How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Online Store
Want to know how to start a YouTube channel for online store brands and why you need one? You’ve come to the right place. When done right, creating an eCommerce YouTube channel can help you attract more potential shoppers, strengthen your brand identity, showcase properties, communicate with customers, provide video content longevity, and allow you access to YouTube SEO.
But above all else, the single most important reason you should start an eCommerce brand YouTube channel is to bring more traffic to your store – traffic more likely to convert. Additionally, having a well-thought-out channel full of content as a backdrop to your YouTube ads helps establish a trustworthy brand, resulting in better YouTube ad ROAS.
Add that to the fact that video as a marketing tool in itself is one of the most essential tools for driving sales, with 70% of YouTube viewers saying they bought from a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube – there is no denying how powerful YouTube can be.
An excellent example of just how powerful a YouTube channel can be for a brand is RevZilla. Not only has their channel grown to 887k subscribers, but their YouTube video ads have resulted in an over 50% increase in revenue.
It may surprise you to know that the goal with your channel isn’t about getting millions of views. Instead, the most important lesson you will learn about how to start a YouTube channel for your online brand is that driving potential shoppers to your store and converting them is your first priority and should always come before chasing millions of views. Think of it this way: Would you rather get hundreds of thousands of views on a video that generates lower traffic and only ten sales, or hundreds of views generating higher site clicks and 20 sales? The latter, of course!
Whether you are starting a YouTube channel from scratch or want to turn an existing eCommerce channel into a traffic-driving machine, we’ve got everything you need to know about how to start your YouTube channel for an online store or optimizing your YouTube account to peak performance – in nine steps.
Let’s jump in!
Step 1: Evaluating Your YouTube Channel’s Target Audience
Before you venture into creating your eCommerce YouTube channel, you need to clarify who you’re making it for. This will help you optimize your content so that it is relevant and adds value – both of which are important for not only growing your channel but making it a successful store traffic stream.
Side Note: Like with any social platform, it’s not enough to just take your store’s target audience; and audiences will differ from platform to platform. For content marketing to be successful, you need a tweaked audience – and strategy – for each.
Here are three ways you can discover and fine-tune your optimum eCommerce YouTube audience.
1. Doing an Analytics Deep-Dive
You want to get your hands on as much data as possible. This includes getting on-platform YouTube data if you have an existing channel and/or are running ads, looking off-platform to your site analytics, and going to the ultimate source: your customers themselves. Here are a few ways you can access some useful data:
YouTube analytics: Which videos bring the most traffic and how are viewers behaving after clicking on your store? Where are they located and what products are they interested in?
Customer support analytics: What are the most asked questions or most common issues customers are having?
Shopper surveys: Send out a survey to your most loyal customers to ascertain which topics would be relevant to them within your niche and correlate the demographics to separate who wants what content.
PPC analytics: Look at your most effective Google and Facebook campaigns. What interests, keywords, or products are bringing in the most shoppers?
Google and site analytics: What keywords and/or content are bringing traffic to your store? Where are they from and how much are they spending?
2. Look for Segments in the Most Popular Video Topics
By using trend tools such as Google Trends, TubeBuddy, and BuzzSumo (just to name a few), you can find the most popular topics online at the moment based on likes and shares. This will not only point to possible content but also give you an idea of who is searching.
The trick is to look for popular topics within your niche that are highly relevant and have potential in the eCommerce setting. In other words, it’s not about finding the most popular topic, but rather finding popular topics that are more likely to appeal to potential shoppers who are ready to buy. Let’s do an example search on BuzzSumo using a popular niche topic for a leggings store: ‘yoga’ and ‘leggings.’
As you can see just from the quick initial search, there are a few topics pointing to specific market segments your YouTube channel could aim to target. Perhaps you’ll decide to target moms, providing content that is not only entertaining but pushes them to products they are looking for. With the right creativity and brainstorming, topics can be constructive in defining your target audience.
3. Go Back to Your eCommerce Keyword Research
Lastly, to shape your audience, you will want to look at your keyword research. Popular keywords can point to possible segments you hadn’t thought of, especially when incorporating question phrases such as “How to choose the right X” or “What’s the best way to X?” – to name a few. You can then put these keywords into YouTube to assess who is posting the most popular videos, who is engaging with them, and how. This will not only help you define your target market for your channel but also help you fine-tune your content plan; but more on that and keyword research later.
