Do you ever wonder how to get people to watch until the end of your video? How can you make sure they don’t click off your video after the first 12 seconds?
Since 2012, watch time is the number one metric that matters on YouTube. Likes and followers are important, but your watch time makes all the difference. That’s why it’s so important to get people to watch all the way to the end of your video.
There are several elements you can tweak and improve to keep your audience engaged longer: engaging content, interesting titles, captivating thumbnails, and re-engaging YouTube descriptions - to name just a few.
When your watch time is high, your channel will more likely show up in searches and recommended videos. This way, you’ll get more views and followers. All of that is needed if you want to monetize your YouTube or use it as a platform for organic marketing.
While we are talking about YouTube, the underlying principles of what we tell you today also apply to othersocial media platforms, which we'll delve into at the end of this piece.
Obviously, the more often your content is watched, liked, and followed, the better. But, at the risk of being redundant, it all begins with knowing how to get people to watch your video all the way through.
Before we discuss the how, let’s talk about the why. As mentioned earlier, longer watch times help to get your videos more likes, and your videos will more often appear in searches. But why is video watch time the most important factor on YouTube right now, even more so than views?
It wasn’t always like this. Until 2010 the total number of views on your video was the most important metric, so everybody focused on it. But the problem was that if a person watched a video for even one second, the view would be counted and rank the video higher.
That meant that sometimes content which wasn’t any good at all got ranked highly - as long as the title or thumbnail was interesting. As a result, many YouTube users started click-baiting people with outrageous titles just to get clicks.
So that covers why it changed. Now, we can jump into the how. How can you get people to watch until the end of your video? Here are five concrete strategies to help you do just that:
One of the best ways to get people to watch until the end of your video is your content. What you talk about in the video has to be interesting, relevant, entertaining, or helpful. There has to be something in it for them. Ask yourself why somebody would want to watch your videos.
In the beginning, when nobody yet knows who you are, it’s best to create videos that arevaluableto the viewer. How-to videos do really well, for example. But, your audience might also want to watch, simply because it’s an entertaining video. It doesn’t always have to be high-level advice.
No matter which route you go - education or entertainment - you want to consider writing video scripts. A script gives you the basic outline of what you want to say in your video. It gives you a logical order and makes sure you don’t forget anything.
Now, you don’t want to recite your script word for word. That might sound too robotic. Talk naturally, like you were in a conversation with a friend. But use the script as a basic outline and helpful tool.
What also works really well when it comes to the content of your videos are stories. People love to hear stories. So, when you reach a part where you give a lot of information, relate it to a story.
Have you ever watched a movie, but you had to leave? It was probably really hard because part of you wanted to see the end. It’s the same with stories in YouTube videos. Your audience won’t even think about stopping the video because they want to hear the end of the story.
To get your scripts to the next level, and therefore get people to watch to the end of your video, you want two things.
First, put some research into it. If you make a video about a topic you know well, you might be tempted to just start. But it’s worth it to look it up online and see what other people are already talking about.
If you repeat the same thing that everybody is already saying, then people might leave your video before the end. So, maybe you can find some new or unusual elements during your research.
The second thing is, ask engaging questions during your video. A few questions here and there make your video so much more captivating and your audience will want to know what comes next. It can be simple questions like:
“Wouldn’t you agree that …?” or “So what can you do…?”
When you give lots of input in your video, the viewer’s concentration may fade. A question can draw them back in and keep them watching.
What also helps your audience retention is if you have interesting visuals. If you record yourself talking, pay attention to yourbody language. If you use slides, make them clear and interesting.
The next item to get people to watch until the end of your video is the title of the video. What is the purpose of a title and how can you use it for audience retention?
The main purpose of the video title is to get them to click on the video, like a headline in a magazine that draws you in to read something. A really good title shows the viewer what kind of benefit they will get from watching.
The benefit can look different from video to video. Maybe they learn something new, satisfy curiosity, or simply get a good laugh. Whatever your video is about, the title is an expression of that.
The title has to be compelling. If it isn’t, nobody will click on your video and you won’t even get a view, let alone a chance to build up watch time. To write better titles, it’s a good idea to look at some articles online to find out what works and why. Then you can do something similar for your own videos.
Now, what you don’t want to do is have a clickbait title. Don’t promise something that isn’t even in the video. If you do that, it will actually decrease your watch time. People might click on your vide,o but the moment they notice that it’s clickbait, they are gone.
Okay, so the title gets people to click on the video, but what does that have to do with watch time? It’s a bit more advanced, so pay attention...
In the beginning, focus on creating interesting headlines to get people to watch. But here is a tip for how your headline can increase audience retention:
Make the video a list, for example, “5 ways to increase audience retention.” Such "X Ways..." or "X Tips..." videos are great for increased watch time because most viewers want to know what all the steps are.
If you promise them five ways, they usually won’t stop watching until after they've seen Way # 4. People want the complete list - and, therefore, will watch your whole video. Now, don’t make every video a list. You don’t want to overuse it, but incorporate it here and there to gradually build up your audience retention.
