by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter
Dr. Robert Wagstaff spent years trying to market his invention through traditional channels. He tried offering Orabrush, a breath-freshening tongue cleaner, through retailers, infomercials and other outlets without success.
Looking for ideas, he approached a marketing class in 2009 at a local university. The students told him that 92% of Orabrush's potential customers were unlikely to buy the product online and that he should avoid internet marketing.
But one of the students, Jeffrey Harmon, noted that the remaining 8% of the audience represented millions of people who might buy an Orabrush. Wagstaff liked Harmon's perspective. He connected with him outside of class and eventually hired him to market Orabrush part-time.
"Once I knew that 90% of bad breath came from your tongue and that using the tongue scraper could get this gunk off, I thought this was a really cool idea," Harmon says.
While testing marketing ideas, Harmon found a YouTube video titled "How to tell if you have bad breath." He received permission from the video's publisher to add it to an Orabrush landing page and test the response.
"That video boosted our conversion rate by three times," Harmon says.
Excited by the results, he recruited a small team to create Orabrush's own "bad breath test video." That video has since received more than 13 million views on YouTube, and 19% of those viewers have visited Orabrush's website.
Harmon is now CMO at Orabrush. His team has spent two years building the company's YouTube page into a full-blown inbound marketing hub. YouTube is Orabrush's primary marketing channel and represents 80% of its marketing, he says.
Since the launch of that first video, businesses from more than 40 countries have inquired about becoming Orabrush distributors. Other results include:
o More than 35 million YouTube channel views
o More than 116,000 YouTube subscribers (second only to OldSpice among YouTube sponsor channels)
o Up to 10x increase in landing page conversion rates by adding Orabrush videos to landing pages
o More than 271,000 Facebook fans (driven mostly from YouTube)
o Orabrush’s sales volume in stores is comparable to premium toothbrush sales
Orabrush grew its YouTube strategy from scratch through experimentation, hard work and innovative marketing. Below, we outline the key tactics that the team used to build its inbound strategy.Tactic #1. Create an effective YouTube page
Standard YouTube channel-pages have a basic template with videos, comments and profile information. Orabrush's page has a customized look that includes:
o Image-based background
o Image-based navigation buttons to video categories
o A second video player below the primary player
o A "try it now" button to order a free Orabrush
o Twitter sharing button
Harmon painstakingly researched successful YouTube channels and tested their tactics. The resulting page is a combination of the best tactics he and his team have uncovered (see creative samples below).
- Doubles as a shareable landing page
The middle of Orabrush's YouTube page features a second video player and a large "try it now" button. When clicked, the button reveals a widget that encourages visitors to follow the brand in social networks and visit Orabrush's site for a free trial.
Since the team can code links to automatically scroll to this section when visitors arrive, this section doubles as a landing page. It also includes a Twitter-sharing button that generates a link to the landing page in the following tweet:
"Bad Breath Test: http: //t.co/NKvCczU via @orabrush"
- Sponsors have more leeway
Standard YouTube channels cannot add linkable header images, buttons in videos, or buttons on their channel-pages. Orabrush has greater flexibility over its page because it is a high-level YouTube sponsor and buys a good amount of advertising on the network, Harmon says. Tactic #2. Create more than one type of video
Orabrush's channel features three types of videos, each with a specific purpose.
- Conversion videos
As the name suggests, these videos are designed to encourage conversions. The team includes them on landing pages, and they can dramatically increase conversion rates, Harmon says.
Harmon calls the videos "edu-tainment." Each entertains and teaches viewers about Orabrush and topics such as bad breath. They include calls-to-action, typically as a button embedded in the video or as text (see creative samples below). Types of calls-to-action include:
o Visit team's site to purchase or request a free brush
o Locate a nearby store with Orabrush
o Watch another of the team's videos
o Download the team's iPhone app
o Share the video on Facebook or Twitter
o Connect with Orabrush on Facebook or Twitter
Some videos end with multiple buttons that combine up to four calls-to-action (see creative samples).
- Engagement videos
A YouTube audience must be engaged. The team fills this requirement, in part, by consistently uploading enjoyable videos.
The videos are funny. Many feature Orabrush's human-tongue mascot joking with people about the product. These 'engagement' videos often end with buttons to view more videos or subscribe to Orabrush's YouTube channel.
- Customer reviews
Customer testimonials are powerful. Orabrush hosts more than two-dozen of them on YouTube, but Harmon's team did not create them or plan to, he says.
