How to build a bulletproof YouTube strategy in seven hours or less

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and the second most visited site after Google itself. It’s also the largest social network, with more adults using the platform than Facebook, and twice as many users as Instagram. YouTube is an absolutely essential component of any complete content marketing strategy, and deserves as much focus from digital marketers as any other social media platforms would command. 

YouTube is a data-focused engine; therefore, having a data-focused strategy in place is extremely important. At the end of last year, I spoke at the WeLoveSEO virtual summit about how to use data to build your YouTube visibility. To add to this, I think it’s also important to discuss how to incorporate this data into your strategy – and how to actually build a YouTube content strategy.

So, let’s get into it! In this blog post, I’ve outlined five quick and easy steps on how to get your YouTube marketing strategy outlined and off the ground in just a day. Ready?

1. Create a unique mission – 30 minutes

Before you embark on anything – and I mean anything – you should first think about what exactly you are setting out to achieve. What is your mission? 

Whether it be a pitch deck or a strategic document, I often like to write a simple mission statement for each piece of work that comes my way. This should be a single line statement, usually no more than 20 words, that helps you really focus on what you want to achieve.

Some example mission statements for YouTube could be:

  • To use YouTube to reach and engage with our current audience
  • To use YouTube to reach new audiences
  • To use YouTube to convert users from being brand agnostic to brand loyal 
  • To use YouTube to own more organic search real estate for video queries 
  • To use YouTube to appear more heavily for branded queries in-platform 

Think really critically about your mission statement, and make sure that all your stakeholders agree on it before you sign it off. You’ll need to refer back to it later. 

Once you have your mission statement together, you’re ready for step two.

2. Think about the user journey – three hours(ish) 

Next up, you need to think about the user journey. You’re the product expert, so this shouldn’t take too long. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t know anything about the product – or someone that doesn’t even know that the product exists. What questions would they have?

To understand what questions your audience has, you should invest in doing some good old keyword research. But first, you need to create a matrix. Start by listing the funnel stages across the horizontal axis of your matrix, and then add one of the following on the vertical axis:

  1. Audience types
  2. Product types

You should be left with something that looks a bit like the chart below. For this example, you can see that I have listed audience types vertically down the left-hand side, rather than product types. The empty boxes are where we will list our queries.

  Awareness Consideration Conversion Retention
Expert influence        

Now, we can use this matrix to work out what the user journey is, and how users are searching for questions on these topics within YouTube. There are all sorts of ways to do this, but I personally find that mapping out the questions in this way helps me understand more clearly where the gaps are and see any potential user flow. Later down the line, this will also help me with more easily organising videos into playlists, with the aim of “converting” users within YouTube itself. 

It’s important that you’re basing this on data – specifically, keywords. After all, these keywords are what will trigger your video to appear in search results. You can use any tool or method to find YouTube search queries; a quick Google search should throw some up.

However, I would recommend using a combination of Ahrefs, and TubeBuddy to get the job done. I largely do my research in, and then use Ahrefs and TubeBuddy to gather up any extra keywords I might have missed. 

Don’t rush this step! Don’t even be tempted!! This is arguably the most important step of the entire strategy. Really take your time to do the keyword research well and thoroughly, but also take some time to analyse each query. What frame of mind is the user in when they search for xyz? What information do they need? This matrix will be used for everything, so it’s imperative that it’s accurate. 

Your matrix should now start to look something like this (view example chart below). This is a closer look into the top left of the previous matrix so that you can view the details.

Expert influencesmall bedroom ideas1,100ottoman bed storage22,650
small bedroom storage ideas200ottoman bed storage ideas260
kids bedroom ideas60ottoman bed review210
storage hacks for bedroom10do ottoman beds squeak30

Later, you’ll need to use these keywords to create ideas, and develop video titles and descriptions. Alternatively, you can also use this data to optimise your pre-existing videos. You can also see that we’re starting to form a prioritisation here using the search volume of specific queries. This will help us establish what order to start creating videos in. 

If you need a quick lesson on how to do keyword research, reference this handy guide by Ahrefs, or reach out to our Content team. Otherwise, here are some hot tops on how to create a matrix and map out your keyword research:

  • Don’t overlap lots of similar queries! The spreadsheet typically gets quite extensive at this stage, so adding unnecessary rows is a bit ridiculous. Instead, I usually just aggregate the search volume together and pick the query with the best grammar. 
  • Beware of empty cells! If you’re finding that an audience or product type has little to no queries at a particular stage of the funnel, your job is not done. It’s 2021 – there is no way that people are not searching for anything about the product at a particular stage. 
  • This structure makes a great auditing framework! If your brand already has a YouTube channel but you’re not sure where the gaps are, go through this process and then use the matrix to optimise your videos.

3. Establish your content formats – one hour 

Now it’s time to establish the formats that you will need to create content or, in other words, the types of videos that you will produce. This shouldn’t be focused around creative guidelines, as those details can come later. Instead, focus on how you will convey your message to your audience. 

Here, I find that colour coding works well, simply because the spreadsheet is often MASSIVE by this point, so adding another column becomes cumbersome. Instead, add a legend somewhere – perhaps along the top of the table (as shown below) – and then start colour coding. You should be left with something that looks like this:

Product explainerThird-party reviewExpert interviewLifestyle
Expert influencesmall bedroom storage ideas200ottoman bed storage22,650
toy storage hacks200ottoman bed storage ideas260
toy minimalism20ottoman bed review210
storage hacks for bedroom10do ottoman beds squeak30

Remember that you only want to have a few formats here – ideally, less than 10. If you’re running out of colours, you have too many formats. Try to condense formats where possible and try not to have any overlap between formats either. 

You want to make distinctions between the formats, as this will make it clearer for the user to interact with the videos and for you to produce them. You should be left with a list of content formats along the top of your matrix that you will need to create guidelines for.

4. Create a measurement framework – 30 minutes 

Lastly, it’s a good idea to think about how you will measure the effectiveness of your activity. I recommend creating key performance indicators (KPIs) for each funnel stage, rather than use the same KPIs for every stage. This is because videos at each stage will have varying purposes. For example, looking at the number of people that subscribe to your channel is, of course, important, but the likelihood of someone subscribing to your page during their first interaction with your brand is low. 

For example, I normally use the following as the basis for my YouTube KPIs, before adjusting them for client needs. 

Funnel stageKPIs
Awareness1. Video views
2. Video rankings
3. Watch time
Consideration1. Subscriber growth
2. Post-view actions
3. Avg. percentage viewed
Conversion1. Traffic to site
2. Traffic to other properties
3. Subscriber growth
Retention1. Shares
2. Positive comments
3. Rewatches

You can get all of these KPIs from the in-built YouTube analytics, or if you’re looking to create dashboards in Datorama or Tableau, YouTube has a very accessible application programming interface (API) to do just that. 

On top of this, I would also use a YouTube rank tracking software like TubeBuddy to track how well your videos are performing at a more holistic level. This is so you can compare videos that fall into different funnel stages. 

Using a robust measurement framework is important – as it is with all activities – but I also think it’s more so the case with video, as it tends to be a very expensive activity. Thus, measuring the effectiveness of the activity is somewhat more important than normal. 

Once you have your measurement framework, that’s it! You’re all done! Congratulations if you were following along at home – you’ve just created a YouTube strategy in less than seven hours!! Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Champion. 

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