TubeTalk: Your YouTube How-To Guide

We Reveal 5 Critical Mistakes From Hundreds of YouTube Channel Audits

June 17, 2020 Liron Segev; Travis McPherson Season 3 Episode 217
TubeTalk: Your YouTube How-To Guide
We Reveal 5 Critical Mistakes From Hundreds of YouTube Channel Audits
Chapters
TubeTalk: Your YouTube How-To Guide
We Reveal 5 Critical Mistakes From Hundreds of YouTube Channel Audits
Jun 17, 2020 Season 3 Episode 217
Liron Segev; Travis McPherson

Having conducted hundreds of YouTube Channel Audits, we get to see a helicopter view of what Content Creators are doing right and what they are doing wrong. 

Today on TubeTalk, Travis McPherson and I share these mistakes with you so that you can fix these on your channel and set yourself up for YouTube success!

In this episode you will learn:

  • About bad thumbnails
  • About bad titles
  • About looking at analytics
  • About comparing to other channels
  • About the YouTuber's journey

If you want to level up your YouTube channel, get more subscribers, and more views, this episode is absolutely critical!

This show is hosted by Liron Segev who is a Tech Blogger, YouTuber, and the Director of customer success at vidIQ. If you have any questions, please feel free to email liron@vidiq.com

Show Notes Transcript

Having conducted hundreds of YouTube Channel Audits, we get to see a helicopter view of what Content Creators are doing right and what they are doing wrong. 

Today on TubeTalk, Travis McPherson and I share these mistakes with you so that you can fix these on your channel and set yourself up for YouTube success!

In this episode you will learn:

  • About bad thumbnails
  • About bad titles
  • About looking at analytics
  • About comparing to other channels
  • About the YouTuber's journey

If you want to level up your YouTube channel, get more subscribers, and more views, this episode is absolutely critical!

This show is hosted by Liron Segev who is a Tech Blogger, YouTuber, and the Director of customer success at vidIQ. If you have any questions, please feel free to email liron@vidiq.com

Liron Segev:

Having audited hundreds and hundreds of channels across YouTube I get to see a little bit of everything across every creator, across every industry, across every niche, and I get to experience what's working and what isn't working. You know what, there are common denominators right across the board. So, I figured today on Tube Talk let's share with you the common mistakes that people are still making today regardless of your channel size, so that you can avoid making those mistakes on your channel. Alrighty, let's do this.

Liron Segev:

Welcome to Tube Talk. My name is Liron Segev. I am a tech blogger, a YouTuber, and the Director of Customer Success here at vidIQ where every day we help creators big and small level up their channels, get more subscribers, more views in less time. One of the things that we do really, really well at vidIQ is we do something called a channel audit session. It's a livestream. We get your channel submitted. We go through your channels and we immediately are able to pick out mistakes, first impressions. Those is where it really counts on YouTube, and we're able to give you that feedback so that you can go and fix that. Today on Tube Talk I have got one of my fellow auditors, Travis McPherson. He has been doing this for a very long time and really knows his stuff and has really going to shed a lot of light about the common mistakes that we still see time and time again. Travis, welcome to Tube Talk.

Travis McPherson:

Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here. I know I'm probably the least famous person that's ever been on here, but I'm going to give you a good show so who cares. It's been over a year now here at vidIQ auditing and coaching. I'll tell you it's been incredible. I remember when you first told me I'm going to see everything from 20 to darn near 20 million, almost anyway, and I've seen so many different types of channels, niches I've never heard of, creators that are just incredible, that are business people. I've seen a little bit of everything and it's been really nice to know like all the diversity and all the cool stuff that's on YouTube. But, it is really definitely solidified my thoughts about how YouTube actually kind of works, what you should and should not do and, as you've said, some of the things I've seen, amazingly ... Of course, now this side of it, I'm like, How could you think that? The reality is I think probably when I first started I was under these same impressions, as well.

Liron Segev:

That is actually what happens. We think we've got this down. We've listened to every podcast we've downloaded every PDF, we've watched every video but we're still making mistakes time and time again. One of the things you mentioned very quickly, which you kind of glossed over, is this coaching thing. Tell me about the coaching.

