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Episode 4: The YouTube Analytics That Really Matter

Understanding YouTube analytics is crucial for any business that wants to make the most of their channel. Analytics help you decide what content is resonating with your audience, see which videos don't receive full watch time, and gain deep insight into how people are reaching your channel.

The most important places to look start with your watch time report. There you'll find watch time, average percentage viewed, and average view duration.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Matt Brown from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up. The show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

Ok, so, let’s be honest. You’re listening to a podcast about YouTube Marketing. I’m gonna step out on that limb and say, chances are, you yourself are a marketer. And a couple of steps more, I’m gonna venture to say you’re into metrics.

Now, is it an unhealthy obsession with metrics? Well, that’s for you and your manager to decide.

Metrics can be the difference between a campaign being successful or falling on its face. But when you fall asleep at night, do you stare at the ceiling, knowing, in the pit of your stomach, that some metrics, well, they mean a lot more than others?

Yeah. I know. It’s ok.

[cue segment music]

Understanding YouTube analytics is crucial for any business that wants to understand how to make the most of their channel. Analytics can help you decide what content is resonating with your audience, see which videos don't receive full watch time, and gain deep insight into how people are reaching your channel.

Before we talk too much about the analytics, I just want to reiterate something. I’m going to lay out a number of important metrics you’ll want to track. But before those data-driven fingers of your get too excited and start running reports, the first thing you need to do is determine your goals.

Are you hoping to drive awareness, create engaged viewers, or maybe even monetize your channel? Metrics are nothing without goals to measure against.

[end segment music]

The most important place to fix your eyes is the watch time report. The top three metrics I’m about to get to, are all found in this one report.

So, it’s no surprise then, that the metric sitting atop that metrics mountaintop is Watch time.

Watch time is the total amount of minutes viewers have spent watching your videos and how long within a session they’ve spent watching related videos.

It’s a key metric because YouTube boosts videos and channels with higher watch times in YouTube’s search results and recommendations section. It does this because the more watch time a video has, the more engaging the algorithm will presumably be.

So check out your watch time report. There, you can see the amount of watch time your videos have accumulated. You can also rank each of your videos by watch time and group your videos by themes, styles, and lengths to determine your most engaging types of videos.

Next, you'll also want to keep an eye on the average percentage viewed.

The average percentage viewed is the percent of each video the average viewer watched. It measures your video’s ability to hold viewers’ attention for its entirety. And when YouTube realizes your videos can hold people’s attention, they’ll reward it with higher search and recommendation rankings.

And the third most important metric is Average View Duration. Ok, so average view duration is the total watch time of your video divided by the total number of video plays, including replays.

So this metric measures your video’s ability to engage viewers. If your video can’t engage viewers, they’ll quickly bounce from your video, leaving you with an unimpressive average view duration.

Now, here’s the real pro move. If your video can engage viewers, your average view duration and total watch time will increase at the same time, boosting your search and recommendations rankings.

Again, you can find the metrics for watch time, average percentage viewed, and average view duration in your watch time report.

[cue synth]

[NIMMIN: On YouTube, the most important analytics to care about are essentially all of them.]

That man, the one deflating your hopes for a simple ‘only three metrics matter on Youtube’ episode is YouTube expert and content creator Nick Nimmin. Don’t worry, there’s more. He has two additional favorite metrics from the top three I just listed.

[NIMMIN: But outside of that, like when you're, when you're just getting started, because the analytics can be a little bit overwhelming trying to try to understand what's going on, um, the very first things that you should get really tuned into is the click-through rate on your thumbnail.

Because like we talked about before, you know, if people aren't clicking on that thumbnail, then you're losing right out of the gate. Um, and then once they actually do click on it, your thumbnail, then they land on your video. So the next part of the process is the audience retention that you're getting on your video.

So click-through rate, audience retention, and then once they're actually watching your video, then you have to consider the engagement because YouTube is also measuring the amount of engagement that you can drive, um, in each video that you upload as well.

So those three things are the main analytics that I would focus on to start. But above all, click-through rate, audience retention, and then everything else can be built on.]

Audience retention shows you the percentage of viewers who watch and leave your video at every moment of viewing. YouTube elevates videos with high audience retention in their search rankings and suggestions because these videos can effectively capture viewers' attention.

Understanding audience retention can also inform your future video strategy. The most engaging parts of your video could be your next best video topics. And watching where your videos dip in engagement will also tell you what might be boring for your viewers.

You'll want to go ahead and just scrap those elements from current and future videos. But to be a little less doomy, it's also a great way to figure out what works and then do more of the same. Until it doesn’t. You know, times change. Always keep on top of audience retention.

You can find this metric in YouTube’s Audience Retention Report.

Now, as Nick Nimmin also pointed out, impressions click-through rate is also important.

Impressions click-through rate measures your video’s ability to prompt people to click the thumbnail for your video and watch it. That thumbnail could show up on their homepage, recommendation section, or trending section.

A high click-through rate means your title was compelling and your video’s topic resonates with a lot of relevant audiences on YouTube.

But here’s the pro tip. Pencil and paper, ready? Of course, you do, look at us. Back in our old rhythm already. Ok. You can couple your impression click-through rate with the average percentage viewed and average view duration to see if people actually watch your video after they click on it.

I know, we’re bringing these all together. So a high click-through rate is great. But if people are leaving right at the beginning of your video, your title or thumbnail is probably misleading.

Now, the opposite of that, if you have a low click-through rate but high engagement, it could mean that the video has a small yet specific audience that is completely enamored by the content.

You can find impressions click-through rate in the Analytics tab in YouTube Studio.

[cue synth]

So to recap. Start by digging into your watch time report. There, you’ll find the first three YouTube metrics that really matter: watch time, average percentage viewed, and average view duration.

Outside of those, you’ll want to look at audience retention and impressions click-through rate.

There's a lot more to YouTube analytics, but these metrics should represent the core of what will matter most to you when it comes to understanding how to optimize your channel and determine the best mix of content.

Next episode, we’ll learn how to make YouTube videos your audience will watch. Sort of an important topic, right?

Ok, I’ll see you there.

[cue end music]