With all the (justifiable) attention being paid to TikTok lately, it can be easy to forget that YouTube remains the powerhouse for online video–particularly when it comes to active users and time spent viewing. This last point is what matters for agencies and their clients since consumers are on YouTube all day, every day, waiting for the right content to speak to their needs.
Against this backdrop and amidst the ongoing growth of video marketing, it becomes more important than ever to optimize your YouTube video content. Trends and benchmarks will always shift and are important to monitor in terms of remaining competitive year after year. But many of the same core metrics and KPIs that have always made for proficient growth marketing on YouTube will continue to serve as the foundation for your agency’s strategies for the foreseeable future.
On that note, let’s zoom in on the most important metrics and KPIs to track on YouTube, as you go about pursuing impactful growth for client brands.
Top Video KPIs and Why You Need to Measure Them
We’ve been over the difference between KPIs and metrics before. In simplest terms, key performance indicators (KPIs) are exactly that, measurements tied to business objectives. Metrics, by contrast, are more goal-agnostic. They inform KPIs but aren’t necessarily linked directly to growth trajectories.
For example, video views are more of a metric than a KPI, because views won’t necessarily translate to anything meaningful for the business. However, view time could be used as a KPI, as it means that the target audience is actually engaging with your video content.
Metrics show you where the wind is blowing. Your KPIs are the constellations you use to chart your journey. As such, some metrics can stand in for KPIs as you see where you’re moving, but not all will precisely link back to performance in the ways that ultimately count – namely, MQLs and/or conversions.
When it comes to YouTube, your KPIs are going to revolve around how effectively your efforts as an agency are contributing to sales pipeline growth, particularly when it comes to audience reach and time spent by that audience on your client’s videos.
While the needs of individual agencies and/or clients may vary, a few core KPIs tend to overlap between all stakeholders when it comes to video content. Again, for you, some of these may make more sense as standalone metrics vs. KPIs, but the spirit of the analysis remains mostly the same.
What to Look For
Views are the broadest quick-check metric from which to start your KPI tracking. When they’re growing from video to video, you know you’re on the right track. When they aren’t, it might be time to pivot or at least dive deeper into other KPIs, to ensure your YouTube content is proving effective in the ways that count (ultimately, conversions).
Volume and growth. But views alone are an incomplete measure of success. If a video has tens of thousands of views but an average watch time of 2% – it’s not a success. Your title or thumbnail may be performing well, but something is wrong in terms of delivering on the promise made by those things. Views can be a good KPI at the beginning of a campaign or engagement but may fade back to a broader metric later on as you grow your video efforts on YouTube.
In basic terms, unique viewers are equivalent to unique visitors to your client’s website. It’s a useful KPI in that it tells you how many new viewers your videos are reaching over time, and it can also be used in combination with our metrics and KPIs to analyze how your videos are performing within your subscriber segments.
This KPI offers slightly more precision about how your videos are performing on a base level. If this KPI is not growing over time, you might be leaning too heavily on your baseline audiences, and/or your ad targeting may need some refinement. Conversely, if this KPI persists within a flatter growth trajectory, but overall views remain strong, then you know you’re doing a good job of serving your subscribers or core audience. For agencies operating campaigns, however, you’ll likely want to track this KPI to target baseline growth as you seek to bring in more unique viewers.
Also called estimated minutes watched, or average view time, this crucial KPI helps you analyze how well your videos are delivering on their intended promise – to provide content worthy of watching all the way through (or close to it).
Now we’re getting into the real stuff. To put it simply: high average watch times indicate success. They mean viewers are sticking with your video. Low indicators in this category mean that something isn’t working and could use a fresh look.
Although there will be a few different flavors of CTR when it comes to YouTube, all of them answer the same question when it comes to this essential KPI. Are people clicking through to where you want them to go next, at any point while watching?
There aren’t many KPIs more important than CTR (other than conversions). When it comes to YouTube performance, however, CTR is king. In most cases, conversion tracking is going to happen after your videos kick viewers over to product or landing pages, as part of a broader campaign. That means that measuring and improving upon CTR for your videos is arguably the most salient KPI for YouTube videos. For more precise measures, use tracking links to connect YouTube CTR to CVR.
