Most video marketers would jump at the chance to know how to consistently increase views on their videos by anywhere from 66 to 97 percent. While those numbers might seem unrealistic, the truth is one simple word can produce those results with almost no effort on marketers’ parts. That word is you.
A recent study conducted by Hey.com’s Dane Golden and TubeBuddy’s Phil Starkovich analyzed 30,000 YouTube videos and discovered that those which used the word you in the first five seconds have views that are on average 66 percent higher than those that don’t. Additionally, videos that use you twice in the first five seconds increase their views by up to 97 percent.
So how did Golden and Starkovich discover this marketing tactic, and why does this one simple word do so much?
How You Drives Views (and Sales) on YouTube Videos
Golden, a video marketing consultant, explains how the idea for the study came about when he noticed his clients making mistakes in their videos, such as not looking at the camera, talking only about themselves, and not finding a solution for the viewers. He tracked the success of client content which used you in the first five seconds, and found those videos tended to have more likes, comments, and views.
Golden wanted to conduct a study on the power of the word you, but because YouTube guards its API so closely, he knew he’d have to do some data digging. Golden teamed up with Starkovich, CEO of the company behind channel management browser plugin TubeBuddy, to set up a system of metrics, ratios, median values, and more to analyze the captions, views, and engagement for 30,000 videos. The results they discovered have significant implications for video marketers around the world.
“Using the word you (or a variation of you) creates a personal connection between the audience and the subject of the video,” Starkovich explains. “Someone is almost always more likely to pay attention to a video if they feel a personal connection and can relate.”
This increases not just views and engagement, Golden notes, but also overall sales, downloads, clicks, and lead generations. “In your videos, tell them right off the bat how this video is going to show them how to improve their business or their life. If not, they will ignore you,” he says. “Why not add just one more word and dramatically increase how much money you’re making with the same effort?”
Some video marketers have already discovered the value of the word you, and are using it to improve business. Jeremy Vest, CEO of video marketing agency Vidpow, explains in a podcast episode how he’s been using the word you in clients’ videos for a while now because it pays off.
“When we create videos that center around asking the audience questions and directly speaking to the viewers, we have found similar results as the report, about twice as many views and engagement,” Vest states.
Designer and creative entrepreneur Roberto Blake has also chosen to use the word you in his branding, adopting a YouTube tagline that says “Helping you create awesome 7 days a week.” If most people’s favorite word is their own name and their favorite subject is themselves, Blake explains, the word you is one of the most powerful in the entire English language.
“Even if you are speaking to the masses, when you say you instead of people, it has more meaning and impact to the person and thus is more important to them,” Blake says. “You is specific, and in the end we tend to care about things that directly impact us on an individual level. For me, using the phrase ‘helping you create something awesome today’ was completely intentional in that regard. It becomes a personal promise between myself and an individual viewer… each and every individual viewer.”
How Marketers Can Use You in Their Videos
Video marketers who want to benefit from using the word you the way Vest and Blake have should follow a few simple steps, the first of which is clearly understanding the problems of their target audience.
“It’s important to get inside a customer’s shoes and think about a video from their perspective,” Starkovich says. “You want to provide solutions to problems they have, and when starting a video with you it helps guarantee that you are addressing the audiences’ needs.” The TubeBuddy CEO suggests running through case studies about customers’ common problems and how marketers’ products or services solve those before any starting on the video script.
While some video marketers might think putting the word you anywhere in their videos will produce the same results as the study, Golden warns against this assumption. If marketers truly want to reap the benefits of using you, he says using it immediately at the beginning of a video is vital.
“The key is to make it relevant by using a version of the word you right away,” Golden explains, noting how the study lists different ways to phrase the usage on page 24. “We didn’t make any quantitative analysis on which phrasing was best, but my judgment of our findings leads me to believe that the exact wording isn’t as important as actually finding a way to say the word in the first five seconds. If you can do that, you start to frame the topic and structure of the video in a way that will engage the viewer/customer more.”
Golden suggested some of the following versions of you marketers can start using immediately:
- “If YOU’RE an xyz, this video is for YOU.”
- “Do YOU have a problem with…?”
- “Today I’m going to be sharing with YOU guys some tips on…”
- “Maybe YOU’VE seen?”
- “YOU know how when YOU do xyz and then YOU…?”
- “If YOU’RE considering…”
- “If YOU work in…”
Finally, Starkovich believes that despite the power of you, don’t force its usage just for the sake of usage. “It’s all about making a connection with the audience and getting them engaged quickly. You is not a silver bullet,” he says. “It’s more important to focus on captivating the user whether it’s using the word you or not. As long as that is your mindset when writing a script for your video, you should see better results.”