Jul 8, 2024

14 Ways to Grow Your YouTube Channel

by Digital Marketing Institute

One of the most effective ways for digital marketers to inform and connect with an audience is through video content. 

Long-form videos can help introduce and inform people about a brand, product or service while short-form videos can show a brand’s personality, along with being fun and engaging. 

88% of marketers say video has helped them increase user understanding of their product or service while 86% believe it has helped increase web traffic according to Wyzowl research.  

As the second most visited website (after Google) and with 2.5 billion monthly users and 100 million subscribers, YouTube is one the best places for businesses across sectors to promote video content.  

YouTube can help people find your content quickly and drive engagement - if you know a few tricks and understand how to create videos that inform, engage, and convert users. 

In this blog, we’ll reveal these 14 tips to grow your YouTube channel:

  1. Understand YouTube’s algorithm
  2. Build videos around a keyword or topic
  3. Reuse or repurpose content
  4. Think about video length
  5. Engage with your audience
  6. Rank in Google Video search
  7. Get branded
  8. Promote YouTube videos on other social channels
  9. Show up and stand out
  10. Post great thumbnails and leverage YouTube Cards
  11. Push for subscriptions
  12. Decide on your metrics
  13. Upload to YouTube more frequently
  14. Become a social video and YouTube expert!

We'll also look at how long it takes to grow a YouTube channel - a question we're asked all the time!

Social Media Creative Brief

1. Understand YouTube’s algorithm

YouTube’s algorithm for recommendations drives 70% of what people watch on the platform, according to Mozilla research. With that kind  of influence, it’s important to understand how it works. 

While YouTube’s algorithm has evolved over time (like all social media algorithms), right now it prioritizes the following factors:

  • Relevance: YouTube’s algorithm matches factors like title, tags, content, and description to a search query.
  • Engagement: This relies on signals such as watch time and watch percentage, along with likes, comments, and shares.
  • Quality: To evaluate quality the algorithm determines the channel’s authority and trustworthiness on an issue or topic.
  • User search and watch history: Content that users have viewed or enjoyed in the past feeds into this to provide content that’s helpful. 

Here’s a video from YouTube to explain how the algorithm works and video discovery tips.  

dmi video thumbnail

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2. Build videos around a single keyword/topic

Marketers that don’t know what Search Engine Optimization is, risk missing the opportunity to use SEO to rank videos. But it’s crucial to use this tactic if you want your videos to get the maximum amount of viewers. 

Building your video around a single topic or keyword is the best way to drive traffic and grow your YouTube audience. The challenge is to find the right keywords to include. 

There are some great free keyword research tools out there to find ones relevant to your brand and audience. Once you’ve identified them, use an SEO keyword research toolkit to turn your research into content for your marketing channels (e.g. blog, website or social media networks). 

Make sure to include your keyword/s naturally throughout the content so YouTube picks it up when closed captions are added, and always optimize your title and descriptions. 

Top tip: Check out videos that currently rank for a topic to make sure you’re on the right track in terms of intent. 

3. Reuse or repurpose content

Of course, the best way to grow your YouTube channel is to create and distribute great video content

But that content doesn’t always have to be built from scratch. Some of your best videos can be created from engaging, valuable, useful, and actionable content you already have. 

Before you start looking at your existing content, it’s worth knowing what types of videos do well on YouTube. 

Research from Databox found that the 5 most popular types are educational videos, explainer videos, product demos, product reviews, and video tutorials. 

Types of videos posted on YouTube
Types of videos posted on YouTube

So content that solves problems for your audience is a great way to drive traffic. Perform a content audit to discover the blogs, guides, and other high-performing pieces you currently have and think about how to repurpose them to create relevant and engaging videos.

It’s also worth digging out any interviews or Q&A’s you could edit and reuse. Or do you host webinars and podcasts? If so, think about how you can use them as videos on YouTube. 