Subscribers are another important KPI since they show how well your videos are attracting superfans. Track this number regularly to ensure that you’re nurturing and growing your client’s core base in the long term.
Subscriber growth is a strong KPI. A great thing about this indicator is that it provides a measure of both short-term success and future prospects. A video that increases your subscriber count should be marked as effective, and an increased subscriber count makes it that much more likely that future videos will also perform well with your most loyal viewers or customers. Win-win.
Engagement represents a core KPI because it shows the level of interactivity engendered by your video(s). Formulae for measuring it may vary, but most often engagement statistics will be a mix of likes, dislikes, comments, and shares; sometimes measured against total unique viewers.
High engagement means something is working. It will also trigger algorithms within YouTube to surface your video for more viewers, organically and within ad campaigns. There’s often a direct correlation between high or low engagement and other KPIs.
Most Popular Videos
Identifying the top 5-10 videos by views and engagement will help inform future efforts. Data from these popular pieces of content can help show what elements from your videos that audiences seem to like best – which you can then replicate.
The more views, comments and likes you get on your client’s video the better! To make sure that people are watching, it's also important to know when your agency should post new content. You can use this information to understand the best posting cadence, so you're not just annoying everyone with mundane updates every day or every two weeks.
Again, this list is not meant to be exhaustive or to fit your strategy perfectly. There are definitely situations where metrics other than the above would matter as much or more as a KPI.
For example, if your client has a very specific mandate to grow inbound YouTube traffic and subscribers from a particular other social media channel, or to source new ones for expanded video growth, traffic sources might temporarily become a KPI as well.
Agency Tip: Remember that your YouTube video title and description are often as important as the video itself, for driving viewer engagement and clicks to your client’s website.
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Additional YouTube Metrics: Other Important Data To Measure
Not to belabor the point, but several metrics you’ll see cited around marketing and advertising circles might also be considered KPIs. Since we already covered the most essential measurements in these terms (in our humble opinion), in this section we’ll dig a little deeper into a few additional, narrower metrics that will also still provide a lot of important insight into how your videos are performing.
What to Look For
These are standalone engagement metrics that measure different flavors of efficacy. Plus, it’s always a nice feeling when a new video gets a lot of likes.
Volume. Growth in these metrics will trigger algorithms, and also serve as proof of your video’s worth to future organic and paid audiences. Even though YouTube removed the public-facing “dislikes”, you still want way more likes than dislikes. Aim for a 95% or higher like ratio
While technically belonging to the same category as the above, a share is an especially strong vote of confidence in your video by a viewer. As such, it makes sense to monitor this metric more closely.
Volume and upwards growth trajectories. Virality happens when a video is widely shared. Measuring when certain videos are succeeding more often in these terms will help inform what topics and formats are resonating with your intended audiences.
This baseline metric enables you to measure the efficacy of your larger video library against other metrics and KPIs. As the number of videos you produce and distribute for a brand grows, it will become important to maintain both a measure of cadence for long-tail campaign and marketing efforts, and to track aggregate growth in other areas against the number of videos released.
Growth over time, as a measure of consistency. Clients will want to see how videos are performing historically, from example to example and across groups of content. Breaking this down against total videos and/or comparing it against benchmarks can be very useful for high-level strategy and cadence discussions.
Traffic source data lets you know where your YouTube traffic is coming from, to understand if your agency is getting more hits from search, browsing, playlists or suggested videos.
This metric can also help spot areas to target for growth. For instance, if a video performs particularly well based on YouTube search, you’ll want to dig into other analyses to determine why. Alternatively, if your video is being found through a playlist, that’s another opportunity to explore.
A sub-metric of traffic sources, YouTube’s search report will identify keywords that are guiding users to your client’s videos.
As the second-largest search engine after Google itself, YouTube can be a powerful source of tracking how audiences are coming to you, via your video content. Look to this metric to see how well you’re tracking with the campaign objective, and to uncover any new organic keywords to refine paid and unpaid targeting.
Audience analytics gives your agency insight into who is consuming your client’s video content and can range from new vs. repeat visitors to demographic or geographic information.
