YouTube marketing for small businesses - a guide

Authored by Hiscox Experts.
8 min read
woman on laptop with ipad looking at marketing chart
Small business marketing is becoming increasingly digital, and the online world is turning to video more and more. It’s no surprise, then, that YouTube marketing is becoming an exciting tool for small businesses in all kinds of sectors. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of using YouTube to drive revenue, and several ways to get started.

Can I promote my business on YouTube?

YouTube isn’t just a video content network for influencers and cat videos – it’s also a place where businesses and brands can capture the attention of vast audiences. According to HubSpot [1]. Furthermore, the Hubspot Video Marketing Report 2022 (external link) found that marketers planned to invest the most in YouTube during this year [2].

Even if your business is small, it’s possible to use YouTube for business marketing efforts to engage audiences with detailed content about your products, services, and related topics.


Potential benefits of YouTube marketing

Before you get started using YouTube marketing for your small business, let’s consider a few potential benefits.

  • Huge audiences. YouTube is the second most-visited website in the world after Google [1], so it’s ripe with opportunity.
  • Engaged audiences. YouTube’s unique offering – long-form video content – puts it in a good position to engage audiences. 59% of executives prefer watching video to reading text, according to Hubspot [3]. YouTube – unlike most social platforms – also sees engagement rates continue to rise as follower counts grow [4].
  • SEO boosts. YouTube marketing may also help to boost (search engine optimisation) efforts – especially if you link back to your business website from YouTube.
  • Lead nurturing capabilities. It’s possible to capture subscribers and build out mailing lists via YouTube marketing.
  • Free to use. If you run a small business with a limited budget, all you need is a camera and a dash of creativity to get started.


How do I promote my small business on YouTube?

To promote your small business on YouTube – whether it’s a property management agency or a beauty salon – research and strategising can be key. To get started with YouTube marketing for your small business, you might consider taking the following steps:


Create a YouTube channel

First thing’s first, to use YouTube for your small business’ marketing efforts, you’ll need a YouTube channel set up with your branding.

To do this:

  1. First, head over to YouTube and sign in using your Google account
  2. Go to your channel list, then click ‘create a new channel’
  3. Select ‘Make this a Brand Account’ from the list
  4. Fill in your details, then click ‘Create’
  5. Add other channel managers if you need to. For example, a business partner or marketing employee
  6. Customise your channel. You can add a branded banner and icon, plus details about your business.


Identify your audience

Setting up a channel is the simple part. It can also pay to spend some time on technical analysis and goal setting before you dive into content creation.

The purpose of small business YouTube marketing is to capture the attention of a specific audience – your target demographic. After all, if you run a wedding planning business, there’s little point in creating video content to appeal to teenagers.

A little analysis of your existing customer base should make it possible to create a ‘persona’ based on demographic trends. In the case of a wedding planner, this is likely to be people under the age of 40 and brides-to-be.


Explore the competition

With your audience defined; you can start looking at competitor activity. Note that this may include content competitors as well as your typical commercial competition. For instance, a beauty salon may analyse the activity of influencers and trendsetters as well as the material other salons are posting to YouTube.

You could start by researching examples of YouTube content creation in your industry, then map this to some success metrics. These can include things like number of views, likes, and subscriptions. You can use this to get a sense of what works – and what doesn’t.


Develop your strategy

To make this step effective, it’s best to build specific goals and targets into your wider business and marketing strategy. For example, the YouTube marketing strategy for a business that aims to drive sales will look different from SME goals focused on brand expansion.

Think about how to create content that fulfils a practical purpose for your audience – such as answering their questions, busting myths, or simply offering useful information. When each video links to your overarching aims, it’s easier to track progress.


Set clear goals

The best strategies are always grounded in SMART goals – they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, your financial services business might create a six-month YouTube content plan featuring accountancy commentary and helpful ‘how to’ guides. You could then underpin this with a set of numerical goals in terms of subscriptions or sales.


