In a nutshell

  • Audience retention rate on YouTube measures the percentage of viewers who watch a video from beginning to end and is a critical metric to gauge viewer engagement.
  • A higher audience retention rate not only signals to YouTube that your content is engaging but also attracts sponsors, allowing for growth and potential revenue.
  • To boost retention rates, creators should analyze their videos to identify where viewers drop off and consider how they can improve their videos to make them more engaging throughout.

As a creative professional, knowing how to produce a video that captivates viewers from start to finish is as crucial as mastering the art of video creation itself. For small businesses and solo creators, the challenge goes beyond creating quality content; it extends to ensuring that people watch the content you painstakingly create. Fortunately, YouTube recognizes this challenge and offers specific tools to help gauge viewer engagement using a metric referred to as audience retention rate.

But what exactly is audience retention, and why should creators pay close attention to it? In this article, we’ll delve into what audience retention entails and why it plays a pivotal role in garnering views on YouTube.

What is an audience retention rate?

First and foremost, let’s clarify what an audience retention rate is. On YouTube, the audience retention rate indicates the percentage of viewers who watch a video from its beginning through to its middle and end. Additionally, it provides an overall retention rate based on the average view duration the video receives. How is this rate calculated? Suppose you recently uploaded a 20-minute video. After a week, on average, viewers watch 13 minutes of the video before exiting. To obtain the total average retention rate, you divide the average watch duration (13 minutes) by the video’s total duration (20 minutes), resulting in a 65% retention rate. Maintaining a high average view duration signals to YouTube that your content engages viewers and keeps them on the platform.

You can access your audience retention rate and average view duration within your YouTube Studio. Here, YouTube presents your videos’ retention rates along with other valuable metrics, such as how many viewers stay through your video’s introduction, spikes indicating portions viewers rewatched and dips marking segments where viewers skipped or left the video.

Why does the retention rate matter?

Now, why should you be concerned about this rate? YouTube employs these metrics to assess your video’s overall quality. Higher retention rates signal to YouTube that your content is engaging and worth watching. This ultimately boosts your video’s visibility within the YouTube algorithm and puts your videos in front of more eyes. This will inevitably lead to more clicks and views.

But retention rates don’t just show YouTube you’re getting people to watch; they can also help guide your future video strategies. When you see high points in your retention rates, that’s a sign viewers are really tuned in. These are the moments where your content is hitting the mark, and you might want to consider incorporating similar elements in your upcoming videos. On the flip side, low points or dips in retention indicate room for improvement. These are the segments where viewers are losing interest, and you’ll want to zero in on these areas when planning your next video.

What does good audience retention look like?

According to VidIQ and YouTuber Rob Wilson, there isn’t a universal benchmark for retention rates. The level of retention varies depending on the type of videos you create. For example, if you produce step-by-step guides for fixing a leaky pipe, you might achieve a higher-than-average retention rate because viewers need to watch all the steps to complete the task. Conversely, if you create news videos, viewers may skip to the segments that interest them most and exit once those segments conclude.

However, for a basic retention to shoot for, VidIQ and Wilson assert, “If your video is longer than five minutes, and audience retention is above 50%, you’re probably doing a good job. If your video is longer than five minutes, and you’re getting audience retention above 70% in the first 30 seconds, then you’ve got your hook … ” Indeed, while there’s no fixed retention rate standard, keeping the majority of your audience engaged through your introduction and most of your video signifies a job well done.

Are there ways to improve a low retention rate?

The best way to improve your retention rates is to examine your videos and find out what’s working and what isn’t. Where are you losing your viewers? If drop-offs occur during your video’s introduction, consider crafting more engaging intros. If audience interest dwindles as the video progresses, this may indicate that your videos are overly long and require trimming. It might also suggest the need for more captivating content to maintain viewer engagement. Surprisingly, minor editing tweaks, such as adding music, sound effects or graphics, can significantly contribute to viewer retention. But first, make these elements fit with your content’s style, as adding unnecessary elements might do more harm than good.

Improve your audience retention for more views

Understanding and leveraging audience retention rates on YouTube can help you rake in more views. By consistently analyzing your YouTube Studio analytics, you can identify areas for improvement, whether it’s the intro, middle section or the end of your videos. High retention rates not only put you in good graces with the YouTube algorithm but also draw in advertisers, providing you a dual win of more viewers and more potential revenue. So, don’t overlook this metric; use it as a tool for growth and for producing content that you’re not only proud of but that also keeps viewers hooked.