Step 2: Search for and Analyze Competitor Channels
The next essential step in starting a successful YouTube channel for your online store is analyzing your closest competitors. You can create a list by looking at your store’s current competitors to find the ones with established YouTube channels, and searching your niche on YouTube to find popular content posted by other, similar store brands.
Pro Tip: You may need to dig a little, as some of your competitors – especially when it comes to highly niche segments – are sometimes running personal accounts. In fact, leveraging a personal influencer brand in your niche can be hugely influential. Take Cloak Brand, a gamers’ apparel store, as an example. This brand was launched in 2018 by its two founders, with nearly 60 million subscribers between them. The brand channel itself isn’t that impressive, with only two videos and 4k subscribers.
You will then want to look at each of your competitors’ channels in more detail to assess popularity, engagement, and content genres and titles. Let’s look at each of these aspects more closely using a successful eCommerce YouTube channel example, Curvy Kate, which is currently the 2020 leading clothing brand on YouTube in the UK in terms of video views.
Analyzing eCommerce YouTube Channel Popularity
The first and most obvious element you will want to assess is a channel’s popularity and content. When we take an initial look at the Curvy Kate channel, we see that their most popular video content in terms of views covers the ‘bra fit’ topic.
Their most popular video has over 11 million views, and it’s no surprise why – it has relevant and practical value for their potential shoppers. But what’s more impressive is that even their worst-performing videos are getting almost 4k views.
But, as we said, it’s not about the number of views. So you will want to look at topics that seem weaker than others to get an idea of what topics will be more or less relevant to your similar audiences. But you will also want to review all their content to see consistent trends. This will tell you, despite view numbers, whether the topics bring success (store or product clicks) – which is why these topics are prevalent.
In the case of Curvy Kate, you can see that fit tips, seasonal trends, and #starinabra are constant topics throughout their channel. Which brings us to the next elements you should be looking at.
Analyzing eCommerce YouTube Channel Genres and Titles
Next, you will want to look at the types of videos that seem to be working for the YouTube channel, as well as the titles they are using for popular content. Let’s look at one of Curvy Kate’s newer video content topics, their Twice the Fun campaign.
These two videos have over 40k views between them and capitalize on the ‘loading’ genre trend. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a social media trend whereby people replicate a gaming avatar’s movements when an online game is waiting to play or paused.
You will also notice a common thread through all their content: clear titles, which they back up with a corresponding campaign hashtag and an on-point description.
Step 3: Set Your Account Up the Right Way
Next, you will want to look at your channel (if you currently have one) to make sure you are set up for success. This means that you have put effort into your channel’s art and description, tested for YouTube specifically – pretty standard practice for any social media content marketing platform. The element that really sets YouTube apart is the channel trailer – you know, that video at the top of a channel. Many brands waste this opportunity to showcase exactly what their channel will offer (the vibe) while also highlighting their product.
Although sometimes highlighting the product isn’t necessary. Here’s a favorite video trailer from gaming streamer and YouTube influencer Jack Septic Eye.
Okay, so he is not technically an eCommerce brand (duh). Still, he has leveraged his influence to open his own merch store where, for every order made from Top of the Morning Coffee, one meal is given through the Freya Foundation to combat world hunger. Here’s another, more eCommerce-y example: Purple.
Purple is an online mattress and bedding store whose current trailer is a longer video celebrating their fifth anniversary. Additionally, do yourself a favor and check out their About page, here, as well – it will give you a very clear idea of their product and brand identity, which are translated so well into their video content and ads.
The secret to creating or using a good eCommerce YouTube channel trailer is considering the purpose of that video and your overall goals. Suppose a new potential shopper sees a video ad of yours. They may visit your channel before your store to get an idea of your brand – similar to how a Facebook user often visits the brand’s profile as a way to get a feel of the brand before committing to going to a product page. In a nutshell, build your brand and/or product awareness and trust. However, while being in-line with the brand voice and highlighting your product or store, you may also want the video to engage users to subscribe to your brand’s channel or keep them on the channel to view other video content.