Travis McPherson:

At vidIQ I do coaching for channels that want it. It's a new service we started offering under a year ago. People seem to really love it. I've had some great success with some great clients of all sizes. We're, actually, at the moment full, which is a good problem to have, but we are looking to bring some new coaches along. It's been really cool. I've made not only some acquaintances through this, I've made some friends, which has been really nice. I'll tell you, along the way getting to see and talk to people and watching them grow has been really incredible, really exciting.

Liron Segev:

So you've, basically, seen everything. That's why I loved doing channel audits when I was doing it, and I was very happy to pass that baton over to you. It's great. You have a helicopter view and you see a little bit of absolutely everything, which allows you to make some really informed, and smart, decisions helping you coach clients better, helping you with your next channel audits, and this is where we're going to dive in today. I think one of the places that we need us to start when it comes to mistake, what do you think is the biggest mistake that right off the bat if you just think about it people are making time and time again when they show you their channel?

Travis McPherson:

There's so many, but there's one that's always glaringly obvious, and the cool thing about it is it's so easy to see across all of YouTube, and that is bad thumbnails. I'll be honest, when I started, and I'm still to this day I'm not like a Photoshop guru in any way, shape, or form. I use Canva which is free. I always just thought, Well, I just need to put something up. They'll know how great my video is, I don't need a great thumbnail. No. The reality is if someone doesn't click they're never going to know how good your video is. While the thumbnail is not necessarily everything to get a click, like you can have an amazing thumbnail that people don't click if they don't care about the subject. The reality is, it definitely can disqualify you from people clicking on your video if it's no good at all.

Travis McPherson:

All you have to do is do a search on YouTube for whatever subject it is you are about to do a video for and look at the thumbnails that are there. You also can use our tool. We now have that built into vidIQ. But, what you will find is not every single niche has the same type of thumbnails, so a lot of times you'll hear, even sometimes on our audit streams, we'll say less text is better. I'll give you an extreme example and I know you know this one, Liron. This is going to be one for you. Obviously, if you do a search for chocolate cake ...

Liron Segev:

Oh.

Travis McPherson:

... you're going to notice all the beautiful chocolate cake thumbnails that make you just want to reach through your screen and eat them. For the most part, very little text on any of those thumbnails. I think, Liron, you have mentioned chocolate cake a billion times on the webinar so you know all about it. Great thumbnails. Having said that, the exact opposite of that is bitcoin. If you do a search for bitcoin those thumbnails are text, and font, and email addresses, and big eyes, and it's just a hot mess of everything. So, that's what works for bitcoin. Of course, the no text and beautiful image of cake works for cake. You need to know what is common for your niche and really understand and then, of course, put your own twist on it to really succeed.

Liron Segev:

Oh, I love that. I think that's very, very important message because a lot of people will listen to what they've termed best practices, and best practices are going to be faces with eyes, and smiling, and holding your hand in your head, and kind of really pumping out those colors. Don't make the mistake, as Travis is saying ... The same rule doesn't necessarily apply to every single niche. So, I love that tip of understanding what are the best practices for your own niche. You're right, with food it's all about the food, so show the food. Don't distract from the food. That is what people want to see. They want to see how yummy it is. They want to go out and make that product. Maybe something else might need more explanation so they go out and understand what works in that niche. Love, love, love that. Final thing on thumbnails, what is the mission of a thumbnail? Travis?

Travis McPherson:

Well, for me it's always to stop people scrolling.

Liron Segev:

Yes.

Travis McPherson:

When you come to YouTube, be it on your phone, on a desktop, what are you going to do, you're scrolling. The only thing that's going to stop you from scrolling is something that catches your eye. Let me tell you, a great thumbnail will do that.

Liron Segev:

The thumbnail's mission is just one thing, make someone stop and go, "Ooh, what's that?" Then what do they do, they look at your title. Tell me about titles when it comes to channel audits. What are you seeing? What mistakes are people making?

Travis McPherson:

There's so many mistakes, and they're such a ... I could literally give a long conversation on titling. Let me quick first talk about some of the mistakes I see and then, secondarily, what makes like a good title and why it's important. So, we'll see a lot of ones that don't make any sense. They have no context for anything. They'll be like, they'll have numbers in them in like Part 35 of something that I don't care about. Or, something.exe. I don't know just weird things you'll see in there. I'm like, "What." I've no idea, why should I care about this? What is this video about? I have no idea. At least get me intrigued.

