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on May 22, 2023 (last modified on May 13, 2023) • 21 minute read
When we interviewed Tim Soulo, the CMO at Ahrefs, in October 2022, Soulo shared an “aha!” moment with us. After buying a new product, he went straight to YouTube to learn how to use it. It was then that he thought Ahrefs could leverage YouTube to teach its customers about its tools.
Now, the Ahrefs YouTube channel has 397k subscribers, 274 videos, and more than 18 million views.
At Databox, this story had us thinking about two opportunities YouTube could bring to business-to-business (B2B) companies: demand creation and product education. By demand creation, we mean teaching customers about an industry so they know why they would want a product. In this context, product education involves creating short tutorials about your product to save your customer service team time and help customers evaluate your product.
Ahrefs saw so much success with YouTube, and we can’t help but wonder if your B2B business could, too. That’s why we consulted B2B professionals about their YouTube strategies and examined metrics from our Benchmark Groups sourced from real YouTube channels. We also interviewed Sam Oh, Ahref’s VP of Marketing, to get even more insights on their channel.
Let’s dive into the data and advice we got:
We investigated the median March 2023 YouTube performance for the members of our YouTube Benchmarks for B2B Companies to understand the results B2B businesses get from YouTube.
According to our B2B YouTube Benchmark Group, the median number of views was 1.49K in March.
Participants had a huge range of total watch times for March, with some having a few hours and others having multiple weeks. We found they had a median watch time of 1 day, 22 hours, and 55 minutes.
But of course, we also need to see how that view time averages out per video. Our Benchmark Group participants had a median average view duration of 1 minute and 11 seconds.
Channel growth also involves subscriber growth. Channel owners in the Benchmark Group had a median of 8 new subscribers in March.
When it comes to metrics like view times and subscriber counts, our Benchmark Group participants had slow and steady growth. But, YouTube success depends on the goals the channel owner has in the first place. We need to investigate why B2B businesses run their YouTube channels in the first place.
As a side note, anyone with a Databox account connected to YouTube is welcome to join our Benchmark Group. In exchange for anonymously sharing your data, you’ll get access to real-time data on how businesses like yours are doing. You can join the B2B group here.
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To get additional perspectives on YouTube performance for B2B companies, we surveyed 33 B2B YouTube channel owners about their goals and challenges. Out of this group, 66.67% — 22 — work for companies that sell B2B products or services, while 33.33% — 11 — work for agencies that serve B2B companies.
We asked these B2B professionals about their top channel goals. Just over 40% have the primary goal of establishing thought leadership, while 39% mainly want to showcase their products and services. Note that you don’t necessarily need high view or subscriber counts to achieve either of these goals.
Then, we asked respondents with these two popular goals about the most successful video type for their channels.
How-to videos were the top pick for channel owners with either goal. Half of the participants who wanted to establish thought leadership got the most success out of how-to videos. Meanwhile, 38% of channel owners who wanted to showcase their products and services got results from how-to videos.
The second-most successful video type differed by primary goal. A little under 30% of channel owners looking to establish thought leadership got results from videos covering industry insights, trends, and best practices. 31% of respondents who wanted to share their products and services saw success with product demos.
Video posting frequency also contributes to YouTube success. One tip we receive from marketing professionals on increasing YouTube traffic is to post consistently.
Most of our survey respondents post up to five videos on their YouTube business channels in one month. A little over 40% of respondents reported posting three to five videos per month, equaling a rate of approximately once per week.
Related: 15 Popular Types of YouTube Videos for Businesses to Produce
We then dug into our survey respondents’ experience with YouTube and their biggest challenges to see where B2B businesses have opportunities to grow.
The majority of respondents have had a YouTube channel for more than one year, with just 15.15% having under one year of experience. So, we’re mostly dealing with channel owners with at least intermediate experience.
The most common problem for respondents was coming up with content ideas. About one-quarter of survey participants considered this their biggest challenge.
To help you address these challenges yourself, we asked respondents what they’ve done to solve these problems. They shared solutions to these six challenges:
As with any aspect of content marketing, it can be tricky to come up with ideas for YouTube content. Three channel owners shared their solutions for generating video topics.
