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In episode 39 of the First Customers podcast, Ali Schwanke, a successful entrepreneur and YouTube influencer, shares her journey of leveraging YouTube to generate over a thousand leads. From her humble beginnings in a photography business to creating a top unofficial source for HubSpot tutorials, Ali shares invaluable insights on customer acquisition, content creation, and understanding customer priorities.
Key Points Covered:
- [00:20] How Ali acquired her first customers and her perspective on starting a business.
- [03:53] Ali’s efficient content creation process and how she maintains a weekly cadence on her videos.
- [04:37] The power of Google search, YouTube search, and suggested videos in driving traffic.
- [06:14] The importance of relevant specific content offers as calls to action.
- [11:37] Ali’s approach to solving problems from a customer’s perspective.
- [15:24] The role of YouTube in Ali’s business pre and post-pandemic.
- [16:04] Learnings on understanding customer priorities and what differentiates a business.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Ali Schwanke’s YouTube Channel: Hubspot Hacks
- Ali Schwanke’s company: Simple Strat
- Recommended Book: How to Win Client Business When You Don’t Know Where to Start: A Rainmaking Guide for Consulting and Professional Services
Connect with Ali Schwanke:
Subscribe: Join us for more conversations with successful entrepreneurs on the First Customers Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe on the platform you use most, leave a review, and share our show with your network.
Paris Vega (00:01.13)
Welcome to the First Customers Podcast. I’m Parisa Vega, your host, and today we have Ali Schwanke with us. She’s generated over a thousand leads from her YouTube channel that has 18,000 subscribers and is the number one unofficial channel for HubSpot tutorials. Ali, welcome to the show.
Ali Schwanke (00:18.582)
Thanks for having me.
Paris Vega (00:20.862)
All right, how’d you get your first customers? And I’m super interested to hear about this YouTube lead gen strategy.
Ali Schwanke (00:29.066)
Yeah, well, I’ve done quite a few different businesses over the years. And I think my first customers of my very first business were like pretty much anybody else starting a business. Who do I know that needs something? So, you know, you kind of started asking around and doing the friends and family thing, and I think for me, uh, my very first business was a photography business. And so I was working part-time at a hospital and I just, uh, kind of pitched a data, a couple of nurses and did some shoots for them. And.
Paris Vega (00:39.626)
Ali Schwanke (00:58.574)
What do you know? Nurses talk to other nurses and suddenly I was photographing like the entire like fourth floor with nurses and their families. So that was probably the first way it started. And then I placed an ad in a local magazine. And I remember the first time I got a call from that ad, I was like, oh my God, someone who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t know anybody that I know is calling me. Like I may be in business. So that’s how that started. But yeah, now the business started running. Now we generate our customers from YouTube.
Paris Vega (01:27.91)
Awesome. So what’s that process look like from getting those leads on YouTube? Is it just you’ve got to call the action at the end of the video or talk about how that developed?
Ali Schwanke (01:39.518)
Yeah, we actually launched a channel to educate some of our current clients. So at that time we’d gotten folks just like a lot of, cause we had, I ran a sales and marketing consulting firm and agency. So just like a lot of those professional services firms, they start with people, you know, referrals and kind of people that know who know you. And as we started to provide value for our clients, we would record videos and just, I mean, literally like, here’s how to do this on HubSpot. It wasn’t meant to be really flamboyant. It wasn’t like high production.
And we just thought, I wonder if anybody else is having these problems. So we put some of those like very, just like loom, I mean, honestly, down in dirty videos on YouTube, they got some hits and we started to think like, Hmm, what if we, what if we did some more on this? I wonder if we could just generate traffic. We were literally just like running an experiment. And once we started to generate some traffic, um, we thought like, what if we just go back and we did what we called put bottom of funnel. So if you’re not a marketer, like put a call to action for a sales meeting at
in every place that someone would interact with us and just like not in a bad, like badgering way, but let’s just see if anyone books consultation. And sure enough, we had folks book consultations with us and, um, we kind of like reverse engineered that. Um, and then that was three years ago and now we generate more than, more than half of our leads from YouTube, um, from companies that, you know, I’ve never met before, uh, but they watched, you know, 10 of our videos, 20 of our videos, and then they’re ready for a sales meeting or they jump on the newsletter.
come to a webinar and then eventually become a customer.
Paris Vega (03:09.486)
And is YouTube the primary source of platforms that you use to publish content?
