An In-Depth Guide to YouTube Analytics

Google is the biggest search engine. You know what the second biggest is? YouTube. And you know who owns YouTube? Google. So, you could say it’s kind of a big deal. If you’re already on the video bandwagon and you’re using the platform to market your business, good job! But are you measuring your results and taking advantage of the insights as best you can? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of YouTube analytics — because they’re incredible.

Note: To find your YouTube analytics, go to your main channel page and click on YouTube Studio.

megan grant youtube channel

In the menu on the left, click on Analytics.

megan grant youtube analytics

This is your YouTube Analytics dashboard. Under the general Overview, click See More.

megan grant overview youtube analytics

This is where you can find all of the YouTube analytics that we’ll cover in this blog.

8 Vital YouTube Analytics You Need to Know About

1. Click-Through Rate

In this case, the click-through rate (CTR) refers to how many people click on your thumbnail image, out of the total number of people who see your thumbnail image.

click-through rate in youtube analytics

This means that your thumbnail plays an important role in your YouTube analytics and how well you’re going to perform.

Yes, you want consistency in all of your thumbnail images. Your branding should be cohesive and recognizable. However, in the sea of YouTube search results, you also need your image to stand out from the other people and videos showing up around you.

This first means that you cannot simply pull a thumbnail that YouTube automatically generates for you. You should be making your own, and you can do so with a fast and simple tool like Canva, or even using the TubeBuddy extension. (Don’t forget that Canva integrates right into your e-clincher account.)

Next, when you’re planning the design of your thumbnail, look in the search results of the keyword you’re trying to rank for. What do all of those thumbnails look like? How can you stand out? How can you make your image look better?

This might mean incorporating brighter colors, using bigger text in the text overlay (stick to two to five words), or saying something to pique their interest or trigger some emotion (but not clickbait — it still needs to be relevant and accurate).

Side note: Some people are watching your video on their smartphones. Be sure that your thumbnails are very clear and legible even when they’re shrunk down so that they’re small enough to fit on a smartphone screen. This is why you want to keep the text overlay brief and big.

2. Retention Rate

The retention rate refers to how long people watch your video before dropping off — read: leaving the page. Obviously, the higher the retention rate, the better, although you definitely shouldn’t expect to keep 100% of your viewers for the entirety of the video. That’s just not how it works.

Now, what do we consider a good retention rate? Honestly, if you research this number, you’re going to find averages that are all over the map. Some people say to aim for 50% or higher. On the other hand, YouTube expert Sunny Lenarduzzi says that 10% is stellar.

So, we can assume that there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus. Instead, aim to simply improve your retention rate over time. You should also aim to keep the retention rate as study as possible for each video.

retention rate

For instance, do you notice that people drop off within the first several seconds? This could mean a number of things:

  • Your introduction is too long.
  • You’re not starting with a compelling hook.
  • Your title was misleading and the video doesn’t truly answer that query (or it doesn’t answer it fast enough).

These are three things you could address to improve your retention rate.

One little trick is to give people “teasers” so that they stick around until the end. For instance, in the beginning and toward the middle of the video, you might say something like, “We’re going to talk about X in just a minute, so stay with us,” or, “By the end of this video, you’re going to know X.” This promises people that if they stay with you until the end, they’ll gain something as a result.

3. New Subscribers That an Individual Video Brought

YouTube analytics are so incredibly powerful. They’ll even tell you how many people subscribed to your channel after watching each video.

new subscribers from video

This can be an excellent indication of which videos really resonate with your viewers, which then helps you determine topics for your future content.

Bear in mind that if YouTube search is your biggest traffic source (more on this in just a minute) but your videos aren’t bringing in too many new followers, something might be off. You’re showing up in results, but people ultimately aren’t engaged with you enough to hit the Subscribe button.

4. Watch Time

Your watch time is, perhaps unsurprisingly, how many hours of viewing your channel has collected. We care so much about this because watch time is one of the biggest factors that YouTube looks into when it’s deciding how well (or how poorly) to rank you. The reason for this is simple: If you have a killer watch time, it tells the platform that people love your content. Therefore, it’s going to rank you higher so even more people will find you and spend time on YouTube.

watch time

If your watch time is weak, YouTube will reason that people don’t enjoy your content all that much. Thus, it won’t serve it up to them. So, collecting hours will be important.

