Eric Crowley, Video and Digital Production Director, Rooster Strategic Solutions

It’s no secret that U.S. companies are spending ever-greater amounts on video production, with more than $135 billion budgeted for digital video this year alone. And both the marketing teams and their C-suite supervisors want to know if this a good investment. Unfortunately, many of them are looking at the wrong metrics to gauge success. The good news is that with a little advanced planning and a strong idea of your video’s objectives, documenting success isn’t difficult.

Before you begin: Check out your competition and make plans. I recently wrote an article on how ag companies can increase the effectiveness of in-house video projects, and it starts with clear objectives. Are you introducing a new product? Providing support to current customers? Trying to reach an untapped market? Each of these requires a different promotional strategy and should be measured differently. The days when you could throw a thirty-second TV ad on YouTube and call it a day are long past.

It’s also a good idea to scope out what your competitors are doing. Pay special attention to their video titles. I’ve found that Ag company titles tend to be rather generic. “New Seed Treatment.” “2022 Planning Report.” “Meet the new 6290 Raptor.” It’s important to remember that YouTube is the most popular search engine after Google. Customers go to the site looking for information, typically in the form of a question. Your title should be part of a keyword strategy that includes the most basic ways customers are asking these questions. The title doesn’t have to be “click-baity,” but it should be interesting enough that someone wants to view the video. Your thumbnail and title will give you the buy-in that makes metrics matter.

So, let’s talk about video metrics, from the least-valuable to the ones that will help you the most.

Number of Subscribers. I had a client who was outraged because a competitor had 500 more subscribers to their channel than they did. I couldn’t convince them that it didn’t matter. Most ag companies aren’t trying to build or weaponize a YouTube brand, they’re trying to use the channel as a tool to market their product. At best, the number of subscribers can give you a glimpse at your overall brand health, but it should be used only as a directional metric.

Number of Impressions. Different channels have different definitions, but in general, an impression is counted any time a viewer sees your video’s thumbnail. This is more of a gauge for your promotional plan than a measure of video success and makes sense capturing if you’re revisiting your plan. If you’re introducing a new product, you want as many potential customers to see your video as possible. But most ag companies are – or should be – focused on the quality of the viewer, not the quantity.

Number of Views. While impressions occur when a prospect could watch your video, views are counted when they click on the video and engage with it. Again, it depends on the channel, but if a viewer watches your video for a certain amount of time, such as 30 seconds, or if they interact with it any way, that’s typically counted as a view.

This is the metric most marketers track, and with good reason. After all, the whole reason you created the video was for people to watch it, right? Unfortunately, number of views doesn’t provide an accurate measure of interest. How often have you started watching a video, realized quickly that it wasn’t what you wanted – or was boring – and clicked away? On Facebook, watching as little as 3 seconds of a video counts as a view. Three seconds of viewing probably isn’t the ROI you wanted!

Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Your CTR is the number of times that your call-to-action is clicked, divided by the number of times it’s viewed. It’s a good indicator of how well your video does at encouraging viewers to take your desired action, which is usually a trip to your website. This is an excellent way to compare the effectiveness of your video offerings, and some of the channels are changing their algorithms to make it even better. For instance, YouTube is starting to focus more on retention than CTR by showing “New Viewers” and “Returning Viewers,” letting you identify who is new and watching as opposed to who’s been there before. You still have to piece things together to get the big picture, but it’s more and more valuable information than we got previously.

Completion Rate. This is the number of people who completed your video divided by the number of people who played it. Now we’re getting somewhere. If you took the time to create the video, you want your prospects to watch its entirety, right? This is a much better gauge than views because it shows how many viewers were interested enough to watch your video to the end. I’ve seen reports that state video completion rates are as high as 88 percent, but I don’t believe this, particularly for ag companies. In my experience, if you can get 15 percent of your prospect list to watch your entire video, that’s a win.

Retention Rate, also called Bounce Rate. Granted, you hope that a viewer will watch your entire video, but if they bounce, you want to know when, in order to figure out why. When I’m measuring a video’s success, I like to look at the Retention Rate in-hand with the Completion Rate to give me a good picture as to how many people watched the entire video, how many viewers watched some, and at what point in the video the bouncers decided to bounce. This gives you a good idea as to how well the video performed, as well as actionable steps you can make to improve future offerings.

In the end, it’s not rocket science. Measuring the success of a video doesn’t require a lot of time or sophisticated and expensive services, but I’m constantly amazed at the number of clients who spend an inordinate amount of time and money to complete and post a video but spend little to no time looking back at the metrics to gauge the video’s performance. For some, it’s simply a matter of time – once the video goes live, they’re off and running on to the next 10 tasks. For others, it’s because they’re honestly not sure what to measure or what the measurements are telling them.

Either way, I sincerely hope this gives you a better idea of what metrics are important – and which ones are merely interesting. If you have any questions, or aren’t sure where to begin, I’d love to have a conversation.