Engagement is my favorite metric to track, as it represents the overall performance and health of your video. Unlike so-called vanity metrics such as Views (which show the reach of your video), metrics like Audience Retention tell you the percentage of the video the audience watched/engaged with and exactly what parts were watched. Analyzing this metric will help guide you on what your audience really wants to see so that you can do more of it in the future!

This is important because video is powerful. The more time people spend watching your content, the more likely they are to engage with you. This means giving you a “Like” instead of just a view. Eventually, viewers will start to comment on or share your content. If they come back later, it could be to make an online purchase on a commerce site or request more information from a B2B site.

The holy grail is to have highly engaged viewers become an advocate of your brand, freely promoting your content.

Getting started

You’ll want to first become familiar with your digital marketing channel of choice to see how they obtain their metrics, as channels may count or present metrics differently. Then, you’ll need to read the graphs and other data provided for your video. Below is an example of an Audience Retention graph for a video in YouTube and a video in Facebook.

The graph line shows the percentage of total viewers watching the video at various times. It is typical for your engagement graph to receive a drop off at the beginning (as some people realize this video isn’t for them) and at the end (when the video is wrapping up and contact information appears), but the goal is to have the drop-off be minimal and gradual throughout the video.

The gradual drop-off of the YouTube graph would be considered good, and a 74% retention is above the bench mark for a video of this length (which is one minute). The steep drop-off on the Facebook graph is not optimal, although Facebook videos often receive short 3-second views as people scroll by on their news feed, resulting in a sharper retention drop-off.

It is worth noting that the graph can also rise up, as people may skip ahead or re-watch certain parts of the video. Re-watching could mean you have amazing content in a certain section, or that your content isn’t clear and a better explanation may be necessary.

OK, now what?

Three simple ways to improve engagement are finding what gets people excited to watch your content, tailoring your content to a specific social channel and keeping the length of your video content to a minimum.

Generating excitement

The title and thumbnail of your video is the “first impression” that you make on potential viewers. I recommend A/B testing your video titles and thumbnail images. If you have similar videos on YouTube, perhaps title one with the name of a person in the video, another with the topic and another with buzz words like “new.” See if a certain type of title gets higher view counts and engagement rates.

If you are including videos in email marketing campaigns, try A/B testing with the email subject line. Adding the word “Video” to the subject line usually increases email open and click-through rate significantly. Just remember to keep the title and thumbnail relevant to the video. If you mislead a viewer with a title or image, they are likely to abruptly stop watching and that will cause a large drop off at the beginning of your engagement analytics.

Tailor to a specific channel

Your video may be performing great on YouTube, but not great on Facebook or Instagram. There could be many simple reasons why. For instance, Instagram tends to show the first frame of your video as the default thumbnail. Many people start videos with a fade from black, so they won’t be attracting viewers with that image.

On Facebook, most people have audio off when scrolling through their news feed, so perhaps making a short version of your video with captions will catch people’s attention. Then, the post can have a link to the full video.

Which Instagram video draws your attention?

Length matters

Take a look at Wistia’s bench mark for engagement loss over time:

This chart is pulled from Wistia.

Notice that the loss increases as time increases. This mimics viewer attention spans. Always be as concise as possible. A minute? Great. Two or three minutes. Fine. Five minutes? Only if there is a good reason. Now of course this varies by topic and industry (an engaging TED Talk can be 15 minutes without issue and a scientific lecture can be an hour easy). But, consider breaking longer content down into parts.

For example, I had a 6-minute video and a 10 minute on similar topics with similar speakers. The 6-minute video had a much better engagement. I then broke the 6-minute video into two 3-minute videos and each video received even higher engagement. Your audience is much more likely to find time to view a larger percentage of short content.

By following these tips, you can increase your video’s engagement. To become more involved with this, consider investing in social media management software or using video platforms like Brightcove. All of this should help your videos lead to an increase in sales, followers, or reach whatever your marketing goals may be.