Question for businesses: Who’s your YouTube audience?

It’s common for a business owner not to see the potential of YouTube. You know your kids use YouTube for entertainment and maybe you search for how to fix the kitchen sink.

Yet, when you understand why YouTube is the go-to location for those two activities, you can tap into the power of YouTube to grow your business.

Often when a business starts to utilize YouTube, they use it for its unlimited video storage capacity, frequently using links to share the video or embed video on their website. This is useful; however, it’s only a fraction of YouTube’s potential for your company.

First, let’s address the power of video itself. Video is an incredible story-telling platform. This is why most social media channels are incorporating it as part of their service.

You can write amazing blog posts or share great podcast interviews, yet it’s the visual story, personal body language, required engagement and human relationship-building potential which makes video superior.

Building a YouTube channel
The most important thing your team can do when they decide to develop their YouTube channel is to understand the target audience. I don’t mean this in a generic marketing demographic sense. Really, who is your audience, how do they identify themselves?

YouTube is becoming a more saturated platform by the day, with 500 hours of video uploaded every minute. If you want traction, narrowing your audience is imperative.

Once you identify your audience you must next decide how you plan to serve this audience. YouTube offers multiple options. The first is to use the platform as mentioned above, on your web properties and social media.

However, if you want to grow the channel to develop an audience of potential customers and brand evangelists, then you need to consider the other two options.

You may have heard that the second largest search engine is YouTube, still, it gets even better. The largest search engine, Google, highlights videos in search results from YouTube. This gives videos extended reach.

When you understand your audience, you know their problem and what they might be searching for, and whether your product or service is the solution.

Explain how you fit
The solution on YouTube isn’t you pitching or selling them something, it’s explaining or showing them the answer to their problem, which does include your product or service as part of the solution.

As amazing as YouTube search is to grow a channel, it’s only part of the equation. In the beginning, using keywords and focused titles can offer your channel some traction; however, if you want real success on YouTube, you must consider how your videos will become suggested by YouTube.

The majority of traffic on YouTube comes from YouTube suggesting videos to viewers. For example, you may use a YouTube search for how to fix your sink. However, you will more likely watch a few more videos on the topic or topics related to your interests based on what YouTube recommends.

This is why it’s important to have a plan and strategy around the types of videos you create.

Success on YouTube depends on how valuable you are to YouTube. This means to how you bring people to the platform and how well you keep them there to watch more videos.

The best approach is to consider a playlist mentality to your videos. This means, each video you create easily leads to another video you have on YouTube.  Think of it as the Netflix approach, getting people to binge-watch your videos. With 2 billion active monthly users, you can identify a relevant YouTube audience who cares about your type of videos and produce videos which serve them.

YouTube 3T’s to success
There are three important factors to consider when publishing your videos: topic, title and thumbnails.  You may have an amazing video, but if no one is looking for the solution (topic), whether for practical or entertainment sake, few will click on it.

If your title and thumbnail image isn’t more compelling than the competition, fewer people will click on your video, decreasing the chances YouTube will promote your video.

The first metric to consider to help improve your channel performance is the Click Through Rate (CTR). Out of 100 times YouTube shows your video in search, on peoples YouTube home page or suggested by YouTube, what percent click on your video?

Once you get people to your video, the next metric for consideration is: how long did they watch your video? Do most viewers click off in the first few seconds, or do viewers on average watch half your video? Lastly, do people watch more of your videos and stay on the YouTube platform?

One measure I find helpful is the 70/50 rule. The goal is to get 70 percent of your audience to the first minute of your video, with 50 percent making it to the end. This is not easy; however, if you can keep people watching to the end you can encourage them to watch another relevant video on your channel.

In the early days of your YouTube channel, focus on calls to action which encourage people to watch more. We don’t want to encourage people to leave YouTube, because this can discourage YouTube from promoting your videos. Yet, over time, as your channel gains views and subscribers, you can begin using calls to action in some videos, which lead to people visiting your website, landing page or join your email list.

Advertising an option
Of course, there is one more option. You can always advertise on YouTube. If you are familiar with the Google Ads system, then you can advertise on YouTube because it’s the same platform.

There are some helpful tools beyond the ones provided by YouTube Studio. The data provided by YouTube is helpful to grow your channel. However, there are excellent third party tools that help you find topics, improve and measuring results.

Tubebuddy is a popular browser extension many YouTubers use to help find topics. One of the premium features I like is the ability to A/B test your thumbnails to improve CTR performance.

VidIQ is another popular extension which offers helpful insight into how well your channel is doing with channel and competition insights among other insightful features.

The last recommendation is This tool is excellent for topic research, analytics and insight as to what topics might work to improve your suggested videos reach.

If you enjoy podcasts, I host a podcast for YouTube creators at the where I share additional insights and interview YouTube creators and educators.

If you want to succeed on YouTube, it’s important to define your audience. Plus you need to have a plan around how you will serve them. YouTube success is not an overnight endeavor, it can take months, if not years. Yet, once you do succeed, you harness the power of social video which impacts the bottom line.

Rosh Sillars owns the digital marketing company Rosh Media and specializes in search engine optimization for business.