Ali Schwanke (03:15.99)
So YouTube, we do have a blog that we have several articles that have ranked on our blog as well, but they’re kind of symbiotic because you know, well, what we produce on YouTube, then we make sure we purpose on our blog. Um, you know, written content is a little bit harder these days because it’s pretty cluttered. And so that’s, or I guess very crowded. That’s why we went to YouTube because the barrier for entry is high because there’s this perception that it takes a lot of production. Don’t get me wrong. Our videos are very good.
But we’ve built somewhat of a like assembly line sort of process that we can kick stuff out faster than pretty much any other agency that I’ve talked to so that we hit a weekly cadence on our videos.
Paris Vega (03:53.614)
Okay, and do you repurpose it to all other video platforms or do you just stay focused on YouTube?
Ali Schwanke (03:59.562)
We, so our videos are long form. We haven’t really figured out the short form Reels game because our videos are tutorials. So we’re showing a software environment which is usually on a desktop. It’s gonna be landscape in terms of orientation. So we haven’t quite cracked that repurposing code from a video standpoint. We have taken that and shown shorter snippets like square or landscape onto LinkedIn and Twitter which are two of the primary platforms that drive folks to our YouTube channel. If not.
I mean, Google, I’d say Google search, YouTube search, and then suggested videos are the places that we tend to get most of the traffic from.
Paris Vega (04:37.374)
Okay, and do you kind of get any leads trickling in from the other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, or is it just mainly not until they get to YouTube that they actually submit a lead form or contact your reach out?
Ali Schwanke (04:48.754)
Yeah, I mean, I think so it’s not a couple of things for us. And I think this is interesting when people are talking about customer acquisition, like everybody’s looking for like that last click attribution, like where did they come from? Right. And the thing that I found interesting is, um, so like we’re always perusing LinkedIn, we’re perusing Twitter. And if someone has a question about something or in a forum or slot communities, it’s much less, uh, intrusive.
If you reply and say, hey, you know what? We actually have a video that answers that very same question. It’s like you gave them the answer and then they didn’t have to sit there and talk to you. So it’s like, it just makes them feel comfortable going and exploring and seeing if they even wanna talk to you more. So it’s less of repurposing the videos to answer questions that already exist online. And then the people who are answering or getting the answers to those questions often jump on our newsletter, often reach out.
Especially when they get into the point where we’ll hear things like, you know, you just make it look so easy. I watched your videos and I tried to do it and I just am not as fast as you guys. So you’re like, okay, that’s good. That’s why we’re here.
Paris Vega (05:57.27)
So they appreciate the value of your work. They understand how hard it is. It makes it easier to sell. Okay. Let’s get into the weeds just a little bit. If you could get into the detail of what your calls to action look like, or is it specifically, you know, join the newsletter, or do you have something else you ask them to do first?
Ali Schwanke (06:00.682)
Yeah, for sure.
Ali Schwanke (06:14.55)
Yeah, I’m a big fan of either relevant specific content offers. So if it’s a video about, let’s say, I don’t know how to select the right CRM and we have a CRM selection worksheet, great. Mention that because it’s highly correlated to the problem they’re trying to solve. But creating all of that and then keeping track of all those assets, no one tells you when you go off on a content like Lead Gen Adventure that we’re now at 107, 108 videos. We’ve now got a library to manage.
Like if you had a special content offer for each one of those videos and it becomes outdated, wholly overwhelmed, right? So we typically just push people to the newsletter, which is every two weeks. You can like, it’s, it’s pretty high level. You don’t feel like we’re selling to you. Um, you get the, no, the latest videos, whatever. And then the other one’s going to be, if you need help with this, check out our consulting page, but that’s it. Like those are the two, um, places we
or follow us on social, but those are about the extent of our calls to action at this point.
Paris Vega (07:21.486)
So you don’t have like a sales phone number that you push or anything like that. It’s just the consulting page, I’m guessing, is that like your kind of contact form, hire us page, that kind of thing. Okay.
Ali Schwanke (07:23.298)
Ali Schwanke (07:29.302)
Yeah, so the consulting page, like we’re working on redoing some of these pieces because now HubSpot when we first started was, oh gosh, that would have been 2017. They just introduced the CRM. I mean, now it’s a full fledge. They have operations hub and like even buying HubSpot is super overwhelming. So we’ve got buying assistance. Like we try to put ourselves in the middle between like, hey, it’s just like talking to the car guy. Like the car guy is going to tell you anything you want to hear. Let me talk to my mechanic and see if this is even a good car to buy in the first place. Right.
So we put ourselves in the middle and so that page we drive them to helps them understand we do these three things. So these three buckets of services. And if you’re not ready to meet with us, the newsletter is a good next step. If you just want some advice or feedback, we have a free console you can book with us.
