Retaining A YouTube Audience


Growing Your YouTube Channel # 26


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Steve Dotto here, how the heck are you this fine day? Me? I’m feeling somewhat patient. I’m feeling patient with my channel because I want to talk today about length of video. How much patience do your viewers have and what’s the perfect length of video for you to be producing? The topic came up and it comes up on a regular basis. There used to be a school of thought in YouTube and it still is to a certain extent that shorter is better, that a two-minute video is going to perform better than a three-minute video which is going to perform better than a four-minute video and there is some truth to that for a lot of different types of content. But you have to consider that you know your content better than anybody. They have this new term, they call them an avatar. Maybe it’s not a new term; it’s new to me. An avatar, that’s your ideal customer or viewer. Who is that person? I’m pretty sure it’s you for your channel and me for my channel. The things that we’re interested in, that we’re compelled with, that we will stay with, our things that our viewers tend to be interested in with and tend to be compelled with. So you have to kind of use yourself. I would anyways use myself as a measuring stick. Now having said that, we are all mostly in love with the sound of our own voice. So not taking advantage of that situation and saying wow, I was with you there, I was fun there and stretching out your video beyond its most useful length is probably not the healthiest thing. So what’s really required to determine what the optimal length of video is for each of us is a second opinion. Where do we get a second opinion? We get a second opinion from our YouTube Analytics. Come with me for a brief journey into YouTube Analytics. So I’m going into the Analytics button here in the Analytics area within my channel and the report that we want to generate right now is this one called audience retention. Let’s click on that and let’s take a look at how my channel is performing. So we start with a very global look and then we can get more nuclear and granular as we look at each individual video. Hopefully by looking at how people stay with those videos and when they stop watching those videos, we can learn what’s working best for us. And look at this, Steve’s videos are awesome because look at their improvement. Look at how their increasing from averaging under six minutes per view to over six minutes per view all in the space of 28 days. Steve must be amazing. He must be doing a great job, I can hear all you saying and thanking. In truth, these numbers this month are a little bit of an anomaly as far as I’m concerned because this month, I’ve decided to¬ in the last couple of the weeks take—and you can see when I did, right, a couple weeks ago here—is I took a bunch of webinars that I produced over the years that I was using as lead capture for email. Then I decided to release those just as webinars that people can watch and they’re all over an hour long. I think there are three of them that I released and some of them have gotten some really good traction, some pretty good viewership. But now all of a sudden instead of watching my normal six to twelve-minute videos, people are watching one-hour videos so naturally my views, my minutes viewed is climbing. Commensurate with my minutes view climbing, my percentage viewed is plummeting. It’s at 40%. That’s the number I look at first, not necessarily the number of minutes but the percentage of my videos watched and I like to keep it around 50%. But I’m not too distraught right now because with an hour video, people can watch over 20 minutes which is a pretty kick of the can and they’re still going to only be registering at 33% viewed so my percentage is going to drop with these long videos that I just released. I’m not too distraught. I’m a wee bit distraught I will say just because my ego has taken a bit of a bruising. So I’m not going to make decisions based on what I’m seeing this month. Previously I was hovering at 49%, 50%, 51% of my video views. That’s kind of been my threshold and I’m comfortable with that. I am striving to increase it and I’ll show you how I’m looking at those stats as we go on. So that’s our overall channel. Have a look at that, get a feel for how long your videos are being watched. Mine are on average of 5:40. That’s a good start. So I know that I don’t have to concentrate—for my content, I know that three minutes, I don’t need to worry about that because I know people are staying with me for at least double that. That could be because I add a little bit of edutainment to my videos. I try and be a little bit humorous. Occasionally my dog or my cat does something which I leave in the video which makes it long which people seem to enjoy or I’m just so compelling. But at any rate, I’m managing to hold people for at least five and a half minutes or so per video. That’s at global level. If we take a look granularly at each video, we can see my best performing video is only averaging 39% viewed but it still