I don’t remember the exact date I joined YouTube or when I first uploaded a video, but the oldest one on my oldest account was published on November 1, 2008 and was live footage from a Halloween show at K-Street Skate Park in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Man! Those were the days.
Now that I am starting from scratch as a solo artist, YouTube has been one of my primary marketing tools.
There is no denying the data. People prefer consuming video content.
YouTube was originally a search engine for user-generated videos.
Now with the launch of YouTube Red, it’s obvious YouTube has moved beyond being a search engine. They are now competing with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime as well as streaming music giants like Spotify and the recent merger of Beats + Apple with the launch of Apple Music.
But back to YouTube marketing and finding subscribers.
When I first created my YouTube channel, I followed the most obvious method for finding subscribers.
Subscribe to other channels
Back in 2007 I was mostly uploading footage from live shows because BUNKS was performing multiple times a month in Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and occasionally Nashville.
However, it was doing no good uploading videos with ZERO subscribers so I found other channels of people who appeared to be interested in Hip Hop or indie music and subscribed.
Back in those days people were more likely to subscribe back because YouTube was less saturated (imagine that). However, the technique worked and I built the BUNKS channel to over 500 subscribers.
Things were also different back then because YouTube’s design and algorithms were not as developed. Also, Google+ did not exist so there was no integration between YouTube and everything else Google owns.
In other words, it was easier to pull up a list of channels to subscribe to without having to load every single channel in order to click the subscribe button.
There was also a program called TubeBlasterPro which automated the process of subscribing to channels, sending messages, commenting on videos, and other activities users are able to do on YouTube’s platform.
You could search for a key phrase or pull up the subscribers of another channel, harvest a list of users to subscribe to, and the software would run in the background while you ate lunch, slept, or worked on another project.
If you try to find this program today you won’t have any luck. It no longer exists and if you happen to find a copy, it won’t work.
I stopped using this program years ago and consequently my subscribers stopped growing. Now that I’m back full swing into my YouTube marketing, I have discovered and tested new tools.
UPDATE: TubeToolbox has shut down. Their website now suggests you use TubeAssist for your automation needs. I discuss TubeAssist below.
I use TubeToolbox mainly for building subscribers on my channel. I have not spent a significant amount of time testing the other features such as messaging or comments. However, I do use TubeBuddy for following up with my new subscribers.
Automated actions performed by TubeToolbox include:
- Multi-feature sending
- Send messages
- Post comments on channels
- Post comments on videos
- Share video (with message)
- Subscribe to channels
- Unsubscribe from channels
You can also service multiple YouTube accounts using this software.
Before you can perform the automated actions above, you must first gather a list of users or videos you want to target with each action.
TubeToolbox gathers lists from these sources:
- Targeted spider search
- Gather users from page(s)
- Gather videos from page(s)
- Gather from search results (example: “alternative hip hop” or “surf rock”)
- Gather from User
Below is a screenshot of the Targeted Spider Search pop-up box.
The software also allows you to save your lists which comes in handy since you are limited on the amount of messages, subscribes and comments you can send per hour/per day. If you have a list with 100 or more users on it, you will have to perform the automated tasks in chunks.
Fortunately, the software provides a delay feature which allows you to set a minimum and maximum amount of time the software waits between each subscription or message send. Each time an action is performed, the timer will randomly choose a time between your minimum and maximum before executing the next action.
The software also provides an alert system that lets you know if you are in danger of setting off YouTube’s red flags before you find yourself in trouble.
TubeAssist (affiliate link) follows the same concept as TubeToolbox but instead of downloading an executable program to install, TubeAssist runs in the cloud.
This means instead of using the power and resources of your CPU, you can take advantage of the processing power of TubeAssist’s servers. It also means you don’t have to leave your computer running for your campaigns to be active.
I have yet to experiment with this service but it receives great reviews and claims to be the #1 rated tool for YouTube marketing. I feel confident recommending it to you despite the fact I am still using TubeToolbox.
