Youtube Channel Growth Case Study

Satish Raju

Spoiler alert! This is a prolonged article but insightful too.

I would like to share how I supervised my Youtube channel by cultivating the subscribers count by 150% and above in a short period of time by comprehending the Demographic, Geographic, Psychographic and utilisation of resources.
This case study is conglomeration of User Study, User Research, Data driven and making use of third party tools. This is a prolonged case study so feel free to explore.

Table of Contents

  1. Background
  2. What I Want To Accomplish
  3. Approach
  4. Provisional Persona
  5. Data Analytics
  6. User Interviews
  7. Guerilla Usability Testing
  8. Competitor Analysis
  9. Experiments
  10. Challenges
  11. Success Analysis

1. Background

Let me share my background a little bit with you in order to understand me more. Am a User Experience designer and I have been a part time Youtuber since a year and the channel consists of unboxing and review of gadgets and mostly smartphones. I typically buy gadgets like smartphone, tech accessory and so on just to solve my own inquisitiveness and share my impressions of the product among my subscribers. Currently I have 26,000+ subscribers and all these subscribers are gained through 100% organic method. I have gained 16,000+ subscribers in the span of 6 months with the help of case study.
I am forecasting 350% growth in next 10 months based on the insights I received during this case study.


2. What I want to Accomplish

  • Offer Quality content.
  • Stand out from crowd with Exclusiveness.
  • Make use of being Polyglottal.
  • Understand user’s Psychology so that room for improvements are always present.

3. Approach


4. Provisional Persona

Before I start conducting user interview as a part of user research I wanted to bring out the persona for my platform. I need to comprehend my users in order to offer them right and appropriate videos. So I listed down 4 provisional personas and all these personas has different preference and choice. Since I had good Data Analytics already it was easy to kick start the persona. Below are few provisional persona.

Based on 4 Provisional personas, Demography & Geography plays vital role especially in the language aspect. Usage of smartphones seem to be the dominating platform compared to Desktop, Laptop or Tablet.
Another notable persona is the usage of Jio. Jio network made their presence with their free 1GB data offer, it is proven even a person who hasn’t used Internet has started to get adapted to data world. Since then apps like Youtube, Hotstar, Jio apps went on to get more exposure.


5. Data Analytics

During the commencement of this case study I had 10,000+ subscribers and subscribers were gradually counting up but I was discontented. I should express thanks to Youtube for offering such a mighty Data Analytics platform which can assist to enhance the performance of the channel. I am a data driven guy and I did utilize this Data Analytics platform comprehensively right from Geographic to Demographic.
Here are some data fetched from my old Youtube analytics dashboard as of Jan 01 2018.

Analytics overview from Apr 01 2017 — Dec 01 2017

As you can see there is sudden spike in views and subscription just before Dec 01 2017 as I already was in the mission to grow my channel through this study and it started to work!

Analytics overview from Apr 01 2017 — Dec 01 2017

Based on above data there were fundamental things I must swiftly act and work on. First is the average view time, typically length of the my videos used to range from 6–7 minutes but average view time is nearly 1/3rd of it which is not satisfactory and this proves something wrong with the videos and it is too early to judge unless I study and analyze it.
The dislikes were nearly 22% that means out of 100, 22 people are disliking my videos for a reason and again I must act swiftly to find. Third thing to notice is the contribution of females as they are very scant, based on the data I absolutely disagree females are not tech enthusiast and this is something I should comprehensively pay attention to make sure my videos are having female participants as well.


6. User Interviews

This is a exhaustive user interview as I tried to focus on multiple levels and the method of interview was in-person as it provides wider behavioral data than remote. Apart from this you might notice users body language, tone and so on. I had to meet few random people to watch their behavior rather than approaching closest ones as their response might be biased sometimes. Since it was in public and I assumed going for a video might cause discomfort.
I have interviewed 5 people in Bangalore and at the end of the interview I complimented them via mail of Rs.150 Amazon gift voucher which is nice way of saying thanks.

Before conducting interview certain things I had to prepare:

Questionnaires

Formal introduction about myself and the case study. If you start the interview by saying that the user would be offered a complimentary gift at the end of the interview boosts their enthusiasm on case study.

1. What do you do for living?
2. What are your hobbies?
3. How curious are you on tech?
4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
7. What kind of videos you search for?
8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?