These metrics provide guidance on who is watching the videos you are creating for your client. These data points include new vs. returning watchers, age, gender, other channels they watch, where they are located, as well as what subtitle language they are using. However, some of these audience metrics will only be available to your agency as your YouTube strategy builds.
YouTube can provide a graphical output of how well your video is performing at multiple stages along its timeline. Not only does this allow you to see how well a video is retaining viewers over time, YouTube will also present this data across a benchmark of all other videos on the platform, of a similar running time.
Spikes or dips within this metric, during a video’s duration, can hint at how well different subtopics might be performing within the title. Look to spikes for indications of material that’s working, and dips for an idea of what topics to ditch or reengineer.
How To View Data Insights on YouTube
The first and easiest place to go for data insights on YouTube will be in the Analytics tab within YouTube Studio. This will provide an instant, clear, top-level view of some of your KPIs and metrics.
There’s also an Advanced mode that can be triggered by clicking the text link in the upper-right hand corner of your Analytics tab, within your Studio. This view will offer more customization, to dig deeper into your data.
YouTube Analytics Tools
While the native data from Google can provide you with all the information you need to measure and analyze results, there are a few reasons why it also makes sense for agencies to enlist other analytics tools.
Simplified, streamlined reports
Cross-platform analytics (YouTube AND other channels and KPIs)
To aggregate and compare data across multiple campaigns and accounts
To track and analyze competitors and trends
Customized charts and visualizations
Keyword and SEO optimization for YouTube
The YouTube Dashboard from AgencyAnalytics performs such tasks in ways that are easy to manage. Building off the core of native YouTube data, it enables agencies to toggle between multiple client accounts through a single interface to track and present KPIs. Visualizations and reports are clean, simple, and customizable to the client and their needs.
Experiment with the best combination of tools that might work for you and your clients. White-labeling reports and customizing their structure according to your client’s needs can also be essential for optimizing performance on the channel.
How Often You Should Track YouTube Metrics and KPIs
We probably don’t have to tell you that it can become easy to get lost in all of the above data. Even if your videos are performing well, at the end of the day, your YouTube metrics and KPI tracking need to be about getting smarter about what’s working and what could be improved, when it comes to your video libraries.
Some factors to consider when deciding how often to track your YouTube data might include:
Your publishing schedule, and/or ad campaign schedule
The specific KPIs you’re tracking, how they and related metrics might impact future content decisions, and production structures and deadlines
What is considered appropriate for each client industry or niche
When an ad campaign is active, for instance, you’ll likely want to check in at least daily. Weekly could work as well, depending on the timeline of the campaign and your ability to test and change out assets. It can take some time to revise a video that’s underperforming.
Other KPIs require more patience. Subscribers are a crucial indicator of long-term growth and engagement, so give yourself more time to test and analyze that KPI. Similarly, time watched and the different flavors of engagement metrics may benefit from weeks or months in between any significant actions you might take regarding strategic shifts on YouTube.
A sample schedule might look like:
Weekly analysis and small adjustments, such as acting on results of A/B testing
Monthly analysis and strategy adjustments, based on 1 and 2 and against KPIs
Quarterly analysis against larger client KPIs
Consolidating Key YouTube Data
By now it should be clear that the best consolidation of YouTube data for your agency will depend on what KPIs you need to track for your clients, both on a 1:1 basis and in aggregate (in terms of your operations). AgencyAnalytics built a custom YouTube dashboard focusing on KPIs that truly matter to our agency partners.
Gather all of your client’s key YouTube metrics and KPIs in one place with our YouTube dashboard. Try AgencyAnalytics free for 14 days!
Vanity metrics will not provide the data you need to support clients in pursuing their long-term growth and conversion goals. No matter what tools (or set of tools) you use to consolidate key YouTube data, the efficacy of your efforts will turn on your ability to quickly parse this information, package and present it to clients in impactful ways.
We reverse-engineered our YouTube dashboard with these mandates in mind. You can see it in action with our live template, or start a free trial today to dive into experimenting with a cleaner, streamlined YouTube data dashboard.
Plus, all of your client’s YouTube data can be combined with other marketing programs your agency is running in a single, custom marketing dashboard. That way, your agency can highlight successes in YouTube video marketing, SEO, paid search, and social media – all under one roof.