Stewart Britt, a well-known American marketing specialist, once said: 'Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does'. We can't agree more because it is not enough to just produce something – you need to tell people about it so that they can use it. So while the PVS-Studio developers are working hard on the analyzer's improvement and stable operation, marketing department takes responsibility for an equally important task – its promotion. We are planning to continue working in this direction and document the results. If you have your own YouTube channel and you feel that your audience would be interested and glad to learn about code quality improvement, we'll be happy to work with you! Feel free to contact us: we are looking for C, C++, C#, Java, DevOps, testing and quality code related blogs.
We also have a YouTube channel, where we post our conference talks and educative lectures in Russian. Over time, however, we decided to search some other blogs where our company could be mentioned. In this article, we will share our experience in collaborating with video bloggers.
My name is Yuliya and I've been working at PVS-Studio for more than a year already. I am a SMM specialist – the very person that makes posts on company's social media accounts, targets ads and manages advertising campaigns on other platforms. Recently, I have been actively working with YouTube bloggers so this article is kind of a small report on the work done.
First of all, we'd like to tell a little about our company because its scope of activity is quite narrow and specific. We develop the PVS-Studio static code analyzer – a tool for detecting errors in code written on C, C++, C# and Java. It works under 64-bit systems in Windows, Linux and macOS. The benefit of using the tool that helps improve code quality and save programmer's time and efforts seems to be obvious. However, some programmers' conservative attitude and mistrust make things more complicated.
Our target audience are developers, namely those who program in the languages supported by our analyzer. Apparently, not all of the social media networks are good for reaching developers. They are either very picky users or don't have online profiles at all :). That's why apart from managing accounts on various platforms and collaborating with websites and podcasts we decided to focus on video bloggers and see what programmers can learn on YouTube.
We have already done that before but the approach was rather fragmented. This year, it has been decided to resume and take on the task thoroughly. The first thing we did was making up a list of bloggers that film videos on programming. It turned out to be long and it is constantly expanding. There are both foreign and Russian bloggers although the percentage of the first ones is much higher.
Since our product covers quite narrow audience, placing ads on popular and hyped channels doesn't work for us: it's just a budget waste with a zero result. So, over time, we have expanded the list of keywords describing our niche for advanced search of new channels. For example, we searched programming languages and integration methods that we support, names of checked projects and rival companies in the same field. That is, we were oriented towards narrowly focused channels where we could definitely reach our target audience. Those channels tend to be small and not that hyped.
After gathering all the contacts comes the hard part. And no, it's not the part when we discuss things – it's our attempts to contact and interest a person. Do we have to mention that almost 70-80% of the emails remain unanswered? However, we don't lose our hope because a person can, for example, read the email and simply forget to reply. So you shouldn't give up that quick – just try to email one more time or use another address. In an email, we briefly tell about ourselves and how the product can benefit the world. We also give the links to our website and offer cooperation. The content of the email may vary depending on the channel's main focus: Java programming, tutorials, game development, etc. But overall, in the past six months we have developed a certain email template that makes it much easier to do.
Usually if an answer is received we can be sure that the person is interested in us because all we mention is our product. We don't specify things – we just offer a collaboration. And only then, when we can see that the person is interested we offer our advertising options, although we are always ready to consider bloggers' suggestions. It's important to keep in mind that they know their audience better and what type of videos gets more views.
If a blogger fully relies on us, we send an ad script with the website link and a promo code. If he or she offers to make an ad based on his/her own experience in product using we send a 7-day trial key and keep waiting for the feedback occasionally contacting them.
There were times when a blogger, for the sake of convenience, suggested to make a call via Skype to discuss ad details and ask some questions about the analyzer. It took us:
That definitely saved our time because we managed to understand each other better and clarify all the things right away. But not all bloggers can be reached directly – some of them have managers. That makes the task difficult to complete and postpones it indefinitely. For example, to contact a manager of a blogger from Canada we had to schedule our call on a special platform called Zoom. Considering the time difference (our company is based in Tula, Russia) there were only evening hours available for us. Then we had to wait until the manager would tell everything we discussed to the blogger. You should take all of that into account and just be patient.
