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How Retention Helps to Promote Content on YouTube

05 Apr, 2024

Many content creators dream of their video going viral, garnering millions of views and bringing in thousands of new subscribers. It seems like reaching this goal would allow you to kick back and relax. But the top creators know that all of this is not enough to consistently and confidently advance  on YouTube.

In this article we will provide guidance on how you can properly and effectively increase retention on each individual video and on your channel as a whole.

The main metric for content growth is retention

As you may now understand, to become a successful YouTuber, one viral video is not enough. Having one or even a couple of viral videos on your channel is somewhat similar to being a one-hit wonder in music.

Your main goal is to attract an audience's attention and gather a fan base on your channel that will continue to enjoy your content.

However, it is also necessary to attempt to create successful viral videos, but no one expects every video to become a hit.

If we continue to draw parallels with popular musicians, their repertoire always includes a variety of music, successful and unsuccessful releases, but of course, there are also well-deserved hits. And fans of their work may be  divided into those who love their idol for their music in general, for their stage image, or only for hit songs.

Since both fields are based on creativity and audience interaction, it can easily be said that YouTubing works exactly the same way.

Therefore, we recommend that you attempt to attract as many targeted viewers to your channel as possible, who will then continually be interested in your new videos.

From all this, two criteria that will help any of you become a popular and successful creator are the following: you need to attract new audiences to watch and convert them into regular viewers.

Why is retention an important metric for YouTubers?

To begin with, let's remember once and for all that YouTube values both video views and the content quality. They want to see how long viewers watch your content and whether they react during the process.

Here's an excellent reference from YouTube itself, answering the question "How does the YouTube system assess the effectiveness of videos?":

"Our systems track the effectiveness of videos when recommending them to the audience. Viewers can choose to watch, ignore, or click 'not interested.'

Success at the first stage depends on our video thumbnails, titles, and introductions, which are automatically played when hovered over. If people click and watch, then everything is good, and YouTube continues to promote the video."

"Then we look at whether the viewer is willing to hold their attention on the content. Our systems equally use both the average watch time and the average retention rate as signals for ranking. Ultimately, we also look at whether viewers liked the video, analyzing their likes, dislikes, and survey results after viewing.

But for now, let's set aside the topic of reactions during viewing and focus on the fact that video promotion directly depends on the 'retention' parameter, which is measured in minutes and percentages, respectively. And it is precisely this indicator that we will study and improve, analyzing individual videos.

The retention parameter is determined for a specific video and helps understand what viewers like and dislike about each individual episode. By working skillfully with retention, we can create a portrait of the ideal video."

What motivates viewers to watch entire videos?

Our ideal goal is to sell viewers on watching a video from start to finish.

If we speak in general terms, you need your videos to be interesting. However, the term "interesting" sounds too vague, so let's divide the work on the video into the following parts:

  • Topic
  • Plot
  • Presentation

To increase engagement, you'll need to work on all three aspects.

  • Video topic

If you think you should only focus on trends and current issues, you are mistaken. This is not the main criteria for a successful video topic at all.

A properly chosen video topic is the ability to address a viewer's pain point, meet a specific need, and stay within the overall concept of your channel.

If you run a news channel, then it's logical that the main pain point for your audience is getting timely access to the most current information. This is required because of your channel theme and the audience's expectations.

But if your channel is entertainment-focused, then the primary need being addressed is emotional relief, where viewers can relax and experience emotions while watching your videos.

When it comes to educational content, it's more about providing answers to pressing questions in a light and accessible format.

And to choose the right topics for your videos, you need to understand who you are making them for. Very often, a potentially successful video topic is not the one that you like, but the one that your audience needs.

  • Plot

Many of us get confused when it comes to writing a script, storytelling techniques, composition, and framing.

When we think about working with a script, we immediately imagine that we will have to sit down and write every word. But within the scope of YouTube, this is not necessary.

Yes, for some creators it is convenient to write a script because they may cover a huge amount of information from different sources. If this is the case, a script will help structure key points and resources coherently. 

A script fundamentally centers on structure. It involves careful pre-planning of the topic and its crucial elements, ensuring that the audience is not overwhelmed with superfluous details. Instead, it delivers a coherent and captivating story. 

To achieve this, a well-thought-out thesis plan is essential. For those adept in the art of improvisation and well-versed in their channel's theme, even a simple set of bullet points can serve as a reliable guide.

A script is 90% of the success of your video because it allows you to plan out the presentation of all the information to be delivered in your clip.

