What’s in a Thumbnail in Video Marketing? As It Turns Out, Quite a Lot

The easiest way to kill a great video is having a boring thumbnail, but that can change with more captivating thumbnails.

What’s in a Thumbnail? As It Turns Out, Quite a Lot in Video Marketing

There's an old saying that tells us we should never judge a book by its cover. But, at least in terms of videos on the internet, that's precisely what we do.

Only instead of book covers to go off of, we have video thumbnails—which are those single snapshot images of your video that are made to distill everything that your entire video is about down to an experience that is over in a fraction of a second.

Even the best video thumbnails may sometimes seem like they're randomly selected, but the truth is they're not. They're often the product of a great deal of thought, care, and (most importantly) an understanding of who you're trying to reach and how you need them to react.

So, what's in a thumbnail?

As it turns out, quite a lot. When you make the most of these small-yet-crucial reduced-size images of videos (thumbnails) that are used to help in recognizing and organizing videos, you can take your videos to a whole new level and help in drawing in a bigger audience.


Why Thumbnails Matter in Video Marketing


Studies have shown that most people form a first impression of something in literally fractions of a second. Likewise, human beings are visual learners - they always have been, they always will be. These two things tell us something very important about video content marketing in particular: Taken together, those two facts prove that your thumbnails are more important than nearly every other aspect of your video - at least initially. 

Even if you have a title that you spent hours on, one that is specifically designed to attract as much attention as possible, people will still give more weight to that thumbnail image you create for your video. This is just one of those evident facts of life. A compelling thumbnail will make your video more likely to get clicked on and viewed to begin with. 

Even if someone liked your video after watching it, that thumbnail will play a huge role in their decision to ultimately share it with their friends. It needs to be enticing - something that draws people inward towards the experience you want them to have - and it needs to succinctly represent as much of that experience as possible at the exact same time.

To put it simply, the easiest way to kill a great video before it has a chance to shine is with a boring thumbnail. Thankfully, a captivating thumbnail has the opposite effect.

So, the next time you sit to create thumbnails for your videos, make sure you make them as captivating as possible.


How to Create More Captivating Video Thumbnails


First, you need to think about your thumbnails in almost a video agnostic way. To that end, give it the same attention you would any other piece of video content.

When using a story or timeline creator tool, you naturally think visually, right? You're selecting images (or in this case, facts and figures to be expressed visually) that take complicated ideas and distill them down to their bare essentials. You're giving people what they need to feel motivated to go on a larger experience with you, and you're doing it by giving them a taste of what is to come.

You need to start with the same point of view when selecting a video thumbnail. It needs to "tease" the video it's a part of, yes - but it also needs to almost stand on its own to a certain extent.

If someone only saw the thumbnail and you asked them what they thought the video was about, they should be able to tell you in broad terms. If they can't, you need to dive back in and find another image. Likewise, as is true with any other piece of visual collateral, you need to think both about the message you're trying to convey and who you're trying to convey it to.

If you're using a service like Respona to connect with influential people in your industry, for example, the chances are high that you're going to be tapping into an audience that is similar to your own - but that isn't your own. It's someone else's and because of that, what they want may not be identical to what your own audience wants.

Therefore, when selecting a thumbnail to represent a video designed for distribution via these types of means, think about the people you're trying to reach and what they're looking for. Don't allow yourself to fall into a pattern and think about each thumbnail as unique unto itself. In the end, this is how you make sure you're always selecting the right image for the right audience at precisely the right time.

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.