The Wistia Guide to Video Metrics

How to understand what your analytics are really telling you and measure the impact and effectiveness of your next video.

June 8, 2018

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Alyce Currier


Lisa Marinelli


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You’ve published your video, and the views have begun to rush in. Suddenly, you have access to a wide variety of video metrics, and it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones actually matter to you and how these numbers relate to your goals. It’s easy to fall in love with one metric or number (we’re looking at you, view count), but to truly understand what impact your video is having, it’s necessary to take a more holistic view and select a few metrics that connect with your overall business goals.

Metrics can be an empowering tool to help you evolve your video strategy, but that can only happen if you understand what each number is actually telling you. Below, we break down eight ways to measure your video and what you can deduce from those numbers. You’ll get the most out of these metrics if you define a few things before you even begin to shoot:

  • Define a goal for your video. What’s the one main thing this piece of content is supposed to accomplish? If you find yourself assigning more than a couple goals, then your concept probably isn’t focused enough.
  • Define your target audience. Who do you want to see this video? How do you expect them to consume it?
  • Define a couple of metrics to focus on. Based on your goals and target audience, figure out which of the goals below are most important for this particular piece.

Which Metrics Measure Which Goals?

  • Using view count to measure reach
  • Using engagement to measure quality
  • Using social media to measure word of mouth
  • Using conversations to measure clarity
  • Using play rate to measure relevance
  • Using site metrics to measure user experience
  • Using comments to measure community
  • Using trust to measure humanity

Using view count to measure reach

Is your goal to have your video seen by as many people as possible? While view count is just the beginning of your video’s story, it does have some value in helping you measure whether your video is making the rounds and reaching an audience.

“Our primary goal with video right now is reach, so we start by looking at how many views each video gets. But we are also looking at engagement metrics like completion rate and recirculation as indicators of whether our viewers are actually enjoying our videos. These other metrics are just as important, because quality really matters for a brand like ours, and views alone aren’t the best proxy for quality.”
Sarah Green
Senior Associate Editor, Harvard Business Review

You can improve video view count in much the same way you would increase pageviews for any type of content. Tap into your usual promotion channels and see how your video content performs compared to other things you’ve released. For example:

  • Share your content with influencers.
  • Share your video with your audience via email and social media.
  • Use paid promotion methods (i.e. social, ads).

Views are a great measurement of how you’re making brand impressions and fostering familiarity, but they’re just the beginning of your video’s story. Many video creators focus too much on view count and lose track of the deeper story of how their video is performing and resonating. We’d suggest picking a couple of other metrics too, depending on your goals.

Using engagement to measure quality

Engagement is one of our favorite metrics here at Wistia, and we’ve heard that echoed across many of our marketing friends as well. Engagement, the percent of a video that a viewer watched, goes beyond view count to tell you the quality of your views. Once people started watching your video, did they find it helpful? Did they stick around to watch the entire thing? Did you lose them to a slow hook, or start wrapping up too soon?

“Hands-down, engagement is the biggest metric we pay attention to. View count means nothing on the internet anymore - engagement describes the quality of the view. That’s the metric I’m most interested in - not necessarily because it means people are watching longer (though I think it does), but because it means the message is resonating and that the video is, well, watchable all the way through.”
Joey Dello Russo
Videographer, Asana

Lower-than-average engagement isn’t always a bad thing; again, remember to think of your videos in context. Maybe low engagement just means viewers are dipping into your video to get one question answered, and as long as they leave feeling educated, that’s still a win for you. On the other hand, if you have a post-roll call-to-action at the end of your video, you probably want as many viewers to reach the end as possible.

Not satisfied with your engagement numbers? We created a separate guide to audience retention and engagement that dives a bit deeper, but here are a few easy suggestions:

  • Keep your videos clear and concise.
  • Make sure your videos are fulfilling the viewer’s expectations. If a viewer thinks a video is about one topic and it turns out to be about something else, they’re probably going to navigate away.
  • Pay attention to where viewers are dropping off and edit your content accordingly.
  • Split overly long videos into more focused, shorter clips to meaningfully measure individual engagement.

Using play rate to measure relevance

Is this video embedded in the right place? Did this page actually benefit from including a video? Play rate, or the percent of page visitors who clicked play and started watching, is a great metric for measuring whether your video is in the best possible context.