User 1:

Name: Poorna Teju
Hometown: Belagavi, Karnataka
Age: 27
Sex: Female
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: LL.B.
Profession: Practices law

1. What do you do for living?
I practice Law and I have my own office to speak with clients in Bangalore.

2. What are your hobbies?
My hobbies mostly reading books not on Law but on becoming successful. I have plenty of books from popular authors across the world like “Learn to Earn”, “How to Make Money in Intraday Trading” and so on books. Apart from this I also watch Youtube again for inspiration on becoming successful and cooking videos as I am in love with cooking.

3. How curious are you on tech?
According to her tech means advanced technology like robots, sudden transformation like Disc to Pendrive… So later I had to elaborate tech refers to anything that carries technology like memory card, elevator, kindles and so on.
I am convinced with the technology that evolved in past 5 years especially in the smartphone industry. I have bought a Rs.28,000 worth phone last year and certain things in the phone seems outdated compared to other smartphones today. I am enthusiastic when it comes to watching contents based on VR which is close to reality as I have tried couple of times so far but that has downside as well I had to quit after 10 mins due to headache. I also like new smartphones especially the new phones that come with on-screen fingerprint scanner.

4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
It is largely on Youtube as it is very popular. Beside this I watch videos on Facebook and Instagram as now a days people opted to post more media like videos and gifs. I also use Hotstar to watch regional programs as I can’t watch TV all the time. Certain contents are not available in Youtube hence had to use Hotstar.

5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
I prefer English as that has become my medium to communicate most of the time though my mother tongue is Telugu. I can able to write and speak in Kannada but not Telugu as I hail from Belagavi. The kind of video I search on youtube is mostly on English and if it is in some other language I won’t enjoy.

6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
No matter how engaged I am in the office, post 8PM I usually get enough time to read books and watch Youtube videos. I would spend at least a hour post 8PM and during the leisures in office I would either watch Youtube/Hotstar videos or read books. So overall I might spend 1–2 hours in day and more on sundays.

7. What kind of videos you search for?
As said before I have the habit of watching inspirational videos on how to become successful. Beside this I am curious to watch VR videos as it is close to reality. Apart from this I watch videos on cooking including Master Chef videos as I am passionate about it. Recently I have started to watch Vlogs as it is good to see someone’s personal side.

8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
Yes I have subscribed to “Be Inspired” and Warren Buffet videos. On cooking I have subscribed to Nisha Madhulika, Sanjeev Kapoor channels. Nisha’s and Sanjeev’s channels are most popular cooking channels in India as they are experienced and offer traditional cooking lessons. I like quality.
Coming to the tech I haven’t subscribed to any as I am not more into it. But when I need a tech video then I would search and watch them.

9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?
I have come across audio quality issues in youtube videos. Am not considering top channels as I think they would have quality microphone but am talking about channels that I haven’t subscribed. If the audio quality is bit glitchy then I would depart the video and go for alternative. I hate to see 20 second ad before the video commences. I like to listen to gentle audio in a video and if the accent is clean then I would mostly end up subscribing.
I hate to see videos that consist nearly 10+ minutes. For instance if I am watching a chef cooking then I would like to see fundamental ingredients and cooking method and I don’t wish to see stretching for 30 minute as if it’s a TV program.

User 2:

Name: Somashekar
Hometown: Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
Age: 32
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Married
Education: Diploma
Profession: Myntra Delivery Executive

1. What do you do for living?
I work for Myntra from past 2 years and I am a delivery executive currently serving in HBR layout. Previously I used to take care of my saloon in my hometown. My wife is a tailor and has her own shop.

2. What are your hobbies?
Post working hours I mostly stay at home as I am married and has 2 year old kid. I spend quality time with my family post working hours, am addicted to watching tv programs. Whenever there is a cricket match scheduled I would not miss watching, even if the match scheduled during working hours I would try to watch either via Hotstar, Sony apps. I have JIO SIM and I watch entertainment videos on youtube and Jio TV.

3. How curious are you on tech?
I am not much interested on tech but I come across gadgets very often as I am a delivery executive. Recently Myntra started selling smartbands and that is when I came to know about smartband.

4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
I am not much curious on tech and if I want to buy earphone or a smartphone I would ask someone close to me or watch some Telugu tech videos.

5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
I prefer in Telugu language. Whenever I watch cricket it is by default in English. Let’s assume I want to watch a tech video I would search in Telugu and if not found I would go for English or Hindi due to no other choice left.

