What makes a good video thumbnail?

By Leann Priebe on March 22, 2023

By Leann Priebe on March 22, 2023

If you’re anything like me, you have been down a few YouTube rabbit holes. I’ll start watching my favorite make-up artist, and then hours later, I’m watching a video of Judge Judy! Every day, millions of users watch videos they never intended to. This is due in part to exciting thumbnails!

But how can you make your video thumbnails enticing on YouTube and elsewhere?

Video thumbnails give users an idea of what your video will be about before they click on it. A successful video thumbnail is informative, relevant, and enticing. Thumbnails are used on YouTube, but also places like your marketing emails and even your website!

Here are some tips for creating a killer thumbnail for your next video. 

The materials you need to get started are:

  • The video you are making a thumbnail for.
  • A photo editing tool. Canva is free and has some great templates.
  • Time.

Youtube video thumbnails

After you pull a screen capture of the video you are creating a thumbnail for, boot up your photo editing software. You could use Photoshop or any other photo editing software. We prefer Canva for video thumbnails.

You’ll need to create a graphic at 16:9 aspect ratio. A size of 1280 x 720 pixels is most common, although we often do 1200 x 675 pixels. Most tools should have a template that’s the right size.

Next, add the images & text you’d like to appear on the thumbnail.  You can use any font you like for the text and add an accurate title, short and legible, to your thumbnail. The title should capture the audience’s attention while also being accurate to the content of your video. You do NOT need to add a play button, as YouTube will add that automatically.

After creating the thumbnail, take it to Youtube and add it to your video!

Email video thumbnails 

If you’re sending marketing emails to your audience, video is a powerful way to engage them. But if you don’t include a custom thumbnail, you could be missing out. 

Your thumbnail should be easy to read, relevant to your target audience, and visually engaging. Be sure that when users receive the email, they can tell it is a video, not just a photo. You can accomplish this by adding a play button or another indicator within the thumbnail or natively within your email platform.

If your email marketing platform does not add a play button automatically, be sure to add one in the graphic. You want it to be as obvious as possible that it’s a video thumbnail.

Website video thumbnails 

If you include videos on your website from YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere, instead of having an auto-generated thumbnail, you can use a thumbnail you created. This helps maintain a professional, cohesive look. And depending on your website’s capabilities, you might be able to add it right on the website.

If your website supports it, using a static thumbnail instead of YouTube or Vimeo’s embed option can increase your website’s loading speed. That’s important because people are impatient, and Google likes websites that load quickly.

Helpful website video thumbnail tips:

  • If your logo is in your website header already, don’t worry about including it in your thumbnail as well.
  • Use your brand colors in your thumbnail.
  • Be aware of the background color or graphic the thumbnail will be displayed on top of. Don’t use the same color in the background of the video, or it will just blend in and people will be less likely to click to it.
  • It sounds obvious, but do not forget to link your video to the thumbnail!
  • Design your thumbnail so users know that they should click the thumbnail. Again, adding a play button is great if your website doesn’t automatically add one.

If the time spent creating or optimizing your content would be better spent serving your clients, we can help. Our team loves to help professionals stand out online. Reach out today to see if we can help you!

Ready to get started?

Ready to take your digital marketing to the next level? We're here to help. Let's talk.

Leave a Comment