YouTube’s recent rollout of their new Cards feature was initially met with some skepticism (as most new features are). But now that we’ve had a little over a month to play with them and measure their impact, Cards are proving to be a game changer for engaging with fans and cross-promoting your content. A few fundamental changes make all the difference and the new features are already showing a climbing engagement and click-through rate.
The new Cards feature is designed for engagement. Card icons are accessible at any time during playback by hovering over the video (or tapping on mobile). You can choose a point at which to add a call-to-action popout, but being able to click at any point lets the user engage at will. This more user-driven approach is already seeing higher click-through rates than classic annotations, most averaging 10% compared to classic annotations closer to 1%.
Cards also introduce custom images for certain types of links (listed below). If you’re using an associated website or merch card, you can select a custom image to include in the card’s expanded view. By default, this will pull in images that are most applicable from the URL provided (cover art for links to iTunes for example), but you can upload any image you’d like. This is a great way to let users see a preview of where your links are taking them. Because this expanded view doesn’t interrupt playback, viewers can explore without stopping their viewing session.
The most beneficial feature of Cards is their functionality on mobile devices. Remember, annotations don’t work on mobile at all. Also, descriptions are very rarely seen on mobile which makes links in this area less impactful. When viewers watch a YouTube video on their mobile device, it’s almost always in fullscreen mode which hides the description entirely. With half of all YouTube views occurring on mobile, you end up fragmenting your click-through rate by relying solely on description links. When deciding what to link to in the cards you’re using, think about where that link will take your user next on their device. Is the destination just as mobile-friendly as the video they just came from?
Like any new feature, you’ll want to experiment a bit to find what works best for your content. Try different Card types and calls to action. Do fans engage more with links to your merch or more of your videos? Check your channel’s analytics to see how each type of card is performing and review some of our suggestions below:
- Link to additional info: tours, press, blog, etc.
- Link directly to merch or donations available at your domain
- Here’s how to add an associated site to your channel
- Add short copy about the project or cause. How will funds help?
- Ask fans to help fund your next creation
- Here’s a full list of approved fundraising sites
- Add a preview image of product
- What merch is relevant to your videos? Albums, tickets, t-shirts?
- Here’s a full list of approved stores
Video or Playlist
- Point to the next video or episode in a series
- Feature priority videos relevant to other content on your channel
- Extend watch-time by pointing to playlists