A Secret Weapon That Will Improve YouTube Engagement


There’s one stat you need to pay close attention to on YouTube and that is Audience Retention because it tells you where your audience stops watching.  In other words, it measures audience engagement for that particular video.

So if your retention rate is 65% that means, on average, 65% of people watched the entire video.

Not only does a good retention rate mean your audience is locked in on your video, but the more you can potentially earn as a partner because there is more of an opportunity for ad displays.  It also plays a role in how well a video ranks for the targeted keywords.

To check your retention rate for an individual video, simply click the Analytics tab underneath the video and then go to the Audience Retention report.

Analytics Button

While it’s very difficult to get every viewer to watch 100% of the video every single time, there’s one type of video that will improve YouTube engagement and retention greatly.

It’s called an explainer video.

These are typically short videos that quickly walk the viewer through steps or showcase information in a more entertaining or animated way.

Why Explainer Videos Work So Well

If you create video, the one thing you must keep in mind is the average person’s attention span is deteriorating as the years go on.

We have become so distracted with devices, smartphones, apps and other forms of technology, and it has become harder for us to pay attention for longer periods at a time.

Explainer videos are becoming more popular by video creators because of their shorter length and the animation involved.  This decreases the chances of your audience getting bored.

Not to mention they can be fun to watch! :)

Ways to Create Explainer Videos

You can use animation presentation software like Powtoon or Animoto.  Or you can produce a slideshow-like  presentation in Powerpoint and then use a screen recording program to record the slide movement.

Never used any of these before?

No worries.  All these programs have tons of great tutorial videos on YouTube, so don’t worry about the learning curve.  It took me about 20 minutes to get the hang of Powtoon.

For the voice over, you can record in Audacity (Windows or Mac) or Garageband (Mac).  Both are free and Garageband comes with all Mac computers.

What Should My Audience Retention Rate Be?

Even though I’ve read that the average retention rate of most YouTube videos is between 30 and 50%, I don’t want to get too caught up in comparisons because your retention rate can vary from niche to niche.

The best thing to do is to look at what your average retention rate is and then work on improving it.  Don’t use someone else’s stats as your own benchmark.

My retention rate is normally in the 50s. Even though that may be considered average, I’m not all that pleased with that stat, and I know there are things I can do to improve it.

However, my first explainer video had a retention rate of 74%….

YouTube Retention Rate

According to YouTube Analytics, this is above average for videos of this length…

Above Average YouTube Retention

This is the best retention I’ve ever had for any video in my seven years on YouTube.  It definitely caused me to re-think my publication format going forward.

Often times my videos are very long which can kill retention. And while longer videos may be appropriate for certain information, always look for ways to condense your videos and keep the screen moving for your retention’s sake.

10 Examples of Well-Done Explainer Videos

If you want to see some effective explainer videos, first see our own Brainy Marketer video and you can also check these out here. Notice they all have some common characteristics…

1) They are short

2) They get to the point

3) The screen keeps moving

4) They use animation to make it more entertaining to watch

5) Branding or call-to-action at the end

So the next time you create a video, consider going with the explainer style to see if it helps improve your YouTube engagement and use these retention-boosting tips as well.


If you have a question or comment for this Author, just Leave A Comment Below. If you need a little more help, then take a look at our >> Brainy Certified Social Media Courses Page



John Paul Aguiar

Blogging Entrepreneur that Helps Bloggers and Small Business Owners with Blog Marketing, Twitter Marketing and Social Media. I'm also a Kidney Transplant Recipient 2002

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  1. Henry Motyka September 3, 2014 Reply

    You seem to be exactly correct because I run a lot of these type Youtube videos to gain knowledge in the technology and finance fields. The best are short, give instruction in steps, and to the point.

  2. Hey Lisa & guys!

    Thanks for sharing this! Great guide. I do use analytics for YT but not that extreme. I think this guide, just nails it so much :)

    Right on time. Bookmarked and saved in Pocket too!

  3. Hi,

    If I don’t want to use animation, but want to use PPT. How many PPT slides should I use, what should be the duration of such videos?

    Any resource/link to create such video?


    • Avadhut, I’ll give you my 2 cents and I’m sure Lisa will get in here and give you more details. but, for me, it’s not about how many slides, it’s about how long the whole presentation is.

      The shorter the better, anything under 5 min should work well.

    • John is absolutely right. It’s about length more than it is number of slides. If it’s an explainer video, try to keep them no more than a couple of minutes. You could create your presentation in Power Point then record the presentation using http://camstudio.org/ (it’s free) and then do the voiceover with Audacity (free). Good luck! Let me know if you need more clarification.

  4. Hey Lisa,

    I’m late getting by here but wanted to check this post out to see what you had to share.

    Now that’s interesting but I’m not surprised at all about the attention spans of viewers. I love videos myself but I really don’t have time to watch really long ones until they’re teaching me something. If only I just had time for pleasure right!

    I’ve only done one explainer video and it was pretty short, 42 seconds. I created it for my blogs 5th anniversary so I ran over to check the retension rate and it was 68%. Hey, not bad so thanks for this scoop. Personally, I LOVE explainer videos myself. I think they’re awesome. Guess I’ll need to do more now.

    Thanks Lisa.


  5. Hey Adrienne! Thanks for the share on Twitter and coming by to comment. I know what you mean. I tend to be very long-winded with my videos and trying to force myself to do more short, explainer videos. People seem to love them! 68% is great and WELL above the YouTube average so that is saying something right there!

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