Travis McPherson:

Now, for me, before I ever turn on a camera and start to record I already know what my title is going to be, 100%, usually two or three versions of it, and I have a pretty good idea of what the thumbnail's going to be, before I ever shoot my video. Much the same way that someone like MrBeece will do. Now, MrBeece has a team that he can, and does, use for all this stuff, but if you go to his channel, my goodness if you really pay attention to what's going on there he's a genius at thumbnail and title ... The thing that's amazing about him is if you really start looking at it more than just look and click you'll notice that there's a tie between the thumbnail and the title.

Travis McPherson:

There's a story being told and the only way to close the gap between the story, like giving your credit card to a random person, is to click the video. Everything about his titling and thumbnail strategy works to give you not only an idea of what the video's about but tell kind of part of a story that the only way you're going to get to the other part of that story is to click.

Liron Segev:

Whoa, so you're saying don't give away the plot to the movie because-

Travis McPherson:

Why would I do that?

Liron Segev:

There's no reason to watch the movie.

Travis McPherson:

Exactly. This is the best phone ever for $20. Okay, well, I guess I won't need to watch this.

Liron Segev:

But, it's so obvious for us because we do so many of these. The mistakes that I see ... I echo absolutely everything that you've just said. The mistake that I see all the time is someone holding up, let's just say it's a phone because we're both geeks, and we're both into this world, but they're holding up whatever the product is. They point to it and they say, "Buy this for $20. It's the best." Well, thanks. That's it. What do I need to see then? But, if the title were something a bit more mysterious going, Would I ever buy this? Okay, hold on, now maybe I am interested. What kind of best practices, or what kind of tips can you give us to make good, good titles?

Travis McPherson:

Well, I'll give you an example of a video that I actually released where I changed the title and it changed the trajectory of the entire video. Once you hear the title differences I think it'll be really obvious. So, I had a video that came out a couple of days ago that said, What iOS 14 can do to keep me from leaving. The idea behind that is an iPhone has different operating systems called iOS 14, and that makes a couple of assumptions that a) you care why I would leave and b) you even knew what iOS 14 is. It did okay but it was 8 of 10.

Travis McPherson:

I made one kind of simple change to the title and the entire context behind the video changes. So, let me say that title again and then I'm going to tell you what the new title was and see if you can feel the difference between the two. So it is, What iOS 14 can do to keep me from leaving. The new title which then shot this video up to number two and has got a bunch of views now, I'm leaving the iPhone 11 Pro Max unless iOS can do this, unless iOS 14 can do this. So now I'm saying I'm just straight up leaving unless they can do this versus, Well, these are the things that can happen almost more passive. These are the things that happen or I'll leave. When I'm already saying that I'm leaving, it's like, Wait a minute, why are you leaving? Now there's a why would you leave, and what could they do to keep you? Versus I might leave.

Travis McPherson:

So, it's a very small difference but the click through rate was hugely different. I used that same thought process behind my more recent video by throwing some information out there but just enough that you have to click to find out. For example, Why did I let Apple do this to me again, the $350 mistake? So, a) I'm putting a number of cash that it's obviously a lot of money, $350. It's a mistake and why did I let them do this to me again? Well, what is it? What did they do to you? The only way to find out is to click it. I'll tell you for the first four hours that that video was live it had an over 20% click-through rate.

Liron Segev:

Wow.

Travis McPherson:

So, that is not a bad click-through rate. First hour was 26%, so people wanted to click and understand what is the gap on that?

Liron Segev:

Well, there's some mystique. There's some mysterious. There is a good thumbnail that went together with it. As a whole package thumbnail plus amazing title somebody wants to click. You know what's cool about those titles, as well, is that even if I don't know you, and I have zero interest in Apple whatsoever, I would still click that. It's still interesting enough for somebody to click that.

Travis McPherson:

Yes.

Liron Segev:

So, the question to you as the YouTube creator listening to this, go look at your last videos and have a look at them and say, How much information do people actually need to be told versus how much you could actually have changed up their title to make it more clickable and the thumbnail, as well, in combination? Now, Travis, do you agree that if something is not performing we should be making changes, right?

