Over the past decade, YouTube has grown into a powerful marketing tool for brands across all niches for plenty of good reasons. It lets you connect with potential customers and nurture your brand in ways no other platform can.
The problem, though, is that with over 720,000 hours of fresh video content being uploaded to the platform each day, competition is stiff! Not only do you have to worry about other brands in your industry using YouTube in their strategies, but also the other millions of personal channels and vloggers out there competing for attention.
So how can you improve your brand’s YouTube channel chances of standing out and getting seen by your target audience? By tracking and focusing on improving the right metrics, of course!
Monitor views and watch time
When it comes to YouTube, these are the two most obvious metrics to track, which gives us a perfect place to start!
Views measure, well, the number of views your channel and videos are getting. You can find it in the Analytics section of your Creator Studio. Watch Time, on the other hand, refers to the total amount of time people have spent watching your videos, and you can find it in two places: under Engagement in the Analytics tab of your Creator Studio and as a line graph under Views in the same tab.
Views is a good metric to track for measuring the overall engagement with your content, but it doesn’t give you the complete picture. Watch Time, on the other hand, is a bit more telling because it measures how long viewers are actually sitting down and watching your content.
All things being equal, the longer someone watches, the more engaged they are with your videos, and the better chances your content has to be recommended to more viewers. Watch Time can also help you identify where your viewers are leaving your videos. This allows you to make changes to your content, like integrating creative visualizations or adding new segments to your videos to keep people engaged once you detect drop-off patterns.
Improving these metrics comes down to tweaking and refining the quality of your content to have people watching for more extended periods. The longer they watch, the better the chances YouTube will recommend that content to others, improving both!
Track your real-time report
YouTube verifies Views to ensure they come from real people, not bots — a process that usually takes 24-48 hours. However, tracking your real-time report to see how many people are currently watching your videos can still provide a lot of useful information to help you grow your channel.
It’s recommended that you keep an eye on this constantly-updating report because it lets you evaluate your videos’ performance and adjust your strategy accordingly with some degree of responsiveness.
For example, if you notice a sudden, unexplained drop in views in your Real-time report, it could indicate that something is wrong with your channel or that maybe YouTube has made an algorithm change affecting your traffic. Giving you a timely heads-up for you to start looking into the matter more in-depth.
Moreover, this report also lets you track the early progress of a new video. For example, you can see how many people have watched it in the first few hours after it was published, giving you a solid idea of the performance you can expect for future uploads.
All in all, monitoring this tab can help you spot early indicators for performance changes and serve as an early warning for significant changes in patterns, both good and bad.
Identify traffic sources
As useful as it can be, it’s not enough to just track the number of people that watches your videos; you should also know where they’re coming from. Are they finding your videos through Google searches? Are they coming from social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram?
Knowing where your traffic is coming from will help you better understand your audience and the type of content they’re looking for.
The traffic sources report also lets you identify which traffic source is having the most positive impact on your channel overall and for every individual video you post, which can be really useful if you need to decide on a platform to focus your promotion efforts.
By the same token, you can also know whether your SEO efforts or social media marketing campaigns are working by paying attention to this report.
For example, if your video is getting a lot of quality views via YouTube search, you know you’re probably using optimized ranking keywords. On the other hand, if most of your traffic is coming from social media platforms, it might be a sign that you should focus on creating more shareable content for social media posts that redirect people to your channel.
Analyze your audience’s demographic data
Visiting your YouTube analytics‘ demographics page to gain a deeper insight into your target audience is a good habit to get into.
Your audience’s age, gender, location, and interests affect how they interact with your content, and by understanding your audience in more detail, you can create content that appeals specifically to them. For example, if you notice that a particular video is popular with a certain age group or gender, you can create similar content in the future if you want to focus on that segment of your audience.
Learning about your audience this way can also help you understand why certain videos perform better than others and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Geographic location is also an important piece of data you’ll want to be aware of. If you notice that a video is popular in a particular region, you can create localized versions of your videos or target your YouTube ads to relevant areas area.
Check subscriber rates (but don’t obsess about it!)
This metric is important because it allows you to track how effectively your videos convert viewers into subscribers. After all, the more subscribers you have, the more people will see your videos when you upload them, which means more exposure to your brand.
You can also use this information to keep track of your subscriber fluctuations and assess the overall reach of your YouTube content as a whole. Instead of focusing on individual videos and how they contribute to gaining or losing subscribers.