Paris Vega (08:21.45)
And are you running any other type of advertising to complement this lead gen source?
Ali Schwanke (08:25.782)
So we’re not running, well, I’ll take that back. We are testing some new things on the LinkedIn advertising, sponsoring employee posts, that feature that just literally came out like three days ago. So we’re trying some of that stuff. But a bigger component of our strategy has been really sharing our videos with the people that talk to the people that we wanna talk to. So advisors.
you know, fractional like operations people, fractional sales officers, because they’re typically going to go through a lot of clients. And one of the biggest obstacles they have is going into an organization. They have to do rev ops, for example. They can’t do their job if their CRM and their HubSpot and their automation is a mess. And so they like were in their back pocket. The other thing we do is we do a pretty good job of distributing that content. We’ve got about five platforms.
that we re almost like syndication syndicate that content on. And then in the past, one of the things that really worked well for a while was making sure that we go to places like Reddit and Quora and seeing who’s asked questions that we could answer with our videos.
Paris Vega (09:38.562)
Nice. Okay, so you said you’ve got several platforms you repurpose content. Is that like just the typical social media platforms where you do?
Ali Schwanke (09:45.998)
So I actually built an entire content distribution toolkit that we use to guide our efforts. And so that has about, it’s not in front of me, but I’m gonna guess like 75 different ways you can repurpose a single piece of content. And so, and it doesn’t even go into like all the different places of dark social, which would be like your Slack communities, your Discord, your Facebook groups, whatever. So we’ve identified like about five different Slack communities that have consistent either channels dedicated to HubSpot conversations.
Paris Vega (10:07.754)
Ali Schwanke (10:13.95)
or they have people that tend to bring up the questions most often. We’ve got a couple of discord communities. We want to repurpose them as LinkedIn articles if they have a high enough propensity for engagement. We want to repurpose them as like Instagram carousels, if that’s the call to action. So it really kind of varies on the topic, but we do have some very set specific, like the juice is a B2B content distribution syndication platform.
We’re members of the juice. We pay to be over there. And so they syndicate our content to B2B marketers and sales folks, like whoever’s on their platform.
Paris Vega (10:54.026)
Let’s rewind a little bit and go back to the very beginning of when you started SimpleStrat. And could you get into how it evolved into this focus on HubSpot? I’m guessing you were using the tool for customers. You said you made some, a little bit of content, but could you flesh out the story a little bit?
Ali Schwanke (11:10.43)
Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s funny because I have a friend who runs a professional services mastermind group called a collective 54. And he always says like people look like they became focused because you talk to them now, but they didn’t tell you about their messy middle. And like any company goes through a messy middle, SAS and product companies call it product market fit. I mean, really, when you’re in the services business or if you have a services component to your product, you end up trying you end up kind of like going in this direction of.
Paris Vega (11:24.749)
Ali Schwanke (11:37.95)
I want to solve this problem, but how do my customers talk about it? So when I first started the business, I was convinced that marketing and sales were broken and I still think there’s a lot of things that are broken about marketing and sales and how they’re defined in orgs, but at the time I was tired of this, like hiring agencies to do the stuff and then get thwarted because the campaign didn’t work, but they were never allowed to be strategic and say, what are the customers actually want?
You know, I can’t build you a website and then optimize it for SEO after the fact. Like you do this as you build the site. So when we first launched, the goal was to just be a strat marketing strategy firm and help establish that foundational piece so that you could hire the team to do the executional stuff. Um, figured out very early on that was wonderful. And then people would say, great, now we have our strategy. What do we do now? And I’d be like, I don’t know, like go find somebody to help you.
Um, and so we started to build a team around that and then HubSpot was at the time, it was a way to differentiate ourselves from the local competition. Cause at that time we set goals to be the best agency that does X in a geographic region. So you’re looking at your competition in a box. We’re not competing with all football teams. We’re just going to be in this like specific league. And at the time that helped us as we went down that route, we started to see more and more that as we.
became the best in this region, then we started competing with like industry specialization and you know, name it, name a way you can niche down and we, we competed ultimately. Yeah.
Paris Vega (13:15.818)
interruption how long did it take being an agency to figure out that you needed to niche down and be the best at X in whatever location like what kind of time period was that
Ali Schwanke (13:25.834)
Yeah. Well, my gosh, so it’s funny. We actually tried to do that right before the pandemic and we were going to niche down into I mean, and we did it just the pandemic completely changed everybody’s business, right? We were content specific for B2B tech. That was our mission. We were going after that and then the pandemic hit and I remember that day because we had, I’m sitting at my desk and I had a conversation with this.