Travis McPherson:

I made that change, title and thumbnail, just a very small thumbnail change. I'm positive that the title was the difference within the first couple of hours of knowing that it wasn't performing the way I knew it should. As soon as I did it made a huge difference. So, yes, if something isn't performing based on ... Now, here's the other thing, Liron, and I think you know this probably better than me. Not only are there times when you can make one small change and then it changes the course of a video, you can either also make a change and have it do worse, which is the worst thing ever, or even if you make a change it doesn't save it. There are just some videos that just won't perform no matter what you do, and you have to let those go and move on.

Liron Segev:

Ah, that's a great nugget right there. Let her go and move on. A lot of people get really, really attached to each and every video, and we should. We spend lots of time, lots of research, lots of editing. We put our heart and soul into it. We want every video to perform, but not every video is going to. It gets to a certain point where you say, You know what, I have optimized it as best as I can, I just need to let it go and work on the next one. The one thing that we keep on mentioning is understanding the performance, understanding if it's doing well. You mentioned click-through rates, or CTR. Let's talk about analytics for a second. Do you find the people are spending enough time in the analytics, or are people just interested in how many views, how many views, how many views?

Travis McPherson:

I've spoken to so many people who either never looked at their analytics, or have a very basic understanding of their analytics. You will on occasion find people that still succeed because they're doing the ultimate best thing which is giving viewers what they want to watch. For most of the rest of us we need to understand what is working and what is not working. One of the first places I look is not only click-through rate, which is huge one, but also the retention graph. I've learned so many things, and I have taught some really incredible creators some really incredible things based on looking at the dips and bumps that have made a huge difference in the performance of some of these videos. You need to become a master of it. I know for some people they don't like math, they don't like numbers, they don't like the ... I get it.

Travis McPherson:

Fortunately vidIQ has, the vidIQ Academy with information on how to do it. I literally made an entire course about how to read this stuff, and I try to make it as easy as possible. Please go watch it because I know it's difficult. Trust me, I get it. I just happen to be a nerd enough to like this stuff that I think I can tell you how to read it properly and understand it. It is so critical for you to move the needle from where you are now to where you want to be. It is so critical.

Liron Segev:

Let's talk about that retention graph. What are the things that we should be looking for in that retention graph?

Travis McPherson:

Well, I look for two things, and I think most people do who know how to read one, drops and bumps. So, you'll see the ... A lot of people will see drops at the very beginning of their video where it kind of starts at 100% and then drops very quickly. Without going into too much detail as to how fast and far that drop is acceptable, try to always make it less than whatever it is. If it drops from 100% to 50, try to make it 75. How you do that? Look at what you're saying. First of all, was we talk about the thumbnail and title, you have set an expectation for that person. That's important. If you do not immediately reinforce that you're going to do, or talk about, whatever it is that was in the title and thumbnail they'll going to leave.

Travis McPherson:

If you tell me you're going to show me how to make a gold necklace for $25 and I click the link and you start showing me how to bake a cake I'm gone. But, if at the very beginning you reinforce and say, Look, with this, this, this, and this you can make a gold necklace for $25 and I'm going to show you, that helps me go, Okay, I can watch, I am going to learn. Maybe if you even show quick B roll of the end result now you've got me hooked. Now I'm going to sit there and watch.

Travis McPherson:

If you don't do these things you're going to see that drop. Now later on in the video you might notice another sharp drop, and I've seen this before. I'll give you a real quick example of a coaching client that I had this happen for. He has a, it's not a video game channel. There's a niche out there which I was not aware of of animated car crashes. It looks like a video game but it recreates car crashes. The interesting thing about this was is that before the crash the long driving portion where the camera is behind the car had the most solid retention and it sometimes peaks. By the time the crash was halfway over, like in the middle of the crash the retention was dropping.

Travis McPherson:

So, I spoke to this gentleman I said, You know, why don't we try something. In your next couple of videos draw that out. Do longer chase scenes because up until that point it was like a pretext. It was like a five-second thing and then the crash. I said, Let the crash be later. Do the drive. He immediately did that. His next couple of videos the retention just started to shoot way up. It was getting 20-30% more videos because, of course, YouTube is like, Well, people are watching the content more, of course we're going to show it to more people. His retention goes up, his views go up, he's happy as a clam.