does well as far as minutes. It’s a little bit of a longer video, My 5 Favorite Evernote Features. That’s the one that’s performed best over the last month. Look at it. I’ve got 39%, I’ve got 44%. This one here, Going Paperless with Evernote, 25%, see that’s one of the webinars that I’ve just released, a lot of minutes, 17 minutes on average but only 25% of them are viewed. That’s bringing some numbers down while pushing other ones up. It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? So looking through, what you should be doing is you should be examining videos that you have an idea of how you structure them and then looking at how your audience respond. So here’s one that I actually worked hard on. Let me find it here. It’s on Google Forms. This is what I consider to be a pretty good video because I was taking on a topic that a lot of people don’t explore, Google Forms, and I did a pretty good tutorial on it. I actually re-recorded this one two or three times, which is more than I normally do. I’m normally one take then I’m done. I recorded it two or three times but it’s only performing at 43% viewed. But it’s getting a lot of comments. The people who are viewing it are liking it. So it’s an interesting one to look at. So if you just click on the video itself, it will bring up the audience retention stats for this video to the last 28 days. I can actually change that term. I would have had to do it in the previous menu so we’ll just leave it. So in the last month—look at this—it doesn’t do very well. Right at the beginning, like 30 seconds into it, I’ve already dropped off to 77% of the audience. So I’ve lost 23% of my audience in the first 30 seconds. To be honest, that’s not all that unusual. You are going to have a pretty precipitous drop off right at the beginning or at least my style of video is going to have that. I don’t know if all videos are like that but my style of video because people just make a decision really quick. It’s not what they thought or whatever reason, so we do have a quick drop off. Now you have to be careful you don’t have too precipitous a drop off because that hurts your YouTube ranking a lot. YouTube only counts views that are over 30 seconds. When people drop off in the beginning, first of all they don’t count as views but secondly if you have too many counted doing that, YouTube is going to say your video is not very representative of what the title is or something like that so they’re probably going to penalize you as far as search goes, which is going to hurt your ranking. So you do want to be careful and you want to pay attention to that. Once the video actually started rolling and I started getting into the demo part which is right here—look at this. I was playing with formats. Do you remember when I was back playing with formats and here I was playing with an idea that I could stack all of my different links of things to do like subscribe to my channel and support us on Patreon on this little stack and then I perched my head on the top? And I looked like a gigantic Pez dispenser, don’t I? I forgot about that. Okay, not my finest moment graphically speaking and design-wise. I will give you that and that could be something to do with it. But right about here, we’re still 70%, now we suddenly drop off. We drop off to 55% in a space of one minute here. Look at that. We drop off. That’s a minute later there in the video later right there. We dropped off from 70% down to 56% so we’ve dropped off 14 points right there. That’s kind of most precipitous drop, ain’t it? What am I doing at that point? So what I’ll do is I’ll go in and watch the video at that point and I’ll see exactly what I’m doing and try and figure it out. Now I recognize that this content is a little dryer than some other content and I’m hoping that that’s the reason that that drop-off as happened. But there’s another thing that I look for when I look at these shapes, these forms that are my audience retention. Look at this. I have a valley here, 40% at five minutes in but look at me at seven minutes in, 42%. How could that be? If people left the video, how are they back? The reason that they’re back is they’re the same people but they’ve rewound the video because they want to see it again for some reason. So these are opportunities for you to look at the content that people are finding valuable because they’re repeating it. Either you’re not explaining it well, you’re stumbling, maybe you didn’t do a good job on your screen shots or that’s the type of compelling content that people really like and they want to listen to it again because it’s so darn valuable. These are opportunities for you to look at the shape of your audience retention and then be able to start to read the tea leaves a little bit to figure out how it works. So that’s number one. This shape here, I’m not overly happy with that shape of that big drop and only being at 40%. Mind you, once I got into the base content where I was actually doing the demo, look at how I retain people from the four-minute mark all the way right through to when I started probably talking during my wrap or when I was