YouTube Cards and End Screens give your viewers a call to action and make your YouTube channel more effective in turning viewers into fans.
As you’ve no doubt realized, in today’s music industry, fans aren’t made overnight. It takes multiple touch points to get them invested in your career – and YouTube is perfect for that.
At its core, YouTube is a big fan-nurturing funnel. Your goal is not only to get new people clicking through to your video, but also to get those people to watch the entire video (i.e. not clicking off to watch yet another cat video) and to give you permission to contact them again – whether by subscribing to your channel, following you on social media, or signing up for your email list.
Let’s break this down. At the top of the funnel you have YouTube traffic, people who found your videos via search or a referral from a friend. While it is awesome that these people are watching your video out of the millions of other videos on the platform, those views won’t be worth much to you in the long run unless you can convert them into fans – people who will keep coming back and maybe even buy some music, merch, or tickets someday.
That’s where call to actions come in, and where YouTube Cards and End Screens can be so effective.
What is a call to action?
A call to action is a direct request asking your fans to take some further action. This could be asking them to subscribe to your YouTube channel, follow you on social media, leave a comment, like your video, watch something else, or even check out your store or website.
Aside from making sure you have your titles, tags, and thumbnails right, adding various call to actions in your videos is the best way to get new viewers and seasoned subscribers to stick around and keep engaging.
Now, I know that directly asking your viewers and fans to do something can feel a little uncomfortable, so let’s quickly look at why it’s so important.
Platforms like YouTube are rife with distractions and most people will just move on after watching your video. If you let a new viewer fall through the cracks, they may never find your channel again. It may seem overly simple, but in most cases, just asking for an action is enough to get people to do it. So be clear about what you want them to do and how you will deliver on whatever promise you make.
Let’s go through two easy ways to add call to actions into your videos. Try them out for yourself and use your YouTube analytics to see how much of a difference they make in your videos’ overall performance.
Think of YouTube Cards as the new and improved (and less annoying) version of annotations, with the added bonus that they actually work on mobile. You can add cards that will link to another video or playlist, other channels, your website, or a non-profit donation site. You can even create in-video polls for your fans.
When using cards, your best bet is to keep it relevant. In other words, you only want a few YouTube Cards per video and you want them to pop up at the right time to increase the chance that your fans will actually engage with them or click through.
Here’s an example. If you were uploading a cover video, you could add a card suggesting your fans watch another cover of yours in a similar genre. Pop the card in towards the end of the video (you don’t want people clicking off your video early on), so they can keep engaging after the video ends.
Another idea is to use polls to get your fans involved. In that same cover video you could ask your fans what song you should cover next. Place it towards the beginning of the video, give them a few options, and cover the winner the following week. As an added bonus, people who take the time to vote are much more likely to subscribe and tune in next time to see their feedback in action.
Another powerful call to action at your disposal is the End Screen. These are essentially screens that you place at the end of your videos directing people to subscribe, check out other videos or playlists, or just engage further. The people who watch all the way to the end are the most dedicated, so you want to make sure you have this call to action there for them.
In the past you actually had to create End Screens with annotations and video editing, but now there’s a cool feature built right into YouTube video uploader that streamlines the process to a few clicks.
The first thing you need to decide is what you want your End Screen to accomplish. You should always have a “subscribe” button, but do you want to drive people to your other cover videos? Your original music? Your gear reviews? You can also add additional elements, like a link to your website where people can sign up for your email list and purchase your songs and whatever else you come up with, so keep that in mind.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you have a few seconds of space at the end of your video for the end screen. Your best bet is to record a short voiceover asking the viewers to subscribe and check out your other covers or original music. Tell them what they can expect from you if they subscribe. How often do you upload? What kind of videos do you upload? Keep it fun and focused on all the cool stuff they get for subscribing.
It could be as simple as, “Thanks for watching. If you enjoyed this you can click here to check out my cover of ‘Uptown Funk,’ and make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. I upload a new cover once a week and an original once a month.”
Finally, you want to upload your video to YouTube. Open up the “End Screen and Annotations” tab, drop your elements in, and time them appropriately. You can use the pre-made templates available or drag and drop the elements you need right in.
The next time you upload a video to YouTube, add a few of these call to actions. They’re pretty painless to set up, and could potentially have a big impact on making your YouTube channel more effective.
Dave Kusek is the founder of New Artist Model and Berklee Online. Over the years he’s worked with tens of thousands of musicians around the world across every genre imaginable and in many different markets. New Artist Model is an online music business school designed especially for indie musicians. Learn how to turn your music into a career, understand the business, and start thinking like a musical entrepreneur.
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