When we contact bloggers we already have an idea of how much we are ready to pay. The price comes from the channel activity and not from the amount of subscribers. However, we ask them to send a media kit if they have one. Usually, the ones that are actively advertising on their channels already have it and all you have to do is either choose an available option or postpone collaboration. Others may not have a clear vision on how much an ad should cost so they let us decide.
The first option that we offer is 30-60 seconds pre- or mid-roll ad. The average price for that is $70-$300 because, as we have said earlier, we work mainly with small channels. A blogger tells about the analyzer and puts the links to the download page and an article, if one is involved, to the video description.
As for the links, we send them in Bitly format to track the clicks. It is a very useful website where it takes you a couple of seconds to create a short link that also shows the number of clicks, date and country they came from. Considering new GDPR policy which prohibits tracking the number of people who didn't give a permission to process data, this website may be a lot of help.
Besides that, we ask bloggers both to say a promo code in the video and put it in the description. It is very important because that's how we track the number of people who decided to try our product. And if the website provides only a 7-day trial key, a promo code gives you an opportunity to use the analyzer for a month.
Here is an example of the video description:
The second option is a video review. In this case, we give absolute freedom to bloggers because it's important that we get an outside perspective. We ask them to send the video before uploading it, of course, to make sure there are no actual factual mistakes. However, everything tends to be clarified in the process of making a video. The price depends on a video length and channel activity. A video description includes the same information.
There are three main criteria for evaluating the efficiency of a collaboration:
As we have already said, we use Bitly for the second criterion. But the most important thing for us is, of course, the number of downloads. That's how we decide whether we will continue collaboration or not. But even though a result is not that impressive we try different types of ad to know for sure.
In the whole time we've been working with 18 video bloggers we got one leader: the video was viewed 11,500 times, 916 people visited our website and 40 of them used the promo code to download the analyzer. As you may guess, we are still working with that blogger and a new video is about to come out. Video made by another blogger, by comparison, gave us only 2 downloads out of 500 website clicks with the same number of views. Although the latter one has twice as much subscribers as the first one.
We've worked both with big and small channels. For example, one of them, despite having only 1000 subscribers and addressing a very narrowly focused topic, has our target audience. Therefore, the number of subscribers is no guarantee of success.
YouTube seems to have content for any kind of audience. As for programmers, there are quite a lot of interesting videos: from the lifestyle ones to the tutorials. So if you want to spend some quality time there and learn something new we suggest that you look through the list.
We still have a lot to work on but in these six months, we have shaped a strategy plan, which allows us to get a desirable result. So what have we learned at this point?
You should be ready to spend a lot of time waiting. On average, it takes a week to discuss everything via email and one more week for a blogger to try the product if he/she asks to. Then it takes two weeks to make a video. The most important thing here is to be patient and stay in touch with the person because usually there is no deadline indicated. Bloggers are artists :)
One of the main criteria of successful ad campaign is a blogger interested in taking part in it and concerned with its quality. The first thing we do when contacting a blogger is giving brief information about our company and putting some relevant links. If they say that they are interested and won't mind trying the product we know that the collaboration will probably be successful and productive.
The number of subscribers is not a guarantee of success. Everyone already knows that but we have been convinced of that once more. It's better to consider a channel activity: number of views and comments.
However, tons of views may also give no result. You should consider the audience and the way the information is presented which may be the reason people subscribed the channel. Sometimes you should rely on a blogger and stop insisting on your terms.
Promo code is everything. I guess, no explanation needed here: we just offer a month trial key for those who watched the video and evaluate the channel efficiency as well.
The first shot won't always be illustrative so it's important to give it another try using another ad format.
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