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Hole in the funnel

We think that we’ve discovered a common and disastrous hole in the marketing funnel that many companies don’t know about. The hole in the funnel is called YouTube.

If you haven’t heard of a marketing funnel, the basic idea is that your pool of prospects is drawn as a circle, and as the pool narrows down through the marketing process it forms the shape of a funnel. However, we’ve seen that sometimes using the wrong video host can open up a hole in the funnel through which prospects slip away in hordes.

The YouTube rift

If a potential customer clicks on a YouTube link, he or she automatically leaves your funnel, and can lose momentum for signing up for your product.

It’s hard enough to get people to your website in the first place, so having them drop out of the funnel is a real bummer.

Why YouTube isn’t helping you

YouTube wasn’t designed to be used for business, so it’s not focused on helping you reach your marketing goals. Embedded YouTube videos have many links back to YouTube because they’re designed to channel people onto YouTube.

YouTube wants to seduce people into spending as much time as possible on their site so that it can increase ad impressions and ultimately make more money. This strategy is so important to YouTube that it’s even in its terms of service.

“If you use the Embeddable Player on your website, you may not modify, build upon, or block any portion or functionality of the Embeddable Player, including but not limited to links back to the YouTube website.”

Why should YouTube give out free bandwidth for nothing in return? It all makes sense! You end up paying by sacrificing your marketing goals for their profits.

What happens on YouTube doesn’t stay on YouTube

A YouTube embed creates an ever-widening hole in your company’s funnel. Once prospects navigate onto YouTube, there’s a whole new slew of factors that can hurt your business’s marketing success and public image. Let’s look at some of the most prominent issues here:

Problem 1: Bad comments

YouTube doesn’t have a good system for controlling comments, so it’s no surprise that there are so many bad comments on most companies’ YouTube pages.  The average YouTube comment is, after all, negative and irrelevant. When potential customers see these comments, they won’t be jumping out of their seats to sign up for the product.

Problem 2: YouTube is a support forum that's hard to manage

By using YouTube, you open up a new forum where customers will ask for support. That leaves you with two options. You can use YouTube as a customer service portal, which could end in customer support teams wasting time trying to sift out legitimate questions from YouTube nonsense. The alternative is not much better: you can leave the questions unanswered, creating the impression that your product is confusing and your team is inaccessible.

Problem 3: Links to competitors’ videos

YouTube groups videos by topic without regard to your business goals (again, they only care about retaining YouTube traffic). So, for example, if you run an online bookstore they’ll put links to other online bookstores’ videos next to your video. That means that many of the related videos YouTube displays are probably made by your competitors. Even if viewers are on YouTube to learn about your company, they will probably be tempted to click on a link to watch one of your competitors’ videos. Using YouTube, you inadvertently hand over your sales leads to your competitors.

Problem 4: SEO benefits YouTube, not your company

YouTube automatically lists all of their videos in Google. That way, if someone searches for a topic related to your video, your video could potentially show up in the universal search results. In theory, this is great for you! But in practice, this has a downside. YouTube will bring searchers to its site to watch your video, instead of driving more traffic to your own site. It doesn’t have to be this way.

A solution

The problem here is that YouTube just isn’t the right forum for most product videos. Professional hosts aren’t for everyone (if you’re making adorable cat videos, YouTube is probably where you want to be) but one thing they can do is help patch that pesky hole in the funnel.

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