Growing Your Email List with YouTube

Producing video content on YouTube? Find out how you can build an engaged audience and turn your viewers into email subscribers.

If you’re producing content for YouTube, you already know the benefits of the platform. Every day, viewers watch hundreds of millions of hours of video content on YouTube – and every year viewing stats increase at an astounding rate.

While YouTube is the undeniable King of Video on the Internet, it can still be a bit of a passive experience. If you have a product or service to sell, you need engaged viewers who don’t just watch your content, but act on it as well.

With email marketing, it becomes easier to build a loyal audience for not only your YouTube channel, but your business as well. While there are a number of benefits for using video in your marketing strategy, we’re going to look at different ways to encourage viewers to sign up to your email list and increase engagement.

But first, let’s take a look at why tying email marketing to your video strategy is important in the first place.

Using email marketing to engage your viewers.

Email is still one of the best ways to keep in touch with an audience. Why? Because it allows you to connect with them in a place they check every day: their inbox.

While YouTube does send email digests about your content to your subscribers, it also contains content from other channels to which they’re subscribed. And not only will your content have to compete with others, viewers also have the option to turn off these email notifications altogether.

When you have your own email list, you’re able to communicate exclusively with an audience of engaged viewers who enjoy watching your videos and are interested in your products or services. With email, you can let viewers know when a new video is released, or share other content they might find valuable, such as a blog post or ebook. And as you build trust with your subscribers, you can use email to educate them about your products and their benefits.

It’s simply a win-win.

Building your email list on YouTube.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to turn your YouTube viewers into email subscribers. Let’s begin with step number one.

1. Create engaged video viewers.

When you have a loyal YouTube audience who enjoys your content and looks forward to new videos you post, they’ll be more willing to receive communication from you on other channels. To develop your fanbase, there are three key factors that will be essential to your success: consistency, on-screen personality and communication.

  • Consistency: Video should not be a one-off pursuit. Instead of producing just one great video, you need to continually create great video content that keeps viewers coming back. Develop a content schedule so viewers will know when to expect new episodes in your series.
  • On-Screen Personality: With video, your voice and on-camera appearance are important to making a connection with your audience. Are viewers coming back just because your topic is interesting, or because you’ve explained it in a fun way and added some humor? Develop an on-camera personality that invites people to become repeat watchers.
  • Communication: Every time you produce a video, you need to let people know it exists. While videos are super-shareable on social, they may quickly disappear from your fan’s feeds. When you have a way to keep in contact with your viewers, such as email, you can let them know every time you release a new video.

2. Encourage viewers to sign up to your list.

While your video content should help influence a viewer to sign up to your email list, that might not be enough to get them to subscribe. To get them to sign up, try offering an incentive such as a free ebook, coupon or exclusive video in exchange for their email address.

If you’re a photography blogger, you might give away a free ebook of your favorite photos with how-to tips on camera gear and settings. Or a clothing store owner might offer an exclusive discount to your email subscribers that can be redeemed on their first purchase. Whatever you decide to offer, it should relevant to your niche and deliver additional value to your subscribers.

3. Make it easy to subscribe to your email list.

Turning a viewer into an email subscriber isn’t always easy, but don’t be afraid to talk about your email list directly in your video. If you feature yourself on camera, tell you viewers about your incentive and encourage them to sign up for your email list to receive it.

YouTube also has some tools that will display text within the video, and they’re perfect for capturing your viewer’s attention. Here are my favorites:


Cards, which are visible in the YouTube player on both desktop and mobile devices, are an interactive element that are overlaid on top of your YouTube video. On a desktop, cards will be displayed first as a teaser with a line of text. The link will still be accessible when viewers hover their cursor over the video player and click the “info” icon.

youtube-card-resized 2

Here are the elements you can customize on a card:

  • Website URL: You can link your card to any URL associated with your Google account. To prevent abuse, verify that you own the domain you are linking to by either uploading a small file to the root of your website, or verifying through your Google Analytics account. You can add URLs to your account through the Advanced Settings panel of your YouTube account.
  • Title/Headline: This should be descriptive of the page to which you’re linking. In this case, it should mention your offer and your email list. This is displayed when the card is clicked either from the teaser or the “info” icon.
  • Call to Action: This text will display below the title/headline on the full card. This text should motivate viewers to click your offer, such as “Sign Up Now” to promote urgency.
  • Image: You can upload your logo or an image to support your offer here. Images are displayed as squares, so you’ll need to format your image accordingly.

You can also control when the teaser text is overlaid on your video by moving the card around the timeline of your video, as shown below:


Annotations are another way to add interactivity to your videos. With annotations, you can add a text block on top of your video, position it and link it to your sign up form.

youtube-annotation-resized 2

There are a number of display options such as a speech bubble, title, spotlight, label and note. If you’re in the video, clickable annotations come in handy because you can physically point to it so people won’t miss it.

Do note that annotations only display on desktops, so your mobile viewers won’t see anything in that space if you’re pointing to it. Annotations can also be turned off by viewers in the player settings.

Here are the elements you can customize on an annotation:

  • Website URL: Just like cards, you can link an annotation to any URL associated with your Google account.
  • Text: Customize a message to encourage people to sign up to your list. Be sure to highlight your offer. Try something such as “Subscribe to our email list and get a free ebook!”
  • Text Size: You can change the size of the text to maximize its impact, but be careful of overwhelming your viewers by making it too big.
  • Label Color: You can also customize the color of the background label on many of the annotation types, which is great for matching your brand/video colors.
  • Start & End Times: These values determine how long your annotation is displayed. Reference the time indicator in the YouTube player to determine when your annotation should begin and end.
  • Reposition: You can drag and drop the annotation so that it is positioned where it will be most effectively viewed.

Description Text

The description text of your YouTube video allow for your people to find it in search, but be sure to mention your email list and incentive (if you offer one). An effective description should accurately describe the content of your video, and link to your website and sign up form.

If you’re using tracking links in your description text, consider using a URL shortener such as the one provided by Google or Bitly, as the full URL will be displayed in the description.

4. Create an email and video strategy.

Once you’ve captured the email addresses of your YouTube viewers, you’ll need an autoresponder series that welcomes them to your list. This is also a good opportunity to share more information about yourself and what subscribers can expect from your emails. If you promised an incentive such as a free download, be sure to deliver that as well.

Aside from providing a welcome autoresponder series, you can keep in touch with subscribers by sending one-time broadcast emails every time you upload a new video to YouTube. These broadcasts can be much more personal than the automated emails that YouTube generates, and you can customize the message to include additional information about your paid products as well.

Turning your viewers into valuable subscribers.

YouTube is a great platform for attracting new people to your brand. And when you add email marketing to the mix, you gain a unique opportunity to build an engaged and loyal audience.

Now that you have the tips you need to turn your YouTube viewers into subscribers, you’re ready to get started!

Have you found success turning your YouTube viewers into loyal email subscribers? Tell us about it in the comments!


  1. Esther Hughes

    9/25/2015 8:45 am

    This is fantastic information and easy to follow and implement! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Bryan Ripley

    9/29/2015 8:57 am

    A good informative post to read. Its true that you tube helps to increase branding of your company and you get many subscribers who will be waiting for next updates.

  3. Sabrina

    10/14/2015 10:02 pm

    Nice article and video. Thank you for sharing!