In the SaaS industry, the most successful companies prioritize the retention of their existing customers over the acquisition of new customers. Why? Because SaaS companies charge a monthly subscription, so in order to turn a profit, they need their customers paying them for many months in a row. If they can’t retain their customers for X amount of months, they’ll ultimately lose money by acquiring them.
In content marketing, the same principle applies. Retaining your audience’s attention positively impacts your brand a lot more than merely acquiring attention.
When an audience engages with your content for long periods of time on a consistent basis, they can easily turn into a loyal tribe that’s passionate about your work and recommends your brand to all their friends. In other words, staying laser-focused on retaining attention is actually the best strategy for acquiring new attention because your current customers are providing so much word-of-mouth marketing — it’s like a flywheel.
On YouTube, you retain attention by attracting subscribers to your channel. Subscribers are your most loyal fans and made a public commitment to your brand, content, and values. They’re also most likely to be fervent brand evangelists.
In regard to benefiting your YouTube channel, subscribers are crucial because YouTube will send them notifications about your new videos and feature your videos on their homepage. This means they’ll see your videos more frequently, which will help you generate more engagement.
Subscribers also watch twice as much video as non-subscribers, so the more subscribers you have, the more watch time your videos will accumulate, and the more likely YouTube will rank them higher on search and feature them in the related section.
Additionally, YouTube keeps track of the number of viewers who subscribe to your channel right after watching one of your videos. So if one of your videos generates a lot of new subscribers, they’ll reward it with higher rankings and more features in the related section.
To help you grow your YouTube subscription, we’ve fleshed out five strategies that will help you retain attention on the video platform — and not just acquire it.
5 Strategies for Growing Your YouTube Subscribers
1. Craft content that’s worth subscribing to.
Today, we work in an industry where a lot of people prioritize gaming the system over crafting the best content possible. Fortunately, in regard to their algorithm, YouTube has caught on to this hollow tactic. Their algorithm only rewards engagement instead of vanity metrics like views and clicks, so creators are incentivized to produce videos that they’re audience actually enjoys watching.
To craft the most engaging videos for your YouTube channel, consider measuring your videos’ performance against engagement metrics, like watch time, average watch percentage, average view duration, audience retention, and average session duration. Then, analyze this data to figure out which topics and videos generate the most engagement. Once you pinpoint these videos, you can solely focus on creating the content that viewers are most likely to engage with, helping you rake in more subscribers.
2. Order your playlists by engagement.
Placing your videos in playlists is an extremely effective way to organize your videos in a digestible fashion. They help your viewers easily consume videos about their favorite topics and prompts them to keep watching your content.
One way to get your viewers to watch the majority of your playlists is by starting your playlists with the videos that have the highest audience retention rate and ending them with the videos that have the lowest audience retention rate.
Even better, you could create a bingeable series or show and place entire seasons of it in a playlist. And just like your favorite Netflix show, your playlists can entice your viewers to watch entire seasons of your series, subscribe to your channel, and get more excited for your show’s next season than they currently are for Stranger Things 3.
3. Add a subscription CTA at the end of your videos.
It seems obvious, but adding a subscription CTA to the end of your videos is one of the best ways to generate more YouTube subscribers. After your viewers watch your entire video, they’ll determine if they want to keep watching more of your videos, so to maximize your subscriber growth using CTAs, consider keeping them at the end.
If you need an example of an engaging subscription CTA, check out Business Insider’s below. They do a great job of driving YouTube subscriptions by featuring their CTA during their videos’ last 15 seconds, giving users ample time to subscribe.
4. Optimize your videos for relevant keywords.
To attract subscribers to your YouTube channel, you first need to be able to get found on YouTube. To start ranking on YouTube, consider optimizing your videos and channel for popular search queries by placing relevant keywords in your videos’ titles, tags, descriptions, SRT files (which are transcriptions), video files, and thumbnail files.
You should also check out the most popular queries guiding viewers to your videos, which you can find on YouTube’s Search Report. If these queries are slightly different than your video’s topic, consider updating your video to fill these content gaps and adding these keywords to your metadata. If there’s a stark difference between your topics and the queries guiding viewers to your videos, consider making brand new videos about these popular queries.
5. Create vibrant thumbnails.
Another factor that can affect your search ranking on YouTube, and in turn, your subscriber growth are your videos’ thumbnails. Since a video’s click-through rate is one of the most important ranking factors in YouTube’s search algorithm, especially during its first hour on the platform, an eye-catching thumbnail can make a huge difference in ranking number one for a query and not ranking at all.
If your video has an ordinary or sub-par thumbnail, though, it won’t persuade anyone to click through, prompting YouTube to deem the video irrelevant and decide not to rank it in their search results or distribute it through the “Recommended Videos” feed.
To create a striking thumbnail, consider including a talking head. People are naturally drawn to human faces because it’s an ingrained survival mechanism to help us quickly gauge someone’s emotions and determine if they’re a friend or foe. Also, consider contrasting the colors of your thumbnail’s foreground and background to really make it pop.
Retain your audience’s attention, don’t just acquire it.
Similar to the best SaaS companies, the top YouTube channels focus on building a subscriber base that can’t get enough of their videos and watches them on a consistent basis. Retaining attention has always been imperative to successful content marketing. Now, it’s time we actually prioritize it over acquiring as many darting eyeballs as possible.