The internet is full of blog posts about how to get more audience on YouTube. You’ll see lists of tips on how to write engaging titles, improve your thumbnails, and infuse relevant keywords. Lots of good content out there. Within many articles, you may see the phrase, “Figure out what your audience wants.” This idea can seem daunting without some specifics.
So instead of you doing all of the heavy lifting to determine what this means (and we know how much lifting is involved in dialing in a YouTube channel), here are two ways we determined what our audience wanted, adapted our videos, and saw growth.
Setting the scene here. Gamma Blast Studios is a video production studio and agency that edits video content and advises the creators of the YouTube channel – Die Inspired. The creators of the experience shot the series and brought the content to us at Gamma Blast Studios to oversee its organic YouTube growth. The channel is a reality show, think of Survivor meets Dungeons and Dragons. Real-life people play a version of D & D for a cash prize, losers of the game must rip up their character sheets. Players LOVE their characters in D & D so these are real stakes.
YouTube is a fickle platform and growing 100% original, episodic entertainment content is a monumental task – after all, who’s going to click on episode ten of a show for which they’ve never seen the first episode? But we don’t shy away from monumental tasks, and certainly, the leader of this effort, Tyler Radecki takes on challenges. Here are some tips from Tyler, our amazingly talented Digital Content Manager:
Tip #1 To Get Bigger, Get Narrow
The first step to growing your channel is being laser-focused on narrowing your audience. For our channel, Die Inspired, we focus on three groups:
- Dungeons and Dragons players
- Tabletop gaming fans
- Fans of long-form D & D campaign channels like Critical Role
But understanding the profile of your audience is very different from knowing what they want to watch. To find more audience for the channel’s episodes, Tyler and the team have created trailers, explanation videos, versions of thumbnails, and changed SEO titles. They’ve done a lot of testing and tweaking. In addition to all of these common ways they’ve adjusted the content, here we outline some less-mentioned and out-of-the-box ways that may help you grow your channel.
Tip #2 How to Use Your Analytics to Build Your Next Videos
Many people use YouTube Shorts to build a YouTube channel. We’ve seen growth from Shorts, but converting viewers of Shorts to long-form videos can be very difficult. We decided to take the same concepts we use to make shorts and instead make short (1-3 minute) videos to get more views on YouTube. Let’s look at our process:
So, look at your YouTube analytics for the places where the audience re-watched, paused, and shared the video. These points hold keys to building your audience on YouTube as they show parts of the video your audience loves the most. You can see in our example below from our channel Die Inspired that after the initial dropoff in viewers, the watch line goes up around minute twelve represented by the red arrow. This point corresponds to the cliffhanger of the episode. Since people like this part of the video, use it in a new way to increase new viewers. We’ll go into how we did this in Tip #3.
Tip #3 Create Videos Structured at Bringing in New Subscribers
After reviewing our analytics, we aimed to give our audience a taste of the series but with all its storytelling points. We structured a shorter video for viewers who may want to jump into the story but might be leery of having to start from the beginning. We get it, that can seem like a lot to take on. Here are all of the major story elements for the new piece, of course, it includes that cliffhanger viewers loved. In this video structure, we:
- Present the stakes of the show. We pulled this introduction from a different video where the host outlines that players have ten rounds to make it into a lifeboat, or they die. Hair-raising stakes!
- Establish the characters with a quick montage of six people’s moves into the lifeboat to save themselves, highlighting how people work together in the game.
- Introduce a new character
- Show gameplay of the new character moving to wipe out everyone in the lifeboat, a very dramatic moment.
- Reveal players’ reactions of betrayal and anger–universal emotions
- Sum up the episode with the final host comment when he sarcastically says, “Everyone will be OK.”
Connect it to Your Longer Episode that You Want People to Watch
This last stage is critical:
- Show the clickable end screen that leads to a full, longer episode with teaser text.
- The full episode begins with the cliffhanger that people liked. This creates a throughline between the shorter piece and the full episode.
The video ended up racking up double the views of our last episode, with 89% of watch time coming from non-subscribers. Whoo Hoo!
- 6% of viewers clicked on the end-screen to watch the full episode.
- Many watched the full 28-minute episode and subscribed.
- We saw views come in on other videos as well, with our channel joining many people’s watch history for the first time, which is an important metric for YouTube’s algorithm.
- The episode showed great retention with the average viewer completing 64% of the video. We look at this type of content as a tool to bring in the eyeballs we need to grow the channel.
Of course, YouTube, being its brutal self, showed us areas to improve. The click-through rate on the shorter episode was only 2.8%. YouTube says that the click-through rate for most channels ranges between 2-10% depending on the niche, the topic of the video, and additional factors. We aim for 5% at the lowest. So, our click-through rate was lower than we wanted so we’ll continue to test new titles and thumbnails concepts. YouTube is about trial, and error and success, and more trials.
As we at Gamma Blast Studios find and create smart ways to build YouTube channels, we’ll be sure to report our successes to make it easier for you. For now, we’re excited that we know more about what our audience wants, and we gave it to them.