Plan for a channel assessment
A channel assessment is a method of analysis that can save you time and help you plan a roadmap for growing a YouTube channel. By using a consistent framework and toolkit, you can identify opportunities and implement actions to optimize channel performance in an easy and repeatable way.
Get ready to assess
YouTube is a global platform that enables everyone from independent creators to large media organizations to broadcast and share videos. Viewers go to YouTube to watch a diversity of content matching their interests, from SSIN’s makeup tips to Vox’s news headlines.
While there’s no exact formula for finding success on YouTube, many channels have been able to accelerate their growth through strategic improvements. In addition to having content that viewers want to watch, channels can thrive by analyzing and optimizing their performance.
This course presents a framework that you can use to evaluate past channel performance to help guide future decisions. With a roadmap, you can minimize trial and error when assessing how to turn a YouTube channel into a business and determine implementable actions to promote channel success.
Did you know?
- When given a choice where to watch video, adults prefer online video platforms 30% more than watching TV. Among millennials, that number jumps to 105%.
Assemble a toolkit
A channel assessment includes qualitative and quantitative aspects. For robust metrics, YouTube offers an array of online tools, including YouTube Analytics, which is a convenient “dashboard” for understanding channel performance.
Like the gauges in a car, YouTube Analytics contains a ton of information, but it’s not necessary to look at everything at once. You can consult specific gauges when you have specific questions. Depending on the answers, you can inspect an issue more closely or continue toward the destination.
When assessing a channel, it helps to leverage a consistent framework. You can conduct your assessment by completing these three steps:
- Step 1: Ask
- Step 2: Measure
- Step 3: Next steps
Identify a question, or set of questions, that would uncover key learnings about a channel. It’s important that each question can be answered definitively.
Example: What is the value of our subscribers?
Collect and analyze data to answer the questions. In some cases, you may need to measure several dimensions to validate the hypothesis.
Example: Look at the overall number of subscribers gained, then use the multi-line view to identify watch time impact by video.
Identify if a change is needed and implement solutions based on the analysis. Your implementation plan typically would reflect which improvements can yield the best possible results.
Example: If your latest video series is gaining fewer subscribers, check the verbal and visual calls to action. You can also review comments to gauge how well your audience likes the content.
Below are a few top-level questions you can ask and what you can measure.
Question to ask
What to measure
How do we maximize viewership?
How many views (or how much watch time) do we have?
What content is causing changes?
What content should we promote/produce? Which content elicits a favorable reaction? Which content is getting watched the most? Which content best keeps viewers’ attention? Who/where are my viewers? How do we get our content discovered more? How do people find our content? How do people watch our content? When should we upload content? How do we build loyalty? How many people have subscribed? How loyal are viewers? How loyal are subscribers? How do we reach an international audience? Which other languages should we target? How many views benefit from captions? How do we best enrich our content with interactivity? How do cards and end screens perform?
Not all channels are the same, so actions resulting from your assessment may depend on your goals and resources. At the end of your assessment, it may help to compile an “executive summary” of key points and next steps that you can share with the channel owner or the business you support. For example, the summary might suggest adding watermarks with subscribe buttons to all of the channel’s new videos.
Consistently monitoring improvements and responding to performance changes can help you sustain your growth pattern. Consider repeating the assessment process whenever you want to benchmark and optimize your YouTube channel.
Prepare a channel snapshot
In preparation for the assessment, think about the channel’s journey on YouTube. At a high level, reflect upon what has been going well and what hasn’t. Note whether there have been any big changes to the channel strategy since its inception and how those changes impacted growth.
A good starting point is to look at a snapshot over a specified timeframe so you can set a benchmark for measurements. You will then use this baseline to think about growth opportunities. Use the comparison feature to look at performance metrics between two separate time periods (MoM, QoQ, or YoY).
Compile data from YouTube Analytics for each of the metrics below to get an overview of your viewership. You can print this blank table and populate with your data to track performance.
Metric Current Period Previous Period Growth%
(hours or mins)
Views Avg View Duration # Videos published Likes Dislikes Comments Shares Subscribers Revenue Playback-based CPM
* Each link is set to last 28 days — adjust the time period if you’ll measure QoQ or YoY.
Pinpoint any metrics that indicate a potential opportunity. For example, if the channel has a benchmark of uploading 30 videos every month, but only uploaded 20 videos last month, consider the reasons. If this change wasn’t deliberate, you may want to assess the content strategy to optimize programming.
Chart a path for success
So what’s next? We’ve organized this course around some key areas that any YouTube channel can assess. Consider the scenarios that apply the most to your business, then tailor your assessment accordingly. Here are some key example scenarios and corresponding areas to assess.
If you plan to...
You may want to assess...
Start or change direction of a channel Mission Brand a channel consistently Brand Review or update the content strategy Content value Improve audience match and grow watch time Audience and engagement Attract new viewers or grow subscribers Discovery Track monetization goals Revenue (separate course)
It is important to note that many of the areas are interrelated, and you may have to activate multiple levers to reach your target. For example, your content strategy is linked to your audience, and changes to one area could impact another.
By going “behind the scenes” on a channel, you can be in a stronger position to set clear short-term and long-term objectives. And you can focus efforts to take a YouTube channel to the next level.