How to create strong thumbnails that boost video views.

In a previous article, How to get more views on your internal communication video, we outlined a number of steps you can take to increase video views inside an organization.

One of the solutions we mentioned was thumbnails. This article talks more about them and explains why they can make a difference for you.

It may be surprising, but video thumbnails have a significant effect on video views.

So what exactly is a video thumbnail?

The “Video thumbnail” explained.

Have you ever bought a book just because its cover was enticing?

Well, a video thumbnail is just that. It’s a picture that lets a viewer see a quick snapshot of your video. An enticing thumbnail makes potential viewers want to click on it and watch the video.

Video thumbnails come in two variations: machine-generated and hand-made. Let’s understand the difference.

Machine-generated and hand-made video thumbnails.

When we upload to a video hosting system (youtube, 23video etc. ), the system randomly selects a few pictures from the video and lets the video editor choose the picture he likes best. Because the pictures are selected by a machine, they are often not very good or relevant.

Experienced marketing professionals have come to understand that hand-made thumbnails help increase video views, because people have the knowledge and the skill to make them more powerful.

At the simplest level, a nicer picture is all it takes to make a difference. When you look at the two thumbnail pictures here below, it’s quite easy to guess which one is likely to get more clicks. Do you agree?

Thumbnails are good value for money.

Creating a compelling thumbnail requires little effort relative to producing a great video, but can have a huge impact: it is good value for money and can go a long way in generating more views for your campaign. After all the time and effort you have put into creating your video, it would be a shame to miss out on the views you deserve because of a poorly designed thumbnail.

Here are a few principles to keep in mind, a thumbnail needs to:

  • Attract attention

  • Spark curiosity

  • Be faithful to the content of the video

In this article we want to make you aware of a number of easy-to-implement design ideas which are highly effective when it comes to making better thumbnails that increase video views.

Let’s go for it.

Use a close-up of a person’s face

Choose an image that shows a person making eye contact with the viewer. This subtle visual cue draws people in and makes them feel more connected.

Choose an image that conveys emotion

Most videos are made up of (at least a few) emotional shots. We recommend that you take a moment to go through your video to find the most poignant picture.

If you don’t find what you need inside this particular video you can, of course, create your own image that conveys the emotion you are looking for.

Select an image that tells a story

An image that tells a story leads the viewer to wonder and ask herself questions about context. What is the backstory? what will happen next? What is the relationship between these two people? etc. Broadly, context is about relationships: between events and between elements (living beings or things).

Telling a story with an image is an art form and there cannot be a ready-made recipe, but let us nonetheless try to give a few clues as to what to look for in an image for it to tell a story:

  1. One part of the image is impacts or interacts with another part of the image

  2. A secondary element in the image adds information about what might just have taken place

  3. A secondary element in the image adds information about what is about to happen

  4. Two elements that are in apparent contrast

  5. An element that is unexpected, out of context in the image or goes against commonly held beliefs

A general rule of thumb is to look for images that feature at least two subjects.

Add a simple yet powerful text

Find a strong statement which will attract and spark the curiosity of your target audience. Try to keep it under 6 words. You might want to read our article How to write eye-catching headlines and video titles for your videos for inspiration.

Then, get your graphic designer to overlay the text on the image with the right font, font-size and color, so that it stands out and is easy to read.

Here is an example.

Notice, that in the example above we have also added a timestamp below the play button that indicates the video length. This is a simple way to increase click through rates, because it tells viewers upfront how much time they will have to invest in your video.

Design for different screen sizes

Suffice it to say that – as and when the picture size is scaled down - a text must still be easy to read and an image must remain sharp.

Give it a try and see for yourself. What happens when you browse your company’s YouTube channel with your smartphone? You’ll find that a thumbnail is now about the size of a postage stamp. But is it still as compelling as on your desktop?

Low video view rates are not a fatality.

By going ahead and implementing the above thumbnail design tips, you will definitely see an improvement. Please let us know in the comments how it goes.

There are many more solutions that get things moving in the right direction. You can discover a couple of them here

Did you know that email is your gateway to increase video views?

and here

The one thing you must always do if you want high video views!

Maybe we have given you too much information? You are busy and video is not the only thing you do. If you are not satisfied with the views you get and can’t afford the time to implement these suggestions, then please get in touch.

We are only phone call away, and we can help.

Glad to say hello!