Creating high-quality videos may be second nature to you, but when you want your brand to make it big on YouTube, it’s not just your filming and editing talents that count. Mastering YouTube’s algorithm is all about creating content that users actually want to see and are searching for. To figure out what content will do the trick, you’ll need to turn to your YouTube analytics and find out what exactly your metrics are telling you.
When you start using the right data to inform your marketing strategy and improve your YouTube channel, you’ll be one step closer to standing out against the competition—and with 500 hours of video content uploaded by the minute, there’s a lot.
We’ll explain the 11 key metrics every brand should track and how they can help you refine your YouTube marketing strategy.
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YouTube makes it easy to access details about your performance straight from your account, so there’s no need to invest in any third-party analytics tools. Just by jumping into your YouTube Studio—the part of the platform where you manage all of your channel content—you can view reliable metrics for your channel and for individual videos.
Here are the metrics that can make a big difference as you plan out your brand’s YouTube strategy.
YouTube Channel Analytics
Your YouTube analytics dashboard, accessible from youtube.com/analytics, is home to all the metrics you need regarding your channel’s performance as a whole. It’s split up into four primary sections—Overview, Reach, Engagement, and Audience—each of which can give you some helpful details about how effective your YouTube strategy really is.
Your channel overview highlights some of the key metrics that YouTubers and companies should minimally track. Among them are your channel views, top videos, and subscriber count.
1. Channel Views
The first thing you’ll see when you jump into your YouTube analytics dashboard is your channel views. This will show you the total number of video views your channel has received over a specific length of time. You can toggle the date range on the top right corner of your dashboard as you’re viewing any of your YouTube metrics.
On YouTube, a video view is generally counted when a user watches for at least 30 seconds. When your total channel views are dropping or staying stagnant, you may want to consider these two possible reasons:
- Your video intros aren’t engaging enough.
- Your videos aren’t capturing clicks in the first place.
If you suspect the latter is the issue, try spicing up your future video titles and thumbnails. Get creative, without being clickbaity.
Need some help turning your thumbnails into attention-grabbing designs? Start with a free YouTube thumbnail template on Spark, customize it with your own text and images, then tap “Brandify” to give it your company’s special look and feel. You’ll have a beautiful, upload-ready design within minutes!
2. Top Videos
Scrolling down on your “Overview” page, you can see your top-performing videos within your selected time period.
When selecting a shorter time frame, such as the past seven days, you definitely want to see your new videos toward the top of this list. If they’re not getting the majority of views around the time it’s published, you’ll know that they’re either not generating enough interest or your live promotions (on YouTube or on other social media platforms) aren’t as effective as they could be.
If older videos that you’re not actively promoting are consistently ranking high, this is great news! This likely means that your video title and description are optimized for YouTube search. Your video title and description likely include search terms that your target audience actually uses, and your video content likely matches their search intent—meaning they’re staying to watch after clicking in. Take note of your successes to inspire future videos.
3. Subscriber Count
Your channel overview shows your subscriber growth over your selected time period, as well as over the past 48 hours.
If there are any sudden spikes or drops within your subscriber count on a specific day or week, you can probably pinpoint exactly what content your audience is responding to based on what video was published or promoted at that time.
If you’re seeing a gradual drop over time, your audience may be tuning out from your content. Brainstorm some new types of videos you can try out or hone in on any types of videos that are consistently performing well.
Your “Reach” tab can tell you if your target audience is actually finding your videos in the first place. Here are two reach metrics to focus on:
1. Impressions Click-Through Rate
Your impressions click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who saw your video on the YouTube platform—perhaps as a suggested video or straight from your channel—and actually clicked in.
You’ll usually need about 100 views for this metric to matter, but once you pass this view count, your CTR should be at least 2-10%. If you’re not hitting this benchmark or want to improve your CTR, you definitely want to make your YouTube video titles and thumbnails more enticing.
Pro tip: Scroll down to your impressions funnel to see if clicks are actually translating into complete video views, so you know if your content needs work, too!
2. Traffic Source Types
Your reach metrics tell you a lot about where your viewers are actually coming from. Under “Traffic Source Types,” you can see if you’re getting more views from within the platform or from external websites. Scrolling down, you can see what specific external sources are driving video views (for example, Facebook or Google), as well as what search terms people are using within YouTube to find your videos.