Instead, the reviews were a fluke. Harmon gave an Orabrush to a friend and in exchange for a written review (several customers had written mini-reviews on Orabrush's Facebook page). Harmon's friend, a film buff, created a video review instead and Harmon uploaded it to YouTube
"After that, these reviews just started pouring in," Harmon says. "Tons and tons of video reviews came from people all over the world who had tried the product and wanted to tell people about it."
(Note: Be sure to check with your legal department about the Federal Trade Commission's recently-updated guidelines on testimonials in advertising)Tactic #3. Commit to consistency
Harmon thoroughly researched how successful YouTube channels operated. He found that video length, quality and subject matter were only loosely related to success. The big factor, he says, was consistency.
"I realized that they constantly engaged their fans."
Again and again, he saw that publishers who created content that interested their audiences on a weekly basis had huge followings. The challenge, though, was creating enough content to maintain a weekly schedule.
- Work in advance
Orabrush sets its publishing calendar several months in advance, Harmon says. He works with a tight-knit group of writers and video experts to publish at least one video per week -- every week.
"I have talked to a lot of 'YouTubers' who took a break for a couple of months. Going back, it takes them forever to get back to where they were," he says.
- Ad algorithm favors weekly video
Similar to Google, YouTube's ads are matched to search results and their placement is based on an algorithm. Harmon has noticed that videos over one week old are not promoted as often as newer videos, he says.
- The costs can kill you
Video production can be expensive and a weekly schedule can drive costs to the moon. Be sure to set a strict budget or you'll risk running out of resources to keep up.
Orabrush avoids overspending on sets, props or special effects. The team also recruits low-cost, high-value talent from the nearby Brigham Young University film program. That said, the team did invest in a good camera, lens and lights to give the videos a professional feel.Tactic #4. Content has to interest the audience
Let's face it -- no one is going to subscribe to a YouTube channel that has boring videos, no matter how often they're published.
The key to making good videos is to make them interesting to your audience. Videos do not have to be of the highest quality and their finer points, such as length, are not as important as their appeal, Harmon says.
Each Orabrush video is entertaining and explains a product that most consumers have never heard of. These factors, combined with the team's persuasive calls-to-action, encourage viewers to subscribe and share with friends.
- Ads were a catalyst
The team boosted its performance by purchasing ads in YouTube's Promoted Videos program.
The ads were "crucial" to attracting visitors, Harmon says. Once they arrived, it was up to the team's content to convince viewers to subscribe and share with friends.
"The real key is making sure you have enough 'virality' and enough engagement and interest that you can stretch those clicks," Harmon says.Tactic #5. Engage fans and peers
YouTube is a social network that includes profiles, comments and updates. The network's users expect interaction. Here are three ways Orabrush connects with its audience:
- Responding and moderating
Although the team gets far too many comments to respond to them all, Orabrush makes it a point to reply to as many as possible.
Also, Harmon notes that YouTube has many "haters" who troll the network looking for nasty things to say.
"I moderate comments for about the first half of the day. Then once you get the haters weeded out of the first few hundred comments, then no more come usually."
- Use ideas and give "shout-out"s
Orabrush will sometimes ask fans questions, such as to which family members viewers would give an Orabrush and why. The team also mines viewer comments for content ideas.
"When we first made the Orabrush video, everybody was saying they didn't know exactly how to use [the product]. So we made a how-to Orabrush video."
A key part of using fans' ideas, Harmon says, is to give credit to them in the videos they inspire. This shows your fans that you're paying attention to them, you value them, and you think they're smart.
- Interact with fellow publishers
There are hundreds of YouTube channels with large followings and Orabrush makes it a point to make friends and interact with peers.
For example, when the team started receiving unsolicited video user reviews, it sent several free Orabrushes to Juicystar07, a beauty-focused YouTube publisher with a large following. She loved the product and posted a video review. Afterward, even more user-generated reviews poured in. Useful links related to this article
1. Orabrush YouTube Channel page
2. Landing-page portion of Orabrush's YouTube Channel Page
3. Landing-page widget
4. Video with footer overlay ad
5. Video -- end with call-to-action buttons
6. YouTube sponsors channels listed by subscribers
Members Library -- Interactive Video Ad Campaigns: 5 tips to use enhanced functionality for improved response
Members Library -- Improve Search Visibility with Video: 5 strategiesPowerful Viral Videos from Old SpiceSocial Media Marketing: Interview with Kodak's Chief Listening Officer
comScore: U.S. Online Video Viewing, April 2009
Orabrush's YouTube Links:
1. Channel Homepage
2. Bad Breath Test video
3. Commercials / "Conversion" videos
4. Engagement videos
5. Customer review videosYouTube: Promoted Videos (Ads)JuicyStar07's YouTube ChannelBrigham Young UniversityOrabrush