6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
May be 1–2 hours.

7. What kind of videos you search for?
I like to watch Telugu entertainment videos like cinemas songs, clips and movies.

8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
I have subscribed to many Telugu channels who publishes video songs and clips of the move like “Mango Music”, “Aditya Music” and so on.
Though I haven’t subscribed to any tech channels I know few Telugu youtubers like Prasad.

9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?
The reason why I am not curious on tech videos is mainly due to lack of Telugu content. I recently wanted to buy a washing machine but the review videos mostly on English and Hindi and not in Telugu. Though I understand English but I prefer to watch them in my mother tongue.

User 3:

Name: Manoj
Hometown: Bangalore, Karnataka
Age: 17
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: 2nd PUC
Profession: College Student

1. What do you do for living?
I am a 2nd PUC student studying in seshadripuram college. I also help my father in management as we have big general store.

2. What are your hobbies?
I like to play different sports like Football, Cricket, Badminton post my college hours. I play games in Playstation and also Pubg in phone daily.

3. How curious are you on tech?
I have passion to watch and know automobiles and also petrolhead. My youtube history is either filled with gameplays or automobile videos like Bike and Cars.

4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
I watch them on Youtube.

5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
Though my mother tongue is Kannada I like to watch these videos on English as their content is good. I don’t think any regional language offers video on my likes.

6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
It depends.

7. What kind of videos you search for?
Automobiles, Games.

8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
When it comes to automobiles Topgear, Powerdrift, Autocar, Mumbaiker Nikhil. When it comes to games Playstation, Shroud and few other gamers.
When it comes to tech I remember subscribing to MKBHD, UnboxTherapy.
The reason why I opted for these channels is the content is closer to what I wish and their quality is good.

9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?
I watch videos if has good script. Let’s assume someone reviewing a newly launched car without a script or accent then it certainly seems boring, I like to see videos like Powerdrift as they make videos better than cinema sometimes. I like UnboxTherapy because of his attitude during the review.

User 4:

Name: Faizal Khan
Hometown: Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Age: 29
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: Higher Education
Profession: Security at Goldman Sachs

1. What do you do for living?
I work at Goldman Sachs as a security in Bangalore. I am here in Bangalore from past 5 years. Previously I worked in astartup as a security.

2. What are your hobbies?
Mine is night shift which is from 9PM to 9AM from Tuesday to Sunday. My hobbies mostly watching movies on phone. Even during working hours I get watch movies and videos on Youtube and Jio apps.
On Mondays I make sure my household works are done as that is the day I get off.

3. How curious are you on tech?
I am passionate to know which phone is being launched today or this week. I follow plenty of famous Hindi youtubers like BB Ki Vines, Technical Guruji, Sharmaji Technical and many more. I am curious to know more about recently raising in popularity gadgets like voice assistant gadget, smartwatch and so on.

4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
Youtube.

5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
Hindi only.

6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
4–5 hours.

7. What kind of videos you search for?
Hindi movies, dubbed south Indian movies, entertainment shows.

8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
As said before I have subscribed to channels Goldmines, T-Series and so to watch movies and movie video songs. I also watch entertainment videos like The Kapil Sharma show, BB Ki Vines, Ashish Chanchalani.
Coming to the tech videos I have subscribed to Technical Guruji, Sharmaji Technical and many more Hindi channels.

9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?
I prefer to watch in Hindi only. Few of my co-workers from karnataka and I can understand it but when it comes to watching video I would still prefer in Hindi. Apart from this I don’t have any feedback.

User 5:

Name: Indrajit Choudry
Hometown: Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Age: 45
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Married
Education: B.A
Profession: Hotel Manager

1. What do you do for living?
I am a Hotel Manager in a 4 star hotel in Ahmedabad. I am into this industry from past 13 years.

2. What are your hobbies?
I work from 9am to 7PM from Monday to Saturday and mostly I would remain busy and I don’t have time to find leisure and post working hours I would reach home and watch TV. Sunday’s I would spend quality time with my family by hanging out.

3. How curious are you on tech?
I am not curious about it but my children are who are 15 & 18 year old obsessed about it.

4. If curious on tech, where do you watch videos?
I am not curious as said but I do watch Youtube videos here and there. I use Youtube to play devotional songs, know different temples in the country.

