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YouTube for Manufacturers: Turning Views into Valuable Leads

If your manufacturing brand is considering using YouTube or already has a channel that you want to turn into a lead generation asset, here’s what you need to know.

by Zach Williams

Video marketing empowers companies to convey complex information in an engaging and accessible way, and YouTube remains the #1 platform for sharing videos on the web.

With the ability to reach millions of users around the world, YouTube presents a promising avenue for organic marketing in all industries, including manufacturing. But, success is contingent upon a comprehensive understanding of the platform's intricate algorithms, coupled with strong scripting and videography skills.

If your brand is considering using YouTube, or you’re exploring new ways to grow your company, here’s what you need to know.

Why Should Manufacturers Use YouTube?

YouTube is the second-largest search engine around the world and has a vast audience of people representing practically every industry and every niche. As a manufacturer, this means you can certainly engage your following on YouTube, so long as you know how to leverage the platform in a way that grows your reach organically.

Some of the key benefits of using YouTube as a manufacturer include:

  • Educating Your Audience: Demonstrations, tutorials, and product showcases are all engaging ways to introduce your audience to new products and showcase what makes your solutions unique. If you're investing in content marketing, these educational videos are a must.

  • Building Credibility: A well-maintained YouTube channel can serve as a credibility booster by giving you a platform to exhibit your deep industry knowledge, show off the quality of your products, and talk about innovative new features and trends that your company is keeping up with.

  • Enhancing SEO: YouTube videos often rank well in search engine results, if you follow the best practices. This can drive even more organic traffic to your content, helping you reach new potential customers without spending a dime.

  • Generating Leads: YouTube can help you reach potential leads and, with calls-to-action placed in your videos, you can drive those interested people to your website and other resources where they can reach out, join your email list, or request a quote.

Examples of Successful YouTube Channels

Countless manufacturers are thriving on YouTube thanks to their commitment to providing interesting and quality content. Here’s a look at a few.

Simpson Strong-Tie

Simpson Strong-Tie has created structural products for over 55 years, leading research and technology to become one of the world's largest suppliers of structural building products. The company’s YouTube channel has over 35,000 subscribers, and their branding is apparent from the second you land on their page.

The brand posts videos on YouTube at least monthly, giving insights into their R&D and showcasing their dedication to making buildings more structurally sound, resilient, and sustainable. Their videos are interesting and educational, with regular content showing seismic tests and side-by-side comparisons.

USG Corporation

USG Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance building products and their YouTube channel boasts over 25,000 subscribers. They post multiple times a year and one thing that makes them unique is that they post separate versions of their videos in both English and Spanish, offering a more immersive experience for their global audience.

The channel offers product demonstrations, but the brand also emphasizes their commitment to innovation with videos like this narrative format that follows how their roofing solution has evolved with time.

James Hardie

James Hardie is the world’s top producer of high-performance fiber cement and fiber gypsum building solutions. On YouTube, the company has over 14,000 subscribers, offering genuine video testimonials from happy customers and — more excitingly — real-world demonstrations of their products at work.

The channel posts multiple times a year, sharing content like this fire demonstration where they show how different siding materials hold up under flame.

How to Start a YouTube Channel as a Manufacturer

Anyone can create a YouTube channel, but it takes a great deal of strategic planning and on-going commitment to grow one over time. The key is to invest more time into that crucial planning phase and think about all the little details before you start throwing a channel together.

Whether or not you're new to digital marketing, marketing on YouTube will require you to consider aspects you likely haven't had to before. Here’s a step-by-step guide focusing on what’s most important.

1. Solidify Your Brand

If you haven't conducted in-depth market and customer research in the last 12 months, now is a great time to do it. Before starting your YouTube channel, you want to have a clear understanding of your niche, target audience, core values, unique selling points, and what makes you stand out from the crowd within the manufacturing industry.

2. Develop a Content Plan

With a limitless budget, it'd be easy to produce amazing video content at a steady cadence and grow your channel rapidly — but, let's face it, you're working with limited resources. To stretch those resources, you need to think objectively about what a sustainable posting cadence is for your YouTube channel, and then consider what type of videos you'd like to offer, focusing on those most likely to engage your target audience.

3. Set Up Your YouTube Channel

To actually set up your YouTube channel, you'll need to create a dedicated Google Account, preferably using login credentials that you're okay with sharing with others at your company, and with people you may hire to assist with video creation. Google has a straightforward guide if you're not sure how to create your account and set up your channel.

