Finding an audience for your online videos can be difficult enough -- the last thing you want is for the few that find it to click away shortly after the video begins.  To understand why we may prematurely leave your video, it's important to critically think through, "What makes me leave a video online before it's finished?" The next time you abandon a video, pay attention to what you caused you to leave. Make a mental note of it and avoid giving the rest of us that same reason in your next video.

For a while now I've been paying attention to my own behavior when viewing online video. Here are a five common reasons why I may click away from your video, and why others may do so, as well.

1. Your Video Is Too Long

We do not consume online video the same way we do TV. If the video is under 3 minutes long, we are much more likely to remain engaged with it until the end. We may even be forgiving of the next four points if the video is shorter than two minutes. But if we have even an inkling to click away and we feel the progress indicator has too much time remaining, we won't hesitate to leave. (The exception to this length principle is Hulu and a some popular vloggers).

2. Your Video Lacks Passion

Passion draws people in. It's intriguing and often contagious. It's also impossible to fake. Talking loud, sincerely or even waving your hands around with excitement does not convey passion (it may cause you to look pretty ridiculous, though). Passion is something we sense just by hearing you talk from your heart. When the passion is real, we're usually interested.

3. Your Video Has No Clear Direction

Some videos are fun just because they are absolutely pointless. That's very different from the video that seems like it should have a point but we're not sure what it is or where the video is going. From the very beginning, set us up for a climax or a gem toward the end of the video (and then get us there quickly). We need to feel like watching the whole video will be valuable for us somehow. Sometimes that just means crafting a good title for the video.

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4. Your Video Quality Is Poor

People viewing online videos are typically pretty lenient when it comes to video and audio quality. In fact, many of us are drawn to places like YouTube just because of the more amateur and authentic video content there. However, if there is an annoying buzz in the audio, the sound is out of sync, or the video is pixelated, we'll move on to a different video. The quality doesn't have to be professional, but it should at least be good. Take a couple minutes to learn proper lighting techniques and how to frame your shots.

5. Your Video Is Not Unique

Let's be honest: with the millions of videos available online, most of them tend to all blend in together. In some regards, if you've seen one vlogger, you've seen them all, with the exception of a few who are truly unique. They each have something different about them that causes viewers to gravitate toward them, whether that be their outlook on life, sense of humor, or their family.

What makes your videos stand out from the massive sea of other videos? Whether it be in personal videos or in business videos, the words of Seth Godin are absolutely true, "Be remarkable."

About Our Expert Guest - Tim Schmoyer
5 Reasons Why Viewers Might Abandon Your Video tim schmoyer Tim Schmoyer blogs at Life In Student Ministry where he often shares what he's learning about online video as a communication and engagement tool. You can see some of his videos on his YouTube Vlog Channel and his new YouTube Student Ministry Channel.

  • Voice Over

    Another one is the voice over sounds bland or amateurish. That's when you should hire a voice over pro like

  • Yaniv

    Great Article!
    At SundaySky We've found that the optimal video length is 60-90 seconds long.
    Of course this depends on the content but with everyone on the web suffering from ADD, people are becoming impatient quickly.
    My best advice is always test, analyze and optimize. This is how you know what your audience really wants.


    • Christophor Rick

      IF you really suffered from ADD, you probably wouldn't even have managed this whole article :)

      Honestly, 60-90 seconds for what? A marketing message? That's just a long advertisement. You're certainly not talking about something like Owen is. You make it sound like he should chop up his video interviews into 90 second pieces and force the user to click through a lengthy series of them. I would, as an end user, prefer to just have one longer video with chapters built into it so I can skip to the next piece as opposed to clicking a link, waiting for the page to load, clicking play, waiting for the video to buffer and then finding out it's not what I want....

      That's a guaranteed way to lose ME as a viewer and is something Tim didn't cover in his article - the interface and user experience heh.

  • Christophor Rick

    If you're making long-form video then I would steal a page from Hollywood, as Owen said, and simply make short trailers. Then again when Hollywood does it, they give the whole plot and all the good action sequences away meaning there's little reason to see the film heh.

    If I were going to do it for an interview, I would nail down what the 5 best and/or most interesting answers and then take three which I think would generate interest and cut them together into a short preview with a call-to-action at the end covering the rest of the topics in the interview and where to go to get it.

    I'm not actually making loads of video, I'm just working the other angle of what works for others and what would probably pull me in...

    • Owen McGab Enaohwo

      I will give it a try and see how it goes. I guess I can't know for certain what will work until I test it out.

  • Ronnie Bincer

    I too thought that the time limit of 3 min. was a magic number to stay below. But I think that you need to look at the context of the video. For example, I publish some techy how-to videos for Droid phone users (YouTube/UseMyDroid). The longer videos do much better (aka get more views) than the shorter ones!I would use as a starting point 3-min or less, but experiment with longer - you may be surprised! I was!Re. point no.4 I feel that AUDIO is more of a video killer than bad visual quality... if the audio is bad, I'm out of there... if the audio is OK but the content is good, I'll stick around even if the video quality is less than OK.

  • Alan

    Well put. Video is truly the language of today's generation, but unfortunately very few know how to speak the language. Alan Naumann.

  • Ronnie Bincer

    Re. Length, I generally agree and that is what I've told my clients - that 3 min. is the max. BUT, I'd also throw this in for consideration: Acceptable / Appropriate Length depends on your content arena.

    I have posted some how-to techy videos on how to use a Droid Phone and the longer the video the better the view count (you can verify this by looking at I even tried real short tips and they do not seem to get anywhere near the amount of traffic as the longer ones do... go figure!

    I really like point No. 3 above. Let me know there is a bone or a snack coming, and I'll watch for it!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Usually if the video lacks lustre and is very lengthy, you'll lose people. Short, sweet and informative is the way to go with your video marketing. The goal is to grab the viewer and not let go. If they find your videos of value they'll be back for more

  • Owen McGab Enaohwo

    I create long video interviews with Entrepreneurs and I am thinking of creating short 3mins-5mins Previews highlighting the best portions of the interviews and posting that instead on Youtube with a link back to my site where the main video resides. Question is; how does one go about making these previews so that it is interesting? Any tips on this?

    • Christophor Rick

      You might even just cut pieces of the replies together with a call to action at each saying "If you want the full answer...blah blah blah" Then you would nail a couple potential places to pull viewers in. Seems logical to me anyway ;)