“Creating content for a B2B business YouTube channel presents unique challenges, as we cater to a more professional and niche audience than B2C channels. One of the most significant hurdles for us was keeping the content informative yet engaging at the same time,” says Liz Ho of Camping Guidance.
So, she reached out to others for input. “I tackled this challenge by collaborating with industry experts, discussing relevant topics, and incorporating storytelling elements to make the content more relatable and interesting for viewers. I also provided a B2B test group with snippets of my content to get their feedback,” she says.
Zopto’s Abhi Bavishi also turned to other people for inspiration:
“We started diving into our support conversations to find a recurring theme on the questions that most customers ask us, and started creating those questions into long-form content on YouTube.”
Growth Marketer at Zopto
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Steve Lee from Windowsvps took a holistic approach to content ideas, investing in the company’s marketing as a whole. “In order to overcome this challenge, we developed content that was both educational and entertaining. Apart from that, we employed a comprehensive marketing strategy which included utilizing our existing social media accounts and email lists to reach potential viewers and promote our content. On top of that, we invested in paid advertising campaigns to maximize traffic to our YouTube channel,” Lee says.
Related: YouTube Video Ideas That Helped 40 Businesses Grow Their Audience and Attract More Customers
As we mentioned earlier, a consistent posting schedule is key to improving your YouTube channel’s performance. But, how do you make time in your schedule to keep posting regularly?
At Beacon Digital Marketing, Nicole Spewak works smarter, not harder. “First, we started creating video brand guidelines accompanied by video templates that can be reused time and again. With this in place, we have a template for a thought leadership video, for example, at hand and can drop in new footage and update text without having to reinvent the wheel every time. We have an intro/outro, lower thirds designed and animated, and all the other elements ready to go in that template,” Spewak says.
She continues, “Second, we focus on repurposing content and making video a part of the plan from the get-go. For example, when we conduct thought leadership interviews, we use tools like Riverside FM to record high-quality audio and video that can then be later turned into short-form video that can be posted to YouTube, shared on social, embedded in a blog, or turned into a catchy audiogram. By simply recording an interview with a thought leader, we get the content we need to draft a blog post and the footage we need to create insightful videos that easily boost our cross-channel marketing strategy and brand awareness efforts.”
Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald looks for ways to get better results from less work. “I used to believe I needed long-form videos each week. I found that too overwhelming to consistently produce videos. I solved this feeling of overwhelm in several ways. First, I produced more Shorts that don’t take as long. Also, YouTube pushes out Shorts so growth is easier. Next, I use free tools like Lumen5 which turn my blog posts into videos for me. Finally, I use ChatGPT to write my video titles and descriptions. Consistency is easier to maintain with these methods,” Wald says.
At Vibrant Media Productions, Alex Cascio establishes a positive feedback loop involving a solid content strategy. “To overcome these challenges, we have developed a clear content strategy that is aligned with our business goals and target audience. We have identified the topics and themes that are most relevant to our audience, as well as the types of content that are most effective in engaging them. To ensure that our videos are visually appealing and professional, we invest in high-quality production. This includes using high-quality cameras and equipment, as well as working with experienced video editors and producers,” Cascio says.
Cascio adds, “We promote our YouTube content across multiple channels, including our website, email newsletter, and social media platforms, to maximize the reach and impact of our videos. Finally, we measure and optimize the performance of our YouTube content over time to ensure that it continues to resonate with our audience and drive business results.”
By making it easier to make videos in the first place, posting consistently becomes a much easier task to manage. Think of ways to simplify the posting process and don’t be afraid to repurpose your videos.
Another challenge to running a YouTube channel is growing a viewer base. With B2B being a niche of its own on YouTube, you’ll need to make a focused effort to create content that resonates with your intended audience.
Syed Sazzadul Bari of wpWax overcame this challenge with in-depth audience research. “One of the primary challenges I faced when creating content for my B2B business YouTube channel was understanding the audience’s interests and preferences. To overcome this, I researched extensively by analyzing similar YouTube channels to gain ideas and insights.”