Top tip: Video podcasts are becoming more popular and the Digital Marketing Institute podcast can be viewed on DMI's YouTube channel in addition to regular podcasting platforms.

4. Think about video length

It’s worth thinking about the length of a video when you’re creating it. 

According to Wistia’s State of Video 2024 Report, the most common length for videos was under three minutes (47%) followed by between 5-30 minutes at 25%.

Wistia's State of Video 2024 Report - video length
Wistia's State of Video 2024 Report - video length

YouTube Shorts are very popular and great for getting eyeballs and driving engagement such as tips or product reviews, but they’re not great for generating income. 

On the flip side, long-form content is useful for providing valuable and detailed information, and you can advertise using a mid-roll (at around 8 minutes) which is why a lot of YouTube videos are 10 minutes and over. 

If you already have videos that perform on YouTube, look at the length and see if there’s a pattern or other insights. Failing that, mix up short and long-form content and analyze the results over time to gauge performance. 

Ultimately, it’s about matching your message to the perfect video length.

5. Engage with your audience

It's important not to overlook the fact that YouTube is a social media channel, and therefore demands social interaction. If you’re just posting videos without encouraging comments and discussion, you’re missing a trick. 

YouTube rewards channels with great engagement, including overall time spent on channel, watch time, likes and dislikes, and most importantly, comments. So try to respond to every comment you receive (if possible!) and encourage users to engage with audio/visual prompts. 

You can also take the time to visit other channels and engage, this could be a brand similar to your own, a competitor or one you admire. 

Don’t always wait for the audience to take the initiative either. Drive engagement by asking questions relevant to the content or just ask what content they like to see on your channel or want to see more of. 

If people do engage, make sure to thank people for sharing on Youtube and other channels. 

Think about using a social content distribution and engagement dashboard to help you keep track of key engagement metrics on YouTube. 

6. Rank in Google video search

As the biggest search engine, Google holds a lot of sway over who sees your content. That’s why it’s important to think about how to get your video ranked in Google search. 

So, what’s one of the best ways to rank your videos in Google? Use SEO to target keywords and optimize your video content, titles and descriptions to rank in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages. 

Basically it’s about providing videos that people want based on search intent and video intent. You can uncover relevant and popular topics using a keyword tool, Google Trends or AnswerthePublic. 

Let’s say you’re an agency that creates content for clients. Here’s what comes up by typing in ‘How to use ChatGPT for content’ in the video section. 

'How to use ChatGPT for content' screenshot
'How to use ChatGPT for content' screenshot

Google sometimes shows timestamps as “key moments” under videos displayed in search results so it may be worth adding them to some top performing videos to see the impact.

You could also look to include your YouTube videos on web pages or blogs to get backlinks as Google uses these as a trust signal which may help ranking. 

7. Get branded

So your content may be great, but does your channel look appealing? If you want visitors to take your YouTube channel seriously and subscribe, you need to look professional. 

Improving your organization’s social branding will help users immediately recognize your content. So, if you have a blog or website, you probably already have some sort of look and feel to differentiate yourself from other individuals and/or companies. 

Therefore it makes sense to carry over that branding to your YouTube channel. Here’s an example from gaming titan Nintendo: with over 9.5 million subscribers they provide great content about their games and consoles that feature videos of gameplay and behind the scenes snippets.

Nintendo YouTube page
Nintendo YouTube page

In addition to visual branding, don’t forget to add custom URLs to your channel header - and write an interesting bio about who you are and what your videos are about.

8. Promote YouTube Videos on Other Social Channels

One of the wonderful things about social media is that you can cross-promote content on different channels. Promoting your YouTube videos on your other social channels is the easiest way to grow your audience.

According to Digital 2024: Global Overview Report, there is a significant overlap in users across social media platforms with people using an average of 6.7 platforms each month. 

As you can see, the majority of YouTube users (between 70% - 86%) use other social networks, This means that it’s important to use other social channels to drive engagement to extend reach. 

