How To Dominate On YouTube With Awesome Thumbnails

    How To Dominate On YouTube With Awesome Thumbnails

    If you’re doing video marketing to grow your business – whether you’re trying to get more sales, whether you’re trying to get more leads, whether you’re trying to grow your membership – one thing you’ve got to be working on is doing better YouTube thumbnails. Because if you don’t get clicks, you don’t get views. Today we’ll help you dominate on YouTube with awesome thumbnails.

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    HOSTS: The Video Marketing Podcast is hosted by:
    – Dane Golden – VidAction.tv
    – Shelly Saves The Day – ContentMinis

    LINKS:
    Custom Thumbnails

    TRANSCRIPT

    Dane Golden:
    If you’re doing video marketing to grow your business, whether you’re trying to get more sales, whether you’re trying to get more leads, whether you’re trying to grow your membership, one thing you’ve got to be working on is doing better YouTube thumbnails, because if you don’t get clicks, you don’t get views.

    Shelly, what’s one of the most important things people need to know about YouTube thumbnails?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    That you should not repeat the entire title in your thumbnail.

    Dane Golden:
    Okay, so wait, wait, wait. The title, the title of this one is, How to dominate on YouTube with awesome thumbnails. Should we repeat that in the thumbnail of our video podcast?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Absolutely not.

    Dane Golden:
    Okay. Well, what, what should, what type of text should you use? No text or something different?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    You know, that is an interesting question because sometimes I think it can really depend on the genre of videos. So sometimes something like food, you may not want any words. That are covering up the food, that is the most intriguing part. You might just have an arrow, but sometimes you want words and it can just depend.

    And there are in fact tools out there that can have you even have analytics based on do the people who click on your thumbnails and videos, do they prefer words versus no words? And that’s included inside of a tool called TubeBuddy. And so it can really, my famous answer is always, it depends. It depends.

    It depends.

    Dane Golden:
    I drink water. When you say it depends, go on.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    You’ll be very hydrated. But one thing that I think is really concerning is you always want to make sure that it’s most visually appealing for people who are going to be clicking it. And so sometimes, like I said, there are going to be rules to follow in certain types of. Genres. So a lot of the times with beauty, you know, for instance, there’s a certain kind of rule that they follow.

    Maybe it’s a before and after, maybe it’s a picture of everything. In a declutter food, a lot of the time it tends to be close up and maybe the chef isn’t in it necessarily Gaming. There’s a lot of overly saturated colors and maybe a screen share of what’s happening in the game are very familiar characters or something with Pokemon kind of the same.

    So it can really be dependent on not only what your audience is going to click on, but also perhaps even the niche.

    Dane Golden:
    Right, and, and even the, the face or non-face or someone else’s face that you might put in, studies have shown that having a face generally can improve clicks. Often, even two faces can improve clicks. I’ve not found. As a thumbnail designer, I’m always having trouble putting two faces in one face. I can figure out how to do two.

    I don’t even know how to do properly. Some other people do. What I like to do for businesses is, you know, usually keep it pretty simple. Have what I call a library of faces, and I actually give my clients a, a list of emotions, you know, some which, which, which range from surprise, anger, disgust, fear.

    Sounds silly, but these types of emotions really can get clicks and in the right context, you know, you’ve created, let’s say you’ve created a problem for your business or your business has a problem, how to fix X. And it might be a fear thing or a shock, face. And those strong faces. I happen to be someone who’s super into body language and.

    I read this body language blog. I’ve read thousands of posts on this body language blog. If you’re ever interested, body language success.com. He talks about all sorts of things, but also from the neck up, which is where most thumbnails win. Actually, I should add that if you can find a way to add hands into your thumbnails, I find people really like to click on those, but for some reason, Never hold your arms over your head.

    They don’t want to see your underarms for some reason that gets worse clicks. You just test those things and, and you mentioned Shelly, the tool called TubeBuddy. It’s if you have the legend service, which is generally around $50 a month, you can use that thumbnail comparison testing tool. And what it does is it runs for two weeks by default, but I’ve sometimes run them forever just.

    Throw in a couple of thumbnails and it switches odd even days, which thumbnails work better. And I actually Shelly, I do not go with the best click through rate. Have I told you this before?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    I think you have.

