Sharing content on YouTube can be a great marketing strategy for brands and individual creators. But it’s important to know what you’re doing—including how to tell whether your efforts are successful. Given how much time, money, and creativity it can take, most people don’t want to put in the work to create and upload videos without at least some engagement in return.
There are multiple strategies for growing your YouTube following. What all strategies have in common, however, is a need to dive into the data and use what you learn to drive future efforts. YouTube Analytics helps you do that with ease, and for many creators, it’s an integral part of effective sharing on the platform. Using it is not always intuitive, though, and if you don’t know what you’re looking at—and looking for—you could end up missing out on key information.
If you’re going to post on YouTube, you may as well do it right. Here’s what to know about making the most of YouTube Analytics, from the features that are included to where to find YouTube Analytics in the first place. We’ll also cover some best practice tips for using the service so that you can be sure to take advantage of all of its benefits.
What Are YouTube Analytics?
YouTube Analytics is a free service that businesses, influencers, and anyone else who is actively posting videos on the site can use to see exactly what’s working and what’s not. Used wisely, YouTube Analytics can help you maximize engagement on the platform, including gaining more views on your videos and bringing more followers to your channel.
There are four types of reports that you can access on your YouTube Analytics dashboard:
- General reports
- Engagement reports
- Audience reports
- Earnings reports
Within each reporting section, you’ll find data related to a wide range of metrics that impact your overall performance, including video and channel views, traffic sources, audience demographics, and watch times. Based on this information, you can then make more informed decisions on the content you create and the audience you target, as well as your YouTube Ads strategy and budget, if you’re also advertising on the site.
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Analytics on YouTube: Features and Metrics That Matter
You could probably spend an entire day browsing around YouTube Analytics and all that it can show you, but who has time for that? If you’re new to YouTube Analytics and data tracking, start with the most important features of the service, then dig in deeper as you get more comfortable digesting all of that information.
As for where to begin, here’s a quick look at the essential parts of YouTube Analytics for anyone who is looking to excel with their channel.
Each reporting section mentioned above has multiple additional reports that you can access within it. These range from high-level summaries to super-specific breakdowns of key metrics.
What reports end up being most critical to your strategy will largely depend on what you’re trying to achieve with your channel. That being said, summary-based reporting—particularly the Overview report in the General section, which gives you a broad look at total views, watch time, and follower gains or losses for a set period of time—will be useful to you no matter what your objectives are.
Another good place to look is the First 24 Hours report, which tells you how your video performed on the first day after posting, which can be a strong predictor of its overall level of success.
If you’re trying to grow your YouTube channel, then tracking your metrics is a smart strategy, but you don’t want to be spending hours (or even minutes, if we’re being honest) on metrics that don’t help you improve your practices.
When it comes to YouTube Analytics, not all metrics are created equal. Value comes from being able to cut through the noise and identify what metrics matter and what they mean for your engagement. As with YouTube Analytics reports, those specific metrics may be unique to your purposes, but there are some metrics that all creators should be measuring for a clear picture of where they’re at. These include:
- Top videos
- Average view duration
- Average percentage viewed
- Number of re-watches
- Subscriber growth
- Traffic sources
- Audience demographics
- Interactions (likes, dislikes, shares, comments, etc.)
If you’ve monetized your account, you’ll also want to keep an eye on metrics around earnings—such as revenue per transaction and total estimated revenue.
You can learn a lot by looking at the metrics for individual videos. For even more insight, though, check out YouTube Analytics’ comparison feature in Advanced Mode, which allows you to see a side-by-side breakdown of the performance between two videos, between one video and a group of videos, or of one video over a period of time.
Comparisons give you more context for figuring out what’s making an impact with your audience, and you’ll be able to choose which metrics you want to see a comparison of so that you only see the data you want to see. Because you can also choose which videos get compared, you can use this feature to benchmark your best videos against your worst ones and try to determine what does and doesn’t work with your audience.
What Are YouTube Insights?
Creators who love data should get excited about YouTube search insights, an experimental feature (it’s currently in the testing phase) that will give you a much better idea of viewer behaviors on the site. More formally known as YouTube Insights, the feature will allow you to see what YouTube’s general audience is searching for on the platform and, even more crucially, what your target audience is searching for.
You’ll also be able to use YouTube search insights to identify search terms with content gaps—and then fill that gap yourself if it’s relevant to your channel.
YouTube Insights is basically a YouTube-specific keyword research tool, with obvious benefits for creators. It’s currently in the initial rollout phase but should be available to a wider creator pool soon.
How to See YouTube Analytics
Wondering where to find YouTube Analytics? You’ll head to your dashboard on the YouTube Studio app and then click the Analytics tab. Once there, you can browse all of the aforementioned reporting categories to pull up the data that you’re looking for.
If you want to save or share your analytics reports, click “See More” on the report you’re interested in, then click the “download” button in the top right-hand corner. You can choose between exporting your data to Google Sheets or as a .csv file.
How to Use YouTube Analytics
A lot goes into building a channel that people want to follow. The big advantage that YouTube Analytics gives you is that it helps take a lot of the guesswork out of who your audience is and what they want to watch—and that’s information that you as a creator can benefit from as you find your footing and learn how to best engage on the platform.
If you’re actively using YouTube Analytics, then you’re already on the right track, especially if you’re prioritizing those key metrics and features. Beyond that, there are some additional best practices that you can use to optimize your use of the service and ensure your time is well spent.
Go In With Clear Goals
Obviously, growing your channel is a main objective, but what specifically are you hoping to learn from your YouTube Analytics reports?
If more engagement is a goal, for example, then you’ll know that you need to look at metrics related to interactions, as well as at comparisons between videos with varying levels of performance. If the goal is increased revenue, you’ll want to spend a lot of time analyzing your earnings reports.
Setting out clear goals can help make data monitoring a lot less overwhelming, and it can also help you take actionable steps based on what you learn, both of which are important for getting the most utility possible out of your reports.
Access Your Data Regularly
It’s hard to get any valuable takeaways if you’re only looking at your analytics here and there. If you’re serious about growing your YouTube channel, check on your data regularly, with more frequent check-ins surrounding new video launches. You can always use the comparisons feature to view changes in performance over time, but staying on top of your data on a regular schedule means you won’t accidentally miss any big trends or patterns.
Keep Tabs on Your Competitors
Success on YouTube requires a stellar channel, but it also requires that you outperform your direct competitors. And while YouTube Analytics won’t let you pull up data on how they’re performing, you can do a bit of research on your own to see how you’re measuring up.
With your own data around interactions in hand, head to competitor videos and see how their likes, dislikes, comments, and shares compare to yours. Is there anything they’re doing that you’re not, particularly in relation to their best-performing videos and posting frequency? There’s a lot to learn, all of which could help you make targeted improvements.
What Are Average YouTube Analytics?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to figure out a set average for what’s considered a good performance across YouTube Analytics’ many metrics. Channels vary significantly in size, budget, purpose, content, and audience, and direct comparisons of metric averages aren’t always relevant.
What’s more helpful then? Use your own averages. Track your metrics over time to get a full picture of what good, bad, and average performance look like for your channel, and use that information to gauge your wins and flops. The more you use YouTube Analytics, the more data you’ll have to work off of.
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