5. What is your preferred language of watching youtube videos?
Hindi, Gujarati. Though he can speak English fairly.

6. How many minutes/hours you spend on youtube?
It depends. I don’t use very often.

7. What kind of videos you search for?
I use Youtube to play devotional songs, know different temples in the country to visit them as I am spiritual.

8. Do you follow any channel? And why?
I don’t know what is channel. According to him he only searches the video by name and watch. He doesn’t know the subscription model in youtube.

9. At last, do you wish to see something that you always wanted to see in a video especially in tech videos?
Improve the video quality while covering temples.

Insights:

  1. Geographic played vital role than Demographic in the user interview. People from respective states prefer respective language for instance “User 2” preferred Telugu and “User 4” preferred Hindi. My hypothesis is people with decent education from major South Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum and so on prefer in English and regional language. If the user doesn’t have decent education then they would prefer to go with regional language. Same case for North Indian cities as well but many prefer Hindi over English. In order to gain plenty of subscribers in short period of time, choosing Hindi language is a ladder to success.
  2. Youtube is the primary video streaming service among users. Second comes social media sites like Facebook. Uploading videos on Facebook and Instagram as well should be a good move to see channel growth.
    Hotstar seems to be popular among few people due to the free live Cricket streaming feature. Apart from these Jio TV app is also recognized by users as they are asked to install. Another notable thing is all 4 personas use youtube for more than 2 hours a day.
  3. People prefer quality content in a video. It can be attributes like video quality, audio voice-over quality, scripting and so on. Overall they expect a decent video even if the content is new and exclusive.
  4. Even though few people say they don’t follow tech videos but they end up watching them end of the day somewhat. “User 1” said she is more into watching “Become Successful” and “Cooking” videos but she insisted she loves watching VR videos. “User 2” initially said he would ask someone close to him if he wants to buy any tech products but he ended the conversation saying he will try to search them on youtube in his language. “User 4” who doesn’t have great education background, still watches tech video that’s in Hindi. So tech is not tagged based on geographic or demographic, it has become our daily driver.
  5. The first 4 personas which falls under the age of 35 are using youtube as their daily driver. As per existing analytics 80% of users aged from 13–34 years. I would like to study further why people from age 35 are not curious or obsessed about tech.
  6. Smartphone is a popular category among users, few users has spoken about smartphone in the interview when I asked about the tech. There is plenty of scope for Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in India as India is one of the fastest growing market in smartphone industry, people are opting for smartphone from featured phone. Also everyday a brand launches a smartphone and it has become mainstream.
    So I should keep up the strategy of reviewing smartphones more often.
  7. As expected mainly desktops are not being used to stream Youtube or any other services as it is proved Smartphone plays vital role. As per existing Analytics 90% of users use mobiles and still 8.3% users use desktop and I am assume they are accessing sitting in office.

7. Guerrilla Usability Testing

Guerrilla Usability Testing helps to find core usability problems, during this testing you will observe the user’s behavior and pattern of using the product that you handed over. The fundamental conception of Guerrilla Usability Testing is can be done in a cafe or where people hangout for a short period of time which is economical and easy to interact. At the end of the testing you offer them a treat as a thanks which is fair enough for their time given. Also this testing recommends not to excess five usability testing as you might find same findings repeatedly and not learning much new.

Process

I have created few mocks and integrated them in marvelapp, I wanted to give users a app like experience rather putting them in a baffled mode so that is why I opted to use marvelapp.
I have kept the testing very short as testers should not be annoyed or feel uncomfortable. I have requested users to take at least 5 minutes in and tell about the experience and also told them to be honest as it is crucial. During this usability testing I was noticing users reaction and behavior which had hints and I was simultaneously writing down where he struggled and where he went through without complexity. During the test I made sure I answered every question so that users don’t feel puzzled.

This test consisted list of videos on a keyword, the keyword was “Redmi 6 unboxing” and it had 12 video results. Here I have worked on different thumbnail and titles. As you can notice each thumbnail is different, one has just the box, another has reviewer’s face, another has just the phone. When it comes to title, I have titled one starting with phone name, another with Hindi, another with curiosity title like “Is Redmi 6 worth to buy”. So this test helps to find why did the user clicked a particular video is it based on thumbnail or tile.

