Optimize Your YouTube Thumbnails to Attract Viewers
Thumbnails have never been more important to your marketing strategy. When someone searches for a video on YouTube, they get a list of thumbnails with titles. In essence, your thumbnail becomes your video’s selling point, and having an engaging one is your first step to increasing your Click Through Rate (CTR).
If you opt not to create a custom thumbnail, YouTube will use a random frame from your video. This frame will most likely not be very complimentary, nor will it fully describe what it is that you’re doing in your video. I’ve made over 100 videos in the past two years, and I’ve experimented a lot with custom thumbnails. Today, I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of the three types that I’ve previously used, and include a template of my most recent and favorite one.
This type includes a text box superimposed on top of the frame that YouTube has chosen. Though it has more successful CTR than the generic thumbnail, it’s my least favorite. Each frame will have a different composition, meaning that you’ll have to readjust your text box for every thumbnail– and that’s IF you can get a textbox into the composition of the frame that doesn’t completely ruin how easy it is to read the image. Also, you’ll have to consider that a thumbnail is generally around 2-3 inches wide, depending on your computer screen. Though the text will look fine during production, it’ll be too small to read once you load it into its smaller format.
These are generic thumbnails using stock photos on a plain background. This has a clean minimalist look to it, and the visibility of my text has improved, but it doesn’t really convey much about my brand. Because this is a stock photo it would be really easy for a competitor to rip this image and confuse my customers. I needed to establish a type of graphic image that would make my video stand out while also informing the viewer of what they can expect from my video.
High Contrast Images
That’s when I started to include images from the videos into my thumbnail. Not a photo or screenshot (which would have too many competing colors), but a strong graphic image with high contrast. This makes both the image and the text easy to see and read, giving a more complete overview of the purpose of the video.
2015’s Most Popular Format
My favorite thumbnail uses color pop. That means that I took a screenshot from the video, chose a branding item to focus on (in this case me, holding/doing whatever it is I made the video about) and grayscaled everything else. That reduces color competition and gives me a nice clean background to place bold, colorful, easy to read lettering. While giving the viewer a peek at what they’re about to watch I’ve had the most success with this particular format. And by making sure that the image only takes up ⅓ of my thumbnail (with the text taking up the other ⅔), I have a quickly-reproduced format that someone who follows my channel can easily identify.
I hope that my process has shed some light on the types of features you may want to consider when creating a custom YouTube thumbnail. If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment below and don’t forget to follow my blog for updates on how to refine your internet marketing strategy.