Social Media User Overlaps
Social Media User Overlaps

So think about what channels you are already active on? Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, TikTok? There are many to choose from and lots of great ideas for social media videos

If there’s a channel on which you want to post videos directly, you can always do a teaser for the full-length video on YouTube to get optimum engagement on all channels. 

Don’t forget about your blog as you can post your videos there as well! And if you have a podcast or webinar, they can be repurposed for your YouTube channel.

9. Show up & stand out

If you’re running YouTube by yourself or as part of a small organization, it can be beneficial to personalize the channel by taking part, or featuring, in videos. 

When you put a face to a brand, your audience can more easily connect with you as an individual. This is especially important for content creators, fitness, life, or business coaches; and solopreneurs. 

Every video you make doesn’t need to include your face, but you should feature regularly enough to engage your audience. Also, if you are this type of YouTuber, use a photo of yourself on your channel (not your logo). See the example below from marketing guru, Adam Erhart.

Adam Erhart YouTube channel
Adam Erhart YouTube channel

Don’t be afraid to be creative with your video content. You may be surprised by what your audience reacts to and likes.

10. Post great thumbnails & leverage YouTube cards

They may seem like a small thing but thumbnails can have a big impact. YouTube advertises other videos via thumbnails in its sidebar, so you want yours to stand out among the pack. 

The same goes for YouTube search. Videos with a catchy title and appealing thumbnail usually rank higher, even if the content itself isn’t as valuable because they have a higher click-through rate (CTR). 

To get your click-through rate where it needs to be, try using tactics such as highlighted areas, arrows, large text, and unexpected or eye-catching images. 

These are the thumbnails we use on DMI’s YouTube channel to drive engagement. 

Thumbnails on DMI's YouTube
Thumbnails on DMI's YouTube

Here’s a video from YouTube Creators that shows you how to add thumbnails. 

dmi video thumbnail

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YouTube Cards

We know that YouTube rewards channels that keep viewers on their pages longer. These longer average watch times mean people are engaged with your content. (You can see how long people stay on your videos by using YouTube analytics). 

By adding YouTube info cards, you can include links to other videos or relevant content at the exact point where users drop off. 

You can feature 5 cards per video that appear as a rectangular box or teaser in the right-hand corner of the video. Add an optional message and teaser text about the video to drive engagement. 

Info cards can be placed on a:

  • Video: Use a card to link to a public YouTube video for your viewers to interact with. 
  • Playlist: An info card here allows you to link to a public YouTube playlist.
  • Channel: Use an info card to link to a YouTube channel (e.g. to thank a channel that helped with your video or to recommend another channel).
  • Link: If you’re in the YouTube Partner Program, an info card allows you to link to an external website and add end screens to your videos. 

Here’s an example of info cards being used by Wealth Hacker, Jeff Rose.

Jeff Rose card example on YouTube
Jeff Rose card example on YouTube

Although users may abandon the video they are watching, they will be directed to your other content and remain on your channel, increasing your ranking.

11. Push for subscriptions

One of the ways you know for sure that viewers are engaged with your channel is when they ‘subscribe’ to see any new videos. 

Ask viewers to subscribe to your channel in each video that you upload, and keep engaged with your existing subscribed users. (You can see your list of subscribers in analytics.) 

Here’s an example from Neil Patel on how to use a ‘Subscribe’ button on a video.

Neil Patel Subscribe on YouTube example
Neil Patel Subscribe on YouTube example

Many companies also use a discrete ‘Subscribe’ in the lower right hand corner throughout the video. 

Subscribe example on BBC
Subscribe example on BBC

Top Tip: Never pay for subscribers. This will only bring down your engagement and hurt the authenticity of your account in the long run. Remember, if you don’t ask your viewers to subscribe, you may be missing out on a lot of potential followers. The more subscribers you get, the more chance you have of increasing watch time and Audience Retention (the average percentage of a video that people watch) on YouTube.

