Manny Rivas on YouTube & Retargeting: SMX 2013 Coverage

October 3, 2013
By Pearl Higgins in Internet Marketing Conferences

smx-east-2013It’s always bittersweet to make it to the last day of a conference, and today was no exception. Outspoken Media has two interviews going live today, so keep your eyes peeled for Casie Gillette’s interview with actionable tips from Content: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. We interviewed Manny Rivas earlier this week, which was really a bonus, since he spoke on Pro-level Tips For Succeeding At Retargeting on Tuesday, and he was on the fantastic YouTube panel this morning. YouTube takeaways are below, and it’s no surprise that the panel—Greg Finn of Cyprus North Moderating, Matt Siltala of Avalaunch Media, Purna Virji of Stroll, and Manny Rivas of aimClear–brought it.

SMX East 2013 Coverage: YouTube: Optimization Tips For the Second Most-Popular Search Engine

If the panel on YouTube optimization didn’t know their audience, I don’t know who does. It’s hard to win over a group of marketers the morning after a killer party (thank you Yext! Love those hummingbird cocktails!), but they came in with the perfect approach: brilliant tips, and a few videos appealing to that base level we all needed.

  • Manny Rivas took the audience through strategizing your YouTube approach. B2B can be sexy too; you just have to tell a story to the right audience. Make sure you are optimizing your videos with annotations, and external links, but start with the keyword research.
  • Thought leadership, tutorials, infographics, branded yet catchy, thematic series are all great approaches to creating video content. Video engagement success will be determined by research and relationships you build well before the video is created. Identify users by mining comments, and finding active users in the fields you are targeting.
  • Purna Virji pimped everyone’s YouTube channels, and offered up tips for building a strong foundation for your channel, curating your content and engaging your visitors to keep them there, and using analytics to audit your efforts. To start with make sure you’ve made the most of your channel icon, and channel URL. Make your video metadata compelling with core keywords first, and branding later. With annotations make sure you avoid the lower third of the video, don’t obstruct content, and use analytics to test time and placement.
  • You want to develop a subscriber following; you can customize your channel page for new viewers and subscribers, which offers a new experience for different kinds of users. Let your viewership know why they should become a subscriber, and commit to putting the effort into following through. To get a better sense of viewer process make sure you are looking at playback locations and traffic sources reports in analytics. To evaluate your user engagement make sure you use subscribers report to show which videos stand out, and to evaluate what kind of content works for you.
  • Matt Siltala, social maven, emphasized the importance of certain user signals to monitor: you want user engagement with likes and dislikes, and full views. Use humor in a dryer industry like pest control, or use a targeted traffic approach by creating a video where the subject matter and title are specific things people are searching for to guide your content.
  • Are you optimizing? Did you forget to link to your site? For shame! Make sure your using proper categories and GEO tagging. Share your videos across all your social profiles. Add your videos to your Google+ profile, it helps with authorship, and use those same social profiles for video ideas: local Facebook groups will give you insight into local community questions and needs. Lastly, repurpose your most successful content as a video.

Manny On YouTube Optimization and Marketing

Manny Rivas

You got your start in marketing through rap videos on YouTube, can you talk a bit about how your YouTube work for clients has driven value, and what kind of obstacles you’ve come up against, whether it was initial client buy-in, resource allocation, etc.? Also as a side note, that’s probably one of the cooler entries into marketing.

Surprisingly enough, there are actually a lot of similarities from what I was doing – posting rap videos to what we’re doing for clients, because at the core of what I was doing, I wanted to build a subscribership, a viewer base, that would come view my videos time and time again.

The way that I had to do that was find interested users. I would go out there and I would identify other hip-hop artists that were publishing videos and I would just engage with them. For a hip-hop artist one of the biggest things for us is attention to lyrics. The way that I found the most engagement and made sure that I got people back to check out my content, was I would listen to the lyrics of other artists that are trying to build their viewer base. I would comment and say, “Man, this line right here where you said …, was really cool,” or quote certain parts of their verses and more often than not you’re complimenting them, so they come and check you out.

But anyways, what we’re doing for clients here is the same sort of demographic research where we’re trying to find engaged, active users and when we start out with companies that are looking to start a YouTube presence, we have to find those individuals – it’s all demographic research. We have to find the most engaged users that we can potentially engage with and bring into our community.

Resource allocation is a big thing. Clients get so excited about what they could do with video, but they just don’t have the resources to commit to it. They have amazing ideas of what an amazing video would be; they just don’t have the resources.

It’s having an understanding of what you can do. Animation is a great way to effectively create video and communicate your message without having to pay for actors, or pay for a whole lot of voiceover acting and things like that.

