Creating and Optimizing Videos for the YouTube Sales Funnel

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

By 2018, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the internet every second. Additional insights from the Cisco VNI Benchmark Report indicate IP video traffic will account for 79 percent of all consumer internet traffic in 2018. A recent study by AOL Platforms reveals YouTube converts more customers than any other social platform. It is clear that the volume of video creation and consumption will only continue to grow significantly over the years, which implies the video production industry will be quite busy.

Inspiring The Funnel: DIY

With roots in search engine optimization (SEO), I’ve long extolled the virtues of YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine. Unfortunately, the full potential of the video social platform didn’t fully come into focus until my son shed light through his interest in skateboarding and bracelet-looming.

Last Spring, I noticed my son’s rubber band bracelet creations were getting increasingly complex. I also noticed his skateboard knowledge and abilities improved drastically in a short period of time. I asked him how he learned these new skills and he replied “YouTube.” Like many other young web surfers, my son was using YouTube as his PRIMARY search engine and educational tool.

I quickly realized that my son was not alone in relying heavily on YouTube videos as a primary, if not sole, information source. If he was searching YouTube for “how-to” videos on skateboarding tricks and rainbow looming, a much bigger audience was equally hungry for similar insights across a broader set of interests. This translates to opportunity for my clients: creating videos for every stage of the sales cycle.

A Compelling Case for Video Marketing

According to eMarketer, video is now the preferred premium content delivery format for marketers in businesses both small and large. Digital video is good marketing for a variety of reasons:

  • Video has 5x greater recall than the written word
  • Videos can drive engagement up to 300%
  • Videos are 53x more likely to show up on the 1st page
  • 80% of visitors recall video ads in the past month
  • Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy after watching a video
  • Video in introductory emails increases click-through rates 96%
  • 59% of senior execs would rather watch video than read an article

In terms of search engine marketing, and SEO specifically, videos are ranked well by Google and other search engines, as they understand it is a more compelling medium. As such, videos inherently rank well in universal search results, generate higher click-through rates, lower bounce rates and generate higher quality backlinks and citations (further boosting rankings). Video is more than just a powerful SEO tool. The underlying reason why: video content is the ultimate storytelling vehicle and the highest life-form of digital content available. Think of video in terms of efficiency: a single 60 second HD video equals:

  • Up to 60 seconds of video for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or Vine
  • Up to 60 seconds of audio for iTunes, Stitcher or similar podcast-friendly sites
  • Around 90,000 still images for Pinterest, Instagram or Flickr
  • Up to a page of (transcribed) text for an article or blog post

Most compelling of all, YouTube is THE most effective platform for first, last and only touch point in the sales funnel of all social media channels.

Embracing YouTube

While there are a variety of digital video platforms available, including Facebook, Vimeo, Vine and even Instagram, the 800-pound gorilla is clearly YouTube. Here are just a few recent stats to frame YouTube’s leadership role in digital video:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month
  • 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube owns a fifth of the U.S. digital video ad market

Building for the Funnel
Before I bore you with content development and marketing strategies, let’s talk about how to create compelling video content for all four stages of the sales funnel: Awareness, Interest, Intent and Purchase.

Awareness: At the top of the funnel, content should be designed to target and engage your prospects. Since this is their first interaction with your brand, the most successful videos establish initial industry credibility through educational content like news or “how-to” segments, trend stories and expert interviews with industry pundits, partners or even employees. Conduct searches to identify common questions prospects pose and create content to address their needs. A solid fallback position is to create a company “reel” that introduces your brand to prospects. 


Now that your brand is on the prospect’s radar, it’s time to build rapport and generate sufficient interest to move them further down the funnel. Content that is commonly used to achieve this objective includes product demonstrations/reviews and competitive or product-line comparisons.

Beyond demonstrating features, advantages, and benefits of products and services, framing your company’s unique selling point (USP) in the context of a story that resonates with your prospective customer is essential. One way to do this is to film behind-the- scenes segments that tell a compelling story about your process, people and/or intellectual property. If recruiting is essential, sell your culture! 