Legal software was great. Well, it was going to help us hit our goals that quarter. Um, and literally anybody who was in any sales conversation just ghosted and like everything just went away. So at that time it was kind of like, how do we stay alive and what do we offer? And it was also at that time that we saw the traffic on our YouTube channel, just go like this and, and I’m making emotion in the upward direction. Because at that time, everybody who was left behind when they cut their sales and marketing teams in half was like.
What the heck is HubSpot and what do I do with this thing? And so we just happened to be like, I’d like to say that, yeah, we, we put our cards on the table before everything happened on purpose, we didn’t know that. But we happened to be in the right place at the right time to be the people that everyone was going to find out how to help them with this technology digitization that got forced onto their plate that they’d never planned to do in the next five years. So that kind of forced our specialization at the time.
Paris Vega (14:45.486)
Thanks for watching.
Ali Schwanke (14:46.526)
And then we’ve just continually leaned into it. Like every six months, we just, we niche down even farther. Um, so now we’re, we’re definitely all HubSpot all the time. We don’t work with you. If you don’t use the HubSpot platform, we just refer you off to somebody else.
Paris Vega (15:00.898)
Wow, that’s a beautiful thing. We’re going through some conversations like this at the agency I work at figuring out how to niche down, how to target more specifically. So this is really interesting to hear. That’s why I’m so curious about that part of the process of how you ended up so specific. So before then you would just use it as a tool to service your clients and how much content had you posted on YouTube at that point when the pandemic hit?
Ali Schwanke (15:24.714)
Right when the pandemic hit, so we started on YouTube in the summer of 2019 and the pandemic was March of 2020. So it was about seven months, eight months. I think at that point we’d had.
probably 25 videos maybe at that point because we launched with like six or seven. And we had one video that happened to be making it pretty well. Like we’d gotten some good traffic from it. And that was a CRM demo video and a tutorial of how to get started as a beginner. So like, again, we weren’t, we didn’t make it so that when everyone who was let go of their job or remaining at their job.
Paris Vega (15:45.4)
Ali Schwanke (16:04.406)
But it did fit the needs at that time, because they’re just like, I need a crash course in this HubSpot thing. And then when they needed things built, usually companies still had a budget for technology, but they didn’t have a budget for marketing. So we tended, in their mind, to fit in a different category than we did as marketers. So I think that’s also interesting. It’s like budget categorization as a service provider. Education and development, there’s always a budget. Usually marketing gets cut before sales budgets.
And then technology tends to have a pretty strong, at least it did up to that point, place on the piano.
Paris Vega (16:40.972)
That’s a really cool insight. That makes sense. Okay, I interrupted the story of growth there for a minute. Let’s see if we can pick back up where we were.
Ali Schwanke (16:49.962)
Oh yeah, no worries. So, I mean, after the pandemic, uh, after things kind of like escalated upward for us, um, you know, post pandemic, we’re obviously living in that world right now, but we’re finding that, um, something I’m learning that what you think sometimes is a differentiation is not that important to your customers. And so we’d, uh, we’d tried to achieve like a certain level of HubSpot solutions, partner status, which is important to us and our, how we get commissions, what sort of perks we get from HubSpot.
but no customer that’s trying to find a HubSpot partner is like, are you diamond? Are you elite? Are you like, they don’t care. They’re just like, you know what, like I expect you to know it better than I do. That’s our expectation. But now what we’ve realized is typically professional service companies like agencies grow through business development, relationships, attendance at trade shows and that sort of thing. Since we’ve got this lead channel on YouTube,
Paris Vega (17:27.898)
Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Ali Schwanke (17:48.73)
Our go teamwork at Motion is so much different than our competitors that we’re, we’re changing in mate, like how we offer those services. We’re offering a much more of a training perspective than a service delivery. So we’re still working through some of those, those motions, but, um, our growth is largely dependent on our ability to land and expand accounts now versus get giant retainers like HubSpot used to tell you to do back in like 2018.
Paris Vega (18:17.358)
And since you’re in the YouTube world, are you focused on kind of tweaking the YouTube SEO and looking at YouTube from that angle of trying to optimize from the SEO perspective? Can you talk a little bit about YouTube SEO?
Ali Schwanke (18:30.218)
Yeah, I think it’s an interesting time to be a marketer. I mean, probably every marketer in any, at any point in time has said that because things were always changing. But given the landscape of AI, YouTube is, YouTube’s having a silver, um, silver hay day for a while because you still can’t replicate someone’s face very authentically at this point. They’re working on technology. It’s coming. But I think that if you watch our videos, you can see the personalities that exist in our company.
