Also, playlists can help improve search rankings, as playlist titles are another opportunity to target keywords.
The easiest way to create a YouTube playlist is to navigate to each video you’d like to add and click the ‘+’ icon underneath the video.
Then you can create a new playlist or add it to an existing playlist. To get more views on YouTube, create a playlist of your best content and start promoting it today!
4. Promote Other Videos with End Screens and Cards
Cards and end screens are tools that you can use to promote your videos to get more views on YouTube. First, you’ll need to verify your YouTube account to access these features. To do this, click on your profile picture in the top right, and then click ‘Creator Studio’. Next, click on the ‘Status and features’ tab:
On this page, you’re able to view extra YouTube channel features and set them up. Now let’s take a closer look at end screens and cards.
An end screen is a dedicated frame that you can place at the end of your videos to wrap things up, and highlight calls-to-action.
Cards are a tool that you can set to pop-up anytime in the video. You can set these to direct people to another video or playlist, or you can create a poll card which is a great way to ask viewers what they’d like to see more of (remember tip number 1?).
You can see both at work in this example from the Oberlo YouTube channel:
To add end screens and cards to your videos, go to the Creator Studio and click ‘Video Manager,’ then click ‘Videos.’ Find the video that you want to add the end screen card to and click ‘Edit.’ Once you’re on the video editor page, you can add end screens and cards by clicking the menu items at the top of the page:
End screens and cards are powerful tools, so make sure you use them to present calls-to-action in your YouTube videos.
5. Add a Watermark to Your Videos
Watermarks allow you to gain more subscribers and free YouTube views by promoting your channel across all of your videos. Essentially, a watermark is just an image that you can set to appear on all of your videos — most brands use their logo. When a viewer hovers their mouse over a watermark, it prompts them to subscribe. Which is why the Shopify YouTube channel has chosen a watermark saying ‘subscribe’:
Once again, you need to verify your YouTube account to be able to upload a watermark. It’s worth pointing out that you can’t pick and choose which videos display watermarks and which don’t — they either appear on all of your videos or none of them.
To add a watermark to your videos head to the Creator Studio and click ‘Branding.’
Then click ‘Add a Watermark’ and upload your image.
In summary, use this simple tool to promote your brand on your YouTube channel.
Tip: Design a watermark that is square, transparent, and above 50×50 pixels. As YouTube shrinks down watermarks when displaying them in the corner of the videos, creating a larger one will help ensure your branding is visible to your target audience.
6. Make Sure Your Videos Are Embedding Enabled
You’ve spent ages creating an awesome video and now your viewers want to share it on their websites and blogs!
…but they can’t. Because you forgot to enable embedding.
Allowing viewers to embed your video on their websites and blogs is an effective way for your brand to reach new audiences and get more views on YouTube. If a video has embedding enabled, when a viewer clicks ‘Share’ underneath the video window, YouTube will show them the ‘Embed’ option:
Once they click on this, they’ll be able to copy the video’s embedding code and paste it onto their blog or website.
To enable embedding, head to the Creator Studio and navigate to the video’s edit page.
Then click ‘Advanced Settings’ and scroll down to the “Distribution options” and make sure the “Allow Embedding” is ticked:
Bottom-line: Make sure your videos have embedding enabled to encourage viewers to share your content.
7. Promote Your Videos on Other Social Channels
If you have followers on other social channels, let them know each time you upload a new video to YouTube. A good way to do this is with a short teaser video. In the example below, we created a minute-long teaser for a new YouTube video, then we posted it on the Oberlo Facebook page with a link to the full video on the Oberlo YouTube channel.
To make things easier, try using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. But don’t just stick to social channels. You can also embed your YouTube videos in relevant blog posts and pages on your website.
And don’t forget about email marketing. With an industry average open rate of 18 percent and a purchase rate of 66 percent, email marketing is a powerhouse when it comes to sales conversions. It doesn’t need to be too complicated either.
Here at Oberlo, we send out a simple email letting our subscribers know when we release a new video.
(Psst! If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about how to build your online business.)
YouTube isn’t a standalone social channel, so make sure to cross-promote your videos through your free marketing channels.
8. Understand the Importance of ‘Watch Time’
YouTube describes their algorithm as a “search and discovery system.” This algorithm determines which videos are shown:
- On the homepage
- As suggested videos
- In search results
- Under the Subscriptions tab
- Through notifications that viewers have created
What’s more, the algorithm doesn’t just impact individual videos, but entire YouTube channels. YouTube’s algorithm is complex, but the most important thing to understand is that it’s heavily based on ‘Watch Time.’ In fact, according to YouTube, “Each video uploaded — as well as every channel on YouTube — is ‘ranked’ by watch time.”
Watch Time is how much time people spend actually watching your videos:
Bottom-line: YouTube rewards quality. The better your videos are, the more time people spend watching them. This will increase your Watch Time minutes and so YouTube will favor your videos and channel.
One more thing: Your YouTube channel can also earn ‘watch time credits’ for referring viewers to other videos. It’s basically like affiliate marketing.
In summary: Focus on retaining viewers for as long as you can, and don’t be afraid of promoting other YouTube channels in your niche!
