After 5 years of marketing agency experience in B2B, I started making videos on Youtube 2 years ago on maternity leave. I wanted to understand how video marketing and YouTube work to know exactly how to create video content for my marketing clients.
31,000 followers and 1,128,142 video views later—and I’m no longer a hobbyist YouTuber.
I realized quickly that I loved content creation more than creating deliverables for clients. The ideation, creation, and watching my account’s metrics increase over time fascinated and intrigued me. I found a new way to teach my marketing skills (through videos instead of done-for-you services), and I decided to stay focused on YouTube for the past two years.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve learned a lot about making YouTube videos and it’s changed how I view and approach certain strategies and tactics as a marketer.
Here are 5 marketing lessons I’ve learned after 2 consistent years of creating content on YouTube.
#1: The Importance of Building a Community and Engaging With Your Audience
My most popular videos have come directly from listening to my audience. I have regular 1:1 conversations with them and each time I learn exactly what they want to see from my channel. Engaging with my audience on a personal level takes much more time than traditional communication methods of randomly selecting people from your audience or through social listening (which is what most businesses do). It’s understandable that companies don’t want to take the time to do it, but it’s so worth the effort.
It’s rare for a brand to reply to every email and message they receive on social media. They don’t see the value because the impact can’t be attributed or attached to a marketing metric. This means fewer companies even higher a team member to focus on talking to their community.
But, marketing isn’t only about spending money to make money. It’s about creating a loyal fan base and promoters of your brand who will do the marketing for you. Better yet, these customers are the ones with the highest customer lifetime value…making your life as a marketer 10x easier (we all know we’d much rather sell a product to an existing customer than try to acquire a new one!).
Even though it feels like a lot of work, isn’t scalable, and doesn’t have a direct ROI—building a community and engaging with them is a huge part of marketing.
#2: The Value of Direct Feedback Loops and Qualitative Input vs Metrics and Data
Analytics dashboards give you lots of numbers to analyze and optimize. The problem is numbers are limited in telling you stories and sentiments. They can’t tell you that your customers were disappointed in a piece of content you posted, that they found your latest Instagram post hilarious, or that they want to see more content on a specific topic.
Analytics can only tell you what’s working well and what’s working poorly. This is essential information, but it’s not the entire story.
I began taking advantage of surveys, polls, Q&As, DM’s, comments on YouTube to create a direct feedback loop with my audience. I also use emails to keep the feedback loop open and consistently keep updated with what my audience is enjoying, what they’re interested in, and what they don’t like.
There is SO MUCH feedback opportunity and input if you’re willing to invest your time into asking your audience and customers how they feel about your brand, where they want you to improve, and what they want to see more of.
#3: Humanizing Marketing and Putting a Face to Brands is a Game Changer
A marketer’s job is to communicate a brand’s message in an omnichannel strategy, digitally and in person. Their goal is to communicate the brand’s message in a way that’s engaging, relevant, and timely to their audience.
It’s too easy to hide behind your brand name and never show the people behind your content. But, that’s the opposite of building relationships with your audience. When we don’t put a human face to our communication and leave it as our brand logo, we’re losing out on creating a real relationship with our audience. It’s harder to bond with a logo than it is with a real person.
By humanizing marketing and showing my face, values, ideas, and teaching style I’ve created an audience that genuinely knows me. I know the names of my long-time followers and where they’re watching my videos from.
I talk with them about marketing and their careers. And, we also chat about the weather in their country or a holiday tradition. This has brought relationship building into the picture—the most important part of marketing. Without relationships, you don’t get brand loyalty and repeat customers (or viewers).
#4: Attribution Isn’t Straightforward
Wouldn’t our lives as marketers be easier if it was? Advertising platforms like Facebook, Google, and TikTok would love to confidently tell you that a sale came from their platform—but as marketers know, often we see two platforms taking credit for the same sale.
Attribution isn’t straightforward, and sometimes it’s the content you least expected that creates the most results. For example, I can create a step-by-step marketing video full of tactics and techniques. In my mind, this is *the* that will motivate an audience member to buy one of my products or services.
Yet, another video talking about a personal story will outperform it. There are so many touchpoints we create as marketers, but sometimes all it takes for them to feel connected to you getting to know you on a deeper level. Past the tactics, techniques, and strategies—your audience just wants to know more about who you are and how you got here.
This lesson helps me plan my marketing strategy and identify my best-performing channels, without relying on skewed attribution data.
#5: Digital Marketing Expands Career Ownership
Every content creator (on YouTube or another platform) is a marketer, whether they know it or not.
If your expertise is personal finance or gardening, you still have to learn marketing. It’s the foundational skill that builds a business around your content. You can only grow your reach, views, and followers if you understand marketing. And nowadays, you can find tons of people with varied interests making a living as a creator on YouTube.
That comes from the opportunity to take ownership of your creative career through digital marketing. Marketing teaches you how to get followers, title your videos, keep people interested in your content, and turn your audience into customers. Without it, becoming a full-time creator is going to be a tough journey.
With marketing, we can figure out what levers we need to pull (like what questions to ask our audience) to create the content that keeps them coming back to watch more. We can build brands around our audience, creating a loyal fanbase of followers who are more than just viewers—but customers and a true part of our creator success story.
Content Creators Are Marketers
It’s time to break the news to you—if you’re a content creator, you’re a marketer. And the better you are at marketing, the faster your views will increase, your audience will grow (with the *right* customer avatar), and you’ll figure out what product to sell that perfectly suits your audience.
With these 5 lessons, you can avoid the two years it took me to test and optimize my profile and content and hop right into building out a loyal audience of superfans:
- The Importance of Building a Community and Engaging With Your Audience
- The Value of Direct Feedback Loops and Qualitative Input vs Metrics and Data
- Humanizing Marketing and Putting a Face to Brands is a Game Changer
- Digital Marketing Expands Career Ownership
- Attribution Isn’t Straightforward
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Elif Hiz is a marketing strategist, educator and content creator.
After working with B2B marketing agencies and tech companies at various capacities for 7+ years, she’s on to building a marketing education brand. Her work aims to help people find their way through the marketing industry by sharing her own experiences navigating this world through marketing, career advice, and self-development videos. She’s building the marketing resources and community she wish existed.