How To Increase Audience Retention on YouTube
Jun 29,2018• Proven solutions
Audience retention is one of your most important stats on YouTube. It is even more important than your view count. Your view count really only tells you how many people are finding and clicking on your videos, not whether they are actually watching them. Audience retention refers to how much of a video a viewer watches before clicking away, which is very useful information to have. If you know when people are leaving your videos then you know what you need to work on.
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What is audience retention?
To put it in simple terms, YouTube audience retention is about how much of each video your viewers watch. It's usually expressed as a percentage, so if your viewer gets half way through, they will have a retention of 50 per cent.
For YouTube analytics, audience retention is taken as a mean of the retention figures for each of your viewers. For example, if you post a ten-minute video and half your viewers get to the five-minute mark, that's a retention of 50 per cent. If the other half watch it right to the end, that's a retention of 100 per cent. The mean of these two figures is 75 per cent, and that's what YouTube will use as your audience retention figure.
This retention rate affects how highly your video is ranked on YouTube, with videos boasting higher audience retention rates appearing higher in the search results than those which do not. This is because both YouTube and Google are highly focussed on customer satisfaction, and a long watch time means a very happy customer was watching that video. For this reason, it's well worth considering how to increase YouTube audience retention as it demonstrates that you're making great content as well as helping you get more viewers.
How to see your audience retention report in YouTube?
YouTube will produce reports to help you keep track of your audience retention. There are two types of audience retention reports; absolute and relative. Absolute allows you to view a graph of your video's retention and see when people might be clicking away, or if they are skipping to later parts of your video. If you lose a lot of viewers in the first 15 seconds of your videos then that is a clear indication that your content is not what the viewers who find your videos really want. The relative report is where your video is compared to the average retention of similar videos.
Note that by 'similar videos', YouTube means videos of a similar length. There is no way to compare your videos only to other videos in your genre. The relative report will always be somewhat skewed because your videos will be measured against very different content.
To see an audience retention report log into your YouTube account and go to yourCreator Studio. There, selectAudience RetentionunderAnalytics.
What's a good audience retention?
When you're considering how to increase YouTube audience retention, it can be good to have a goal in mind. Obviously 100 per cent is going to be the Holy Grail of retention rates, but how many videos are actually going to achieve that? It only takes for one person to 'accidentally' click on your video and rapidly click away, or for someone to have to stop for outside reasons, to drag your average down.
According to the YouTube community, a good goal to aim for is around 50 per cent, but as there is a lot which can affect your retention rate, that number may be different for you. Low view numbers sometimes get higher retention rates because it's mainly subscribers watching, whereas channels with millions of views may suffer due to more people abandoning. Rather than setting yourself a golden number, focus instead on increasing your retention rate from wherever it is now, and celebrate your own success instead of measuring yourself against others.
5 ways to increase YouTube audience retention
If you're serious about learning how to increase YouTube audience retention, here are five of the best ideas for you:
1. Compare your videos
Investigating your audience retention report will highlight the videos where you achieved maximum success. Think about what you did here, and work to replicate that technique. Perhaps you were talking about a product, or maybe your structured your video slightly differently. It's up to you to dissect your video and find out what it was that kept people watching for longer, so that you can repeat this success in the future.
2. Get on with it
Research shows that YouTube viewers have an incredibly short attention span. Depending on who you believe, you could have as much as six seconds or as little as just three to grab their attention and compel them to carry on watching. If you want to improve your audience retention, coming in with an engaging, attention grabbing statement right at the start is crucial to your success. Nobody wants to waste their time watching someone waffle on for ages about their granny or their favorite hobbies, so get right down to it straight away, by telling them what's in store.
3. Make it visually engaging
Perhaps all you've got is a presentation to make. You're not a gamer, you're not showing clips of your cat and you're not doing a makeup tutorial, so surely all you need is a camera, good lighting and your face, right? Wrong. Viewers like to see the visual content changing, and videos which have a range of scenes are usually far more successful than those where it's just a person talking to camera. Think about how you can insert cutaways, pop up text, different footage and other graphics to keep it interesting for your viewers.
4. Make it shorter
This one is a no brainer really. If you make a one-minute video, how hard is it going to be to keep viewers watching to the end compared to a 20-minute marathon. However, going too short can be negative too, unless you really do have something very quick and simple to showcase. Long videos work well for YouTubers in the gaming niche, in particular, because viewers want to know the end result, but for most of us, these sorts of viewing statistics are hard to reach.
If you consider a viewer who watches three minutes of your content, would you rather they watched three minutes of a ten-minute video and then clicked away bored, or would you rather they finished an entire video that was only three minutes long? Both in terms of audience retention and of your own reputation, having a viewer finish a short video is much more valuable to you than losing someone half way through a long one. That person probably enjoyed your content to the end and will more than likely watch another one of your videos. Conversely, the one you lost half way through was bored enough to stop watching and will probably not bother viewing any other videos of yours in future.
5. Keep them hooked
Think carefully about your YouTube video structure. Ideally, you will tell them at the very start that you've got something amazing to share with them later on. This could be a tip, a tutorial, a new product reveal or even something funny. Whatever it is, tell them they're going to love it from the start, and keep reminding them to watch from the end to get this gift. That doesn't mean you shouldn't give them great content all the way through, just that you should save a carrot for the end of the ride to reward those loyal viewers.
So, now you know how to increase YouTube audience retention, what are you going to do about it? Have a go at modifying your videos to boost the numbers who will watch to the end and let us know how you got on.