Audience retention on YouTube: 5 tips to improve it!
Audience retention is a key metric for video marketing: in this post, we’ll provide some practical advice on how to improve it!
Audience retention is a key metric for video marketing, in general. It’s all the more so for videos on YouTube. As a result, thinking about how to keep your audience retention—and then acting on it—is absolutely crucial and central. In this post, we’ll provide some practical advice on how to do it. But let’s proceed in order.
First of all, what do we mean by audience retention? It’s very simple: audience retention measures how much a viewer watches before abandoning the video.
Let’s take a practical example. We have a 10-minute video: a user starts viewing and stops at minute 5.00. In this case, the audience retention rate is 50%. Clearly, then, it’s a matter of analyzing the data of all users and averaging it. But why is this metric so important?
Primarily, for a very straightforward reason: a very low average audience retention rate means that there is something wrong. Your video doesn’t capture users’ attention. Or, at the very least, it’s not able to hold their attention for long enough. And that’s a big problem!
But there is also another key reason to keep an eye on the audience retention data of your videos: YouTube’s ranking. In fact, this metric is one that the algorithms take into great consideration.
So: a better retention rate translates into better positioning. Better positioning, in turn, translates into increased visibility, with all that it entails. In short: this triggers the virtuous circle.
Before moving on to practical suggestions, let’s ask one last question. What is the average audience retention rate for all YouTube videos? Here, it’s not easy to have a reliable figure.
According to some research, however, this figure is around 50% (uhurunetwork.com). According to other sources, around 35-40% is more reliable. In any case, there are even macroscopic differences depending on the formats and length of the videos (clearly, a snackable video has very different dynamics from a 20-minute long form video).
Given these premises, let’s look at how to keep your audience retention through 5 practical tips!
Keeping promises, meeting expectations
Let’s start with a basic aspect: how to keep your audience retention? First, by not betraying the expectations of the audience.
If I walk into a store that has “goldsmithing” written on the sign, I don’t want to be in a grocery store. And vice versa.
In other words: it is useless and counterproductive to play on a clickbait title if the video then goes in a completely different direction. The user may well be attracted initially, but soon he’ll probably feel tricked, and certainly bewildered. Therefore, he’ll stop watching the video.
This is exactly what the YouTube algorithm will penalize. Be careful, though: it’s not just about the title.
The thumbnail, first and foremost, plays a decisive role: and here, too, expectations must be stimulated and then met. But that’s still not all. Often, you end up on a YouTube video from a hook on another website (whether it is the company’s or not) or, even more often, on social networks. Here, too, you need to know how to stimulate attention—standing out from the noise, of course—but also making sure that the expectations raised are then met when your audience watches the video. It’s a matter of balance.
Storytelling management…start with the script
How to keep your audience retention? It’s mostly about not being boring and knowing how to manage your audience’s attention throughout the video.
All very easy in words, much more difficult in practice. How to do it, then?
Let’s make this realization clear right away: there is no universal recipe that is valid for all brands, for all creators, for all videos.
It is evident, for example, that a 30-second video requires a very different structure and storytelling than a video of three or four minutes, which, in turn, is very different from a 20-minute long video. Also: an explainer video related to gardening develops with very different dynamics than a company video for a multinational brand.
Amid all these variables, however, there are two firm points to note carefully:
- The first: you must always start with a script. And this is true even for videos of only a few seconds, and even for those that want to give an impression of “craftsmanship” and “improvisation.” In any case, you have to have a narrative arc in mind. How to draw it? Starting with the end goal, thus what you hope to achieve with your video. From there, you then focus on the very first few seconds of the video, which must be able to capture the viewer’s attention. Then, you have to play with pacing, core themes, climaxes, and other techniques that storytelling experts know how to adapt to individual cases from time to time.
- The second: it all depends on the recipients of the communication. This brings us directly to the next tip on our list.
It all depends on the recipients…hence the data
We’re not saying anything original when we say that there is no single communication that is more effective than another, in absolute and “objective” terms.
A video on pregnancy health is unlikely to appeal to a target audience of 70-year-old males. An advertisement for a tire shop located 400 kilometers from my home is unlikely to capture my attention. Conversely, if I am a cooking enthusiast, I’m much more likely to be interested in and follow a video on this topic to the very end.
If I’m especially fond of the cuisine of a particular region of the world, an even more specific video will interest me even more.
In short, the effectiveness of any message depends on the characteristics of the recipient: this is one of the oldest and most reliable staples of communication.
How does this fit into the digital ecosystem? It’s about having multiple opportunities.
Today, in fact, you can get to know your actual and potential target audience even when it consists of thousands or millions of people.
How? With Big Data analysis. So, by using the digital traces we all continuously disseminate online to understand who is on the other side of the screen: biographical, social, geographical data. Habits, tastes, preferences, interests and possible desires.
The next step? Building videos that are no longer one-size-fits-all, but that are tailored to the characteristics of individual target audiences.
This is the turning point of personalized videos!
Finally, look out for another opportunity that data analytics offers: to evaluate the performance of your video in depth, to identify the points when users typically abandon viewing (which users, specifically?). And, accordingly, fix what is not working, recalibrate, and continuously improve the retention of your productions.
Break down the narrative into chapters
Following this very decisive point, we come to something much more practical.
In our second point we talked about scripts and storytelling: thus the narrative structure of videos.
One specific suggestion: whenever possible—and when it makes sense for your goals—divide your narrative into chapters.
There is a specific feature on YouTube. This way the video remains unified, but each chapter has its own specific preview.
In this way, the viewer can have a precise and orderly overview of the content and move immediately to the sections of interest without wasting time and thus minimizing the risk of abandoning the viewing out of frustration. All of this is ultimately rewarded by the algorithm.
Use on-screen graphics
We have come to the end of our tips for retaining your audience on YouTube. Let’s conclude with another very practical and concrete tip. A good practice, one that is very simple to implement, is to always add graphics to your video.
Many A/B tests have shown how the same video, with the addition of graphics, records significantly better retention rates. This stems, quite simply, from the ability of graphics to attract more attention, making it easier to understand and remember messages: thus helping to make the user continue playing the video.
In this regard, there is another aspect to consider: a good percentage of users – in certain situations – might view videos in silent mode. The inclusion of graphics and text elements, in this case, naturally becomes decisive.
In conclusion: how to keep your audience retention on YouTube? As we mentioned, there are many variables. But having these five sticking points in mind will certainly help to guide you in your choices.
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