We’ve also had wins with direct response in YouTube selling products. For one particular company, we increased sales of their products through selling on their channel page. When I’m thinking about video as a sales mechanism, you have to think about it as a landing page. It’s just like a landing page. You have to give enough information to the viewer to take them to the next step.

You think about if a viewer were to do a search in YouTube; they find your YouTube ad; they’re expecting to see a video, which they’re going to; they come to your video and if the searches that you’re targeting are intent driven, you should be able to target those individuals that are seeking or close to farther down in the funnel. If your video is able to answer their questions and take them to the next level, you shouldn’t have a problem converting them.

We were using longer form videos, there were two different lengths. There was one that was 17 minutes and one that was more along the 30 minute line. Once users get past a certain point in the video, we’re pretty confident that they’re going to convert. We were able to identify the searches that were the ones where users had a higher proclivity to convert, and optimize towards showing those users, or those people searching for those terms the right video. We were able to dramatically increase conversions since we came into the picture and started optimizing those video campaigns, which was a pretty good win.

You had a great article in Search Engine Land back in January about building a direct response funnel in youtube. What are some of the ways that you begin to think about process and strategies for individual clients? What’s in your toolbox?

In terms of driving sales with YouTube, like I was kind of saying before, I like to start by understanding how video can effectively communicate a particular product or service. Understanding, can video sell my blue widgets with one touch or are viewers more likely to come back or continue gathering information first after they watch the video?

There are three primary tools I use for doing direct response in YouTube, and those are the in-search ad unit, in-display, and the pre-roll, which is in-stream. I tend to use the in-search and in-display. I have found those to be more effective in terms of direct response.

In terms of building my campaigns and identifying search inventory, one of the most powerful tools that I have found is Scrapebox. Scrapebox is a tool that actually scrapes the AJAX suggestion box in YouTube. When you go to the search box and you start typing snowboard or something like that, and then there are a whole bunch of suggestions that populate below it, what Scrapebox does is scrape those suggestions.

YouTube has this keyword research tool and it sucks; it’s completely horrible. It doesn’t give you anything relevant. The best keyword research that I’ve been able to do is literally looking at the suggestions in the dropdown menu from YouTube because those searches, or those recommended queries are coming because they’ve been searched for quite a bit. There is high frequency in those areas, and people are either searching for those things or there is a lot of content out there. That’s where I like to start.

In that example of increasing success events with YouTube remarketing, one thing that we did was use custom thumbnails in the headline. What we were trying to do with the video was specifically get them to go back to the knowledge center or back to the site and get the free download for this particular white paper. The custom thumbnail really helped to prequalify the traffic because in the image that we’re using for the video, it talked about downloading the free guide. Not only did we have our copy in the ad, we had copy within the image that talked about what the end objective was. I think custom thumbnails are great.

External linking annotations, which are only available to certain advertisers if they are spending a certain amount with ad words per month, allows you to place external links in the video, at certain points in the video, to a particular page. You can usually look at analytics to determine when viewers are most engaged to put that annotation, and direct them back to the site.

Lastly, the video remarketing pivots around engagement. If you look at how or what these remarketing list options are, it’s things like “this viewer watched a certain video”, or “this viewer liked this specific video”, or “they disliked this certain video”. “They subscribed to your channel”; “they unsubscribed to your channel”. You can begin to develop some pretty customized messages to those individuals to bring them back or hopefully get them to subscribe again if they unsubscribed.

Manny On Retargeting


Can you talk a little bit about how complex the world of retargeting has become between search retargeting, site retargeting, Facebook exchange, etc.? What are some ways that marketers can begin to think about navigating that landscape?

No matter what the marketing channel or medium is, I think you have to know what to expect and just understand where those channels fit within the purchasing cycle or whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish.

It’s not necessarily that retargeting is just for e-commerce. E-commerce retargeting is just really common. You hear these examples of e-commerce as retargeting being a channel that can help out e-commerce marketers, but there are publications that use retargeting for their editorial calendar. We do that.

I think it begins with a fundamental understanding of the business, like understanding how long your purchase cycle is or what kind of information satisfies a potential customer when gathering information. Do customers often repurchase and how often do they repurchase? Do they buy the same items? Do they buy similar items?

Think about visitors that are coming to read your content. If you’re retargeting those, you’re going to want to make sure that they’re engaged users. What’s the threshold for determining an engaged user, do they view x many pages? Do they stay on the page for more than x many minutes? At what point, in terms of time on site are pages viewed, is a visitor likely to return? I think those are some basic questions that can help you determine how retargeting is going to fit into your marketing mix.

