Are your YouTube videos underperforming? Wondering how to boost your views?
In this article, you’ll discover the keys to attracting more viewers to your videos.
Why YouTube Titles Are so Important
We all know that the quality of our YouTube videos is important, as are the thumbnails we attach to those videos. However, the YouTube title, or headline, is another huge factor that users consider when they think about clicking on a video to watch. If your title isn’t compelling, if it’s boring or irrelevant, people aren’t going to click through to watch your videos, no matter how great the content is.
This is important for every business large and small. Larger YouTube channels may spend thousands of dollars or more producing high-quality videos for their channel, and if no one clicks through to watch the content, that’s thousands of dollars wasted.
Even smaller channels that don’t have a large budget for producing their videos risk wasting the hours they’ve spent scripting and recording videos only to drop the ball when it comes to writing the headline.
The title of your YouTube video needs to do two things: Tell the viewer what the video is all about and compel the viewer to click through and watch that video.
Human beings are notoriously stingy with their time. Even if they’re searching for content on a particular subject, if the headline isn’t compelling enough, they won’t click through.
#1: Avoid 5 Common Mistakes With YouTube Titles
The first mistake many brands and marketers make on their YouTube channels starts with the topic. They’re creating the wrong content for their video. Even if the content is generally good, if it’s not what people signed up to watch, slightly off-brand, or not fully aligned with the content you normally produce, then people won’t watch your video.
For example, if your channel is related to fitness and you suddenly come out with a video on fashion, all of those people who followed you for the fitness content are going to skip right over that video rather than click through to see what the video is about.
Another common mistake is being too wordy in your titles. This can hurt you in a couple of ways. For one, YouTube truncates your title after about 45-50 characters. So make sure your keyword or the most important part of your title are closer to the beginning so people will see it.
Additionally, because people skim while they’re scrolling through YouTube, the first two or three words in your title have to catch their eye. Otherwise, they won’t click through to see the content.
You also want to avoid being too specific with your headline. Sometimes, you can be so specific that you talk people right out of clicking through to your video because they no longer believe it’s relevant to them.
Let’s say you have a tech review channel and you create a video reviewing a particular camera model that’s not well known. If you shout out the camera’s name in the title, people who aren’t familiar with that camera aren’t going to click it. A better approach would be to write something like “Best camera for shooting YouTube videos” or “Best camera for nature photography,” which would appeal to a wider audience.
The reverse can also be problematic—picking a headline that’s too broad. Sticking with the camera example, saying “best camera ever” in your headline is likely too general. Instead, you could say “Best vlogging camera” or “Best camera for portrait photography.”
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The last common mistake to avoid is simply being too boring. If you don’t give the audience a reason to care, then they won’t click through the title to watch the video. So when you’re writing any YouTube title, make sure it passes the “who cares” test. If the answer is nobody, don’t make that video.
#2: Get Inspiration From Other YouTube Channels
There are two great resources you can use to draw inspiration for your YouTube video titles: your Dream 100 and your Model 100. To create these resources, you’ll need to do some research into what’s working for other businesses on YouTube.
The Dream 100 model, popularized by entrepreneur Russell Brunson, is a list of all of your competitors. These are all of the YouTube channels that are creating content within your niche or industry similar to the content you want to create.
The great thing about YouTube is that you can actually see what’s working and what’s not for other channels—unlike other forms of marketing like the headline or a subject line in an email. With YouTube, you can visit your competitors’ channels, create a list of video titles that have worked for them, and draw inspiration for your own content based on that.
A companion to your Dream 100 is your Model 100. These are channels that are similar in style but not related in content to your niche or industry. So for example, if you’re an SaaS company, you might look at another SaaS company’s YouTube channel in a different industry or niche. While their content may not be relevant to your audience, you can draw on the overall style they use to create content that’s relevant to your audience.
For example, if they’re doing a comparison of their service to one of their competitors, you can use that as inspiration to create your own comparison between your software and one of your competitor’s products. Or if they’re doing a demo, you can use that as inspiration for your own demo.
