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If you’ve been following this blog, then you will have probably noticed over the past few weeks that we’re on a bit of a YouTube kick at the moment. The focus, as ever, has been on marketing, and we’re going to continue now with a relatively new YouTube tool that will help give your promotional videos an extra special boost when you broadcast them – YouTube Cards.


What Are YouTube Cards?

Well, actually, to just call them “YouTube Cards” doesn’t give them their full title – they are in fact “YouTube Interactive Cards”.

Released only in March last year, Interactive Cards are somewhat of an extension of good ol’ annotations. Here’s how they’re described on the YouTube Blog which announced their release, and I’ve included the introductory video for you from the YouTube team to boot…

“As a creator, you’ve probably been using annotations to engage with your viewers for years. But one of the things you’ve told us is that you need more flexibility with the info you share through annotations, and—most importantly—you need it to work across screens and especially on mobile. That’s why today we’re introducing cards.

“You can think of cards like an evolution of annotations. They can inform your viewers about other videos, merch, playlists, websites and more. They look as beautiful as your videos, are available anytime during the video and yes, they finally work on mobile.”


Further Explanation

Put very simply, Cards are thumbnail links that creators can layer over the top of videos for viewers to click on to be taken away from the video to additional content. They are a way to add an extra layer of interactivity to YouTube videos, and include custom images, titles, and – most importantly – call-to-action (CTA) text.


YouTube Cards

Currently there are six types of cards that creators can choose from. These are:

• Link Cards

Link Cards can be used to link to:

  • An associated website (i.e. the website that you specify is associated with your YouTube channel)
  • A crowdfunding site (a list of approved sites is available here)
  • A merchant site (a list of approved sites is available here)

• Channel Cards

Channel Cards are specifically used to link to another YouTube channel that you might like to recommend to your viewers.

• Fan Funding Cards

It’s not often that marketers get paid for their content, but with Fan Funding Cards you can appeal to the generosity of your followers and invite them make a monetary contribution right on your video page. You can learn how to enable Fan Funding here.

• Donation Cards

Currently only available to US creators, Donation Cards can be added to videos to raise funds for a US non-profit organisation. Here’s how to add them.

• Poll Cards

Poll Cards are a great way to engage with your viewers. Set up a poll based on your content and present it to your viewers who can cast their votes on the choices you provide.

• Video Or Playlist Cards

Use Video and/or Playlist Cards to link to another public YouTube video or playlist that you feel your viewers might be interested in. You can also link to a specific time in the video, or to an individual video in a playlist by entering a video or playlist URL directly.


How To Promote Your Brand With YouTube Cards

The advent of YouTube Cards is truly a great thing for businesses, and I cannot stress enough how important they are.

Before Cards, creators had to hope that viewers either remembered the name of their website mentioned in the video, or actually took the manual action of revealing the video description where a link could be found.

But now, you can just create a visual Card containing all that vital information, which can indeed be clicked on.

So here are our top three ways that you can use YouTube Cards to promote your business.


Top 3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of YouTube Cards

1.     Driving Website Traffic

Now, when you create a YouTube video, you will have done so with a very particular goal in mind. For instance, if you’ve made a killer product demo video, then you may reasonably assume that viewers may be interested in further how-tos and tips. So, rather than sending viewers to the homepage of your website, it makes much more sense to create a Card that directs them to, say, the “tutorials” category on your blog.

If it’s a promotional video that you’ve made, then you will want to create a Card that directs users to your products page.

My point here is that you need to be very particular as to where you direct your viewers. If they click on a Link Card, this means that you’ve hooked them – they are engaged with your brand and want to know more. However, sending a thousand viewers to your homepage probably won’t do anything more than increase your bounce rate. So, think strategically when you create your Cards – and of course when you create the video itself. Always ask yourself – what is the ultimate business goal of this video? And then set up your Link Cards accordingly.

2.     Promote Related Material

As a marketer, it’s unlikely that YouTube videos will be your only form of content that you will be producing. As well as writing a blog, you will probably be producing eBooks, infographics, SlideShares and much more besides.

Using Cards to promote this related material is a smart move. Check out this video from AsapSCIENCE that talks about the colour psychology of the (in)famous ‘Dress’ that went viral last year. Not only is it a brilliant video that explains in plain terms exactly what we all want to know – just how on Earth do people see a black and blue dress when it’s clearly white and gold!?!? – but the creators make great use of a YouTube Card to promote their book, which promises to answer similar questions.

3.     Build Your Email List

Building email lists is one of the hardest things that content marketers have to do. The reason, I believe, largely comes down to the fact that you are asking users to part with personal information. Even if it’s just an email address that you’re after, we are still reluctant to give this piece of information away to a company that we don’t really know very much about. And the other thing, of course, is that, as users, we are generally quite lazy. We’re used to just clicking around – having to actually type something into a subject field is frankly a big ask of us.

However, having an email list is and probably always will be an essential part of developing customer relationships. It’s vital for lead generation, keeping in touch with paying customers, and coaxing new ones down the sales funnel.

And with this in mind, you should never pass up on an opportunity to grow your email list – and video is actually one great way that you can do this.

Video, as we know, is one of the most engaging mediums available to the marketer. Used well, it’s a real chance to get your followers hooked on your content and, hopefully, begging for more.

And so, by adding a visual Card during your video that asks for people to sign up to your list can be a really smart thing to do.

However, once again, you need to think strategically. As I say, internet users are a bit lazy these days, and to get them to give up their email address will normally require you to give away something in return (something a little better than a free subscription to your newsletter, to be frank). A free download of an eBook is something to think about, or perhaps a discount voucher for your store, or it may be something else entirely. Just make sure that it relates to your content and further educates your followers on what you have to offer them.

Want to start making YouTube videos straight away? Check out our video ad templates that’re drag-and-drop easy to use, can be ready in minutes, and loaded with a whole pack of YouTube Cards.

youtube cards

 

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John Waldron

John Waldron is a writer with markITwrite who regularly writes on lifestyle and technology.

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