In both cases, it’s crucial that your trailer hooks potential shoppers or subscribers – depending on what your goal is – in the first few seconds. Like with any marketing element, we suggest testing a few videos to find a vibe, length, or genre that works best for your brand and goals.
Step 4: Content Planning and Strategy
Now comes the juicy part: strategizing and planning YouTube video content ideas for your eCommerce channel. Just like you would create post topics for your eCommerce blog to drive traffic and establish your brand as an authority in your niche, your YouTube content should be either varied and helpful, entertaining, or both. It’s also important to note here that YouTube in itself is a powerful search engine, and popular video content is also front and center on Google search; video content, therefore, plays a massive role in getting traffic to your store.
So, to truly be successful, you should be planning a variety of content – not just short ‘Buy this product’ ads. You want to provide informative, entertaining, and relevant content for your customers and potential shoppers. To get you started, let’s look at just some of the types of video content you could create for a winning YouTube channel.
1. Educational and How-To Guides
Educational and tutorial content on YouTube has always been a top performer in terms of searches and views. But during the pandemic, this content has grown exponentially. According to Google, 85% of viewers say they’re watching more YouTube content than ever before, and 65% of people say this year has caused them to reevaluate their lives and goals, for which they find online videos to be a handy resource. And what type of content is the leader with regards to this? Skill learning.
For the right niche, there are a lot of ways you, as an eCommerce brand, can incorporate educational content into your YouTube channel. Not only educational in terms of using your products but also establishing you as an authority in your niche and driving brand awareness – viewers that you can later remarket.
An excellent example of a winning digital eCommerce brand dominating with educational content is RetroSupply Co. This store caters to a particular niche: marketing or product designers looking for premium retro and vintage graphic design and illustration resources such as brushes or textures. Here is just a taste of some of the most popular how-to guides and tutorials on their channel:
Their focus is on providing highly relevant and helpful content that their specific target audience wants and needs. These videos are not hard-sell, ‘buy our brushes or else.’ Many of their videos include links to free digital effect packs, which means viewers are not only learning a skill from an expert in the niche but getting something for free. We can assume that these tutorial viewers and free product downloaders are then filtered into sales funnels and remarketed later down the line. Not to mention that it brings a lot of highly relevant traffic to their online digital store.
When it comes to the best type of educational content for your YouTube channel, it will depend a lot on your product, niche, and market. But generally speaking, educational content includes video guides that outline:
How to use a product
An answer to a popular niche/product-related question
Life hacks or guides
Specific niche skills
Product or industry tutorials
Pro Tip: As a brand, you can also learn a lot from the most popular educational videos on YouTube. Such as finding fresh trends, how to make educational videos more fun, how to help viewers learn a specific skill more clearly, and new popular video formats you may want to try on your channel. But the most important lesson you can learn from popular educational video content? The secret to success is going niche – very, very niche.
[Source: Think With Google]
2. Brand and Customer Stories
Another popular type of YouTube video content is storytelling. Whether it’s your brand story, a story about how your brand works with a specific cause, a behind-the-scenes look into production or your team, or a compelling story about one of your customers – there is a lot of potential to inspire people with YouTube stories. And they don’t have to be inspirational or thought-provoking; they can also be a lot of fun. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video from the Warby Parker eye and sunglasses store.
Their channel is also packed full of renowned and influential customers’ stories and testimonials.
Here’s another example of storytelling from the brand Casper – where they talk about the design inspiration behind their products and brand, done in a way that makes a sciency-type product, subject, and brand come off as human and accessible. In other words, Casper elicits emotion in a simple way that’s in line with the brand.
Here are some story topics you could add to your eCommerce YouTube channel:
Behind the scenes
Cause or charity collaboration stories
Niche news relevant to your audience
3. Fun, Entertainment-Driven Content
Targeting your audience segment’s interests through fun and entertaining video content can be very effective. A brand that capitalizes on fun content to match their brand identity in a huge way is Vat19. Here’s just one of their most recent videos that also proves if your content is entertaining enough, you will not only be able to engage the viewer for 10 minutes but pique so much interest you get them visiting your store – without the hard-sell ‘buy this’ tactics so many eCommerce brands fall into with video content.