“As a team who considers video to be an important part of the education process for customers, we are constantly tracking and trying to improve our play and engagement rates. Previously, we educated our customers with live, lecture-based webinars. Based on feedback from customers, we recently transformed our education process and created a three-part system for learning concepts in digestible chunks, with each chunk building up to the next. As a part of this transformation, our live lectures were transformed into high-quality videos, making it easy for customers to watch and learn at their own pace and on their own time. During this process, we use play rates to determine if people are first and foremost playing our videos to learn. And then we look at engagement metrics to see how effective our training is, and how people are interacting with the videos. Everything we learn from these metrics, we try to improve upon in future iterations of each video.”
Sarah Bedrick
Program Leader, HubSpot Academy

Remember, you might have different expectations for different videos. A supplemental video might receive less plays than a video that’s central to the message of your page. If you’re not satisfied with your video’s play rate, you might want to consider altering the context around the video to get more people to press play:

  • Move the video to a more prominent location on the page, or make the embed larger.
  • Choose a more engaging thumbnail. We’ve found thumbnails with humans in them to be some of the most enticing.
  • Change the text around the video to better indicate the video’s purpose.
  • Move the video to a different page where it might be more useful.
  • Reconsider the video concept altogether. Was a video really the best medium for this message?

Using site metrics to measure user experience

If you’re doing video right, chances are, you’ll see improvements to some overall website metrics as well, since the right kind of video can be a great aid to keeping your visitors captivated. What numbers can you compare to determine how much your video is helping your page?

If your video doesn’t lead to the upswing you were hoping for, maybe you need to change its context, or maybe the content wasn’t quite right. Keep iterating and thinking about how the video fits into your overall marketing strategy!

Bounce rate

Do your visitors find your website compelling enough to stick around? Does your content flow well? Bounce rate (the number of viewers who enter your site and then leave without viewing other pages) is an important metric for marketers who ultimately want viewers to complete some sort of conversion process. Video can be an excellent tool for hooking viewers and keeping them around.

“One of our biggest goals is user experience and trying to make sure that people are seeing what they want to be seeing and giving them as many resources as possible. So what we have paid a lot of attention to in measuring our videos' success is overall site bounce rate. Over the last year and a half as we have had added more and more videos to our product pages, blog pages, and category pages, we have seen almost a 20% decrease in bounce rate, which means that customers and potential customers are finding value in our content and that content is nurturing them toward a purchase or quote request. So for us bounce rate has been very important to measure the impact of an overall video strategy.”
Daniel Loeschen
Marketing Director, MixerDirect

If your bounce rate is higher than you’d like it to be, take a holistic look at your landing page. Does the navigation make sense? How are you hooking visitors? Is it clear what they should do after they finish watching or reading?

Time spent on page

The best videos ask for a viewer’s full attention and offer a clear, focused explanation of something they were wondering about - which means, hopefully, that visitors will spend more time on the page where your video is embedded.

“The videos we make here at Wistia don’t live in isolation. In almost all cases, they live on a specific page on our site and help us accomplish a goal bigger than the video itself. We use page and site metrics to give us more insight into how our videos are impacting these broader objectives. For example, did adding a video to our features page increase the amount of time visitors spent on that page? It did: our time-on-page is now averaging 1:52.”
Ezra Fishman
Marketing Director, Wistia

Compare how much time visitors spent on your page before and after adding video. If the number went up, they were probably investing time in your video, and consequently dedicating more of their attention to your content!

If time-on-page doesn’t improve, consider making changes to improve your video’s engagement and play rate (as described in the sections above).

Sign-ups, subscriptions, & conversions

If you’re a marketer, chances are you’re tracking what percent of your visitors ultimately convert. Video can be a helpful asset in answering their questions, and measuring various types of conversion (whether it’s signing up for your email list or buying your product) can give you a pretty good idea of how effective your marketing materials are as a whole.

“If you’re creating a video to improve conversions i.e. increase the number of people pressing the ”add to cart" button on your website (or similar), then more or less the only metric you should care about is conversion rate at a page level. This is predicated by ensuring you have a decent attribution model, but once your analytics is in good order, this is the metric.”
Phil Nottingham
Video Strategist, Distilled

When you’re embedding your video, you should tag your viewers' activity in your analytics software (i.e. Google Analytics) to keep track of how they’re converting. There are different ways to do this with different video hosts. There are plenty of good guides out there on how to set up goals within Google Analytics:

Using social to measure word of mouth

Word-of-mouth is another one of those intangible things that you can’t quite measure without some ethically questionable wiretapping activity, but social sharing is probably the closest thing. How excited is your audience to spread the word about your brand?

People might be talking about your company in ways you can’t measure, too, but keeping track of how they’re sharing and discussing your content on social media can be a decent litmus test. It’s not just about the number of shares and automated tweets you get; pay attention to what people are saying about your content, too.

