How to Turn Silent Viewers into YouTube Subscribers

Getting viewers to hit subscribe doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, you just have to ask them nicely. Here are a few pointers!

Have you ever checked your analytics and realized that most of your views don't come from subscribers? If so, you probably saw what YouTube calls the Audience Tab — and this triggering data panel.

Instinctively, you wonder, Why aren't they subscribing?

This image is from the vidIQ channel, so even large creators face this question. In our case, only 33% of viewers are subscribed. But why?

Subscribing Isn't a Viewer's Number One Priority

The short answer is that no one needs to hit "subscribe" to have fun on YouTube. The platform has a recommendation system, and it's really good at serving up videos to the right viewers. So even if you aren't subscribed to your favorite creator, YouTube will place their videos on your homepage like a personal assistant.

If nothing else, this proves that subscribers aren't the most important metric on YouTube.

And yet, you still need subs to crack the biggest benefits of being a creator: 500 subscribers to access fan-funding tools and 1,000 to monetize videos with ads.

So, if you have a small YouTube channel, turning silent viewers into subscribers is worthwhile. Here's how to do it!

Get Good at Making 'Calls to Action'

On YouTube, a call to action (or CTA) is any request a creator makes to their viewers. Some people ask for more video likes, and others ask for various forms of engagement, such as leaving a comment.

But the trickiest of all? Getting people to subscribe! And viewers will only do it if they have a good reason to.

So the first step is understanding their journey on YouTube. You should know why they open the app, when they're likely to subscribe, and why they take that step. But you don't have to reinvent the wheel here; most viewers follow the same path on YouTube:

Problem > solution > satisfaction > subscription

Start by identifying the main problem your audience faces. After that, spend some time finding a valuable solution, then share that knowledge in a series of compelling, irresistible YouTube videos. If that goes well, viewers will subscribe as they become satisfied with your content.

If you're still figuring out what your audience wants, use this guide to build a persona representing their habits and desires. Then you can build better CTAs!

How to Ask Viewers to Subscribe

So, what does a good CTA sound like?

Imagine that you've just watched a video about monetizing a YouTube channel, and the creator wants you to hit subscribe. If they're careful, they won't ask you to do that without saying what's in it for you.

Instead, they'll say something like this:

"Want to monetize your channel in six months or less? Subscribe for more YouTube tips and tricks, and I'll show you how to shorten the journey!"

This CTA is perfect because it:

  1. Addresses a deep desire the audience has
  2. Promises more value, which builds upon the value they just received (monetization tips)

As you can see, it doesn't take much to drive the point home. Stay on topic, and everything will be fine. Promise more value, and everything will be more than fine!

Best Practices for YouTube CTAs

While CTAs are simple to write, they can be challenging to execute. It's not just what you say in those moments but how you say it, when you say it, and why you say it!

So if you want people to subscribe to your channel (when you ask them), here are some best practices:

  1. Provide value first. Create a good video title and thumbnail to tease the video. Then get straight to the point in your video's introduction. Hook the viewer's attention!
  2. Don't ask for subscriptions too early. Instead, keep giving viewers what they want. Make good points, bring the entertainment, and answer important questions about your topic.
  3. Put your CTA near the end of the video. By now, viewers got what they came for. Remind them that they can get even more value by subscribing.
  4. Give a compelling reason to subscribe. Be clear and specific. What unique value does your channel offer? Spell it out so viewers know what to expect!

What Matters Even More Than Subscribers

While you need some viewers to build an audience, anything beyond 1,000 subscribers is a vanity count. By then, you have everything you need to monetize your content, from advertising revenue to fan-funding tools.

So if you're wondering how your channel is really doing, focus on:

These are better indicators of overall growth. They represent how well you can bring viewers back to your channel and make them watch multiple videos — not just one or two.

Want to learn more about these metrics? Click the links above to expand your knowledge and grow your views!