How to Grow Your YouTube Channel Using Analytics
YouTube has quickly become the second largest search engine in the world. Companies across every vertical have taken advantage of the tool to build brand awareness, grow audiences, and communicate directly with prospects and customers.
Social Video Cheat Sheets
While almost every company has a YouTube channel (YouTube currently reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S), there are a couple proven strategies you can use to outgrow your competition and better reach your target audience. Fortunately, YouTube offers a ton of free analytics for its users, and Simply Measured offers next-level YouTube reporting. These statistics have been the foundation for the growth of our YouTube channel (there’s my one shameless plug) and can undoubtedly help you grow yours.
Understanding the Basics
There are a couple entry-level data points you can utilize to better understand your content and optimize it for success. While there’s often more value to a channel than views and likes, they can be an important base metric to help you track the growth of your channel.
Views: The most vain of vanity metrics. Don’t get too bogged down by views, but pay attention to your growth over time. Do certain kinds of videos have spikes in viewership at a specific time of the week, month, or year? This can be helpful when determining when and what content you release.
Shares: One of the most underrated metrics. From what we’ve been able to tell, authentic shares have a direct impact on how a video does in search results. Since YouTube is one of the major social channels existing today, it’s likely Google has built a decent amount of value into the amount of times, where, and how a video is shared.
We’ve noticed promoting a video immediately after release really helps it climb the rankings quickly for the keywords we track. Keep an eye on these numbers and try to keep the shares coming when you see a drop in viewership. YouTube allows it’s users to see the various methods through which a video is shared (including copy to clipboard, WhatsApp, Gmail, Twitter, etc.) that can help you further refine by whom and how your videos are consumed.
The Middle Ground
It’s important to keep an eye on more than just the basics. Mastering these statistics can help you start to really refine how your viewers experience your brand and your channel.
Watch Time Reports: Information like audience retention can make a huge difference when trying to optimize a video strategy.
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If you see a huge dropoff after 3-4 minutes, it might be helpful to shorten the length of your video. You can also keep an eye on audience retention to see how various popups such as cards and annotations impact viewership.
If you have a bunch of distractions throughout, it’s likely folks will find another video. Lastly, it can also be really helpful to see how different demographics and countries are watching your videos so you can cater your content appropriately.
Engagement Reports: How your audience engages with your content can have a significant impact on your overall strategy. Depending on how often your videos are liked, shared, or commented upon you may want to asses how often you should release that kind of video. We tested a few different styles of video (this talking to camera video flopped tremendously) and from the engagement reports were able to optimize our strategy.
Another helpful feature within engagement reports is how often your video is embedded in other channel’s playlists. That can be a helpful metric for determining what audience is best resonating with a certain kind of video. If a bunch of IT companies are adding your cloud videos to their playlists, you can start targeting them more appropriately.
Lastly, within engagement reports you can also see how your viewers are engaging with calls to action and additional information YouTube gives you access to like cards and annotations. This can be really helpful to drive traffic to your site and get additional attention for your brand. If an annotation has a lot more closes than clicks, it might be in a bad spot. Time to test a new location! (usually the end works best).
There are several simple techniques to make your channel the content platform you have always dreamed it could be.
SEO: You can optimize your videos to show up higher in YouTube’s search as well as in Google searches through a couple of simple techniques. If a video does well enough on YouTube we’ve seen it jump ship to page one on Google before. If you optimize your videos well enough, you could be in luck!
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Instead of titling your videos what you want to title them or think they should be titled, see what people are searching for! We made a video a few years ago about business intelligence that was initially titled “Business Intelligence 101.” After auditing our YouTube channel, we went back through and renamed the videos based on the autocomplete feature in YouTube. If you search for business intelligence in YouTube the first autocomplete is for “Business Intelligence Tutorial.”
Since that fit the description well, we renamed our video to that and voila, our video shot straight to the top of the charts for the most popular BI search term.
You can also use more conventional approaches to SEO, such as inserting 10-15 keywords in the tags section you want your video to rank for. Add a hefty description to the video, a transcription, and even name the file you upload what you’re hoping to rank for. These are likely all pieces of metadata YouTube uses when ranking videos.
(Also if you’re wondering why we classified the aforementioned agile video as a flop with 400+ views, that shows the power of a well optimized video).
YouTube Studio: YouTube’s latest mobile app provides extra insights you can’t access from the analytics tab in the web interface. There are a lot of really great categories that give you access to metrics from the past 7 days, 28 days, 90 days, year, and all-time if you want to dive in deeper.
- Real Time views: Helps you see what your audience is watching at the moment. Can be really helpful to see what is popular at what time of the day.
- External Sources: My personal favorite. Where are people finding your videos outside of YouTube? If you haven’t heard of some of the website on the list (we definitely haven’t!) there’s a really unique opportunity for potential partnerships since they already value your content enough to post it on their site.
- YouTube search terms: This is what your viewers are searching for to find your videos. Can be really helpful for not only naming your content but figuring out what your audience is interested in.
- Interactive Content: Really helpful insights into what cards and annotations are doing the best. Everything from top cards to card clicks per card shown to top videos by annotation clicks can really help you better optimize your content
While not everyone has enough videos or data to start making the most of YouTube analytics, it’s never too early to start poking around and see what your videos have done historically. Even the most basic insights can help you propel your social video strategy forward. YouTube analytics can also be really helpful if you’re looking to test new videos and strategies. If you discover there’s an audience there, keep pumping out great content!
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Josh Bland is a Digital Media Specialist at TechnologyAdvice, where he leads the charge for TechnologyAdvice’s podcast and video strategy. He has had the chance to interview individuals from companies like Google, Microsoft, Hubspot, Box, Salesforce, and Oracle, as well as leading influencers around the world in sales, marketing, operations, communications, and more.