12. Decide on your metrics

The performance of your video content on YouTube is determined by the metrics you choose to measure it. 

Like with any digital channel, the social media metrics you choose depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to raise brand awareness, drive customer engagement or are you looking to drive leads and sales? 

Metrics that we advise tracking are:

  • Unique viewers - the number of people who watch your videos.
  • Demographics - this metric will give you an understanding of who your YouTube audience is so you can tailor content. 
  • Watch time - the length of time your video is watched, showing you engagement.
  • Average view - how much of a video an average person watches, helping you make decisions on video length. 
  • Audience retention - the percentage of viewers who watch and leave your video at every single moment of the video and an important ranking factor for YouTube
  • Re-watches - the number of times a video has been watched again, showing if it has value to your audience.
  • Engagement - shows interactions with video through comments, shares, likes, and dislikes. 
  • Impressions click-through-rate - measures your video’s ability to prompt people to watch your video, showing you the content that resonates.
  • Subscriber growth - measures the number of subscribers your YouTube channel has earned over time.
  • Traffic sources - where your YouTube traffic is coming from, helping you see what channels are effective e.g. social media sites, other websites.
  • Views evolution - helps you discover which content was successful in increasing your brand's visibility over time.  

Whatever metrics you decide on, they can all be accessed in YouTube analytics so it’s easy to keep track and monitor performance to inform your video content. 

13. Upload to YouTube more frequently

This may sound intimidating at first, but to grow your audience, you need to increase your posting frequency to at least one video a week. 

Don’t worry; you don’t need a design firm or big advertising company to get this done. There are loads of great video tools out there such as Animoto or Canva to create video content on a budget. 

Do some research to find out when your audience is on YouTube to know when to post. In analytics you can look at the segment ‘When your viewers are on YouTube’ which can be found on the ‘Audience’ tab. This will show you a unique heat map set in your local time that shows the times your audience is active on YouTube. 

When your viewers are on YouTube
When your viewers are on YouTube

Consistency is  important so try to post at the same time each day or week (depending on your frequency), and keep your subscribers updated about when new videos will arrive. Then stick to your schedule.

14. Become a social video (& YouTube) expert

Video as a content format keeps going from strength to strength. In fact, 91% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 88% see it as an important part of their overall strategy, according to Wyzolw, so it’s obviously an effective content type. 

That's why it simportant to integrate video into your content marketing plan and use it effectively on YouTube to get found on the social channel's search engine to drive traffic and genrate leads. 

You also need to know how video sits within your content mix across platforms, hwo to build your online audience and use advertising and analytics for successful visual campaigns.

How Long Does it Take to Grow a YouTube Channel?

Many people ask how to grow their YouTube channel quickly to reach 1,000 views or 1,00 subscribers. 

That’s a tough question to answer as it depends on many factors. For example, if a brand already has a presence on social media then it already has a captive audience to share its videos with and promote YouTube so views may tick up quicker. 

Or, let’s say you already have a lot of video content to play with so you can post frequently to grow an audience quickly. Or you could get lucky and have a video go viral or rank on Google search and get thousands of views in an hour. 

The key to growing a YouTube channel is to create high-quality content that your audience wants on a consistent basis. Remember, you want to capture the attention of people that will buy from your brand so it’s important to focus on content that is relevant and will resonate. 

If you want some advice from YouTube creators then check out this ‘Creator Advice’ channel.   

Use YouTube to Drive Traffic & Generate Leads

The more you know about how social media works, the better your strategy will be across channels. DMI’s certified Social Media Marketing course will teach you everything you need to know about social research, social content, social strategy and social commerce. You will also explore the features of key platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, X, Instagram and much more. Sign up today to learn how to successfully set up and manage a YouTube channel and create strategies that make your channel stand out from the crowd. 

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