Their video content game is so strong that their whole marketing strategy – including onsite content – is built around it.
The trick is to ensure that your entertaining video content appeals to your audience while also lining up with your brand. If your brand is authoritative and on the serious side, entertaining wouldn’t mean slap-stick jokes. Or if you’re a sports equipment brand appealing to people passionate about their sport, you wouldn’t create comedy sketches, but instead, opt for competition or an expert’s skill highlight videos. If you’re an online clothing store, you could create a “top ten looks for the season” video, which would fall under ‘entertainment.’
As you can see, ‘entertainment’ can be a wide range of content and even include things like ‘meet the team’ videos we spoke about in the section on brand stories. The secret is finding your brand’s and market’s fun – something that gets them motivated, to say ‘Wow,’ or laugh. Here are just a few examples of entertaining YouTube content to get you started:
What’s in my bag/fridge/cupboard
Cute/funny babies or animals
Behind the scenes
50 facts about X
4. Product Reviews, Highlights, and Tests
Another winning YouTube video content type you can try is product reviews from customers or influencers, or product highlights and tests. The idea with these types of videos is to highlight or demonstrate how products should be used or how they solve an issue.
Online store Snowboard Addiction has a smart way of introducing products in an informative way that includes expert snowboarding tips. Here, they break down their Jib Series products, highlight the differences, who should be using which board, and include recommendations for improving a viewer’s riding.
Product crash tests, product explainers, and marketing videos would also fall into this category. Here are two more examples, one from Nine Line Apparel and one from Training Mask.
Two very different products and niches, yet both product videos are equally effective.
5. Niche Expert Interviews and/or Testimonials
When creating a YouTube channel content plan for your online store, you also want to include interviews and testimonials. This could consist of interviews with niche/industry experts, your employees, guest celebrities or leaders, or your customers themselves. When combined with niche insights and high-value content – not just ‘here’s a product, use it’ – these can be very effective in getting YouTube channel engagement and bringing traffic to your online store.
They also don’t have to be long to be effective. Here are two of our own YouTube testimony videos as an example of how you can be super impactful in a very short space of time.
Here are some general tips to consider when creating eCommerce brand testimonial and interview videos for your YouTube channel:
Prepare questions but leave room to adapt to answers
Aim to highlight how the product solved a pain point
Give interviewees time to prepare
Keep videos as natural as possible
Don’t over-script; go for authentic
Add context by showing viewers around the space
Plan a basic structure for your videos but let interviewees speak freely
Don’t over-edit, otherwise videos lose their authenticity and truth
6. Live Streaming
Last but not least, consider including live streams in your YouTube content plan. With live stream consumption increasing 20% in the past year and YouTube representing 40% of all ad-supported streaming watch time, this can be a powerful way to engage with potential shoppers, grow your eCommerce YouTube channel, and drive traffic to your online store.
These can be in the form of Q&A with niche experts, how-to product guides, expos, and events such as product or season line launches – just to name a few. Here’s everything from YouTube to get you started with live streaming.
The key to winning at live streaming is making sure you encourage real-time participation, make the experience fun and engaging, incorporate visual aids, and get and use feedback to keep improving. Ultimately, it’s all about getting creative and bringing your products or high-value information to your audience in real-time – which, as we know in 2020 during the pandemic, has been even more vital. There are so many new live and online concepts out there, but here’s a new idea that we are loving right now: virtual wine tasting. Wine tasting, at home, in your pajama pants (if you’re social distancing) – what’s not to love?
You could do something similar for your eCommerce food or drink brand – and make it live! Or if you are a pet snack store, for example, you could invite some furry friends to join from their homes around the globe and send them a box of treats for free. The possibilities are truly endless.
Pro Tip: Whichever content you decide to test, tweak, and post, remember that you will need to be consistent to establish your brand and become a reliable source for your niche. This will help you grow your eCommerce YouTube channel, as well as use it to successfully drive traffic to your store.
Step 5: Optimize YouTube Content for Search
The next step in successfully starting a winning YouTube channel for your online store brand is ensuring you are optimizing your content for YouTube Search. This should include optimizing the following for each of your videos:
Titles and descriptions
The most important aspect of each is researching and incorporating the right YouTube keywords. You can visit our YouTube SEO: 5 Hacks for Quicker, Better YouTube Keyword Research post for a quick overview on how to find the best keywords for your YouTube content and channel.