encouraging people to subscribe and stuff. All the way through there, we stayed within a percentage or two. So the meat of the content once we got into this video was still good and I know the video is well received, maybe not numerically but it gets a lot of comments. It gets an awful a lot of comments and discussion and a lot of thanks you’s in the YouTube channel, in the YouTube conversations, in the chat area. So I’m not surprised to see that flat line. If I saw just a continued decline all the way down, a nice steady decline, there’s nothing about your content that’s super compelling. People just keep waiting for it to get better and then it doesn’t get better and they eventually leave. That’s one form. Let’s take a look at another video that I’ve got here. Let’s look at one that’s performed a lot better. So that one has performed only at 43% average viewed with that Google Forms. Let’s find one that’s performed better and look here. This is one that I’ve just released this month, Skitch. What’s so good about Skitch? 67%. It’s a very similar length video and it’s just another tool that I show. So let’s take a look at the shape that the audience retention takes on that. Again, I’ve got a precipitous drop off—I’m also very orange in this one—precipitous drop right off the beginning and let’s see at 30 seconds in, look at that, we’re actually 10% higher 30 seconds in. We were at 70% here; we’re at 80% here. So this tells me the content because my launch getting into the video is pretty similar in each case so this content is just more engaging. People are more interested in this graphics tool than they are in the forms tool. Fair enough. I can see that. But again look, it stayed nice and flat-lined all the way through right at 70% and again we had a bump. So if we take a look at what happened here in the video, from there to there, I see what happened. I was talking about resources. I was talking about my computer’s resources at that point so people were interested in that technical side. Look, it actually jumped a couple of points from 73%, I think I saw 75. Yeah, it jumped a couple of points. So a fair number of people rewound that section. So that is really good and compelling information. Then once we reached the very end, and I bet you if I listen right at this point here, there it is. I give a thumbs up, made it obvious that I was at the end of the valuable content and now listen to me pitching you to sign up for my subscription things and become a subscriber to my channel and give me money on Patreon. I was about to do all of that stuff and look, people left. This is gold as we start to read it. I don’t think you’ll ever get, out of looking at this, a hard and fast rule. This is the way I have to do it but instead, this is the maturation process of your channel. Paying attention to what works, what doesn’t work, slowly over time you’ll gain an appreciation for what’s going to resonate with your audience, what’s not and things that you can do hopefully to tweak those numbers up. Because we can’t do really AB testing with this sort of a video, at least not for most of us for our channels. So it’s basically we just have to look at two videos of similar content that are performing quite a bit differently and try and figure out what it is in those videos that is different. In this case here, I think it comes mainly down to the fact that the dryer content which just has less engagement, the fact that forms aren’t as interesting as screen capture and drawing arrows and graphics. I am hoping that that is the difference because really those two videos are quite similar, other than the fact I was sitting on a PEZ dispenser in the one. But these numbers, going into the audience retention, will help you best length of video, how to retain your audience, which means each of your videos if you retain a higher percentage, your videos are ranked higher in YouTube and in addition they will be ranked higher in Google and you’ll have better audience engagement, your channel will grow as a result. That’s it! I hope that you found this to be enlightening and useful. There are three ways that you can stay in touch with us at DottoTech. First, of course, please subscribe to our channel. Subscribe to this channel. Secondly, sign up or our newsletter. I send it out once a week, minimum, which includes all of our videos plus notice of any upcoming webinars that we have and we do some great webinars here at DottoTech. And finally, DottoTech is a community funded site through Patreon. If you don’t know what Patreon is all about and you don’t understand the patron model on the internet, have a look at my Patreon page. Basically instead of getting corporate sponsorship, I ask you folks to carry the freight a little bit as far as the cost of maintaining this channel. For as little as a dollar a month, you can be one of our Patreon patrons. You get some perks, I get some security and a lot of love flows back and forth and we all like that. With that, I’m going to say that’s it for today. I’m Steve Dotto. Have fun storming the castle!

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