What are some of the bigger wins you’ve had for clients with retargeting?

With one client in particular, this is B2B, we effectively used YouTube remarketing lists, which in my personal opinion, are one of the most under-leveraged or under-utilized remarketing plays out there.

We used those remarketing lists to increase success events and those success events vary from actual sales to leads to white paper downloads. We effectively increased those success events using these remarketing lists because the content that they were publishing – this goes for any company that’s publishing helpful video content – if you’re driving users down the funnel in way that you’re starting with information – was informative pieces of content that drove them to the next logical place in the funnel.

You should be creating lists, remarketing lists for each step on the funnel so that you can remarket to those individuals and serve them ad messages that meet them where they’re at in the funnel. You know what I mean?

One of my favorite approaches is leveraging prequalified organic traffic. When I say prequalified organic traffic, make sure that these users are engaged. I only want to retarget people that have been on the site for more than three minutes and viewed more than four pages or something like that. It gives me an idea that these users are a little bit more valuable and show a little bit more intent on my site than just any visitor to the site.

I like the idea of leveraging the organic side of that traffic to drive conversions. If you think about it, a lot of retargeting, you pay for the visitor once. Let’s say you do a search ad or a display ad and you pay for that visitor to come to your site. They go through; they might load up their shopping cart and then bail. You retarget them and that’s great, but you already paid for them once, so you’re paying for them again.

If you’re getting organic traffic for your site, you can set up organic lists of folks that are still coming in, loading up their cart, and possibly abandoning it and retarget those folks. Essentially, the first time that you’re actually paying for the visit is on the retargeting level so you know that they show some interest; they’re already aware of your brand, so that’s something that I always tend to try and set up whenever I engage a company. I will start setting up remarketing lists and retargeting lists within Google analytics because no matter whether or not they’re going to use it, I like to at least have the option there. That’s one practice that I just commonly do with new accounts.

Manny On Retargeting On a Limited Budget & Not Being a Creep

Manny Rivas

If I have a limited budget, what type of retargeting would be best? Or are there certain businesses where certain retargeting methods work better than others?

Yes, I like to identify my most engaged users. We work with some of the largest household brands in the world, and we work with some of the coolest startups too. The cool thing about really large brands is you have tons and tons of data. With smaller brands or really cool startups that are just getting their start, you are working with small sets of data. So what I like to do is identify the most engaged users.

They might be 25 users on a list, but those are my 25 best friends. It’s not always about targeting a massive audience. Many times it’s just about targeting a small number of your biggest fans. I keep saying it over and over, but targeting users who have spent so much time on your site and visited so many pages, is a good place to start. If you’re seeing that your list is growing and growing and it’s bigger than you want to commit to adding dollars to, then pick apart the amount of minutes that they have spent on the site; really dig down into how engaged these users have to be.

Keep in mind through this, that if you’re targeting a small group of people, you don’t want to creep them out. One of the balances with retargeting is making sure that you’re not being a creep, so you want to make sure that you’re adding frequency caps per day and make sure that there is a life span on those remarketing lists so that they don’t just go on indefinitely and keep serving those users ads.

Manny on Holiday Retargeting & SMX Sessions

With the holidays approaching, what are some tips for retargeting for ecommerce providers?

I think you have to start early, so start targeting and building your audiences early. I’m personally a procrastinator when it comes to this type of thing and holiday planning, but there are a lot of people out there that are not and hunt early, like my wife.

I would start early to build those lists, because I think that there are folks out there that are starting the planning, and you have the opportunity to build lists around certain categories of your products, or certain areas of your business, and communicate with them as they begin to make their purchasing decisions. Right now they’re most likely doing information gathering, so I think starting early is very important.

The other thing is to focus on devices. We don’t want to forget about smart phones and tablets and how these devices are being used in the buying cycles. Many people, myself included, will be on their smart phones researching a product while they’re physically in the store. It’s an opportunity for e-commerce businesses to stay competitive with brick and mortar and offline means of sales.

I think search targeting also presents a unique opportunity, because a lot of the inventory that you are getting within Chango, and other search remarketing platforms out there, are taken from shopping sites. These are people searching within shopping engines. I think search retargeting is an excellent place to consider retargeting for the holidays.

What SMX session are you looking forward to the most, and why?

Well, of course, the Pro-level Tips for Succeeding at Retargeting and YouTube Optimization! I was interested in Richard Albonzi’s keynote, because I just want to see where Twitter is going next and with the new release of Twitter’s social retargeting, I’m curious if they’re going to make any advancements with that, or if they’re going to make any changes/updates to that type of retargeting. I know there are some limitations to it.

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