You invested a lot of time and effort producing your video, and the end result looks really good. It seems to be getting a lot of plays, but how do you know whether it’s really having an impact on your viewers?

Tracking viewer engagement is one of the best ways to determine whether or not your video is actually delivering your message to your intended audience. Here’s how to determine the engagement rate for your video, some tips for improving it over time, and ideas for leveraging your data in your campaigns.

Understanding Viewer Engagement

Play rate is most comparable to the open rate of an email marketing campaign. It means people were enticed to click on your video, but nothing more. Engagement is much more akin to the click-through rate of an email campaign, which indicates the quality of your content or offer more than anything. Both metrics are important for different reasons, but to ensure your message is getting across, and to drive conversions, engagement is what really matters.

In some regards, the play rate of your video is a bit of a vanity metric. If your video gets a lot of plays, all that means is a lot of people are clicking the play button on your video. It doesn’t tell you how much they actually watched of your video, and whether they rewatched or skipped parts of it either. Engagement speaks much more to the efficacy of a given video, making it one of the most important metrics to track for video marketers.

Tracking Viewer Engagement

Viewer engagement is easy to track and measure if your video hosting platform supports heatmap reporting for playback sessions. A heatmap is an ideal tool for measuring viewer engagement because it allows you to visualize exactly which parts of your video someone may have rewatched, skipped, or caused them to stop watching all together.

Engagement can also be expressed as a percentage, where the engagement rate for your video represents the total percentage of your video someone watched. This percentage can exceed 100% if someone watches parts of the video, or the whole thing, more than once.

For example, for this video, we can see that the overall engagement rate for the video is relatively high, at 70%, meaning anyone who clicks play is likely to watch the majority of the video. We can also see that there is a bump in engagement at 37 seconds, indicating a point of interest in the video. Finally, the very beginning of the video shows an engagement rate higher than 100%, meaning people tended to rewatch that specific portion of the video.

video engagement metrics

Pro-tip: tag your viewers with their email addresses so you can not only analyze general viewing patterns, but identify specific viewers and further leverage their engagement data in your marketing efforts.

Improving Viewer Engagement

When examining your video engagement metrics, you’ll want to look for patterns in the data. You can scan the results visually, or, if you aren’t able to determine a clear pattern based on the heatmaps for playback sessions, export them to Excel to tumble the data.

What you’re looking for is a clear indication of a drop-off point in your video, where viewers lose interest and stop watching or skip ahead, or spikes in viewer interest. Both drop-off points and spikes can inform your video creation process in significant ways.

If you see a change in engagement at a specific point in your video, examine what is happening at that specific point in your video. Perhaps you are stating a call-to-action, or a new character is introduced, the music changed, or you might have droned on a bit too long about a given topic. Sometimes, periods that are rewatched multiple times can indicate higher interest, or that the section of video was too complex to digest the first time.

This information can help you revise your videos to tighten up your edits, sharpen your hooks, refine your message, and ensure viewers keep watching the entire time.

Leveraging the Data

Even if you aren’t able to determine a clear drop-off point or spike, you can still analyze your data to drive viewer engagement, especially if you are tracking viewers by email address.

For instance, you could use viewer engagement data to segment your audience according to how much of your video(s) they watched. You can use this data to identify people who might benefit from a follow up with additional information, because you know they didn’t finish watching your video. Alternatively, that video might not be their cup of tea, but others in your library could be, so send a mix of options to them to see what might motivate them to watch. Those who completed the video might be most interested in similar or related content, or might be more apt to make a purchase when presented with a special offer.

How are you using video engagement data? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!