Paris Vega (18:53.928)
Ali Schwanke (18:57.674)
as opposed to, you know, here’s an AI avatar showing you the features of this software. Like we’re inserting problem specific scenarios. We’re talking about, well, I was working with a client last week and they ran into this very issue and you know what they didn’t think about? You know, you’re just adding so much more rich context. So companies that lean into YouTube as a lead generation source, the best part about that is trust is built with interaction with value over time.
Paris Vega (19:04.568)
Ali Schwanke (19:25.822)
And so if I can accelerate a relationship by having, let’s say 10 meetings in two days, cause you watched 10 videos in two days, you feel like you know me and it’s like, we have sales close of people we’ve never met before cause they watched so many videos that we feel like we’ve already had that many meetings with them.
Paris Vega (19:49.186)
really cool. So you said interaction with value over time. Valuable interaction over time. Okay that makes a lot of sense and so you’re yeah you’re basically scaling yourself, decentralizing your ability to meet with your YouTube version of yourself. Your 24-7 salesperson that’s just out there talking to hopefully millions of people every day whenever they’re watching your videos and then they’re all
Ali Schwanke (19:51.01)
Paris Vega (20:17.326)
prepped and ready to close the deal by the time you actually meet with them.
Ali Schwanke (20:19.21)
Yeah. And I will say the thing we’ve learned, like if folks are looking to use YouTube as a lead generation mechanism, there’s probably three key factors they have to keep in mind. One is you may strike it big in creating a really great video that outperforms your competition, but it is a continual show up game. Like people continue to look for more content from you. So you just have to be in it for the long haul. And it’s not a.
I’ve done it for three months. This isn’t working. I should go somewhere else. Our behavior, especially nowadays is like, how many friends of ours do we have that are like, I’m launching a business. I’m doing a podcast. I’m launching a newsletter three months. Goodbye. And suddenly you’re like, well, where’s that newsletter? And like, yeah. Oh yeah. I don’t know. Like it is going to die it up. So everyone’s waiting for you to give up to be honest. Like they’re waiting for you to give up. The other thing is too many times I see businesses want to use video and they start their videos like this.
Hi, I’m Ali and I’m from such and such company. And today I’m going to whatever. You’ve already lost me because I don’t know you, you’re not interesting and I have no reason to keep watching. You introduce yourself after you’ve already made a connection with the prospective client about their pain. So if I were creating a video about HubSpot, I would say, if you’re using a spreadsheet to manage all of your leads and you’re not sharing that spreadsheet, do you know how many different pieces of multiple information you have across your organization?
Probably hundreds. What if you could do that all in one place? That’s the purpose of HubSpot. Today I’m gonna show you how to do blah, blah. So…
Paris Vega (21:49.546)
Paris Vega (21:54.818)
So I should have opened this video with, would you like to generate a thousand leads through your YouTube channel? Well, today we can get, there, I got you. Ha ha.
Ali Schwanke (21:59.158)
There you go. Yes. Yeah. And it’s funny, because in retrospect, you’re like, oh my god, duh. But that is the opposite of how we engage as humans one to one. When we go to a trade show or we go to an event, the natural thing is to introduce yourself. It’s how we interact. It’s not how video works, because the person can walk away from your conversation at any given time.
Paris Vega (22:08.055)
Paris Vega (22:24.802)
Throw on that value as soon as possible. Okay. And so you kind of jumped over one of my questions. I felt like and it could be just because of you guys focus more on just producing content and not tweaking on the SEO side of things. But do you guys like pay attention to the some of the tactical side of hey, you got to get the right tags in. We got to make sure we hit certain keywords in our description. Is that stuff even important from what you’ve seen or is it just about hey?
Ali Schwanke (22:24.991)
Paris Vega (22:53.698)
commit to the content production schedule and get out there and you’ll get traffic.
Ali Schwanke (22:57.03)
Yeah, the keywords are still as important if not more important, but I think sometimes just like traditional SEO, you know, people will have a piece of content and they’ll say, can you please optimize this so search engines can better find it? And like, it’s like taking like burned bread and being like, here, can you make this edible? You know, like, let’s talk about how to make the bread and put it in the oven at the right temperature first before we try to make it edible. So with
Paris Vega (23:17.283)
Ali Schwanke (23:24.234)
SEO on YouTube, people do search on YouTube differently than they search on Google, but some of those cross over. Because there’s video results on the cert page, you have to look at all those areas. What we typically do is we will take a topic. Let’s say that we’re going to create a video about how to do effective webinars. Let’s say that we know that people, boring webinars are the bane of everybody’s existence and every company on the planet wants to drive more leads, but most of the webinars are terrible.