Besides the actual content and the video title, you can also use the description to get people to watch until the end of your video.
The video description is the text field that appears under your video. When you type in a text, the first few sentences are visible, and the rest gets hidden under a fold. If a viewer wants to read the whole description, they have to click on a “read more” button.
So, what you want to focus on first, are the few sentences that will be visible. Those are especially useful to increase curiosity. Here's an example.
Let’s assume your video is called “YouTube secrets they won’t tell you.” That’s a pretty interesting title, so you click on it. Then, during the seconds the video is loading, you read the description, which says something like, “Discover the 5 secrets they keep from you.”
Wouldn’t you want to know all 5 secrets? That’s the power of the YouTube description. Without it, you wouldn’t have known what to expect from the video and maybe would have left it. That’s why the video description is equally important if you want to get people to watch until the end of your video.
What’s more, your YouTube description helps you to get found. If a person types a keyword into the search, YouTube applies that keyword search to video titles as well as descriptions. So make sure to have a bit more text in the description, and your video will get more views.
Now, we are sure you know this (since we've said so several times already), but we'll mention it again, anyway. In your description, don’t promise what isn’t in the video. Don’t promise 5 secrets if there are none. It will hurt your audience retention.
What is athumbnail? It’s the image that shows up when you search for a video. An interesting thumbnail can draw in lots of viewers. As always, don’t use clickbait. Don’t show something outrageous on the thumbnail that isn’t in the video.
Use your thumbnail wisely. For example, you could show an image from further down the end of the video. If the viewer wants to find out what it is about they have to watch until the end.
Now, it’s possible to use an image that isn't part of the video. YouTube allows you to use an external image. You can use that to show an end result. If you do DIY videos, for example, you can use the thumbnail to show what the project looks like at the end.
Usually, it also works really well to use a shorter version of your video title and put the text on the thumbnail. That increases curiosity even further.
We already mentioned that you want the actual content of the video to be valuable. Maybe it’s educational or entertaining. Whatever it is, there is a clear benefit to watching it.
Now you might be wondering how you can find a topic that people care about. First, know what you like and what you actually want to talk about. Don’t copy other people just because they are popular. Do something you enjoy.
After you know what you enjoy - your niche - there are two more things you'll want to do. Let’s assume you want to talk about traveling and backpacking in your videos.
What you want to do is go to the search bar and type in “traveling.” YouTube will suggest some keywords that other people used before.
Those are used long-tail keywords and you want to use them for your videos. Why? Because those are topics people have searched for before. If you choose a somewhat popular topic, it’s easier to get people to watch until the end of your video.
The second thing you want to try is having a look at your competitors. In the example of other travelling YouTubers, what are some of their most popular videos? Have a look and see if you can create something similar. Don’t flat out copy them. That’s illegal and also very unfair. But leverage the fact that they found a popular topic and do something similar.
In your audience retention reports, you can see when people leave your video. Look at this data often so you can constantly improve.
If people stop watching your video after a few seconds then it’s likely that the title or the thumbnail drew them in, but it didn’t fulfill their expectations. Or maybe your intro was a bit too long or not engaging enough. To get people to watch until the end of your video, you have to adjust.
If you see that your audience stops watching somewhere in the middle, then go back into your video and see what part it was. Maybe you gave too much input without asking any questions? Maybe what you talked about was a bit bland? Whatever it is, take note of it and do something different for your next video.
Sometimes your audience might stop watching nearly at the end. That’s not such a big problem as you already have pretty high audience retention. But maybe you are thinking about pitching a product at the end of your video and people stop watching before your pitch? If that’s the case, you want to reverse the order.
Instead of having your pitch or call to action at the very end, do this: tell your audience that you’ll give them a bonus tip in a second. But before that, you want to bring their attention to the fact that you have a new product. Or before the bonus tip remind them to like and subscribe if they like the video.
Basically, you do the call to action earlier and give them a reason to stay until the end. They stay for the bonus tip.
Now we talked a lot about YouTube videos and how to get people to watch until the end of your video. But did you notice that the actual video, cutting, and editing is a mere fraction of what you need?
Social media is less about having a perfect picture or a perfect video. It’s much more about influence and persuasion. Ultimately when you get people to watch your videos for a longer period of time, you are influencing or persuading them. You give them a good reason why they should watch your video to the end.
Maybe you noticed that Dan Lok doesn’t only have a very successful YouTube channel with more than 2.62 million followers - his Instagram blew up, too. How can Dan Lok be so huge on several major social media platforms? Simply, because he and his team know the underlying principles of influencing and persuading their audience.
So, whether you want to get people to watch until the end of your videos or start a new whole social media campaign, our Social Media Secrets Vault has further, in-depth strategies.
It doesn’t only include platform-specific tips, but also teaches principles - like copywriting and persuasion - which you can use on any platform. Discover the Social Media Secrets Vault here.