When setting up your channel, you’ll want to pause and take a good amount of time deciding on a channel name. While you can change it later, the sooner you pick one, the easier it’ll be to start creating other materials for your channel. Ideally, your channel name shouldn’t be taken by other channels (so you can snag a unique URL), and it should be short, memorable, and instantly recognized as associated with your company.

It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to claim a custom URL until you hit 100 subscribers, but it’s still important to see if that URL is available when deciding on a channel name.

4. Fill In The Blanks

Once your channel is created, you’ll want to find someone with design and marketing savvy to help you fill in the blanks. These are all the details that make up your channel’s brand, like:

  • Your cover image

  • Your profile picture

  • Your “about” description

  • Your boilerplate CTA for video descriptions

  • Your thumbnail styles for videos

  • Your video watermark

It’s important that all of these components are visually appealing and consistent with your brand. If someone finds your website or sees your company on YouTube or any other platform, they should instantly recognize your content as being yours thanks to consistent visual cues.

5. Produce Content

Producing content is the toughest step of all. While you want to produce content professional enough to represent your brand effectively, you could easily sink thousands of dollars into professional cameras, lighting, microphones, and backdrops.

Instead of fretting over the equipment, focus first on the quality of your content. You should plan, script, and record videos with a focus on providing value and solving problems for your target audience. Once you have that aspect figured out, you can evolve your lighting, audio, and video set up over time as your channel grows.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something you may have heard about before, but it’s a totally different ballgame for your YouTube channel as you aren’t dealing with the world wide web, but YouTube’s own native search engine. YouTube SEO will help your videos rank at the top of YouTube’s search results, and it can also help your videos rank in Google for relevant queries.

Just like the SEO you do for your website, YouTube SEO takes time to master and there’s not always a clear right or wrong way to do things, just trial and error. Still, YouTube SEO is rooted in the familiar aspects of keyword research, which will fuel your titles and descriptions.

To increase video clicks, you’ll also want to optimize your thumbnails. Using closed captions is also important for accessibility and mobile engagement, as many people watch videos on mute.

7. Promote Your Channel Across Multiple Platforms

It is entirely possible to post a video and start reaching an audience organically on YouTube, especially if you’re producing content around niche terms where there’s simply not a lot of video content to begin with. However, to grow your channel the fastest, you’ll want to invest in promotion.

One of the easiest ways to promote your channel and videos is by taking excerpts from your content and repurposing them into short-form videos (about 15 to 30 seconds long), which you can post on YouTube Shorts and TikTok. You can also re-post your videos, or snippets of them, on Facebook.

Outside of sharing your video content directly, use your channels to cross-promote. When you post a new video, write a quick post on other social media accounts linking to it. Also, consider mentioning it in your email newsletter. These simple techniques can drive traffic and engagement to your video, and that’ll help your channel grow with time.

How to Attract Your First Subscribers

Getting views on your video hopefully isn’t too difficult, especially if you have employees, partners, and existing customers interested enough to check out your new YouTube channel. However, actually getting someone to subscribe to your channel can be a different story, especially if you have no prior connection to them.

Beyond offering high-value, interesting videos to begin with, some things you can do to help attract your first subscribers include the following.

  • Include an end-screen at the end of every video where you directly ask your viewers to subscribe to your channel if they enjoyed your content. You’ve likely seen this tactic on countless videos, and it’s because asking truly works.

  • Post consistently to encourage regular viewers to subscribe so they can stay on top of your new content. If you only post sparsely throughout the year, people will be less likely to want to subscribe to your channel.

  • Use the comment section to lead the conversation by asking your audience a question. On your first few videos, you might not get a response, but you will eventually see engagement as you pose new ideas and start reaching more people.

  • When you do get comments on your videos, be quick to respond and engage with them. When other viewers see that you’re active and willing to answer questions or offer additional information, they’ll be more likely to leave a comment of their own.

  • As your channel grows, celebrate your milestones. Giveaways and special guests can help incentivize subscribers to share your content and help you reach your next subscription goal, and it all helps inspire a stronger sense of community around your brand.

How to Use YouTube Analytics

YouTube offers built-in analytics to help you understand who is viewing your videos, what they’re enjoying the most, and what’s causing them to click away. For instance, you can see statistics like average view duration, which can tell you whether or not your videos are holding users’ attention.