So our video is going to be, we’re gonna look at all of the search strings that someone would use on Google, type it into Google and like let it pop into the Google auto suggest. What else does Google, what else are people searching for? It might be like how to do webinars that don’t suck. That’s a great title of a video, right? Do that on YouTube as well. See what else people search for. And then see what comes up as the top ranking videos on YouTube because clearly,
Paris Vega (24:14.187)
Ali Schwanke (24:22.686)
YouTube has figured out that this is the best answer we have at this time to this video. And what we’ll do is we’ll watch that video and we’ll say, does this truly answer the searcher’s question? How could we better answer this? Could it be shorter, better, more extensive, funny or interesting, whatever? How can we overcome this just like you would have written content? And then you have the title, the description, keywords, tags, hashtags, external links, chapters.
And then social sharing, like we have a document that it’s a template. We follow every single time and we fill it out every time, um, to make sure that we’re hitting all those, those things.
Paris Vega (25:04.418)
So do you also focus on things, another thing that’s kind of coming from the SEO world, like trying to flesh out certain topic clusters, does that kind of translate? Cause I know when you think about traditional SEO or webpage SEO, you think of, all right, YouTube, I mean, Google and YouTube have these EAT scores, the expertise, authority, experience, trust, all that. So they want you to flesh out that you have more knowledge on the topic.
Um, does that guide any of what you do? Or do you like just drill into the experiences that you’ve had with clients? Or is there a little strategy on like which topics that you cover?
Ali Schwanke (25:41.182)
Yeah, so we do have an editorial calendar and we are planning the topics around keyword propensity and popularity. Um, as well as you kind of got to balance that with like, we got to get a video out in the next seven days, what could I record in the next 30 minutes that I already know about, right? So there’s that, but I think, um, so digital marketer had a formula that they talked about, and so this is theirs. I won’t say that it’s mine, but they were talking about the bracelet and charm strategy.
Paris Vega (25:59.9)
Ali Schwanke (26:08.258)
So the bracelet is essentially like your pillar. It’s your center of your spoke. And then the charms are all the things around that. But they were talking about like, let’s say your video is the ultimate HubSpot demo video, or like how to use HubSpot. And so how to use HubSpot for professional services, how to use HubSpot for coaches, how to use HubSpot for. So you’re putting almost like a prepositional phrase, if that’s what it’s called, at the ends of your search, and those are your charms.
Paris Vega (26:23.105)
Paris Vega (26:30.627)
Ali Schwanke (26:37.378)
How we tend to look at it though, I would say that’s a great way to start if you’re starting. Pick a topic, stay there, and create the clusters around that topic because the goal is to drive rabbit hole behavior because YouTube will reward rabbit hole dwellers. And if you’re the person that offers the rabbit hole experience, your Alice in Wonderland strategy will get you more subscribers, more views, more whatever. We tend to create videos knowing that we can say in our video, today we’re talking about
Paris Vega (26:37.547)
Ali Schwanke (27:05.59)
HubSpot coding tools and this, that, and the other thing. Quoting tools can also be automated using workflows. We do have a video about workflows. Check the description for that link, blah, blah. And so we just kind of like, it’s almost like internal linking when you’re writing a blog. We’re verbally internal linking them to check the description for more details.
Paris Vega (27:19.414)
Paris Vega (27:25.702)
Okay. And so, all right, yeah, so each charm is a separate video that just goes deeper off of that main hub content. Okay. Yeah, so that’s a good way to think of internal links to other videos. All right.
Ali Schwanke (27:37.374)
And info cards are a way to do that too, but even as we’ve studied the behavior of people watching our videos, info cards account for 2% to 5% of our total traffic. So it’s not like we’re getting an absorbent amount of people. You tend to get more people from the suggested videos on the right-hand side of the page that YouTube serves. Yeah, if you’re doing a good job of staying on your lane, this is also the reason why when you launch a YouTube channel, it seems very, very boring to you.
Paris Vega (27:59.138)
Ali Schwanke (28:06.85)
but if you stay in your lane, you will be rewarded. So if I suddenly wanted to do, you know, interviews like this on our channel, I might have fun. Our current subscribers might be like, wait a minute, what is going on? You’re supposed to be giving me YouTube HubSpot tutorials, like cut it out, you know?