9. Nurture a Community
YouTube isn’t just a video search engine. It’s also a social network. So to get more views on YouTube, you need to use it like other social networks. In other words, it isn’t enough to just regularly share videos, you also need to actively engage your audience.
How? The best way is to simply respond to comments — especially if someone asks a direct question. Because other viewers will be more likely to comment themselves if they know they’ll receive a response.
As you can see below, we practice what we preach here at Oberlo!
It only takes a second, and you can do it while you’re browsing your comments for new video ideas (remember tip number 1?). You should also be an active member of your niche community. Subscribe to other channels in your niche, leave comments on their videos, and share any that your own audience might enjoy. In other words, give before you get.
If you engage generously and authentically, viewers will notice and it will be much easier to establish your brand in a niche of passionate fans. And remember, promoting other videos will score you Watch Time credits, which will help to boost your channel in YouTube’s algorithm. Lastly, you can also involve viewers directly.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to hold a contest or prize draw. For example, you could ask viewers to share your video on Facebook and leave a comment to be entered into a draw to win one of your products. Growing a loyal, active community is a surefire way to get more views on YouTube.
10. Optimize Your Video Titles
YouTube is a search engine. Which means search engine optimization (SEO) matters.
YouTube’s algorithm takes multiple items into account when selecting videos for search results. And the platform provides a number of opportunities to optimize your channel and videos — including video file names, titles, descriptions, and tags.
So include as much information as possible. Crucially, you need to know which keywords you want your videos and channel to rank for.
YouTuber Graham Cochrane discovers relevant keywords by typing potential keywords into the search bar to see what appears in the autocomplete. You can also use free keyword tools like Google Trends and Google Ads Keyword Planner.
But beware…YouTube will penalize you for including keywords that aren’t relevant to your video. Also keep your titles between 60-70 characters long. This gives you the most room to create a compelling title, while also ensuring that it won’t be cut short in search results. Lastly, don’t forget the humans!
Sure, you need to use keywords to help your videos rank in search results, but to get more free YouTube views, you also need your video titles and descriptions to appeal to viewers. In general, aim for a balance between accurate, informative, and attention-grabbing.
As the famed copywriter David Ogilvy once wrote, “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” So whatever you do, pay close attention to your video titles.
11. Optimize Your Channel
Optimizing your channel is vital to strengthening your brand and boosting your YouTube views. And YouTube provides plenty of ways to optimize your channel. Here’s how Daniel Wellington has done it:
Let’s quickly run through some of the main components:
Create a strong, consistent brand aesthetic.
Ensure that your YouTube branding is consistent with your website and other social channels. This means using the same logo, images, and colors. Your profile picture should be 800 x 800 pixels. It should also still look good when displayed smaller. Your banner art should be at least 2560 x 1440 pixels, and there’s a template to help you design your banner art in YouTube’s Creator Academy.
Optimize your YouTube channel description.
This is shown on your channel’s ‘About’ tab. You only get 1,000 characters, so make ‘em count. What should you write in your YouTube channel description? Well, start with a quick description of your brand and the benefits of your products.
Then tell viewers why they should watch your YouTube videos. Are you teaching them something? Or is your channel mostly about entertainment? Bottom-line: Tell viewers what’s in it for them. Just like your individual video titles, make sure that you include your targeted keywords in your YouTube channel description.
Add your social channels, links to your website, and a way to get in contact.
In other words, make it easy for viewers to find out more about your brand.
Add channel keywords.
Once you’ve researched and decided on the keywords you want your channel to rank for in the search results, click “Channel,” and then “Advanced.” Then simply input your keywords into the box titled “Channel Keywords.”
Lastly, enable related channels.
“One of the biggest mistakes I see business channels make is that they turn off the ‘related channels’ feature on YouTube,” said Syed Balkhi, the founder of List25 (which has over 2.3 million subscribers and 582 million views).
By turning it off, you remove your channel from YouTube’s recommendations. As a consequence, you’ll lose the network effect that makes YouTube such a powerful tool.
In summary, make sure that you optimize your YouTube channel and that all of your information is complete.
12. Create a YouTube Trailer Featuring Your Best Content
Your YouTube trailer is a short video that’s shown to new visitors on your channel. It’s a fantastic opportunity to:
- Show viewers what kind of content you create,
- Highlight the benefits your channel provides,
- And, encourage them to subscribe.
There are no specific rules around the trailer’s maximum length, but most YouTubers keep it between 25-30 seconds.
What makes a fantastic YouTube trailer? A nice short video that conveys your story, ambitions, and vision. So, when thinking of ideas for your trailer, ask yourself, “What’s my background”? “What do I hope to achieve”? “What compelled me to create a YouTube channel”?
Keep the most interesting things you have to say reserved for the first few seconds, but sprinkle your personality throughout the trailer, like international serial entrepreneur Peter Sage did:
To create your trailer, go to your channel homepage and click “Customise Channel.” This will redirect you to a page where you can upload your trailer’s footage. Once done, write a description, enter your SEO tags, and click “Publish.”
