For the longest time, everyone was obsessed with view count. Clients were focused on making that number as big as possible and every video maker was fielding requests asking them to "make a viral video." These days, video makers have a better understanding of what metrics really matter to determine if their video content is working. Similarly, brands are spending loads of their marketing budget on video and are more analytics conscious than ever.

So, as a video creator, how do you make sure your content has a positive Return on Investment (ROI)?

It's easier than you think. Just set goals based on marketing objectives. Answer the question, 'What is your video trying to do?' Increase sales? Drive website traffic?

Once you answer this question, connect those goals to specific metrics to keep track of your progress and prove that you're delivering results.

The metrics you focus on are called Key Performance Indicators and in the world of video marketing there are a handful of numbers that we use to measure success. Many platforms will give you some of the KPI’s you may be looking for and any platform designed for business should give you all of them (and then some).

Let's run through the basic 5 metrics you should keep handy during your next campaign. After reading, download a cheatsheet with the basics.

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Views measure reach

Views are a little more complicated than you think but basically it's how many people played your video. Some platforms will give you a number of unique viewers while others will focus on a raw play count number.

Views are a good indicator of reach. The higher your view count, the more people saw your video. It's a good way to make sure your content is going out to the right audience. You can compare view counts from video to video to easily identify which ones are over or under-performing. Views are just the tip of the iceberg though. You'll need to dig deeper to get more insight.

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Play Rate measures relevance

Play rate is the percent of people who clicked play on your video divided by the number of total visitors to the video’s page

Play rate is a good way to measure relevance. If a lot of people decided not to click on your video it might be on a topic that doesn't resonate with your audience or a thumbnail that doesn't grab your viewer's attention. It could also indicate a more technical issue like a problem with your video's placement on the page or the page’s functionality overall.

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Engagement measures what kind of views you're getting

Engagement numbers are one of the most important metrics you can use to measure the success of your video. These metrics are displayed differently from platform to platform but they all show how your audience watches your video. Often they're displayed in a graph format where you can see what percentage of your viewers are watching as the video goes on.

Understanding whether or not our viewers are sticking with the video is crucial information that tells us how good that content is. On platforms that have a visual graph, we can pinpoint specific areas where people stopped watching (or rewatched). It's a great way to identify concrete ways of optimizing your video like removing a long intro graphic or adding explanatory graphics to help illustrate a complex topic that people are frequently rewatching.

Caution: Each platforms' engagement graphs will tend to look different.

On social media people are scrolling through a feed of autoplaying content so you can expect to see a sharp drop-off in the first few seconds of your video. On your website however, graphs will tend to be flatter since people making the decision to click play are more likely to watch longer.

No matter the platform, expect to see drop-offs at the beginning of the video as people figure out if it’s right for them as well as the end when folks sense there's no more useful information left.

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Conversions measure how well your video inspires action

On most platforms you can add a variety of interactive elements in your video. These can be as simple as a web link or something more complex like a form for lead generation. You can usually track basic conversions on the video platform itself but if you use a 3rd party tool to add interactive elements into your video (like a Hubspot integration) you might have to use that tool's analytics to get the full picture.

For a lot of inbound marketing campaigns, tracking conversions is crucial. It's nice to have an engaging video with a large reach, but ultimately what really matters is if people click the link to your website or fill out your lead gen form. The other metrics in this article will tell you if your video was good. This metric will tell you if your video was effective.

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Bonus: Sharing, Organic Feedback, and Site Metrics

The above metrics are the most important but other sources of information will help give your KPIs additional context and paint a clearer picture of how your content is performing.

Shares are a good indicator that your content not only resonates with your audience but gets them excited enough to want to share it to their own network. Not all content will be very sharable and that's okay. Product-centric content and inbound marketing content is extremely important but has an inherently specific audience. Broader brand videos, educational content, and video designed to entertain is much more likely to be shared. It's important to specifically encourage your audience with clear CTAs if sharing is your goal.

Organic feedback includes comments, messages, and other discussion around your content. Again, not all content is designed to foster community, but if that's your goal it's important to see results beyond your video's stats. Just like with sharing, it's important to make specific asks to prompt your viewers to comment and converse.

Site metrics are extremely helpful tools to show you how your video fits in with the rest of your content. Basic metrics like bounce rate, average time on site, and goal tracking can give you a sense of how your video contributes (or hurts) your page's performance. More advanced tracking like heatmaps and user testing can give you even deeper insight into how your video impacts the ways your audience uses your website.

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Putting This Into Practice

During your next project start thinking about how your marketing goals connect to specific metrics. This portfolio of important numbers make up your Key Performance Indicators. Keeping this info in mind from the beginning will help give you a roadmap for reporting, analyzing your success, and optimizing your video content moving forward.

To help keep these KPIs top of mind, click here to download this pdf cheat sheet.

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