Just know that, while useful in context, this metric isn’t everything. Your subscriber numbers should organically go up the more quality content you continue to upload to the platform.
Having said all that, if you want to improve your subscribers, you can also use a CTA or watermark on all your videos that link to your channel. Make it easy for viewers to find and subscribe to your channel, and you’ll see those numbers tick up.
Keep an eye on playback locations
YouTube provides a wealth of data about where people are watching your videos. This information can be found in the playback locations section of YouTube Analytics.
The most common playback locations are YouTube.com, embedded players, and mobile devices, but your channel might show other important sources.
This information is relevant because it can help you understand how people find your videos and the kind of devices they use to watch them. Data you can use to adapt and improve your content strategy.
For example, if you notice that most of your viewers are watching your videos on their mobile devices, you might want to create shorter videos or make sure your videos are optimized for mobile viewing.
In addition, Playback Locations can help you assess the popularity of your videos both on and off YouTube by analyzing which location is providing you with the most traffic. This will offer a hint as to whether you should focus more on YouTube optimization or get your videos hosted on external web pages and blogs that redirect to your channel.
Pay attention to audience retention
Audience retention measures how much of your video people watch on average, and you can find this report at the video level of YouTube Analytics. With this information, you can pinpoint where your audience is losing interest in the video and make changes accordingly.
For example, if you notice that people are dropping off at specific points in the video, you might want to edit future videos to be shorter or add more engaging content at those points. You can also use this information to determine what the video isn’t conveying at those points prompting viewers to drop off and work on fixing that in future pieces.
You can also incorporate a call to action (CTA) or questions to the viewer at strategic points in your video (i.e., before the drop-off points) to keep them engaged and avoid losing them entirely.
Monitor your videos’ likes and dislikes
Likes and dislikes are a great way to get general feedback on your videos, and you can find them on the individual page of each piece you upload.
If you notice that a video has a lot of likes, it’s a good indicator that people enjoy that type of content. On the other hand, if you notice that a video has a lot of dislikes, it often indicates that a significant portion of your audience takes issue with some elements of your content, and you probably need to make some changes or adjustments.
The reasons for dislikes will vary a lot from video to video, but the common ones are that the video might be too long, the content wasn’t relevant to the title, poor content quality, audio issues, or the wrong audience is watching your video.
Whatever the specific reason may be, it’s important to take note of this feedback and use it to improve your future videos. Dislikes are inevitable, but they should be relatively small to the number of views. For example, if you have a video with 100,000 views and only 100 dislikes, that’s not too bad. But if you have a video with only 1,000 views and 100 dislikes, that’s a problem.
Analyze social shares
Social shares is another metric that can give you insights into how to improve your videos’ performance. You can find this information in the Sharing section of your YouTube Analytics page.
In a nutshell, if you notice that a particular video is being shared a lot, it’s a good indicator that people like the content and think it’s worth sharing with others. On the other hand, if you notice that a video isn’t being shared much, it might indicate that the content isn’t relevant or interesting enough.
However, beyond the individual video level, this metric also shows how many shares you’ve gotten over time and across various platforms, which includes social networks and messaging apps.
This information can help you understand what type of content the bulk of your audience prefers and is more likely to show to others. Helping you identify and focus on any potential viral videos so you can replicate that success in the future.
Unique viewers numbers, which you can find on your video’s Analytics page, represents the number of individuals who watch your video at least once.
This metric is important because it allows you to assess the overall reach of your YouTube content as a whole in terms of pairs of eyes on your content, rather than focusing on broader metrics that include repeat viewings.
To put it another way, this metric determines the actual, practical size of your audience.
If you notice that your unique viewers are growing, it’s a good sign that new people are interested in your content and are finding your videos. Conversely, if you see a decline in unique viewers, it might indicate that you need to mix up your content or change how you’re marketing your YouTube channel.
Additionally, if the unique viewers on your channel are lower than your subscribers, there’s a chance that your subscribers aren’t interested in what you’re posting. This suggests it might be a good time to rethink your YouTube strategy.
YouTube analytics is a fantastic resource for data and feedback that can help improve your channel’s performance. There are many metrics to pay attention to, but we discussed some important ones that you should be wary of to help boost your brand’s YouTube channel presence. By tracking these metrics, you can fine-tune your content strategy and produce videos that your audience loves.