Build a publishing schedule

A schedule of regular posts can help your YouTube channel to gain traction and the attention of a regular audience. You can easily achieve this by creating a video content plan rooted in strategy, then planning uploads at regular intervals.

Some businesses might release videos every day, while others might upload YouTube content monthly. Think about the day and time your target audience is most likely to engage – a financial video might capture less attention late on a Friday afternoon.

You can even use software to schedule uploads at just the right time.


Growing your YouTube channel

Setting up a YouTube account, filming, editing, and publishing to schedule is no minor achievement. It’s just the beginning of a winning YouTube strategy that delivers ROI (return on investment) for your small business.

Marketing is all about attracting attention. On YouTube, this means growing visibility and a regular audience. To achieve this, you might:


You might not initially think too hard about the way video titles and descriptions are laid out, but simple tweaks can make a big difference to where your video appears in YouTube’s rankings. Optimising for YouTube’s internal search engine algorithm can help to get more eyes on your videos.

To optimise a video for YouTube search, you may want to:

  • Rename video files using target keywords (terms that people commonly search for)
  • Naturally use keywords in video titles and descriptions
  • Use popular and relevant video tags
  • Ensure you’ve filled in all information for your video – including a thumbnail image and category
  • Add subtitles to your videos.


Promote your videos with paid advertising

For some small business marketing strategies, organic reach – the number of people who see a post that hasn’t used paid tactics to reach consumers – could be enough. However, if you’d like to scale your YouTube channel quickly, then paid advertising could provide a welcome boost.

YouTube Ads (external link) uses Google data to target defined audiences. YouTube creators can use YouTube Promoted Videos to run adverts that promote their own content inside the platform.


Analysing content performance

When you publish a video, you can get a sense of how well it’s performing by looking at the view count, number of likes, and comments. This only provides a surface-level view of success metrics, though – and even a popular video can objectively fail to deliver in terms of business objectives.

To get started with YouTube Analytics, sign in to YouTube Studio. The key metrics card can be a good place to start, however, the engagement tab may provide a better view of success for a small business.


Consider working with influencers

Building a platform from the ground up can be easier if you receive a boost from someone who already has a lot of online influence. The obvious way to do this is via YouTube influencer marketing.

Teaming up with an established influencer working in your niche could help direct viewers to your channel. The nature of this will depend on your brand and offering. For example, tutorials, giveaways, product reviews, and hauls can all work well, especially for retail businesses.

You might be surprised by how affordable influencer marketing can be for small businesses. Nano influencers can charge as little as £20 per video, while you could contract a mid-tier influencer for upwards of £1,000 [5].


Create a joined-up social strategy

For effective small business marketing that makes the most of YouTube content, it’s often best when channels work together. Joining your video efforts with Facebook, Instagram, and on-site blog marketing can help to boost your profile in all these areas.

To do this most effectively, you can utilise the power of smart content. This is dynamic content that shifts based on a user’s previous journeys – it can be implemented from some customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation systems.

Without smart content, you can schedule posts from other platforms to coincide with YouTube upload dates. The trick is to make your output feel consistent and interlinked across channels.


Is YouTube good for small businesses?

YouTube content can form a useful aspect of a small business marketing strategy – if this platform suits your niche – and if you execute campaigns right. YouTube carries huge audiences and, therefore, can come with big potential – especially in areas such as beauty, retail, and lifestyle.

That said, don’t underestimate the project – YouTube marketing is best when it’s underpinned by razor-sharp data analytics, clear business goals, and complemented with cross-channel content.

Bear in mind that your business will be responsible for the information pushed out via YouTube. If you’re a personal trainer publishing workout videos, for instance, then there’s a chance a viewer could complain that your advice caused them injury – so you could explore

Every small business is different – for some, YouTube marketing can help to generate valuable attention.


    At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.

    Hiscox Experts

    The Hiscox Experts are leaders valued for their experience within the insurance industry. Their specialisms include areas such as professional indemnity and public liability, across industries including media, technology, and broader professional services. All content authored by the Hiscox Experts is in line with our editorial guidelines.