Travis McPherson:

These are the things you need to pay attention to. It was a small tweak. If you just looked at your videos and didn't look at the graph there's no way you would have known that. You would think, maybe I need to get rid of that because if your channel's all about car crashes you just think, let me put in more car crashes. That isn't what people wanted. They wanted everything before that and then, of course, the end, the gush, so to speak, is the crash. So, give me everything before that. Once we did that views, subscribers, everything.

Liron Segev:

It's a game changer. Love thy numbers is essentially what it boils down to. Another thing which I hear all the time is, Well, I'm looking at my thumbnails, I'm looking at my competitor's thumbnail, I'm looking at my titles, I'm looking at my competitor's titles. I have much better titles, much better thumbnails why am I not winning and they are?

Travis McPherson:

I think it's good to understand niche-wide how your thumbnails look and your titles look. That's important. When you start one-to-one-ing yourself against one other creator ... I see this all the time. I talk to a lot of creators and they say the same thing. I'm better than this channel. I'm better than that channel. Why am I not growing like them? Well, that's almost an impossible question to answer because a) you don't know ... A lot of times what I've found to be is that that creator's been on the platform a lot longer than the creator that's saying it. That inevitably is the thing. Obviously, with more time on a platform you've learned different things that you can do and you cannot do, and you have authority on YouTube. You have lots of videos. There's tons of reasons behind that.

Travis McPherson:

It's good to know if your thumbnails and titles are good against the niche, but a specific person has very specific history with their subscribers, which means the people that they have cultivated on their channel may or may not be interested in the content that you make, but they might be overly interested in the content that that particular creator is making. It's those type of things that you can't get tied up into. It's super important to understand who your audience is, that means people who are subscribes, and non-subscribers, because a lot of your views, if you look in your analytics are by people who are not subscribed. However, it doesn't mean those are one-and-done people. They can possibly be. You know this just by going to your own YouTube home page. If you've watched a channel once inevitably you're going to see another video on your channel on your home page and maybe watch it again. Maybe you don't subscribe.

Travis McPherson:

We have heard from people that they won't subscribe for four to seven up to 10 videos. So, you are talking to potential future subscribers. Look at what those people are engaging with. What are they leaving comments with. Are they thumbs up? All the things, retention. Look at all of those things. Concentrate on those things and everything else will work its way out. If you're so worried about especially one other creator you will fail.

Liron Segev:

The bottom line is you simply don't know. You don't know what the background is. You don't know if they're using paid advertising.

Travis McPherson:

Right.

Liron Segev:

You don't know what their analytics looks like. You don't know what data YouTube has on their channel, or all those videos. So for you to compare and waste serious energy on trying to understand why they are "winning" and you are not it's a complete futile exercise. Look, let's be honest, Casey Neistat could launch a video with a semi-colon as his title and get a million views, right? If I tried that tomorrow morning on my channel, Eh, probably not going to work as well. So, the data's just different. Each channel is different. Each industry is different. Literally each video to video is different. I love the idea of understanding your niche, but don't get so bogged down with a competitor that you are now obsessed and now woe is me, why am I not winning, why are they? It's just a waste of time. Spend more time making better content. Spend more time in your analytics. Understand what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong. Fix that. That is time very, very well spent. Would you agree?

Travis McPherson:

100, 100, 100,000%.

Liron Segev:

How many times have we had people on these livestreams, or when we speak to clients and we're doing these channel audits, to say, I've been on YouTube for a couple of months now. I've done everything you've told me. I just don't understand why I don't have a million subscribers.

Travis McPherson:

Lately especially, and I think because we have the COVID creators as Rob Wilson has quoted them. I think that's a great name. People that are stuck inside making content. I've had a lot of people lately that I've been dealing with with this kind of preconceived notion of what they thought YouTube would be and how easy they thought it would be. Also, this is kind of compounded by the fact that in a lot of ways Tik-Tok is actually kind of easy. You will see a lot of people who are Tik-Tok creators go over there and get a couple videos with thousands of views pretty easily then come over to YouTube and expect the same and get like 12 views. YouTube is difficult. There is no three ways about it.