Annotations, Cards, Calls-to-Action
The most obvious way to get someone to subscribe is to ask them. They might not always say yes but they will never know subscribing is an option if you don’t tell them.
When you upload a video to YouTube, you are able to add Annotations, which are the clickable colored bubbles and boxes you have seen while watching videos on YT.
Below is a screenshot of the Annotations editing screen inside YouTube’s Creator Studio.
More recently YouTube launched Cards which is another way of asking people to engage with more of your videos or direct them to visit your website.
Cards does not provide a “Subscribe” option but you can use them to encourage viewers to watch other videos from your channel, visit your website, support you through fan funding, or link directly to your music on iTunes or other verified merch sites.
In marketing, a call-to-action is exactly what it sounds like. It’s telling your fan, website visitors, YouTube viewers or show attendees what they can do to help support you. Or better yet, directing them to take the action you want them to take.
If you don’t tell people your merch table is in the back, they might not think to go visit it.
If you don’t tell them to visit your website, they probably will click on the next shiny thing that grabs their attention.
If you don’t tell them to subscribe to your YouTube channel, then they’ll just click over to the next video YouTube recommends (assuming they stick around to watch your entire video).
Below are some ideas for calling people to subscribe to your channel.
- Include YouTube in your EPK and promo materials along with your other social media channels.
- Include links from your website to your YouTube channel.
- Link to your YouTube channel in your e-mail signature.
- Use your mailing list to encourage fans to subscribe.
- When you are performing, pause during your set to tell people to pull out their phones, find you on YT, and subscribe to your channel.
Subscribe Link Trick
Instead of linking people to your YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/yourchannel; you can use the below link to automatically call the subscribe action into play.
Replace USERNAME with your channel name and put it to the test.
When you simply link to your YouTube homepage people have to take the extra step to click the subscribe button, but using the trick above makes it much easier to turn viewers into subscribers.
If you were paying attention to the details in my first screenshot of TubeTooblox, you’ll notice the advertisment for SubscriberTrain.com (referral link).
SubscriberTrain works like this…
You login to the site with your YouTube account.
You spend a ticket and you “ride the train”. The trainautomatically subscribes the first 5 riders to your channel. Then your ride is over.
There are also Featured Channel and Featured Video spots where you can place yourself to gain more exposure.
Although the site declares it has a strict policy against unsubscribing after using the service, probably 80-90% of the subscribers I have gained this way have unsubscribed.
In other words, the only time I’ve seen large numbers of unsubscribes in my YouTube analytics is when I was using this service on a daily basis.
This is my referral link but this service would be on my “last resort list” for finding new subscribers.
And of course you can always pay for subscribers.
When you buy views (or spend your marketing dollars) on YouTube using Virool or Google Adwords, people will always be quick to point out that you will also gain subscribers (assuming your content is worth subscribing to).
In my experience, I have never gained a significant amount of subscribers from Adwords or Virool (affiliate link) campaigns.
However, there are services that you can use to simply buy YouTube subscribers. The services listed below I have either 1) used with success or 2) am sharing with you because of they are the highest rated or best reviewed.
You can buy YouTube subscribers from the following services (* = affiliate links):
These services also sell views, followers, likes, and other social media marketing services.
BuxP (affiliate link) also allows you to earn money for clicking ads, watching videos, leaving YouTube comments, and other micro-jobs.
I have used BuxP to successfully generate thousands of views, hundreds of likes, and receive real comments on videos I have promoted in the past. The service has been around for quite a number of years and I list them here because they have stood the test of time.
If you have been wondering how to grow your YouTube channel by gaining more subscribers, then these tools will definitely get the job done.
However, this is only one small piece of the overall digital marketing pie. Subscribers do not equal fans or engagement.
Once you start gaining subscribers, it is up to you to follow up with those subscribers through messages, watching their videos and leaving comments, and uploading worthwhile content to your channel in order to convert subscribers and viewers into actual fans.
Why do I need subscribers then?
- Social Proof.
- Otherwise you sit in a lonely corner collecting digital dust.