Get More Views Just From Your Thumbnail

Ok.  So you want to be the next PewDiePie or SkyDoesMinecraft.  If you don’t know who they are, it sounds like you’re off to a rocky start.

All kidding aside, you have a concept and a channel. How are you going to reach your 15 minutes of YouTube fame? And how are you planning to ensure you sustain it through the life of your channel?

The answer is you probably haven’t put much thought into planning at all. Don’t worry, most people don’t. You’re in the same boat as almost all your competitors.

But with many “flash-in-a-pan” video bloggers out to sell or shock, it’s hard to leave a lasting mark. In this creative economy, it’s more important than ever to resonate with people. You have to stay ahead of the competition.

It’s a catch 22 that all video marketers face at some point. And while they focus on the content they sometimes forget about one small thing.

The thumbnail.

Yes, that tiny image that identifies your video can be almost as important as the content itself.

When it comes to getting viewers to your video, what’s going to get them to click? That small thumbnail image is more important than a thousand words.

So here are some insider steps for getting more from your thumbnail image.

Step 1: Once More, with Feeling

The most successful YouTube thumbnails have a close-up of a face. But not any face, a face that connects with an emotion.

You’ve seen it before, the video thumbnail shows an elderly woman with a look of shock, or a child laughing. This is no accident, it’s by design.

And you can take advantage of this tactic too, with a well-placed selfie or image of a face that relates to your video.

Here are some tips for getting the perfect portrait:

Rely on eye contact. Humans are biologically programmed to look for eye contact. Use a picture that looks into the camera. Show emotions that are detectable.  Even a “meh” face has certain characteristics that viewers expect to see.

But “meh” face may not be your best choice if options like joy, surprise, anger or fear are in play. Showing stronger emotions appeals to the viewer’s sense of empathy.

Appeal to your viewers by placing a face in your thumbnail and they will be more likely to click on your video.

Step 2: Connect with Text

A few contextual words or a title is a great way to draw people in. As long as it doesn’t distract from the content. To make sure your text is in line with industry standards, try a couple of things.

Keep text brief and to the point. Only use a few words or short phrase that offers context and arouses curiosity.

Try to evoke some kind of emotion. Humor is a good one!

While we are talking about superimposing words, it may be a good idea to include your logo in lieu of text.

A logo makes your videos identifiable to the people who want to watch your stuff.
If you are putting out solid content than a logo should be an essential element of your thumbnail. You’re bound to get some clicks when you use proper branding.

Logos are even better if you are trying to make your channel pop in a category with a lot of other YouTubers. Like makeup tutorials.

Grav3yardgirl’s As Seen On TV series is a good example of successful logo placement. When you see that big red logo next to Bunny Meyer’s face you know what you are getting in an instant.

Step 3: Let Your Brightness Shine

If you’ve spent any amount of time on YouTube you probably noticed something. The background colors are bright enough to make a unicorn cry.

That’s so the thumbnails don’t get lost against a backdrop of neutrals that all look the same. It makes each video stick out in its own unique way. You may even come across some videos that have a sunburst effect for the same reason.

If bright colors aren’t congruent with your brand, then you can play with more subtle effects.

Tweaking filters, sharpness, and vignettes is a great way to make yourself stick out. But be aware that the thumbnails on either side of yours will likely be neon.

Another way to play with color is to pay attention to contrast and lines. Using a bold outline or colorful cut-out will attract more eyes to your content.

When All Else Fails…

How can you know what works and what bombs without conducting some tests?

Marketers know to test campaigns, and video marketing strategy is no different. Running an A/B test with two thumbnail images can provide crucial data on what’s enticing to your client.

Try the first thumbnail one way, and the second thumbnail a different way. Then collect data on which one performs better over a given period of time.

Use the feedback to create a new thumbnail image, and test it against the winning image from the last round.

Keep this up until you’re satisfied you’ve found the best style for your thumbnail images. Replicate it over and over again. This not only works for increasing views but also brand presence.

Who Knew A Little Thing Could Have Such a Big Impact?

If you’re still reading this post, chances are your thumbnail needs work. Run, don’t walk, to a thumbnail maker to update yours!

What are you waiting for?

You’ve put time and money into your channel already. Stop missing out on the fame you’ve worked so hard for.

If a 25-year-old gamer can do it, and a 22-year-old beauty vlogger with a killer palette can too. Then so can you!

Motivational speakers say when you want something bad enough, you have to picture it. And in this case, it does come down to a picture. Not the one in your head, but the one on your YouTube video.

Stop daydreaming about YouTube success! Start creating new thumbnails, today, to see an increase in views tomorrow. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3 Test!