Many of us have found ourselves in a familiar scenario: engaged in conversation when suddenly, a debate sparks over a seemingly trivial matter. As the discussion unfolds, you realize your knowledge pales in comparison to your opponent's, leading to a resounding defeat and leaving you feeling defeated. 

The aftermath is often a whirlwind of regretful thoughts, pondering all the things you could have said better.

This is where the power of scripting comes into play. It gives you the chance to meticulously curate the finest phrases, jokes, and arguments, neatly compiling them without the frantic scramble to recall your thoughts. A script ensures your speech is articulate and coherent, capturing your audience's attention from start to finish.

Moreover, a well-structured script is crucial for keeping your content concise and engaging. Always adhere to the golden rule: a dynamic, content-rich five-minute video is infinitely preferable to a diluted, thirty-minute one. Remember, crafting an impressive script is only half the battle; delivering it effectively is equally important.

For those stepping into the spotlight as a vlogger, on-camera personality, or voiceover artist, it's imperative to refine your appearance, speech, and delivery techniques. A captivating video concept, no matter how intriguing, will fall flat without compelling presentation skills.

  • Video design

In this section, we're focusing not on the commonly discussed elements like thumbnails, titles, and descriptions, but rather on the intrinsic design of the video itself. This includes aspects such as cinematography, lighting, backdrop, editing, graphics, music, sound effects, and the use of text overlays and cutaways. 

Achieving viral status doesn't require groundbreaking editing or professional filmmaking skills. Instead, the goal is to ensure that all these elements collectively create a viewing experience that is both engaging and enjoyable for the audience.

What are some useful tips here?

Video Production Essentials

At the heart of any video production is the quality of the footage. This encompasses the stability of the frame, a visually appealing composition, optimal lighting, and clear sound. Whether your setup is professional-grade or more personal and intimate, the focus should be on delivering high-quality visuals and audio that align with your channel's vibe.

The Art of Engaging Editing

Engagement is key, and dynamic editing plays a pivotal role. Incorporating multiple camera angles or varied shots, emphasizing key points with text overlays, and structuring your video into clear segments enhances viewer retention. These segments, akin to chapters, should be evident in both your script and the final edit, offering a structured viewing experience. This technique is especially effective in straightforward, narrative-light content.

Cut the Clutter

Editing should eliminate any pauses or hesitations that don't enhance the message. Dramatic pauses can underscore significant moments; however, aimless rambling detracts from the content's value.

The Power of B-Roll

B-Roll, or supplemental footage, enriches your narrative. While stock videos are an option, original footage tends to resonate more deeply with your audience, offering authenticity stock footage often lacks. Remember, any use of external media should be copyright compliant. Personal footage not only adds uniqueness but also maintains the video's cohesive atmosphere.

Transitions: Keep It Simple

Transitions should be seamless rather than distracting. Avoid flashy effects in favor of clean, straightforward cuts, which maintain the video's flow and keep the focus on the content.

Concluding with Impact

Understanding how to effectively conclude your video is crucial. Engage your audience till the final moment, avoiding drawn-out endings that could lead to viewer drop-off. Concise, impactful conclusions encourage viewers to watch until the end, significantly benefiting video promotion on platforms like YouTube, where complete views can lead to increased visibility.

By focusing on these key aspects, you can enhance your video production, ensuring your content not only captures but also retains viewer interest.

What's next?

Our advice on enhancing the appeal and engagement of your videos isn't just casual chatter.

The effort you put into creating one exceptional video should reflect your commitment to the entire channel. Simply put, crafting one high-quality video followed by a series of hastily assembled ones won't cultivate a loyal audience. Every piece of content should be a testament to your dedication and quality standards, shaping the foundation of your channel's success.

And YouTube tells us why this is important:

This is the magic pill that will make you a successful YouTuber. If you create great videos, you will increase viewer retention. In addition, YouTube will begin to provide you with more exposure. People will come back to your channel for more views, and YouTube even recommends your videos to new viewers.

As you can see, working on each individual video is exactly what you need. This way, you can build an audience on your channel that won't unsubscribe at the slightest inconvenience. Because if you've gained the trust of your viewers, they won't abandon your channel, even when you're not at your best. Your efforts in scripting, editing, visuals, and music in your videos will be rewarded with audience trust. Make your videos high-quality, and you will never have to worry about retaining the attention of your subscribers. 

Keep creating!



Sasha Lerman

Copywriter, writer, editor. Development and promotion on YouTube, as well as many other exciting topics.

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