Bari adds, “Another challenge was creating high-quality content that would appeal to our audience. Given the relatively small B2B market, views and engagement on our videos were initially low. As a result, I had to conduct A/B testing to determine which types of content would resonate with our audience and help boost our views and engagement. I leveraged all available channels, including social media, email marketing, and collaborations, for future content to promote our channel.”
Our guide to finding your target audience will help you get a better idea of your audience’s demographics and interests so you can make videos they want to watch. While it’s intended for websites, the principles apply to any situation where you need to do audience research.
Related: 9 Ways to Improve Audience Retention on YouTube
Creating YouTube videos can take expensive equipment and training if you don’t have video producers in-house already. But why not reach out to someone who does have the experience and tools?
Jenna Nye at On The Strip found that outsourcing part of the company’s video workflow made better use of resources than trying the DIY approach. Nye says, “As a small business, we have limited resources, and growing an audience on YouTube, like any other social media, requires a lot of time and effort, especially in the early days when you don’t have organic traffic. We find it hard to dedicate enough time to growing our YouTube channel for the current ROI on it, as other methods of marketing have proven to be more effective and profitable.
Here’s the current solution: “We’re in the process of working with a content creation freelancer who is helping us with content, strategy, and engagement to be able to grow our channel and make it a useful business tool.”
Related: Small Business Video: 16 Tips for Creating Great Video On a Budget
A challenge that overlaps with a lack of budget or resources is having difficulty with the production process. In many cases, it’s hard to make videos because you don’t have the tools or money to do so easily and professionally.
At Portland SEO Growth Partners, Joey Randazzo realized that a lot of the hurdles that came with video production were self-imposed:
“At first, we waited 9-12 months to create our YouTube channel because I was so hung up on the quality of content production. I was looking at different studios to rent… I was looking for expensive microphones… And then someone told me something important: The audience cares more about the quality of the content than the quality of the video production.”
CEO at Portland SEO Growth Partners
This was a turning point for the folks at Portland SEO Growth Partners. “With that in mind, we started publishing videos that were rich in content quality and just ‘eh’ in video production quality. However, we still have videos with thousands of views and we currently have 2 paying clients who have found us by watching our YouTube videos. The lesson? Focus more on the quality of the content within the video than the video production for B2B,” Randazzo says.
Related: How to Make a YouTube Video Go Viral (with 8 Easy Tips)
One respondent had a unique problem to deal with involving thumbnail design.
“The biggest challenge I faced when growing the channel was merging branding and Youtube Thumbnails,” says Maverrik’s Luke Tew. “There is a formula for getting the right thumbnail, such as featuring a person with large text being 60% of the page, but even the biggest creators see that you need to change these up quite a bit in order for new videos to stand out. This level of creative diversity alongside trying to build recognisability on the platform is a challenge we still face, but more so when we first started.”
In this scenario, Tew is still working on finding a solution. If this is an issue you deal with too, you could explore strategies like:
To find out what types of video content perform best with your audience, you may track video engagement metrics such as watch time, number of views, likes and dislikes of each video individually using a variety of tools, including YouTube itself.
Now you can quickly monitor your video content performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our video marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for measuring your YouTube channel performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your YouTube account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
For even more insights on leveraging YouTube for B2B businesses, we also interviewed Sam Oh, VP of Marketing at Ahrefs.
Oh and the marketing team aim to engage with a broader audience and expand their reach using their YouTube channel. They mainly have product-led content, so this strategy helps them raise awareness of their brand with the end goal of driving conversions.
Tim Soulo, Ahref’s CMO, started Ahrefs’ YouTube channel in 2015. But, the marketing team really started to give it attention in 2018 when they hired Oh to create videos. Since Oh came in, the channel boomed in growth in watch times, subscribers, and Ahrefs registrations. “We believe that video is a powerful tool for educating customers and prospects, and it allows us to connect with our audience in ways text content cannot. As such, we plan to continue investing in this medium,” Oh says.