After publishing, head back to your channel homepage and click the Customise Channel button again. The trailer should now be present in your video library. Set it as your YouTube trailer by clicking the “For New Visitors” tab.
And that’s it. Your channel trailer is ready to make an impact. Let it do the legwork of impressing whoever decides to check out your channel.
13. Create Compelling Thumbnail Images
A thumbnail is a video’s preview image. This little image is extremely important if you want to get more free YouTube views. When you upload a video, you can choose one of the auto-generated thumbnail images.
Don’t. Instead, create and upload your own custom thumbnail image. YouTube reports that 90 percent of the top-performing videos on YouTube use them — and for good reason.
(If you haven’t yet, you need to verify your YouTube account to access this feature.)
An effective thumbnail image can help your videos stand out.
YouTube says, “Thumbnails require an art director’s eye for branding, and shouldn’t be an afterthought.”In fact, they recommend that you think about your thumbnail before you start filming. That way, you can make sure you capture the footage needed to create a compelling thumbnail image. A good thumbnail is one that is eye-catching, compelling, congruent with your brand, and accurately represents the video’s content.
In general, try to include:
- Brightly colored backgrounds
- Close-ups of faces
- Text overlays
- Subtle branding — like a small logo or watermark
Okay, what about the technicalities? Your thumbnail should:
- Use a 16:9 aspect ratio, as this is the most used aspect ratio in YouTube players
- Have a resolution of 1280×720
- Have a file-size of less than 2MB
- Be formatted as a .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG
You can also use a free image editing and graphic design tool like Canva to create your thumbnails. Remember, thumbnails are one of the best ways to catch the attention of people browsing YouTube, so make sure that yours are effective and compelling.
To learn more about the perfect YouTube thumbnail size and best practices, check out our guide here.
14. Transcribe Your Videos
Creating videos is great, but sometimes your audience will need a transcription due to language constraints or disability. YouTube allows for closed captions where a transcript is added as subtitles to a video. Viewers can toggle these subtitles on and off at will. If you plan on opening your videos to an international market, transcriptions can be a great idea. Translating scripts are useful for helping those with other language abilities to understand your videos better.
How do you create a transcription document for upload to YouTube? It is quite simple really. You create a SubRip Subtitle file, SRT for short, which includes the start and finish times next to the text.
This can then be saved as a file with timings included so that text displays at the right time in the video.
Once uploaded to YouTube, or any other video platform, double check your timings are right and viola, you’ve got yourself a closed caption video.
15. Publish Your Videos at The Best Time
The best time is when your target visitors are watching your videos. Fortunately, this is no longer a mystery as YouTube tracks the hours and days when your audience is on YouTube. You can dig into your “When your viewers are on YouTube” report to identify peak times and publish content in an hour or two before those peaks. Publishing earlier will give your audience a chance to discover your new videos, resulting in more free views.
To access the report, go to your channel homepage, click Customize Channel, select Analytics from the left-hand tab below your channel profile picture, and click the Audience tab. You should now see the option to generate a “When your viewers are on YouTube” report. If you don’t have enough daily views to generate this report, then you can try publishing in the hours we’ve mentioned in our post The Best Time to Post on Social Media in 2021.
16. Invite Guest Vloggers
Guest blogging is a great way to gain new followers and viewers. Identifying influencers who have a similar audience to yours will open your channel up to potential viewers who have the same interests as you. Building a close relationship with these influencers after creating a video with them will mean that they will share your videos with their followers if you do the same for them. This reciprocity is a surefire way to gain free new views on YouTube.
Guest Vloggers are great not just for free ways to get more views but also to add more variety to your videos. Having another person to brainstorm video ideas with can open the door to creative videography which will, in turn, create more views on your YouTube channel.
Digital marketer and author Jordan Platten often records videos with influencers:
For sure, it’s not only his audience tuning in and sharing these videos, but the influencer’s too.
17. Build an Influencer Community
Following on from guest vloggers, building a strong influencer community that shares community content and works together to help everyone involved is a great way to get more views on your YouTube channel. Being an influencer can be very lonely and competitive. Reaching out to influencers similar to yourself to share knowledge and information can help to build a community of influencers that look after each other and help people who are struggling.
Identifying similar influencers through tools like Unamo or Buzzsumo and reaching out to them will start the ball rolling but be sure to have a goal and compelling reason to maintain contact so that it is a reciprocal relationship and not one-sided.
18. Know What’s Viral
Keeping up to date with things happening in your industry can be the difference between becoming popular or sinking into the background. Those with a deep understanding of what is happening in their world can create videos that are current and interesting to those researching the niche. But this knowledge of your industry also helps you identify viral content as it happens so you can share it with your following before anyone else. Being the first to share information will identify you as a leader in your field, leading to more exposure to your content and more views.
There you have it: 18 ways to get more views on YouTube!
In summary: First, focus on creating great content that your target audience will love.
Then do your best to optimize your content and channel, and promote your content through other channels.
Lastly, get involved in your niche community and nurture relationships with your viewers!
Which one of these tactics are you going to use first to get more YouTube views? Leave a comment below and let us know!