Paris Vega (28:12.91)
Paris Vega (28:26.482)
Right. Okay, and so if you’re creating all these like charm-like related content, then the suggested videos, since it’s gonna suggest things somewhat related to what you’re watching, you have a better chance of being in the suggested videos on the right side. Okay, and I guess it’s a mix of what you’re currently watching and what YouTube thinks is gonna keep you on YouTube longer. So your general interests kinda get mixed in there as well.
Ali Schwanke (28:48.49)
Yeah. And a good way to think about that is like, those are essentially your back links. Like if you’re thinking traditional SEO, your suggested videos are like your back links, like who’s, how was HubSpot or how is YouTube kind of vouching for you by giving you authority on more, you know, high dense areas of their platform. Essentially.
Paris Vega (29:07.874)
So when you first started putting up the videos, you said one of them took off. Were you doing all the keyword research and stuff at first, or was it just like, this is almost like a support, like a video support place that we’re just gonna send customers, or was it strategic from the beginning?
Ali Schwanke (29:23.466)
No, I would say the biggest piece of strategy that we deployed at the beginning was naming the video in a way that someone actually searches. So how to sync my Gmail with my HubSpot. Okay, there was no, it was so simple, stupid that I’m sure people were like, who needs a video to show you how to do that? And I was like, me, I’m a video learner. Yes, and there wasn’t, that’s the other thing is there wasn’t like a ton of traffic.
Paris Vega (29:45.438)
Right. Except for the people searching for that exact thing. Yeah.
Ali Schwanke (29:53.494)
Like that’s, I think that’s the hard part is you’re balancing this like intuition with what your search keyword results tells you because people just search all sorts of different ways and there might be like 25 variations of that search string and so altogether there might be 500 searches a month, but that one phrase says there’s 10.
Paris Vega (30:19.39)
you. Okay, now I’ve heard rumors like, you know, YouTube can scan all the verbal stuff that’s said during a video and so that is almost like some of the keywords, you know, the written content. This is the audio content so they read that transcript to kind of figure out what the video is about. So should we say any words out loud right now to help us improve our ranking? Do you guys do that kind of thing like you make sure the script hits, you know, certain keyword density or anything like that?
Ali Schwanke (30:40.151)
Ali Schwanke (30:47.858)
We, I literally have no idea the answer to that question. Like what I do know is we do not script our videos. We will outline the intro and the outro, and we will have key points you wanna hit on. But I think the reason why they’re successful is because they do appear that we’re talking to the camera and not reading something. And it does roll off as much more conversational. If we’re looking at…
transcribing it into an article or something of that nature, then maybe, but I don’t, we have not, we’ve put zero emphasis on saying the right words on the video, who knows, maybe I should try that, but at this point I’d say not a priority.
Paris Vega (31:32.802)
Just in case it works, I’m gonna say, watch this video to learn how to generate leads through your YouTube channel.
Ali Schwanke (31:37.238)
There you go. Yeah. I mean, I think that it’s interesting because there’s so many different places that are the tools that serve up content to go online are looking that. I mean, just like the Google algorithm, like it is a half of a half of a percent in our, in our algorithm. Right. So, um, yeah. And so like every single marketer, myself included, I wish there was just a freaking playbook, you can tell me exactly what to do, when to do it, how to do it. But if that was true,
Paris Vega (31:41.27)
YouTube lead generation.
Paris Vega (31:56.458)
Right, right, so many factors.
Paris Vega (32:04.236)
Ali Schwanke (32:06.41)
That would actually render it ineffective merely by everyone doing the same thing. So logically that doesn’t make any sense.
Paris Vega (32:14.498)
So we’re all gonna have to make the Mr. Beast face and our thumbnails.
Ali Schwanke (32:16.362)
I mean, if you look at the thumbnail that I released this week about our AI video, it’s me with these space-age glasses on looking at this little robot because that was the best that I could figure out how to show a content assistant AI. But thumbnails are very, very important.
Paris Vega (32:34.726)
Okay, can you talk a little bit about that? Your thumbnail generation strategy, your thumbnail design?
Ali Schwanke (32:38.442)
Yeah, our thumbnails feature our people that are in the videos. So if Will’s in a video or Tau’s in a video or myself’s in a video, we shoot the thumbnail and we always try to want to show something with humans talking about whatever HubSpot is. So we’ve got, um, like one of our, uh, videos two weeks ago was about merging duplicates in HubSpot. So one of our, Will shot the video. He shot himself like forward and backward. And then our graphic designer looked like he was merging himself into himself. Okay.