As you can see, Oh has experience making a major B2B brand successful on YouTube. Here’s the approach he takes to managing the Ahrefs channel:
YouTube works best for industries where video is a natural fit for their content. When asked what company types should consider investing in YouTube, Oh says that software companies are in a good position to make videos.
“Because software is designed to solve problems and improve workflows, people are often searching for solutions that your software can provide. By creating helpful videos, you can attract potential customers to your brand and showcase the value of your products. Also, video combines both audio and visual elements, making them an effective format for teaching and learning,” Oh tells us.
Of course, B2B YouTube success isn’t limited to software alone — this is Oh speaking from his experience. If you’re considering starting a YouTube channel for your B2B business, ask yourself if your product offers opportunities to show customers how to solve their problems. Industries that offer topics you can demonstrate through video provide plenty of opportunities on YouTube.
The Ahrefs marketing team mainly focuses on product-led tutorials for their YouTube channel. This approach hits the points Oh mentioned earlier — showing customers what your product can do to highlight its value.
“By creating tutorials on topics that people are searching for, such as ‘keyword research,’ we’re able to attract potential customers to our brand and offer them a solution to their problem. Our goal is to provide as much actionable information as possible in a concise format, while also promoting our products in a natural and helpful way.”
VP of Marketing at Ahrefs
People often visit YouTube to figure out to do something. If you could involve your product in the processes your customers want to learn, you could become their go-to learning resource.
Oh believes in packing every video full of value by sticking to the most necessary information and making that content useful to watch.
As we previously explored, some marketers worry about hitting a certain quality threshold to make videos worth uploading to YouTube. But Oh thinks of the issue a different way. He says, “While there’s no specific quality threshold that guarantees views or engagement, we’ve found that creating actionable content is key.
“For tutorials that feature a ‘talking head,’ we believe that there’s a point of diminishing returns in terms of production quality and that the most important thing is to provide value to the viewer in a clear and concise manner. By focusing on creating content that’s helpful and informative, we’ve been able to build a loyal audience on YouTube,” he continues.
Oh considers creating engaging content one of the biggest hurdles to producing B2B content on YouTube. “B2B topics are ‘boring’ in comparison to entertainment channels and YouTube’s algorithm is largely built around audience retention,” he explains.
But, Oh has a solution: “One way to overcome this is to focus on including only information that’s valuable to the topic. Cutting out fluff will help keep your audience engaged and improve your chances of succeeding on YouTube.”
After you apply all of this advice, what should you do with the metrics that come out of it? “The ROI of content is very hard to measure,” Oh says. “For example, if someone watches 5 of your YouTube videos, 5 of your blog posts, attends 2 of your webinars, and a conference where a speaker mentions your product, who is responsible for the conversion?”
And here’s where Oh drops one of the biggest takeaways from our chat with him:
“I don’t believe the ‘ROI of YouTube’ is possible to measure accurately, and therefore, I don’t think it should be something one obsesses over.”
The Ahrefs team looks at YouTube video results from a different perspective than numbers. Oh tells us, “At Ahrefs, we use a survey question for new registrations that asks ‘Where did you learn about Ahrefs?’ Many people respond with ‘YouTube,’ which tells us that our efforts are yielding fruit. Ultimately, we believe that investing in YouTube is a long-term strategy that can pay dividends in terms of brand recognition and customer acquisition.”
At Databox, we’re obviously big fans of numbers and data. But, some performance indicators can’t be captured on your dashboard. Use content attribution strategies to track your YouTube video’s contributions to your success, but also keep an eye out for their impact through other means.
As you track your YouTube channel’s performance and its impact on other parts of your marketing funnel, the metrics you’ll need to track add up. Plus, as you define your channel’s goals, you’ll want to focus on certain clusters of metrics that you can’t always compare easily in YouTube’s backend.
Databox brings your most important metrics together so you can track your YouTube marketing campaign performance easily. Drag and drop charts, graphs, and figures as you like to create a custom dashboard that makes sense.
It’s free to get started with three channels and three dashboards. Give it a shot by signing up for a free account today.
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