What Are the Most Important YouTube Metrics to Grow Your Channel?

youtube metrics

When you’re trying to grow your YouTube channel, figuring out which content performs well and which doesn’t is crucial.

Once you’ve pinpointed exactly what resonates with your audience, you can integrate these winning strategies into your future content. And consistently produce successful videos.

That’s where YouTube metrics – or performance metrics – come in.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what these metrics are, where you can find them,
and exactly how you can leverage them to explode your channel.

Let’s jump right in!


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What are YouTube Metrics?

YouTube metrics are statistics that help you measure the success of your channel as a whole as well as of individual videos.

They’re based on the views your content receives, and on the background information that YouTube has on your viewers. That information also includes their demographics and where they came across your videos.

When you want to grow your channel, keeping a close eye on these numbers is essential. They’ll give you detailed insights into who your audience is and what they like about your content.

This data can also help you decide on your strategies for making money on the platform.

To find your YouTube metrics, go to YouTube Studio. You can find it by clicking on your channel icon to access the drop-down menu on YouTube:

go to youtube studio

Once you’re in YouTube Studio, click on the “Analytics” tab in the menu on the left. This will take you straight to your channel analytics.

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Channel Metrics: Views, Watch Time, Subscribers, Audience Stats

The first level of analytics relates to your entire channel. Here, the most important YouTube metrics are the number of total views you’ve gotten over a certain time period, as well as the overall time people spent watching your content. Another key statistic is your current number of subscribers and how it has changed recently.

These metrics will help you evaluate how popular your channel is right now and how it’s been evolving. If you want to check your numbers for longer periods of time, you can modify the display duration at the top right.

changing the time range the youtube metrics are displayed for
You can pick for what time you want to see your numbers.

In the Audience tab, you can get some valuable insights into who watches your content – whether it’s mostly subscribers or unique viewers, their average age, gender, and geographic location, as well as when they’re online.

You can even get the inside scoop on what other content they watch and which channels they’re fans of. This is also a pretty good way of getting some awesome content inspiration.

audience tab of youtube studio
The Audience tab is all about your viewers.

Finally, there’s the Content tab. Here, you’ll get performance metrics – such as impressions and click-through rate – averaged out across all your content.

content tab of youtube studio
The Content tab tells you how your videos perform on average, and points you at your top content.

We’ll dive into what each of these means for individual videos, though. To do so, click on the video you want to take a closer look at the bottom right.

This will give you the overall metrics for a single video – how many views it has earned since being put online, how many total watch hours, and how many subscribers.

the most important youtube video metrics
YouTube also gives you metrics for every single video.

By the way: This video is actually a tutorial for an academic reference manager. Interested in more brain food? Check out our list of the top YouTube science channels!

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Impressions, Views, and CTR (Click-Through Rate)

Now, time to dive into the different metrics into more detail.

First off, there is the Reach tab in your video analytics page. This tells you how many impressions and views your video has obtained. The number of impressions tracks how often your video thumbnail has been shown to potential viewers – in recommendations, search results etc.

reach tab in youtube studio
The Reach tab: Impressions, views and CTR are key YouTube metrics.

The click-through-rate (CTR) is the ratio of impressions to views. Basically, it’s the percentage of people who saw your video’s thumbnail and then clicked on it.

The average CTR on YouTube is somewhere between 5% and 10%.

The higher your CTR, the more attractive your video thumbnail and title are. If your CTR is very low, it may be time to put some extra effort into choosing captivating video titles and thumbnail designs – but without making them too clickbaity. 

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Traffic Sources

Another important metric you can find in the Reach tab of the video analytics is the overview of your traffic sources. In other words, where did people who ended up watching this video see it first?

You’ll see exactly how many viewers clicked on your thumbnail in YouTube’s recommendations, how many found your content through a Google search, and how many came here from YouTube’s own search results.

Another handy graphic helps you establish the connection between impressions and watch time. In other words: How many people click on your video when they come across it? And how long do these people then keep watching?

This brings us to our next important set of metrics.

more reach metrics in youtube studio
YouTube will also tell you where people came from - and how long they stayed.
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Watch Time and AVD (Average View Duration)

Let’s move on to the next tab in the video analytics view: Engagement.
Here, you’ll find some of the most valuable information when it comes to improving your content and pinpointing what captures your viewers.

The two main metrics displayed here are watch time and average view duration (AVD).

Watch time gives you the cumulative hours that your audience has spent watching your video. This can come in handy when you’re aiming to reach the 3,000 public watch hours currently needed to join YouTube’s Partner Program, for example. 4,000, if you want to earn ad revenue.

engagement metrics tab in youtube studio
Watch time will just go on growing over time - AVD might not.