#3: Tap Into Emotions to Get Click-Throughs
The most effective way to get people to click through on your headline to watch your YouTube video is to evoke a particular emotion. There have been studies and tests to show which three emotions are the best at compelling people to take action: fear (or some other form of negativity), desire, and curiosity.
When it comes to fear, human beings are hardwired to listen to warnings and negativity. People are more likely to pay attention to warnings than they are to a list of benefits.
Most marketers understand the power of talking to their audience’s desires, those outcomes that they’re after in their life or business, so this particular point is easy to understand. Most people don’t necessarily click through to watch a video about the features of something, but they’ll click through to watch a video about how something will change their life or their business.
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And as for curiosity, once again, this emotion is fairly self-explanatory. People want to know details; they want to know what they don’t know.
Of course, other emotions may compel a viewer to click through and watch a YouTube video. These three just happen to be the strongest.
The most successful headlines have a combination of two or more of these emotions such as fear and curiosity or desire and curiosity. What this shows is that while curiosity is the biggest driving emotion for YouTube titles, it becomes even more powerful when paired with another emotion.
There are several ways you can evoke an emotional response to get the click with your YouTube headline.
Open a Loop
“Opening a loop” refers to the art of starting a story within the headline but not finishing it until inside your video content. So one example might be “the number-one skill you’re missing to make running easier.” The story has started with you talking about the number-one skill someone needs but the story won’t finish until they click through the headline and watch the actual video.
People have a natural desire to want to fill in that gap so they’ll often click through to find out the rest of that story.
Reveal a Secret
Revealing a secret may feel similar to opening a loop, in that you’re talking about the secret in your headline but not revealing the actual secret until someone clicks through and watches the contents of your video. However, instead of starting the story, you’re talking about the secret that no one else is revealing. An example of this might be something like, “The real cost of starting an Airbnb that no one tells you.”
It’s the idea that other professionals are out there giving advice on a similar topic but they’re choosing not to reveal this one pertinent piece of information that your video is about to reveal. This is very effective for driving up that feeling of curiosity and compelling viewers to click.
Discuss Contrasting Ideals
Putting together contrasting words or ideas in your headline is another fantastic way to build curiosity.
For example, you might say, “Healthy foods you absolutely do not want to eat.” This drives up the viewer’s curiosity because if they’re healthy foods, why wouldn’t you want to eat them? Anyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle or looking for healthier foods to eat is going to wonder what those foods are and what it is about those foods that’s making you say not to eat them.
Talk About the Future
You can also talk about the future. For example, you can talk about where your industry or niche is going, “The best and worst trends for 2022.”
Time-sensitive information like this can be a compelling reason for people to click through, although not quite as powerful as evoking curiosity. One thing to be aware of is that if you place the years into your titles to help convey timeliness, then those titles won’t necessarily be evergreen anymore, depending on the topic and your niche.
Some businesses will try to get around this by updating their titles to the new year, thereby creating an illusion of timeliness. However, be wary of this practice. When viewers go to watch the video, if they see that the title says 2022 and the video was released in 2020, they’re less likely to trust that video or any future content you put out regarding such trends.
Challenge Your Audience’s Assumptions
Finally, you can challenge your audience’s assumptions about a particular topic. For example, if you regularly put out YouTube content, you might try a headline that says something like, “I stopped asking people to subscribe to my channel and this is what happened.”
Now, when most people are working on their YouTube content and putting together their videos, asking people to subscribe to their channel has been a best practice for a long time. So seeing a headline that challenges that belief as a best practice is very curious. Why wouldn’t you want to ask someone to subscribe to your channel? Is there a better way to get them to subscribe?
Because of the long-held beliefs of the audience, any challenge to their assumptions about what’s best is going to be met with curiosity and maybe a bit of skepticism, and they’re going to want to click through to find out details.
Pro Tip: As you experiment with each of these ideas, be careful to avoid negative clickbait. With some of these ideas such as revealing a secret or opening a loop, it can feel a little bit like clickbait when you’re evoking some sort of negativity along with the audience’s curiosity. However, as long as you deliver on the promise made in the headline by filling in those gaps and revealing the secret, you don’t have to worry about being labeled as clickbait. Your content will continue to build on the trust your audience is showing you when they click through your YouTube titles.
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