How to easily add YouTube cards to YouTube videos to drive clicks

Estimated read time: 6 minutes


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Driving clicks results from anywhere is usually a goal for marketers. Yes, there’s value in brand awareness. But if we can get people to click over to our landing page and maybe buy something that’s even better!

On websites we add links in articles to drive people to next steps. On podcasts we may ask our listeners to text us for a deal or to subscribe.

In YouTube videos you can verbally ask people to do something. Especially when the call to action is embedded contextually in educational content it can work. I even do this myself. I ran a session in the Agora Pulse Summit on how to create a content performance culture.

As you can see in the video I even hold up my book as a very gentle reminder that you can also read about the topic in there. 

Verbal call to  actions do take work on the user part. Even when they hear me and see the book title, now they have to go to Google or Amazon and search for “Content Performance Culture.”

A clickable call to action makes that user experience and flow easier. That’s where YouTube cards come in.

What are YouTube cards?

Another way to add calls to action to your YouTube video is YouTube cards. YouTube cards are basically calls to action that show up on screen – usually in the top right corner. In this example, below the YouTube card CTA reads “Don’t wait to learn.” I later changed that to “Get the book now” to be clearer. “Don’t wait to learn” could be a link to an online course or a reminder to keep watching the video.

YouTube cards example

Once clicked the YouTube card shows more content and can be clicked on to a landing page:

YouTube cards extended example

What I love about YouTube cards

I can easily add them at the right spots in the video within context:

  • Talk about my book, add a card to my book landing page
  • Talk about podcasting, add a link to a blog post that dives deeper into the issue
  • Need to share a visual that wasn’t shared on-screen, link to it?

Adding links to more visuals is kind of cool. As you can see in the video, I didn’t use a PowerPoint or any visuals – other than my hands. That’s because I was recording on an iPad and I couldn’t figure out how to add a PowerPoint while the iPad was also recording me. The session still received 5-star reviews.

How to add YouTube cards to your videos

I wasn’t able to do this from the iPad YouTube app, but it did work from Safari and by going to YouTube.com. Sometimes it can be a hassle to stop the iPad from trying to open in the app. If you are on a laptop or desktop that’s not a problem for you.

Go to your channel

Click on YouTube Studio

YouTube studio

Click on videos (1)

Then hover – or gently tap – over the video to get the edit button to appear (2)

How to edit a video in YouTube Studio

 

Click on CARDS in the bottom right to get the screen to add cards

Once in the video you get the ADD CARD button on the right. Before clicking on that, go to the time code where you want to add the card. If you are at 0:00 the card will show up directly at the beginning.

One strategy might be to watch your video again and think about what other content you have that you can link to on your associated website. You can add links via cards to:

  • Other videos
  • Playlists
  • Other YouTube channels – a good strategy if you interview or mention another YouTuber or company with YouTube channel
  • Your approved associated website
  • Approved merchandising sites
  • Approved crowdfunding sites

You can also run polls.

YouTube cards example

My YouTube channel’s associated website is Authenticstorytelling.net so I can add cards linking to here with no problem. YouTube doesn’t just let us link to any website but only to things internal to YouTube or approved external sites.

Once I’m in the right spot in the video, I click ADD CARD and that I want to insert a link to my associated website.

For some reason, the http and not the https URL of my site shows up. In this use case that doesn’t seem to be a huge issue as the http click just gets forwarded to the https version. But the first time I added the page link to the URLs and used the https version in that field, YouTube gave me an error. The https version is not technically the linked site.

You can send people to any page on your main domain.

From there you fill out the copy for the card. The teaser is what shows up as people watch the video at the time code when you set it to start. The call to action shows once people click on the teaser. The YouTube card automatically pulls in the page’s preview image – like most social media channels. Don’t like the preview image? Click CHANGE IMAGE to add a custom image.

Click CREATE CARD and you are done.

You can add many more cards. YouTube recommends to not put them too close to each other as the video plays.

Why YouTube cards may not work for you

There’s a place to use YouTube cards and when your videos get a good amount of traffic they may even show results. In the overall scheme of social media channels, YouTube is by far not the highest performing channel for me. I don’t expect my videos to drive huge results right this second.

With that in mind, I add some cards but don’t spend hours on this strategy. As I was working on this I thought of older videos and went to look which videos are my highest performing ones.

Can I add YouTube cards to older videos on my channel?

Yes, and I would recommend doing that with videos that have something to do with your current goals and business. I went to my channel and sorted videos by “most popular” (i.e. most views).

Videos with most views

Some of the high performers were from the days of Eastern Iowa News, a now defunct local news startup. They are not that relevant today. Three videos of the top 16 are still relevant, though. One already had YouTube cards added even.

Could I still easily add cards to the other two? Yes.

Click on the video.

Then click on EDIT VIDEO

From there the process is the same as outlined above.

YouTube cards wrap

If you upload videos to YouTube, there’s really no reason to not add cards and calls to action to something else that is relevant. Just don’t overdo it.

And it’s easily done even from an iPad. That’s a bonus for us mobile content creators.