A 5 Step Guide To Make Video Thumbnails

A 5 step guide to make video thumbnails

that increase click through and audience retention

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A 5 step guide to make video thumbnails that increase click through and audience retention

In the old days it was wise not to judge a book by its cover. In fact, you’d be happy to spend at least half an hour reading some of it to find out if it was any good.The internet offers no such luxury when it comes to videos. In fact, you’ve got to make sure they are judged instantly by their cover and get to work straightaway.

90% of the top performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. Wistia increased their email click through rates by 21% just by including a video thumbnail. YouTube has claimed that you’ll get 2-3 times the average audience retention rate if you start off with a well thought-out thumbnail.

Not only that, if you’re using YouTube but you don’t use a well-crafted thumbnail then you are less likely to get suggested views.And that’s a big problem. Here’s why in 10 seconds (and exactly 114 words)…

When you upload a video to YouTube, you get 48 hours when an algorithm will test your content and boost it, placing it in the suggested video bar down the side and in front of content that is relevant to yours. This is most likely to be where you get a huge percentage of your views from over time. If you don’t get many clicks, and those who do click have a low audience retention rate, then after 48 hours you will be dropped from the boost and end up in a tough position to get out of. This means that you’ll miss out on suggested views that are crucial to growing your channel. 

So, you can see why on YouTube thumbnails are really important – but this also applies to all other platforms too for getting video ROI.Think of a thumbnail as a split second trailer which needs to follow this formula:

Intrigue + Inform = Enticement

Intrigue… with some eye-catching information.

Inform… and give the viewer an idea of what they are going to watch

Enticement… doing the previous two will do just this.

All this leads to… Higher engagement.

Here’s our 5 step guide to making video thumbnails that increase audience click through and audience retention…

1. Headline Thumbnail Text

Your headline thumbnail text doesn’t need to tell the whole story but it needs to be relevant. It needs to include power words and numbers and large text to help it stick out. But BE WARNED! Using lots of capitals and exclamation marks will get your video flagged by YouTube. This will mean less suggested views.

2. Genuine Thumbnail Headline 

Make sure you use a genuine headline and not just clickbait. Otherwise, your audience retention will bomb. Make sure the image does honestly represent the content quality and message

3. The thumbnail image 

Close ups of people on your thumbnail work well. This is because we are psychologically drawn to look at other human faces. Our brains are wired to remember them better than anything else.

Using bold colours in your thumbnails will help you stand out but brands need to be mindful of guidelines.

4. Thumbnail Format

Moving onto format, if you’re using the Hero-Help-Hub strategy then you need to think of your thumbnails as being part of a series guide. You might want to use a different colour overlay for the ‘How to…’ videos and design your thumbnails around that. This will giveregular viewers a good indication of what they are about to watch before they hit play.

Getting your design team to create a format for thumbnails that you will repeatedly use will save you a lot of time in the long run.

5. In-video thumbnails

If you haven’t got the time or resources to get your thumbnail designed by a pro every time then you can take a snapshot of one of the stills in the video and use that.

Once you’ve done that you should need to hit Command-Shift-4 on a Mac or use the snipping tool on a PC and highlight the thumbnail, and Hey Presto! You’ve got one ready to go. (Although we would advise putting a lot more effort into it)

Follow this guide and you’ll get more views on YouTube, on your social media, on your website, on your emails, and basically everywhere.

So, remember…

The internet is not a book and you will be judged by your cover.

A 5 step guide to make video thumbnails that increase click through and audience retention

In the old days it was wise not to judge a book by its cover. In fact, you’d be happy to spend at least half an hour reading some of it to find out if it was any good.The internet offers no such luxury when it comes to videos. In fact, you’ve got to make sure they are judged instantly by their cover and get to work straightaway.

90% of the top performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. Wistia increased their email click through rates by 21% just by including a video thumbnail. YouTube has claimed that you’ll get 2-3 times the average audience retention rate if you start off with a well thought-out thumbnail.

Not only that, if you’re using YouTube but you don’t use a well-crafted thumbnail then you are less likely to get suggested views.And that’s a big problem. Here’s why in 10 seconds (and exactly 114 words)…

When you upload a video to YouTube, you get 48 hours when an algorithm will test your content and boost it, placing it in the suggested video bar down the side and in front of content that is relevant to yours. This is most likely to be where you get a huge percentage of your views from over time. If you don’t get many clicks, and those who do click have a low audience retention rate, then after 48 hours you will be dropped from the boost and end up in a tough position to get out of. This means that you’ll miss out on suggested views that are crucial to growing your channel. 

So, you can see why on YouTube thumbnails are really important – but this also applies to all other platforms too for getting video ROI.Think of a thumbnail as a split second trailer which needs to follow this formula:

Intrigue + Inform = Enticement

Intrigue… with some eye-catching information.

Inform… and give the viewer an idea of what they are going to watch

Enticement… doing the previous two will do just this.

All this leads to… Higher engagement.

Here’s our 5 step guide to making video thumbnails that increase audience click through and audience retention…

1. Headline Thumbnail Text

Your headline thumbnail text doesn’t need to tell the whole story but it needs to be relevant. It needs to include power words and numbers and large text to help it stick out. But BE WARNED! Using lots of capitals and exclamation marks will get your video flagged by YouTube. This will mean less suggested views.

2. Genuine Thumbnail Headline 

Make sure you use a genuine headline and not just clickbait. Otherwise, your audience retention will bomb. Make sure the image does honestly represent the content quality and message

3. The thumbnail image 

Close ups of people on your thumbnail work well. This is because we are psychologically drawn to look at other human faces. Our brains are wired to remember them better than anything else.

Using bold colours in your thumbnails will help you stand out but brands need to be mindful of guidelines.

4. Thumbnail Format

Moving onto format, if you’re using the Hero-Help-Hub strategy then you need to think of your thumbnails as being part of a series guide. You might want to use a different colour overlay for the ‘How to…’ videos and design your thumbnails around that. This will giveregular viewers a good indication of what they are about to watch before they hit play.

Getting your design team to create a format for thumbnails that you will repeatedly use will save you a lot of time in the long run.

5. In-video thumbnails

If you haven’t got the time or resources to get your thumbnail designed by a pro every time then you can take a snapshot of one of the stills in the video and use that.

Once you’ve done that you should need to hit Command-Shift-4 on a Mac or use the snipping tool on a PC and highlight the thumbnail, and Hey Presto! You’ve got one ready to go. (Although we would advise putting a lot more effort into it)

Follow this guide and you’ll get more views on YouTube, on your social media, on your website, on your emails, and basically everywhere.

So, remember…

The internet is not a book and you will be judged by your cover.