If you’re rocking a YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers, then you’re doing it right with audience building - however, as a content creator, YouTube isn’t the best for monetization. Making a decent income off YouTube alone is challenging, while YouTube creators often feel compelled to consistently create more content, and suffer from burn out as a result.
Essentially, there's a major flaw in trying to create your content business solely on YouTube: a lack of control. As such, It’s important to build an asset alongside your channel that has standalone value. I am talking about an email list of your raving fans.
Confused as to why you need to fumble with emails of your audience over the convenient option of letting YouTube handle your subscriber database?
Hear me out, please:
Why do YouTubers need to build an email list?
The four major reasons you should care about an email subscriber over a YouTube subscriber, and build a list are as follows.
1. You own your email subscribers
If you run a YouTube channel, it’s not unfamiliar to hear about algorithm changes and regular experiments on the platform. Your video views and subscriber count can drop unexpectedly. Worse, your channel might not align with the network’s policies and get shut down overnight.
Compare that with your email list. It’s solely your audience, and you have direct access to their inboxes. You can broadcast emails, or even build one-to-one relationships by personalizing your message.
2. An email subscriber has a higher tangible value than a YouTube subscriber
In a study of thousands of sellers at Gumroad, email was found to have a 4.27x higher conversion rate than YouTube.
The reason is that emails can be personalized through segmentation, hence they get more click-throughs. Which brings me to our next argument...
3. Email marketing suites offer you powerful personalization features
Here’s the first email that Pat Flynn (affiliate marketer and blogger) uses to learn about his new subscribers. Based on the answer you click, he then shares targeted and relevant resources that suit your stage.
It’s impossible to segment your YouTube subscribers and serve them with personalized content in this manner.
Now let’s move on to the specific strategies to build an email audience.
Five powerful strategies to supercharge your email list growth from YouTube
Convinced that you need to build a list? Then, let me show you five effective strategies. To avoid overwhelm, you should probably begin experimentation with a couple of them at first.
1. Put a compelling CTA in your channel header
Noah Kagan, a multi-million entrepreneur, found that 400x more people subscribe to his channel from his channel homepage, as compared with videos.
Here’s how his channel header looked initially.
He changed his header with social proof, optimized for “people aren’t familiar with his name yet.” His goal was converting the casual YouTube traffic into channel subscribers.
In our case, we want to convert casual browsers into our email subscribers. Hence, you can do something like Miles Beckler does in his channel header shown below.
Beckler sets an expectation of three videos per week, then he uses arrows to point to his “FREE Make Money Online Course.” That redirects to the landing page below, soliciting the visitor’s email.
2. Link to your website from your videos using cards
YouTube allows you to link to associated websites by using cards in videos - so long as they meet its community guidelines.
First, you’ll need to join the YouTube partner program and associate your site with your Google account (detailed steps here).
Once your website is associated with your account, then you can add cards by going to the Video Manager. Here are the eight steps you need to follow.
Note that you don’t need to always link to the homepage - you can also point your visitors to specific pages (think landing pages) on your website that are relevant to the video.
Besides cards, you can also put links to your website inside the video descriptions - here’s how Ramit Sethi uses the first line in the description of his channel trailer.
You could also use your channel trailer to invite people to your website homepage (or a landing page) where you solicit their emails. For example, In his channel trailer, Neil Patel uses a text CTA at the end of the video besides the card linking to his homepage.
Can you see how every headline and text in the video is benefit-oriented (“generate more traffic...”, “...& gain more customers”, “learn digital marketing in just 5 minutes a day”). Showing explicit benefits can compel your audience to take action.
3. Include a direct CTA in the video script inviting people to subscribe to your list
You might have seen brands asking its followers to ‘RT if you agree!’ on social media. It’s a cheat to bait engagement from users - however, on YouTube, it’s a norm to ask the viewer to “like, comment, and subscribe”. The audience has a much higher appetite for a call to action. It’s even a running joke.
Hence, it’s a great idea to ask your YouTube subscribers to get on your list at the end of all the videos. If you have a persuasive lead magnet that you can offer to your viewers, then tell them to sign up for that.
For example, towards the end of this video (at about 18:54), Jorden calls out her viewers to “enroll in her email course on freelance writing.” She also tells them the benefits that joining the course warrants to the aspiring freelance writers.
4. Syndicate your videos on Wistia. Then, use Turnstile…
Content syndication is an efficient way to scale your audience, without creating new content. If you’re creating videos, then you could also push them to Wistia. It’s a terrific platform for getting detailed video analytics.
Once you have uploaded your videos on Wistia, it enables you to gate them with landing pages. Here’s a detailed guide on capturing leads using Turnstile.
You could also publish your YouTube videos natively on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram (where your audience hangs out) as video updates have a higher reach than links. Then, in the description of the social media update (or in the first comment), you can invite users to subscribe to your list.
5. Retarget them through YouTube Ads
Do you know that 81% of sales happen after seven or more contacts?
Videos are a great asset to draw people to your brand, as they're pleasing for the user, however you likely won’t convert your first-time video viewers into subscribers. That’s where retargeting ads on YouTube can help. It offers the option of targeting the people that have interacted with your channel in the last 30 days.
Here are the potential YouTube-related activities that you could use to create remarketing lists.
To get started, you need to connect your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account.
Case Study: How to use Email and video to complement each other and amplify your marketing results?
Do you plan on selling educational products to your audience?
Then, email is a genuine relationship-building tool, and what’s the best medium to show off your personality and build a deeper bond with your audience?
Further, GetResponse found that emails with YouTube videos perform well.
However, email clients might not support videos - hence, you might need to use a screenshot or an animated GIF to link to your videos.
Mateusz, a product manager at GetResponse, explains in more detail below.
Sending videos to your email list also helps in giving an initial spike of traffic to your YouTube videos and help them rank.
For example, Jorden Roper (a freelance writing coach) sent the following email to her list. Note the date (January 2nd).
She linked to her new video on ‘Writing Samples.’
However, the publishing date of her YouTube video is 7th January 2019. It’s five days from the date she sent the email.
Well, Jorden is playing it smart to snag initial engagement from her email subscribers on an unlisted video (likely sharing them ‘privately’).
As soon as Jorden hits 'Publish', the video already has gained initial engagement from her raving fans on her email list in the form of likes and views. YouTube loves to see engaged traffic roll in from external sources.
Indeed, the first 24 hours (and then the next seven days) are critical to deciding the ranking of your videos. On seeing early signs of engagement from your list, your YouTube videos could potentially pick top spots for your target keywords. Then, they drive evergreen traffic to your channel.
In this manner, your email list is a terrific way to support your YouTube marketing efforts, and vice-versa. In the diagram below, Contently describes how they use the list to create a waterfall of engagement for their blog traffic. The concept applies in the context of creating engagement on your YouTube channel as well.
YouTube is a terrific source of brand exposure, and it can help you reach new audiences through your videos every day, on autopilot. However, it’s smart to funnel your engaged subscribers into your email list, then deepen your bond with them by serving more relevant content to them.
A version of this post was first published on the Graphic Rhythm Designs blog.