Test 1

Venue: Cafe Coffee Day
Name: Aditya Arora
Hometown: Delhi
Age: 25
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: IIIT, Nagpur
Profession: Software Engineer

Test 1-Behavior

Observation
Aditya Arora was comfortable enough to attend the interview and he was supportive as well to give valuable feedback. He spent at least a minute in judging which video to watch. He did browse at least 15 videos in the list view. Though he knows top youtubers like Geekyranjit and Technical Guruji, C4ETech but ended up clicking the 2nd video in the list. He also noticed date of upload and timestamp of the video.

Insights

  1. He chose the 2nd video due to the duration of the video as it falls under 5 minutes. He prefers shorter video that has more insights rather than reading the specs on the box and showing the unboxing video thoroughly.
  2. He chose the 2nd & 4th video due to the thumbnail. He believes revealing Youtuber’s face in the thumbnails convinces himself to watch a video.
  3. Alternatively if all the videos don’t have face reveal then he would chose thumbnail that is straight to the context. In this case he chose the third thumbnail as it shows phone being taken out of the box. Also if the thumbnail is too good in terms of quality then he would give a try at least.
  4. He hasn’t focused much on titles as he predominantly chose a video due to the thumbnail. He went through the title after picking the thumbnail.
  5. He also added the first 2 videos in the list gets more exposure and video views is something he would consider in order to watch a video.
  6. He kind of liked the 5th video’s title which tells the bottomline of the video, in this case he is curious to watch though the bottomline of the video is shared in title.
  7. He preferred to watch in default mode not in full screen mode.
  8. After first few seconds he kept skipping by 5-sec during the unboxing and while reading specs that was mentioned on box.
  9. He ended up giving thumbs up in the middle of the video when he found a insightful information.
  10. He didn’t open description even though the speaker told to view in order to buy.
  11. He didn’t subscribe as he doesn’t have habit of subscribing until it is too good. He expects good content rather than just reading out specs of the phone.
  12. He browsed plenty of comments to know how people react to the video and the phone. According to him, if comments are filled with appreciating the reviewer he might end up liking and subscribing to the channel. Comment plays vital role for him in order to judge a channel or to buy a phone.

Test 2

Venue: Cafe Coffee Day
Name: Dayanidhi
Hometown: Bangalore, Karnataka
Age: 29
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: B.Com
Profession: Accountant

Test 2-Behavior

Observation
Dayanidhi was uncomfortable initially as he hasn’t done such interviews before later I had to comfort by talking to him more formally. He scrolled down once but ended up choosing the first video, he might have taken 15–20 secs to chose a video. He clicked a video under related videos. Browsed comment section.

Insights

  1. He chose the 1st video due to the highest number of views and he felt it people might have liked the video already and that’s the reason video would have received so many views.
  2. He didn’t notice timestamp of the video as he doesn’t give much importance to this.
  3. Alternatively he would go for 4th video in the list as the thumbnail is too good as it represents what he is expecting.
  4. Same again, he hasn’t focused much on titles as he predominantly chose a video due to the thumbnail. He went through the title after picking the thumbnail.
  5. Showcasing the phone next to the box is a convincing factor for him to watch a video.
  6. He too preferred to watch in default mode not in full screen mode.
  7. He skipped the subscription request part, unboxing part, specs revealing part and the end part. His intention was to know the performance of the display and camera.
  8. He hates such videos that often tells the subscriber to subscribe and like the video. He would do spontaneously if the video meets his expectation.
  9. He hasn’t engaged in any of the icons.
  10. Same here, he didn’t open description even though the speaker told to view in order to buy.
  11. He did browse the related videos and selected a video as he felt there was a alternative phone to watch.
  12. He did browse comment section at the later stage but it is just a glance.

Test 3

Venue: Corner House
Name: Meenakshi Mohan
Hometwon: Bangalore, Karnataka
Age: 26
Sex: Female
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: BBA
Profession: Analyst

Test 3-Behavior

Observation
She did good job in learning and comparing each video with another, she even observed the titles of each video. She hasn’t scrolled down much. She spent nearly 1–2 minutes in selecting a video.
Hasn’t indulged in viewing description part or subscribing to channel part.

Insights

  1. She chose 5th video due to the thumbnail and title as well. She revealed title looks promising as the reviewer is not intending to clickbait.
  2. She said the 2nd video is just a informational video and not a unboxing and actually that turned out to be true. According to her the thumbnail of 2nd second clearly tells that’s not unboxing.
  3. Alternatively she would go for 5th video in the list as she would be convinced to see the reviewer’s face in the thumbnail. Also the thumbnail has both face reveal and box+phone, so this is enough for her to click the thumbnail.
  4. The video quality and content was good according to her hence after few minutes ended up subscribing to the channel.
  5. She watched in full screen mode initially then switched to default mode to indulge in others.
  6. She too didn’t open description even though the speaker told to view in order to buy.
  7. She didn’t browse comment section as she viewed the video completely and tried to indulge in icons.
  8. She did browse related videos but that’s just a glance.