AVD tells you how much time viewers typically spend watching your video.

Few viewers will actually stick with a single piece of content from beginning to end. You have to contrive a fantastic structure for your video script to keep them engaged all the way through (Mr. Beast, for instance, is a master at this).

The higher your AVD is in comparison to your video’s total length, the longer you manage to hold your audience’s attention.
Handily, YouTube Studio also shows you exactly when viewers lose interest.

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Key Moments for Audience Retention

In the Engagement tab, you also have the full scoop on key moments for audience retention. This graph shows you exactly which parts of your videos your audience sticks around for – and where viewers nope out.

Normally, views will drop sharply in the first few seconds of your video. This is when people evaluate whether this is the type of content they were looking for, and if they like the tone of your channel.

In the example below, for instance, only 45% of viewers are still watching at the 30-second mark (see the bottom right corner). This is a pretty solid average. As you can also see, most of the remaining people actually stick around for about 15 minutes.

more engagement metrics in youtube studio
YouTube will also tell you where people came from - and how long they stayed.

What is fantastic about this view, though, is that you can see which part of your video captivated viewers most. Especially if you use key moments and chapters, viewers will sometimes skip ahead to the parts of your content they’re most interested in.

By analyzing the spikes in your views along the timeline of your video, you’ll be able to figure out exactly what resonated most with your viewers.

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Likes vs. Dislikes

A final bit of useful information in the Engagement tab is the likes vs. dislikes ratio. This metric does exactly what it says on the tin – it helps you gauge how many of your viewers approved of your content.

The fewer dislikes you have, the closer this number will be to 100%. The more dislikes you have, the more it will drop.

If your likes to dislikes ratio is lower than you expect, you know that your content isn’t fulfilling your viewers’ expectations.

For instance, if the video is a tutorial and the ratio is low, this could be a flag that the solution you’re offering doesn’t work for the majority of viewers. To find out exactly why your audience is dissatisfied, checking the comments is a great place to start.

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Unique and Returning Viewers

Next up, there’s the Audience tab in the video analytics view. This holds two useful YouTube metrics – unique and returning viewers on the one hand, and viewer demographics on the other. 

Let’s start with the first one. 

Unique and returning viewers shows you how many people watched your video for the first time over the displayed period. And how many came back to watch it again. 

audience video youtube metrics
Do people come back to your video, or is once enough for them?

Having people return is usually a fantastic indicator for content quality. Why exactly they come back depends on your content, of course. Say your video is a coding tutorial or a funny sketch. If people come back to watch it again and again, it means that it’s a valuable point of reference in their work – or just a hilarious clip that they keep coming back to.

Viewer Demographics

Finally, the Audience tab also contains some valuable information on viewer demographics. It’ll help you find out more about your viewers’ geographical location, gender, and age – among other factors.

This will help you check if the people who watch your content actually match your target audience. Plus, it can help you estimate what other content could appeal to your viewers.

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Heads up! YouTube Metrics are Relative and Nuanced

One important thing to keep in mind is that YouTube metrics are complex and interdependent.

For instance, a lot of guides and content hackers will tell you that you need to aim for a certain CTR threshold for your video to be successful, usually around 10%. However, CTR often varies and changes depending on which audience it is being pushed to.

For instance, if your video is initially successful, it may get recommended to a wider audience outside your niche. In that case, you’ll see your CTR and AVD drop, as a well-known YouTube strategist outlines on Twitter:

Similarly, simple factors like video length will also influence your metrics. If you make a video that’s longer than usual, for example, you could end up seeing higher AVD and lower CTR.

That’s because people are often reluctant to click on videos that will take up more of their time. But once they do, they often stick around for longer.

Bottom Line: The Most Important YouTube Metrics

YouTube metrics like CTR, AVD, and key moments for audience retention can provide invaluable insights to help you fine-tune your content.

Once you’ve kept an eye on them for a few weeks and compared them between videos, you’ll get a great feel for how you can best harness them – and the different nuances you have to keep in mind.

At the end of the day, leveraging YouTube metrics will become an integral part of your routine. And help you boost your channel.

CTR stands for click-through rate. It’s a YouTube metric that describes how many people see your video in their search results or recommendations (impressions) and decide to click on it.

AVD stands for average view duration. It’s a YouTube metric that tells you how long people typically spend watching your video.

YouTube metrics are statistics that characterize how viewers interact with your content. Typical metrics are the number of views and impressions, click-through rate, average view durations and the like-dislike ratio, as well as audience demographics. You can find them in YouTube Studio.