Some important metrics to start tracking and benchmarking include:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR is the percentage of viewers who clicked on your video after seeing it in search results.

  • Watch Time: Total number of minutes viewers have spent watching your videos.

  • Views: The number of times your video has been viewed.

  • Audience Retention: How long people watch your video, and at what point they drop off.

  • Demographics: The age, gender, and location of your audience.

  • Devices: Whether your audience is using desktop, mobile, or TV to watch your videos.

  • Traffic Sources: Where your viewers come from, whether it's YouTube search, external websites, or suggested videos.

  • Playback Locations: This shows where your videos are being watched, whether on YouTube, external websites, or mobile apps.

All of these metrics can help inform your content production strategy over time. For instance, if you notice that viewers tend to drop-off after the ten minute mark, you might consider making your videos shorter or adding additional visuals to increase engagement.

On the other hand, if you realize that your audience is primarily watching your content from their mobile device, you may want to consider changing the format of your videos to make them more accessible to mobile users.

Over time, your audience’s preferences will change as your audience grows and becomes more diverse. Through it all, your job is to anticipate trends and consistently strive to give your audience what they want at any given point in your channel’s journey.

Common Mistakes When Growing a Manufacturer’s YouTube Channel

As with any new endeavor, you can’t expect things to go flawlessly when establishing your new YouTube channel. Taking time to learn about common pitfalls can help you get on the right track.

Mistake #1: Target Audience Mismatch

Chasing virality is never a good strategy, especially in a space like manufacturing where your actual audience is quite slim. There’s no doubt that a variety of people may find your content interesting, especially if you’re offering videos that delve into earthquake simulations or fire demonstrations, but chasing views is not a sustainable strategy.

When planning your content, you should always be focused on your ideal customer and what they would find most interesting and valuable given their niche knowledge and priorities. While this may mean fewer views, it also means those people who you are reaching with your videos are more likely to convert into qualified leads — and that’s what pays.

Mistake #2: Posting and Ghosting

The “build it and they will come” mentality does not work with content marketing, especially on a platform as large as YouTube. Video SEO can help you attract views organically, but that alone isn’t enough to grow your channel, especially not quickly.

When you post a video, you should follow a pre-designed workflow where you take extra steps to make sure it reaches your audience, such as posting about it on social media, sharing it in your newsletter, and sending it out to employees and partners who may wish to see it.

Mistake #3: Low Production Quality

While you don’t need a studio setup or thousands of dollars in equipment to start making videos, you should be doing everything you can to improve production quality. This starts with your video scripts and content, and goes on to who you choose to represent your brand in videos, and how those videos are edited.

Over the last few years, average production quality of Youtube videos increased significantly due to fierce competition and advancements in equipment and editing software. While small bloggers can get away with video filmed on smart phones in a living room, viewers will perceive low-quality videos from brands as a lack of expertise.

If you can’t invest in a ton of equipment, focus on developing professional niche content with the most value for your target audience or content optimized for Youtube search engine.

Remember that a lot of issues, especially regarding audio quality, can be fixed in post production, so long as you have a good video editor (freelance or otherwise). Paying attention to these details can completely transform the viewing experience, and that makes all the difference when it comes to engaging your audience.

Mistake #4: Not Collaborating

There’s power in numbers, especially when you have the opportunity to involve people and businesses in your videos who already have a following of their own.

One of the easiest ways to do this early on is to offer to record a compelling, high-quality case study for your most successful customers and feature it on your channel. When done right, this video will become great marketing material for you and your client, and they will likely share it far and wide.

As your channel grows, you may also find opportunities to collaborate with other businesses and thought leaders in your field, which is a great way to come up with interesting new content ideas and reach a broader audience.

Are Your Ready To Turn Your Manufacturing Youtube Channel Into a Lead Generation Engine?

Now that you know everything that goes into creating a YouTube channel, what’s next? If you’re feeling at all overwhelmed by the process and perhaps looking for a bit of guidance in the digital marketing realm, shift your focus to the amazing potential for growth and lead generation that YouTube offers.

While it will take some time to get rolling, with the right resources on your side, your company can grow substantially in a matter of months. Venveo’s team of digital marketing experts can help. Contact us to learn more about how Venveo can assist you in growing your online presence and securing new customers.