Test 4

Venue: Corner House
Name: Arvind Naik
Hometown: Bangalore, Karnataka
Age: 26
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: BBA
Profession: CSR

Observation
Just like others in the testing he has been a great insight for me. He was curious to what is the testing for? What is the benefit? How are you gonna achieve with this piece of information? I felt happy as he is inquisitive to know things.
He started to take a minute or more comparing each video with other and did same with title as well. Again took a while in going through related videos and comment section. I have learned many insightful stuffs from this person, below are those.

Insights

  1. He chose the 1st video in the list not due to the popularity of the video or the Youtuber but for the reason of giveaway! The title mentions giveaway of RealMe 1 smartphone for one lucky winner. It’s a good learning for me as giveaway can be a clickbait. For him thumbnail and title is crucial.
  2. Alternatively he would go for second video as the title is mysterious and you would click it just know the mystery whether the phone is up to the mark or not.
  3. Number of Likes & Dislikes is crucial for him to judge the video before start watching. If the dislikes are superior than likes he would skip.
  4. He did skip the introduction part which tells about the phone and specs as he knows it already. He also added sometimes he doesn’t like videos that had long intro just to impress people for the sake of subscription.
  5. He did explore under the description which had links to other video and buy links and so on. When the speaker asked to checkout the description he did it instantly.
  6. The comment section is another side where he explored exhaustively each top comment. If the comments are appreciating the reviewer then the chances of getting subscribed to the channel are more.
  7. He did get engaged in the cards shown on top right corner of the screen. Though he didn’t tap it but dismissed it instantly as it blocks the video. This is aggravating for me.
  8. Related videos is important to him as it show similar videos and mostly he would keep watching other videos in the related videos.

Overall Insights

  1. Thumbnail is a compelling piece in order to asses a video. Titles are considered secondary as they take time to read. Few users reported title is as crucial as thumbnail, if the title has attractive keywords like “Giveaway”, “Good or Bad” and so on.
    Face reveal in thumbnail is a convincing factor.
  2. Duration of the video is important for many users as they don’t want to watch a video that is 6+ minutes. The more the prolonged the video the more the users would skip. Also the number views is a judgmental thing.
  3. People skipped the introduction, unboxing and spec revealing parts of the video. Especially if the introduction is prolonged just for the sake of pleasing users in photography might backfire. Keeping intro sweet and short is recommended.
  4. Offering quality video considering all the aspects of the video might help in seeing growth in subscribers. People may share your video across social media apps and in Whatsapp and chances of getting new audience is very high. Audio quality is another thing user expects.
  5. Like & Dislike plays vital role in judging a video. If the dislikes are superior than likes users might feel suspicious. Even the comment section is as important as like and dislike.
  6. Do not please users very often to subscribe, like and share as it may backfire. People stated this is very annoying as they would unquestionably subscribe to the channel if the quality and content is good.
  7. People don’t browse description unless conveyed in the video. Since the description part is subtle and it requires trigger. But when people want to buy a product that was showcased in the video they would explore description area.

8. Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis is method of evaluating and examining your channel with possible competitor and this is heuristic. I have made use of third party plugins like Tubebuddy and Socialblade to analyze my competitors.
Note: I was offered to use Tubebuddy’s Legend plan for short period of time which empowered me to use their features like A/B testing, Competitors.

A. Direct Competitors

I knew who were my competitors in youtube and they are doing what I do already. Basically here if my and competitors video are similar in terms of content, language, quality and so on… mostly we are going to share the viewers or those viewers and subscribers are mutual. I went though my direct competitor’s channel videos, comments section, social media sites and analyzed their activities and took positive sides do that I can implement in my videos and in channel. Also watched closely their mistakes so that I can avoid them in my videos.