Travis McPherson:

When I see creators that I talk to that have been in it for like three, four months they maybe have 200 subscribers with two or three videos with like over 100 views and they think that they're doing terrible, I feel bad for them. I have to tell them, you're doing excellent. Do you know how hard it is to get 100 views on a video when you've only been on the platform for like two months? It's incredibly difficult. There's a statistic out there somewhere, I forget, that I actually found a long time ago, of the percentage of channels that have under 1000 subscribers. It's like 70 or 80%. It's ridiculously high. Most people do not have a lot of subscribers, and most people do not get a lot of views. I think there's this perception of they watch particular channels that get a lot of views and they think, Oh, I can do that. I mean, maybe you can. What they're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg is underneath the water and they don't see all the blood, sweat, and tears, and everything that went into that.

Travis McPherson:

So, the reality is this, it is not easy. YouTube is not easy. You may see a person go viral after three videos and they have a million subscribers, Oh, it must be easy. That is, literally, someone walking with the winning lottery ticket and getting hit by lightening the same day. It just doesn't happen that often.

Liron Segev:

Right.

Travis McPherson:

You need to understand that it is a long haul. You can get it done. It absolutely is possible to succeed on YouTube, but there's work involved.

Liron Segev:

When somebody blows up, like Dead Hard [Why 00:24:59] is a recent channel example. It gets so much coverage of somebody who has had a small channel and then basically over a couple of days just became an overnight success. We had someone like Jennelle who was living in a van, her and her snake, and amazingly they did one video and they got a million subscribers a day later. Those are so far and few in between, but they receive the most attention. They receive the most media attention, which makes it seem like, Huh, what's the big deal? If they could do it, look at their channel, I can do it as well, and then you get despondent when you can't.

Liron Segev:

The reality of it is that how many people win the lottery? Not that many. How many people buy tickets? Lots. Same thing with YouTube. Do you have as much opportunity and as much chance of winning as anybody else? Absolutely. But the odds are actually stacked against you. It's like the equivalent of being a Hollywood famous actor. So, if you're not in a rush, and if you're willing to put in the work, and you're willing to make your thumbnails, understand your titles, deep dive into your analytics, stop comparing yourself to everyone else, put in the work, the rewards will be there. You've just got to rinse and repeat a lot. I keep on going back to that because those overnight successes are far and few in between. Travis has his own channel. Travis, how many videos have you got on your channel, give or take, right now.

Travis McPherson:

Geez. I mean, it's probably 200 or 300. I lost track because I'm so looking forward to the next one that I don't keep track anymore.

Liron Segev:

But, it's not two?

Travis McPherson:

No, no, no.

Liron Segev:

It's a whole bunch. That's what it boils down to. It's about understanding and making more content, and you get better with every video that you do, very much like any other skills. None of us were born knowing how to make videos. None of us were born knowing how to ride a bike, how to read and write, but we've learned, and got better and better over time just because we did it more and more and more. YouTube is exactly the same. It's a skill. Could you succeed? Yes, but you do have to put in the work.

Travis McPherson:

I just want to say this, because I feel like in some ways we may have beat someone down. Someone's thinking, I'm coming here and I'm going to feel good afterwards. Oh, my god, it's so much work. No. It's doable. I have met some people that are absolutely spectacularly into this thing, more than even me, and have grown their channels exponentially. I've seen people and met people that are just very artistic and just really want to serve an audience and they win, as well. No, do you have to like spend two hours looking at your analytics? No. Would it help you? Sure. But do you have to? No. However, you should definitely be a Swiss Army Knife across everything, and you can succeed on YouTube even in 2020.

Liron Segev:

So, Travis, thank you very much. For spending lots of time with us, really, really valuable and lots of very good information coming at us fast and furious. If people want to catch you on a channel audit which day is your day?

Travis McPherson:

My day is Tuesdays here on vidIQ on YouTube. It is so much fun. You should come check us out, 11:00 a.m. Pacific time, which I believe is 2:00 p.m. Eastern. We have fun.

Liron Segev:

Travis, thanks for hanging out with us.

Travis McPherson:

Thank you so much, and I hope to see you in the channel audits.

Liron Segev:

Absolutely. For the rest of you guys still listening, thank you for hanging out with us one more time on Tube Talk. Hopefully this was useful. Always make sure you share this episode with at least one other creator. Hit that subscribe button in your favorite podcast application, and I'll catch you guys next week. Thanks for hanging out.