You’ve already earned a level of credibility and worked your way into the consideration set, so it’s time to close the deal. One of the most effective tools you can use to convert a prospect into a customer is to let your current (delighted) customers share their experience via testimonial/interview.

The idea is to sit them down and ask them why they chose you as a vendor and why they are still with you today (if appropriate). Similarly, effective tools include case studies/success stories and third party reviews. 


There are two stages within the purchase phase: pre and post-purchase. For pre-purchase viewers, create content that aids conversions: promotions, contests and sneak peeks. Anything that can tip the scales to earn the business is fair game. For post-purchase, an effective strategy is to create content that decreases post-purchase dissonance (aka buyer’s remorse). That may include a “welcome” style video that includes key executives and employees that may be working with the customer.

Additional content for post-purchase includes training seminars, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and tips from existing customers. Last but not least, it’s helpful to remind customers that your product has won awards and received recognition. 

Optimizing for the Web Experience

Ideal video length is 30 to 120 seconds (I suggest 1 minute as a baseline). As such, consider editing down 30-60 minute videos into 1-2- minute highlight reels and create a series of videos (a playlist on YouTube) for drip marketing campaigns. Leverage partners for equipment, content and marketing purposes.

Above all else, make sure your videos are useful, inspired and empathetic (resonate with your target audience). You also have less than 10 seconds to capture the viewer’s attention, so create a compelling “hook” in the introduction.

Don’t forget that there are multiple format options when creating videos for YouTube, including: screen-capture with voice-over, animated photos and images, whiteboard illustration, graphic, 2D and 3D animation. YouTube offers annotation (ability to insert text box overlays) and Cards. The best way to make a video stand out is with quality lighting, sound and editing. Each video platform has a different demographic, usage patterns and expectations. As such, remember to keep the video application and end-user in mind.

When it comes to maximizing views and ROI, ensure to include a call-to-action in the video close. Far too many videos lack any meaningful action, which greatly reduces the ability to generate a return on your investment. It is also important to carefully select a thumbnail that both represents the video’s theme, yet is sufficiently compelling to generate a view. Be sure to ensure your videos are properly optimized when uploading. A properly optimized video will include relevant keywords in the filename, title, description and tags. Lastly, be sure to syndicate the video link across your digital properties (website, blog, newsletter, and signature file). Anvil’s first agency video included links to our website and social media profiles as a call-to-action.

Measure Twice, Cut Once
With video becoming the media of choice for consumers, it is essential that marketers create content for all four stages of the buying cycle. Video is more memorable and engaging and converts better than any other media type. YouTube dominates the video content and advertising space, so it’s critical to fully understand and leverage the opportunities provided by YouTube and alternative video platforms.

Video is relatively easy to produce, distribute and measure, so what are you waiting for? Start your video funnel marketing strategy today.

What’s Next

For those of you well-versed in video marketing strategies and tactics but are looking for some sort of value from this article, consider researching the following evolving trends to leverage for your video production company:

  • Branded Video Content: GoPro + Red Bull = high-quality, consumer-generated content
  • Video Landing Pages: Incorporate videos into all digital collateral, including product pages, blog posts, emails, advertising landing pages and social media posts
  • Animated GIFS: Leverage GIPHY to turn video highlights into memorable memes
  • Live Video Streaming: Utilize Facebook Live to generate awareness and educate prospective customers
  • Drones & GoPros: Get airborne with footage, if relevant for you or your clients’ business
  • 360 Degree Video: Go spherical with video capture
  • Virtual Reality: Although expensive and evolving, the future is VR
  • Touchable Videos: Incorporate haptic feed into mobile advertising

Related Articles: 
What a 9-year- old taught me about marketing with digital video
The ultimate guide to video marketing on YouTube

About the Writer - Kent Lewis

Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil, a measurable marketing agency specializing in paid media, organic search, and social media marketing services for growth-oriented organizations. To learn more about Anvil, visit

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