Consider watch time and retention rate together, because they go hand-in-hand. If you’re not retaining viewers, your watch time will build at a very slow crawl. If you’re retaining viewers, your watch time will reflect it.

Longer videos offer the potential for greater watch time, so try testing out content that’s 10 minutes or more. Just make sure it’s still high-quality. Never sacrifice quality for the sake of posting longer content.

Also, remember that the longer your videos are, the more opportunities you’ll have to place ads within them, once you’re able to monetize your YouTube content.

5. Traffic Source

Do you know where most of your traffic is coming from? If not, this is what you’re looking for in YouTube analytics.

youtube traffic source

We care about traffic sources for a few reasons.

For starters, it can reveal more insight into who exactly is watching your content, which can help you better create content catered to them. For example, if you’re getting significantly more traffic from Facebook than Instagram, this might imply that your viewers are slightly older, since Facebook’s demographic is older than Instagram.

Here’s an important note, though.

While it’s excellent to get traffic from any credible source you can, one of your goals should be to increase the traffic you’re getting from directly in YouTube. This carries the most potential by far because the more YouTube sees that people care about your content, the better it’ll rank you, and even more people will see your content, and so on and so on.

It’s very similar to how Google is such a powerful source of website and blog traffic.

Making YouTube (and it’s owner, Google) happy is of utmost importance.

6. Subscription Source

youtube subscription status

We want to be very clear here: You can do amazing things and see real success even with a relatively low subscriber count. However, over time, of course, one of your goals should be to gain more subscribers.

Another one of the YouTube analytics that helps with this is Subscription Source. If your biggest source is YouTube, this is excellent! It means that you’re showing up in search results and really grabbing people’s interest.

If your direct channel is your biggest subscription source, this could mean that people are needing to spend more time getting to know you before they’re willing to subscribe. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it could mean that you need to find ways to gain more traction in search results.

7. Subscription Status

You might be surprised by this. Very often, the majority of the people watching your videos aren’t even subscribed to your channel. In a sense, this is a good thing, because it would mean that your channel was relying solely on its subscribers for traffic and was getting none from search.

subscription status

However, you should also pay attention to watch time and average view duration of both subscribers and non-subscribers. If the average view duration for your subscribers is somehow lower, for instance, it’s sounding like you’re not doing what you need to be doing in order to satisfy your more loyal followers.

8. Impressions

While impressions don’t tell anywhere close to the whole story, they do indicate your potential for reaching your audience and turning viewers into subscribers. They also reflect how well optimized your videos are.

Yes, search engine optimization is as important for video content as it is for text-based content! Remember what we said in the beginning: YouTube is a search engine.

If your impressions are oddly low, you’re not getting the exposure you need. While there are a number of factors that affect this, SEO is a big one. Have you optimized your video, video file name, title, description, tags, thumbnail title name, and so on with your keywords and other relevant phrases?

youtube video impressions

A Final Note: Look for Patterns in Your YouTube Analytics

Do you notice that thumbnails that contain a cute animal (or a smiling person or a nature scene) have a far higher CTR than pictures with backgrounds that are merely solid colors?

Have you found that videos of a particular theme or topic have a higher retention rate, gain your more subscribers, and increase your watch time more, compared to other themes or topics?

Pay attention to these findings!

This is telling you that people like one thing more than another. Follow the trail and give viewers what they want, and your channel will grow faster than you ever thought possible.

These are some of the most noteworthy YouTube metrics that matter, but there are certainly others! Spend time getting to know your YouTube statistics and data.

Yes, the platform is an investment of your time and energy. But thankfully, anyone can benefit from it — even on a small budget. Even if you’re setting up your iPhone with a natural light source to record a five-minute video, you can have a real impact on your audience and provide tremendous value.

What kind of videos do you post? Let us know in the comments below.

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