Marked in red indicates increase in subscribers

Here I have taken 3 direct competitor analytics. Competitor #1 & Competitor #2 has greater increase in subscribers count in last 30 days due to the video upload frequency. My Channel & Competitor #3 went

Marked in red has higher views

B. Indirect Competitors

These competitors might not make similar videos to mine but target the same viewers. For instance, I make videos on smartphones but my Indirect competitor make videos on automobiles but we both may same viewers. Learning here is if I can extend my coverage of videos on automobiles as well I can see growth in subscribers in a short period of time.


9. Experiments

I have realized at some stage that sticking to rules, being not to uncharted and ripping off existing ideas not gonna help my channel to see growth. Considering limitations I need not to experiment something big that requires plenty of money instead start experimenting on tiny things that can generate results. Here are some tiny experiments that have made and saw results in a short period of time.

1. A/B Testing

Well we all know how A/B Testing works and what would be the outcome. Typically A/B testing ends in positive result as they should pass you some data that says why this testing worked not that testing. I has to use third party tool called Tubebuddy which offered me to use their premium services as a trial period and I have utilized their platform to see the advancement.
Tubebuddy has tons of feature which can boost the growth of channel and opting for premium plan should even more makes sense. Tubebuddy has A/B Testing which enables you to create a variation of the original content where you can play with thumbnail, title, description, keywords and so on and you can set your own time to run the test and at end of the test it can show the performance of A&B. Here is a example:

2. Trying to Destroy Products

To pull audience attention there should be shortcut but that may consume money, I did try this experiment of trying shortcuts to gain interest of audience. Here and there I started to test phones under water! Yes literally putting phone under water for 30–60 seconds to test whether the phone can survive in water or not when accidentally dropped. During this test I finger cross as I am not sure whether am gonna get back my phone is same condition or not. Since most of the budget smartphones that I have tested are not water resistant and sometimes end up losing it post water test. But this test saw plenty of views and criticism from users for wasting a gadget. Infact I have tortured a phone to death just to showcase to users. These experiements definitely gave me good number of views and exposure to the channel.

3. Thumbnail with Closeup Shots

I had a belief that users might explore videos that has best thumbnail. Don’t you click a thumbnail of a video if the thumbnail is fascinating? Well most would click. I also kept on experimenting not to mess up the thumbnail with noise (plenty of things), keep it simple and straight to the context.

4. Face Reveal

I have started to appear in my videos as a host since people stated in user study that thumbnails with face reveal is preferred. I believe users can easily notice and remember you when you often appear on video and thumbnail. Here are some popular Youtubers and their consistency in their thumbnails revealing their faces and these know this approach works.

5. Affiliation

I was wondering to earn through this platform in order to compensate for my expenses and that is when I came across affiliation. I often buy products from Amazon and Flipkart or get the products imported from Banggood, Gearbest and Aliexpress, all these sites offer affiliate service which enables one to earn.
First thing I did was becoming part of Amazon & Flipkart affiliate program and started to mention links of the product in the description so that users can buy via those links. This is a good source of revenue and I must crack it.

6. Thumbnail Consistency

This is something I have been constantly keeping in my recent thumbnails to stand out from other thumbnails. I have been started to keep FHD label on recent uploads since people prefer FHD experience and noticing FHD lable might convince them. Even the usage of elements have been same.


10. Challenges

1. Qualitative vs Quantitative

Youtube is such platform where it recommends you to be a consistent video uploader to become successful but I want to remain neutral on this as I can’t oppose or increase publishing frequency beyond certain numbers due to the time constraint. Being frequent in uploading videos may sound simple and easy but efforts behind it are hectic and I don’t agree completely that Quantitative approach works but I can simultaneously agree more videos=more exposure but Quality might be restricted here.
Let’s assume you want carry Content is key approach and started publishing videos that are great in content but the publishing frequency is very less ideally applies for bigger channels as people anticipate video but in case of beginner consistency is important with regards to quality. Typically you should expect subscribers growth gradually.

2. Language

Language is a fundamental problem and this is what I got validated during user study as well. Since India is a diversified nation with 22 major languages spoken across the country and Hindi proves to be the most preferred language and next comes the English as per youtube stats. I have been receiving tons of request from users to make video in Hindi.

3. Improve Quality

I definitely agree my videos were not so qualitative in terms of offering quality video content. My videos lacked attentive script, equipments and resources to grab users attention. I would like to show few unprofessional equipments being used in videos and I am not ashamed to reveal them.