If you’re not seeing a lot of social sharing, you might try some of the following fixes:

  • Include clear calls to share your content.
  • If a goal of your content is shareability, make sure it can stand alone.
  • Educational or entertaining content tends to be more shareable.
  • Your “shareable content” probably isn’t content that’s directly focused on your product.
  • Optimize your content for social media sharing with open graph tags.

Using comments to measure community

On pages where commenting is enabled, like a blog, comments can be a great way to measure how strongly your content resonated and whether you’re building a community around your brand.

Video may help spur further discussion and strengthen the sense of community around your brand as a whole. Commenting can also help drive what content you make next: does polarizing content get people talking more than other content? Or does it just make your audience angry? Comments are a great measure of both the qualitative and quantitative sides of your audience’s reaction.

“I look at comments, beyond their content, as a measure of how comfortable our audience feels sharing their voice. That in itself says a lot about how they feel about us as a brand and about other members of our community. One of my consistent community goals is to elevate the expertise of our audience so that the word of Wistia is not the end-all be-all. The mere existence of comments shows that people feel they’ll be recognized and heard by us and others.”
Elise Ramsay
Community Manager, Wistia

How can you use video to do a better job building community?

  • Be “human” on camera - include bloopers, etc. to make it easy to talk to you.
  • Ask your audience direct questions to create discussion.
  • Make content that directly responds to audience question.

Using conversations to measure clarity

If you’ve created a video to help answer a common question or solve a common problem, you can track that video’s success by tracking how many support emails or calls you receive about that topic, or, more qualitatively, the quality of questions you receive over time. If people are asking higher-level, educated questions, then you might be able to infer that you’ve done a good job covering the basics.

How can you improve communication with video?

  • Find areas on your website where something might be unclear and try adding a video. Keep track of how you’re doing with regular site metrics as well as tracking the number of questions and calls about that topic.
  • If your analytics indicate that people are rewatching a section of your video a lot, revisit it to make sure it’s not confusing.

Measuring humanity and trust

Even though this is a guide to measuring video, it’s important to acknowledge that there are benefits to video that may not be as easy to assign a number to. Putting the people involved with your business on camera can help bring humanity to your website and create deeper trust, but how are you supposed to measure that without tracking your visitors' brainwaves?

There isn’t a clear answer for this one, but you might notice little indicators over time. Do people feel like they know your company? How familiar are they with the individuals on your team? Are people recognizing you in person? While this one can only be tracked qualitatively, you’ll definitely feel it if it happens.

“As we started making more videos and I got more comfortable being myself on camera, I think it left more of an impression. People would come up to me at events already knowing who I was. This has definitely made it way easier to have real conversations, because we can start off by talking about the shared experience that a particular video created.”
Chris Savage
Co-Founder & CEO, Wistia

How can you make your videos feel more personal and increase trust?

  • Put more people on camera.
  • Use real people from your company, not outside actors.
  • Feature the people who are actually passionate and knowledgeable about a particular part of your product when you can.

Wrap up

Now that you understand some of the core metrics surrounding video, here are a few parting suggestions to help you think about them:

  • Test one thing at a time. If you’re going to A/B test two versions of a page, don’t change a lot of elements of the page at once. Try measuring a page with a video versus a page without a video. Try measuring a version of a page with a video at the top versus a video embedded below the fold. Try measuring one video versus another. But whatever you do, make sure the data you’re collecting is clear!
  • Don’t forget about the qualitative. Numbers are great, and we’d often be lost without the objectivity of data to guide us. But you’re not a robot! Just because an action increases conversions doesn’t always mean it’s the right thing to do, and short-term gains could lead to longer term losses in terms of the intangible things that make your brand stand out. For example, putting a gigantic “SIGN UP NOW” button on your homepage may increase registrations, but if it prevents viewers from reading about your product, those signups will be of a much lower quality.
  • Focus on self-improvement, not competition. I know, it’s starting to sound like a yoga class here, but comparing your videos to one another, and not to someone else’s, will give you a truer sense of your growth. Not every business is the same, so looking at your view count, play rate, or engagement rate compared to theirs isn’t really a fair comparison, nor is pitting two totally different types of videos against each other. Try to compare your own videos that are similar to one another, and aim for an overall trend of improvement. Sometimes, your numbers might even decrease. Make sure to reflect on why!

Making sense of metrics can be complicated, but we hope this guide helped shed some clarity to what those numbers mean! What metrics will you be tracking for your next video?

June 8, 2018

Topic tags

Alyce Currier


Lisa Marinelli


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