Another element that plays a pivotal role in YouTube SEO is engagement. To improve your video rankings, you want to encourage viewers to engage with content in the form of likes, comments, subscriptions, and shares. You will also want to get as many eyeballs on your content as possible through promotions; but more on that later.
Step 6: Engage Back With Your YouTube Viewers
Here’s the thing: to run a successful eCommerce YouTube channel, it’s not enough for viewers to engage with your content – you need to be engaging back. Ultimately, engaging with YouTube users will help you build authority, a sense of community, and increased visibility.
This can be as simple as providing high-value content you know your viewers will appreciate, keeping it clear, up-to-date, and relevant – without any deceptive or clickbait headlines that aren’t relevant to the content.
However, it’s more than that. You also want to reply to comments – even the negative ones – and feedback, starting a conversation with potential shoppers. YouTube is, in essence, a social platform; it’s important to be social. Some other ways to be more engaging are to include interactive promotions or exclusive details, polls in videos or descriptions, and a clear call to action.
Pro Tip: If your video content is on-point and you have managed to create a community around your channel, eventually loyal viewers and customers will answer questions for other viewers quicker than you can. Remember the successful channel example, Vat19, we discussed earlier in the post? Here’s a screenshot of just some of the conversations happening organically between viewers and fans.
Step 7: Optimize YouTube Content for Store Clicks
Once you have a steady stream of content that is optimized for YouTube SEO and getting good engagement, you will want to ensure you are also optimizing for store clicks. Remember, views matter but what you ultimately want is store clicks. This is actually easier than it sounds. You want to make sure to:
Add custom links (up to five) to your YouTube channel custom banner
Make your store link visible on your channel and in each video description
Add a CTA to every video you post, even if it is to subscribe to the channel or check out another video that links to a product page
Add relevant links to comments that answer a question someone is asking
Link video end screens to strategic and relevant online store pages
Include cards that drive traffic directly to the store page or get newsletter signups
Source: Social Media Examiner
Step 8: Optimize Your Channel
When optimizing your YouTube channel as a whole, you will want to look closely at your YouTube analytics to see what is working, who your viewers are, and where they are coming from – as an account, as well as look at performance for each of your videos.
This includes monitoring audience retention, comments, traffic sources, subscriber rates, and video watch time – all showing you how successful your channel is compared to the KPIs you have set and what you need to tweak to improve your channel’s success. This data will also point to content types and topics you should duplicate and those that are dragging down your channel’s performance.
From communicating back to engaged users and optimizing for YouTube SEO, every step up to this point will help you promote your channel. A successful eCommerce YouTube channel should ultimately become a useful branding tool and traffic stream. This means you will need strategies to funnel audiences into that stream. This is where channel promotion comes into play.
The most obvious – and most straightforward – would be to include a ‘Subscribe’ CTA in every piece of content. More advanced strategies should consist of cross-channel promotions on other platforms where you are already well-established and, of course, YouTube ads.
Some other things you can do to optimize and promote your channel:
Collaborate with influencers and other brands (not competitors) in your niche
Create playlists to organize YouTube content for easier searching and consumption
Embed YouTube videos on your store and blog pages
Be consistent with content posting and style
Have an effective YouTube ad strategy
You can get everything you need to run a successful YouTube marketing strategy from our The Complete YouTube Ad Guide for eCommerce post.
Step 9: Increase Channel Subscribers
Last but not least in your bag of tricks to a successful YouTube channel is having an excellent strategy for increasing your number of subscriptions. This will help you grow your channel and increase your engagement continuously as your channel increases. This will not only video reach but store traffic, impressions, and brand awareness. At the very least, you should do these five things:
Enable automatic subscription prompts
Use end screens to push for new subscribers
Harness the power of your established lists, such as email, to encourage YouTube followers
Have a store popup that gives rewards for YouTube subscriptions
Add YouTube watermark branding to your video content
There you have it, everything you need to know about starting a YouTube channel for your online store and making it a successful traffic-driving source.