Lacks quality content & equipments

4. Investment

Considering all these flaws and lacking video quality I have realized I need to invest in tools and equipments if Youtube is my passion. Here are my KIT that are being used in my videos.
1. Canon 700D — Rs.42,000 ($600)
2. Manfrotto Tripod — Rs.18,000 ($260)
3. Blue Yeti Microphone — Rs.12,000 ($200)
4. HP Slim Monitor — Rs.10,000 ($140)
5. Studio Light — Rs.13,000 ($185)
6. 2TB HardDisk — Rs.8,000 ($110)
7. Desk Table — Rs.9,000 ($125)
8.Slider — Rs.8,000 ($110)

My total investment reached nearly Rs.1,30,000 ($1,730) in order to buy these equipments in the span of 2 months just to use them in the video.

5. Video Copyrights

As I progressed with quality and exclusive content, I have encountered problem of seeing my videos being replicated by others without my consent basically this is copyright infringement. When I invest on a gadget and then bring it as exclusive content and ending up seeing replicated by others are depressing. Even Youtube doesn’t have algorithm to solve this problem as they recommend you to manually find such videos and report to it them in order to inspect and take it down.

6. How Do I Earn

I didn’t know how to start earning through my videos initially, peoples assumptions on earning in Youtube is very flimsy as they think get paid per view. Youtube does pay you based on Demographic & Geographic factors and not based on 1000 views or subscribers you have. Basically you are going to earn when your audience engaged in the ad that was aired before or during the video, clicking on ad served on your video should pay higher than the impressions. In order to earn more on Youtube you got to have quality content and subscribers count and made sure your audience is engaged in your channel’s activity.

7. TL;DW

Too Long Didn’t Watch is a popular insight to be found in a typical digital content user research. Typically users skip content that are prolonged and this is where TL;DW plays vital role. During this case study users reported video with 7+ minutes duration never attracts them to watch, So I have to apply same approach in my videos by keeping it short and sweet under 6 minutes.

8. Interrupting Advertisements

Youtube ads are one of the most annoying thing to come across when you are so excited to watch a content and ending up watching 5 sec video and sometimes 30 sec video ad as well. There is no way to skip this until you use some ad blockers as most of them don’t use or aware. During user study few stated that Advertisement is a reason why they skip a video and find a alternative video.

9. Competitors

This is gonna be most colossal challenge of all and this is something I need not to think and stay idle rather should keep moving. If I come over above challenges the chance of getting the competitor’s viewers and subscribers under my territory are more. When your competitors are big and bring up a product that you have already brought long back gets more exposure than yours is due to the subscribers count, this is something I need to tackle.


11. Success Analysis

1. Subscribers Growth

Within span of 6 months the channel’s subscription reached from 10,000+ to 26,000 subscribers (150% and above) which seems satisfactory number being a beginner. As you had gone through this case study and this is the result.

2. Audience Engagement

Ever since implementing things which were part of case study and insights got from user study, I have started to see growth in video views, subscribers count, engagements (like, commenting and sharing of videos).
Here are my recent videos stats.

3. Tripled Youtube Earnings

I am happy to say that my Youtube earnings paid via adsense tripled and whenever there is sudden peak in views on newly published videos gave me even more earnings. Though I am earning via impressions I can also see viewers engaging in advertisement as well. Again I can’t reveal the figures due to personal reasons.

4. Increase in Affiliation Revenue

Initially things didn’t go well as I previously used to just embed the referral links in the description below and not to mention in the video hence the exposure in description section was very less. Later understood the theory of promoting affiliate links through competitors video and then realized how to make it work.
Below are some earning reports from Amazon of past 6 months, again sorry I preferred to not to disclose the numbers due to personal reasons but I can tell you those numbers are satisfactory and I thank Amazon for being honest and paying on time and alternatively I am affiliated with Flipkart as well but they don’t pay and respect like Amazon does.

5. Quality Content

I took the word Quality is King very seriously and hence my videos kept having quality content and it is being improved over very video from past 5 months. Even the voice over was tremendously improved and people are happy about that. One area where I improved was on cinematography and scripting and am happy that people find them happy.
Here are some appreciation from users:

This is just a beginning!

Reaching 26k subscribers number is good at this point but what really matters now is the same dedication required to stimulate my confidence and reach the next milestone of 100k subscribers. The biggest challenge would be managing work life balance along with this. Wish me good luck, hoping to share lot more insights in future.

Satish Raju

Written by

User Experience Designer & Part time Youtuber. Space movies fanatic.

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