Assess audience engagement
There’s more than one way to engage an audience. By taking stock of engagement strategies, a channel can convert viewers into subscribers. This process starts with understanding the target audience, then analyzing how various content resonates with them.
Who is the audience?
It’s important to know your audience so you can tailor the right content for them. This is key to building a sustained, engaged audience, which is critical for growth on YouTube. Getting a lot of watch time means you’re doing many things right, but you also want to be sure you’re connecting with the target audience in a way that’s meaningful to them so you can fuel long-term growth.
An audience analysis typically happens upon launching a YouTube channel, to identify which audience fits with the mission, brand, and content strategy. After a channel has been up and running, it’s valuable to assess whether the actual audience matches the target audience.
From the Demographics report, compare two distinct time periods, such as the most recent quarter and the same quarter from last year. You can add several dimensions to your report to dig further into the data. For example, if you're looking at the top videos on your channel by viewer age and viewer gender, you can select an additional dimension, such as geography.
You may see an opportunity to build the core audience. For example, if you manage a fashion channel hoping to reach mostly females 18-24 years old, but the data skews male or older, develop a plan to improve engagement with the intended audience or consider how the channel can better serve the emerging audience.
Which videos retain the audience?
When viewers enjoy a video, they generally watch it to the end. Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as possible. Analyzing which videos have consistently high audience retention and watch time can help you understand which content best matches viewers’ interests.
In the Absolute Audience Retention report, note the slope of the graph to see how much of a video people watch and which points in the video people engage with or leave. Select a time period and look at individual videos or across a group of videos. Determine how your data resembles or differs from the patterns below.
Flatness means viewers are watching from start to finish.
This is the ideal audience retention. A slight decline is normal, but in general you want a flat slope. See if there’s an opportunity to create more videos like this.
Gradual declines mean viewers are losing a bit of attention over time.
Review video content
Examine at what point people leave videos. See how you can adjust content to establish more consistent viewing attention.
Bumps mean viewers are rewatching or sharing those parts of the video.
Examine bumps and consider including similar elements in future videos. Also, you can use these highlights in your channel trailer or on other social platforms.
Dips (red arrows) mean viewers are skipping over those parts of the video.
Avoid dips and declines
Eliminate or shorten elements that consistently result in dips and declines.
A sudden drop (red arrow) means viewers are leaving the video within the first few seconds.
Reverse sudden drops
This usually indicates the video didn’t match the viewers' expectations. Ensure the title, thumbnail, and description reflect the content.
Which videos drive interactions?
When viewers like, comment, or share videos, that indicates the content influences them on an emotional level. If you can understand what gets people to interact with videos, you can refine the content strategy to turn the channel into a destination.
Check the various Engagement reports for groups of videos to determine:
- Videos with the most likes (and dislikes)
- Videos with the most comments
- Videos with the most shares
Although it may not be obvious why viewers like or dislike a particular group of videos, the percentage of likes is one way to check the pulse. If one type of content gets a higher percentage of dislikes than others, consider whether it covers a controversial topic or diverges from the usual topics featured on the channel.
You can look at video comments to uncover more details about viewers’ sentiments. Read through comments to identify recurring themes. Comments can help you figure out subjects that appeal to the audience, so that the channel can create more videos on those subjects. Another way to drive interactions is to add poll cards or end screens to videos.
Instead of focusing on what makes a single video go viral, a channel can create a body of content that appeals to the audience’s values in order to improve shareability. When viewers find content that reflects their own experiences, they’re more inclined to share it with their communities and social networks.
Which videos appeal to subscribers?
Subscribers are key to a channel’s success on YouTube because they tend to spend more time watching than viewers who are not subscribed. Subscribers help drive views on the first day of upload, contributing to increased discovery by non-subscribers.
It’s important to understand which content resonates with subscribers. Use the Watch time report overlaid with the comparison metric “subscribers” to see whether subscribers’ watch time patterns map to the video release schedule. You can review this type of performance by individual videos or by groups of videos aggregated by topic, length, production style, or other attributes.
Determine which videos are watched more overall, then assess differences between subscribers and non-subscribers:
- Videos that have highest % of watch time from subscribers or subscribers gained
- Videos that see the most viewers unsubscribe
When you find content with high watch time among subscribers, see if there’s something in common in the creative that subscribers like and consider how to make more videos with these elements. For content that results in a large number of lost subscribers, try to pinpoint why people don’t seem to like these videos.