Video Marketing: How To Waste Your Call to Action

This post could also be entitled: The One Thing All The Video “Goo-Roos’ Get Wrong.

Now this is a ‘fresh’ screenshot from my bass guitar website – and you’ll see that I’ve got nearly 2.8 million views and 9,100 subscribers.  Some people will think those are great stats – and some people will think those stats suck.  I’ve written before here on Da Spoon that the metrics for every market area are different – so don’t compare my stats with yours unless you are in the bass guitar market!

Anyway you can see I’ve put a red square around the number of Subscribers I’ve got – because it’s relevant to today’s post.

Because what just about every Video ‘Goo-Roo’ tells you to do is put a call to action in your video to get people to subscribe to your Youtube Channel.

I Call Bullshit – Here’s Why

Two reasons:

  1. I’ve never – not once – asked people to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.  I’m currently over 200 videos and have never used that in a Call To Action.  Ever.  (And yet I still have 9100 subscribers.)
  2. The stat you can’t see – my email list is currently closing in on the 12,500 mark.  Most of those subscribers come via YouTube and the other video aggregator sites.  And my Call to Action DOES ask people to go to my website and subscribe (and gives them a healthy incentive to do so).

Which would you rather have – subscribers on YouTube or subscribers to your email list.  Let’s look at the pluses of each.

The Pluses Of Having Subscribers To Your YouTube Channel

YouTube likes you to have subscribers to your YouTube channel.  It takes this as a sign that your videos are being watched, that your are engaging your audience, etc etc.  And it might boost your channel and its videos in its search algorithm.  (I say might because YouTube is owned by Google – and like Google, the search algorithm is a closely guarded secret.)

And that’s it.

That’s the only plus.

The Pluses Of Having Subscribers To Your Email List

1.  You can deepen your relationship with those subscribers by sending them valuable content.  Doesn’t matter if you have 10 subscribers or 10,000 or 100,000 – you can communicate with ALL of them with one email from your list management software (e.g. Mailchimp, Awebber, etc).

2.  As part of this relationship building, you can send them an email when you have fresh content available.  If that content is video and you’re smart (or you’re a member of the Content Marketing Video Playbook – also a smart thing to do :) ) then you’ve embedded that video on YOUR website where YOU control the viewing environment.

3.  You can send Sales related emails to your list and ***swoon*** actually make some sales.  YouTube is a social media site and you have to be cautious with commercial content.  It’s tough – much tougher – making direct sales from YouTube.   Plus because you can’t communicate with your subscribers directly on YouTube, you can’t get your message in front of them immediately.

What About Making Two Calls To Action?

So the obvious solution is to have two calls to Action, right?  Well you could do that, but personally I don’t recommend it.

Here’s why: the more calls to action you have in your videos, the more you dilute the effectiveness of each of them.  I’ve seen videos recently in the bass guitar space where a guy asked not just for people to go to his website, but also to like the video with the Facebook like button(which you have to click the Share button to get to), subscribe to the youTube channel, tweet the video, googleplus it, and also send a postcard to your elderly relatives about it.  (OK, so I made the last one up, but they may as well have added that).

If you’re familiar with copywriting you’ll notice the absence of any ‘what’s in it for me’ in lots of those activities.  Asking someone to take multiple actions like that, to spread the word about YOUR content, is something that you ask a ‘fan’ to do.

The best way to get fans is to get interest people on a mailing list and deepen your relationship with them via repeated mailings and CONVERT them into being a fan.

Youtube relationships are far more transitory than those you can build when you get permission to have emails delivered into people’s inboxes.

The One Exception To This Rule

There is one exception to this rule – and that’s the video creator whose entire business model IS YouTube.  These are the creators who create regular YouTube videos and get millions of views on each video and monetize those views by being a YouTube partner.

If you’re one of those guys then you probably should ask people to subscribe to your channel.

(Although, and I’ve got to be honest I’m spoiling for an argument this morning,  – you can blame this on the fact that I ran out of coffee! -I’d be prepared to argue with these popular video creators that a much better way to monetize those millions of views would be to get people to a website/mailing list and directly sell them content.  Especially when the studies I’ve seen of those folks is that they are making low 6 figure incomes.  I think they could do much, much better by monetizing their massive audiences differently.)


In a nutshell this post comes down to this: you want your potential audience to watch your content on your website and not on YouTube.  Youtube is a great place to be found – but don’t make the mistake of trying to keep your audience watching your content on YouTube.  Give them a reason to go to your website – and more importantly, give them a reason to subscribe to your mailing list.

Don’t waste your Call To Action by asking them to subscribe to your video channel.

Your Shout?

If you’ve got any thoughts on this, please fire away in the comments.   (Even though I’ve switched to Disqus there are still some ‘human spammers’ trying to game the commenting system.  What a waste of time – my advice is not to bother here as I’ll just mark your comment as spam.  My criteria for this: if it looks like spam, has a spammy keyword name somewhere, or a spammy sounding website linked to the disqus account, then it’s going straight to spam.)

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