This can inform your YouTube strategy in two ways. First, if you notice that you can improve the total views you’re getting from external sources, it’s possible your outside promotions aren’t engaging enough. One action you can take is sprucing up your social media marketing with more engaging visuals that earn you link clicks. Try out Spark’s social media graphic templates for eye-catching designs you can easily customize by tapping here:
On the flip side, if you’re struggling to get views through YouTube, you may need to improve your videos’ search engine optimization (SEO). Add more relevant search terms within your titles and descriptions, taking inspiration from the search terms that users are already finding you through.
Within the engagement metrics tab of your YouTube analytics dashboard, we recommend looking at one main metric:
Average View Duration
Your average view duration tells you the amount of time that most users are actually staying to watch your videos.
If your audience consistently stays through the first minute, your intro is probably good—but if they’re not staying much longer than that, you’ll want to brainstorm new ways to keep your audience engaged throughout your videos.
Your “Audience” tab is one of the most important sections of your YouTube analytics dashboard when it comes to improving your targeting. Here, you’ll learn more about who your viewers actually are.
1. When Your Viewers Are on YouTube
The “When your viewers are on YouTube” section shows when users are most active on the platform, in your time zone. This is a great metric to keep an eye on when you want to get more strategic about when you schedule your videos to launch.
Scrolling further down, you can also view your channel’s “Top geographies” and “Age and gender” metrics. This can give you rich insight into how you can better cater your audience. Should you avoid slang that your Gen X viewers won’t get? Should your cooking tutorials use grams instead of ounces?
However, if your demographics are completely different from your target audience—for example, if you’re mainly reaching people in the United Kingdom, but you offer a location-based service in San Francisco—you may want to rethink your video strategy and brainstorm more relevant content for the people you really want to reach.
You can even consider a YouTube channel rebrand. Use Spark’s YouTube banner templates to create stunning designs with colors, fonts, and content that show exactly who your channel is designed for. Pick out your ideal template by tapping here:
To get a better understanding about your brand’s performance, track your YouTube metrics on specific videos. Looking at the broader picture is great, but zooming in on the details is the best way to see what exact types of content your viewers are responding to.
Accessing your individual video metrics is simple. While you’re in your YouTube Studio (on desktop), select “Content” from the left-hand sidebar. Then, hover over the video you want to analyze. Tap the bar graph icon to open YouTube analytics for the video.
Once you’re there, we recommend focusing on these three metrics to improve your video strategy:
1. Audience Retention
When you open up your video’s analytics, you can scroll down to the “Key moments for audience retention” section. This area will give you insight into how your audience is responding throughout your video. Here, you’ll see:
- The average length of time audience members are watching your video
- The average percentage of your video they complete
- An audience retention graph that shows where your audience is staying tuned, dropping off, or re-watching content.
Take a look at where viewers are engaging or disengaging to find patterns in what content is affecting watch time the most.
2. Likes vs. Dislikes
From your “Engagement” tab, take a look at the ratio of likes to dislikes on your video. This will tell you your audience’s overall reaction to your video. The number of likes you receive is great feedback that shows users’ sentiment toward specific subjects, editing styles, and more. If possible, look toward your comment section for more specific feedback on why people are liking or disliking your videos.
3. End Screen Element Click Rate
Finally, if your YouTube videos include end screens—which are clickable buttons for users to subscribe, head to another video, and more—we recommend scrolling down under “Engagement” to view your end screen element click rate. This shows what percentage of viewers are actually responding to your call to action (CTA).
If your click rate isn’t doing great, you may consider:
- Suggesting more relevant videos for users to watch next
- Adding a verbal CTA in your video before your end screen appears
- Finding ways to reach more viewers who aren’t already subscribed to you
When you start to track key metrics from your channel and your individual videos’ YouTube analytics dashboards, you’ll be better equipped to improve your video performance over time. If you haven’t done it already, your next task is to build subscriber loyalty by solidifying your brand on YouTube and beyond. Get a head start by creating YouTube channel art that truly reflects you!