That’s interesting, but that also isn’t so off-brand that it’s like only clickbaity, but then no one stays around to watch the video. So we have to, we’ve maintained a look and feel so that you know that it’s our video when it pops up on the sidebar because we’ve now got so many people that follow HubSpot specific stuff that like our stuff has a look and a brand. We’ve got a whole brand guide for it. Like very, very important, but the thumbnails have to be, they can’t just be like my headshot.
Paris Vega (33:34.06)
Ali Schwanke (33:36.246)
smiling because you could use that one time but nobody wants to look at that again.
Paris Vega (33:41.054)
Yeah. Okay. And so you mentioned something there, you touched on something, how you don’t want to necessarily have click bait because I guess that could inflate your click through rate more than the actual content can hold. And so you could have like a higher drop off because you got a whole bunch of kind of spam clicks in a way. And then it hurts your retention rate. And that could, I guess, hurt the performance of the video overall.
Ali Schwanke (34:03.498)
Yeah, I mean, that will affect your average view duration terribly because your view duration will drastically decrease because people will bounce off when they realize it’s not as funny or whatever of a video as the thumbnail looks like it will be.
Paris Vega (34:18.286)
Huh. Yeah. I haven’t put hardly any effort into thumbnails. It’s literally, I try to find whatever the recommended thumbnails are that, that YouTube gives me. And it’s like, all right, here’s one of the guests. That’s not terrible. Let’s use that.
Ali Schwanke (34:21.474)
Ali Schwanke (34:32.414)
Yeah. And I mean, like for podcasting, you know, typically human faces, like if people recognize the person, like that’s important. I think that’s a hard thing. So when I, you and I mentioned earlier that I was part of the marketing association and spent some time on the leadership board there, both local and nationally. And we had a three part formula for putting on local events that would drive attendance. And it was hot topic, hot speaker, hot venue. If you could get two of those three,
Paris Vega (34:39.937)
Ali Schwanke (35:01.034)
You typically had a successful event. And so if you translate that and look at that into the YouTube world, if you have a hot topic and a hot technology, no one really needs to know about the speaker. But if you’re talking about like Facebook, which has been around for a long time, and you’re not necessarily talking about any new tech, you’re going to have to have someone like, you know, Rand Fishkin on your podcast, because people are just listening to whatever he says. He could talk about grilled cheese, but they will listen to what he has to say. Cause he’s Rand Fishkin, right?
Paris Vega (35:30.602)
Right. So it’s topic, personality, venue, or I guess that translate technology for the digital world. Okay, and you’re dropping gold nuggets all throughout this episode. This is good stuff. All right. So yeah, I think we can start to wrap it up. This has been awesome. Let’s imagine now like you’ve got a thousand of your target customers listening.
Ali Schwanke (35:35.714)
Ali Schwanke (35:41.142)
Paris Vega (36:00.638)
what’s that pitch or kind of the reason that they should use your service and maybe define who your target niche is.
Ali Schwanke (36:06.858)
Yeah. So ultimately, if you’re a HubSpot user in the organization, sales, marketing apps, whatever, like if you use HubSpot, there’s probably a couple of things you’re looking to get done. One is you want to be able to report better. You need to be able to make better decisions with your data. We find a lot of folks that are struggling to get that, or they don’t even know what’s possible. So that’s one area that, um, that we would help. Um, two would be there’s like, you know, you can do it internally, but let’s say that there’s the, we’re going to launch this, whatever it is, and it’s been on your list for like.
six months, 12 months, and you keep pushing it, you probably need an outside resource to move faster for you. So we’re gonna make that possible. And then we’ll just insert ourselves into your org if you need help staying the course. Like you wanna put on a monthly webinar series and you don’t know how to do that through HubSpot, we can do it soup to nuts and actually host and manage and market all of that for you. So usually it’s sales and marketing teams, about 20 employees, 500 is where we find our sweet spot. But if you’re a solo employer or solo penuer.
that has budget and looking for some help there, we can help you too.
Paris Vega (37:09.358)
And how should they reach out to you?
Ali Schwanke (37:09.846)
You can find us HubSpot hacks on YouTube. So search there. If you want to hit some free resources over on our website, simple strap.com. And then you can also find our webinars under that dropdown. And then, uh, I’m on LinkedIn pretty active over there. Ali Schwanke search for S C H W A N K E and you’ll find me.
Paris Vega (37:31.394)
Thank you so much for being here today, Ali, and we’ll see everybody next time.
Ali Schwanke (37:33.302)
Yeah. Thanks for having me.