How to Make a Better Video Thumbnail
An effective thumbnail is essential if you’re aiming to increase video engagement.
It’s the first thing that your viewers will see, and as first impressions mean everything, the decision of whether or not to play the video depends heavily on the thumbnail. Here are some tips on making a more engaging thumbnail:
Make it clear
This is probably the most obvious one, but many marketers still go wrong by overloading information into a tiny thumbnail, making it messy and cluttered.
All you really need is a relevant screenshot from the video (or your own custom image), an effective title, and maybe a little bit of text to support it. Try to keep the text short though, otherwise it will look too crowded and the image will be harder to see.
If you think the lighting in your video is a bit off, you can always adjust the brightness and colours for the thumbnail to make it more visible.
Make sure it’s high quality
Whether you’re using a screenshot or creating your own custom thumbnail, you’ll need to consider the quality of the image. Bearing in mind it will also be used as a preview in the embedded player, it’ll be noticeable if you’re using a low quality image because it’ll look pixelated and unclear.
To make your thumbnail look clearer, you have to make sure that the resolution is high. For the optimum quality YouTube recommends having a resolution of 1280×720, (with a minimum width of 640 pixels) but as long as you make your image as large as possible, you can’t go wrong.
Use a friendly face
Talking head videos are simple to make, yet great for explaining a simple topic, but quite often people don’t click the thumbnails because they can look boring and dull. It all comes down to facial expression; if you look tired and bored in the thumbnail, that’s the first impression people are going to get, but if you choose the right thumbnail, the mood of the video can change completely.
Using a happy, friendly face will make a massive difference to your play rate. By showing a real person smiling in your thumbnail, you’re building an emotional connection with your audience. Viewers like to see real people rather than just text and images, as it makes the video seem more credible.
A/B test different thumbnails
If you have more than one thumbnail or title and you can’t decide which one to use, why not use all of them? If you A/B test different thumbnails, you can experiment to see which one gets the most attention.
You might find that one video gets 4 views, whereas another gets 50. It would be obvious to keep the video with the thumbnail that gets more views, but by using the other one as well you’re basically getting bonus views, even if it’s only a few.
Adding your logo at the bottom or on the side of your thumbnail makes it clear that the video is created by you, and it builds trust with viewers. If people like your videos and want to watch more, they’ll easily be able to identify your videos in the ‘suggested’ area if you get into the habit of putting your logo on all of them.