    Dane Golden:
    The reason is I go for the best average watch time per impression,

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Mm-hmm.

    Dane Golden:
    because that’s my feeling. They, YouTube says they’re looking for click to rate, but what they really want is if they show a thumbnail.

    They want somebody to both click on it and watch for a long time. Right. So I actually dig down deep into those analytics and look to see based on if this thumbnail is shown, what is the average view time? So if it’s, so the click through rate, if they click off, or if they stop watching right away, you sort of tricked him, right?

    You sort of promised one thing. And if there’s a great click through rate, but a low average reation, that means you didn’t deliver on the promise you made in the thumbnail. How ca how else do we promise things in a thumbnail in, should we just do something that’s enticing or, or what else should we do?

    Shelly.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Well, I think you have to strike a balance because you want to. Sometimes highlight and reveal what is going to be the most intriguing parts of the video, but you actually have to deliver on it as well. Just like you alluded to that click bait type of thing where the viewer satisfaction signals are showing you did not give us what we wanted, or, you know, that’s going to be a steep drop off in the very beginning, or very low retention or average view duration, those kinds of signals to YouTube also then go.

    Hand in hand with the click-through rate, so it’s not just one or the other. And that tool inside of Tube Buddy, which is going to be inside the legend, like you mentioned, it does have analytics that happen with both when you run the tests. And so it does have, when shown one thumbnail, did they watch it for longer, which is an intriguing thing because if you only go off of click through rate, it may be that thing where maybe they clicked but they didn’t enjoy it.

    So maybe it was more closely aligned with what the thumbnail was promising. And, and that’s something. And then you can use those other things that I was mentioning before, like the certain words or faces inside of the other pro, project. In there, it’s click magnet. So you use those in conjunction. And the nice thing is then you can find out, oh, they like faces, they like less words on, on the screen and they like, you know, a medium shot.

    And then when you go to do your next AB test or create a new thumbnail, You’re armed with more information about what viewers actually like in that thumbnail. But you said an interesting thing earlier and you said the word fixed, and I don’t know if anybody else caught that, but when you hear certain words, our ears kind of perk up.

    And those are those intrigue words, and that is going to be something else that is sometimes going to be injunction with either your title or on the thumbnail itself. So you could have things like secret broke, Solved, fixed. Why most blank or like revealed, or if you have like secrets revealed, you know, something like that.

    Those are the types of things within titling and thumbnail that work together that actually. Get more intrigue. And so when it comes to using those and hopefully Like-Kind of sparingly, when it comes to text on thumbnail, I’m in the camp of no more than like four words of text on your thumbnail and no word single like word, longer than six letters because usually when you choose a font that is a big, blocky, readable font and not like a thin scripty one, it’s going to become really cluttered really fast if you have super long words.

    And so that’s why I usually stick to the rule of four or less.

    Dane Golden:
    Yeah, and, and, and, and you can imagine, you know, think about it this way, 90% of all times people see your thumbnails. Remember? If people don’t see your thumb, if people don’t click on your thumbnail, you will get zero views. All right? So that’s why it’s so important. This is a non-video thing, but really, as many people say, the view starts with the click.

    So sometimes when you’re talking about something technical, and it is a, it is a hard thing to figure out how to do that. So this is for, our, family real estate channel. We were making something called, How to defer “Depreciation Recapture” tax, the most wonky title. But if it happens to be the thing that you’re into, it is the most interesting world of word in the world, because you’re saving thousands and thousands of dollars just by understanding what’s in this video in taxes.

    But we, we, we struggled. Should we just put it in the title? Should we put it, we ended up putting “Depreciation Recapture” tax in the thumbnail. But I have to admit, it’s really not going to get a ton of views. It might get from the exact person, but that’s a tough one. Our best one for that particular channel about this wonky, you know, tax break is called, no, that’s all that’s on the thumbnail.

    Just a big no in black and white. So let’s start with some of the real basics with thumbnails. How. You, you have to upload a thumbnail. How big should it be? What type of file should it be?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Well, YouTube itself does have. File size limitation when you go to upload. So that is going to be two megabytes. So a lot of the people who try to export as p and g files, they’ll find that they’re not able to upload their thumbnails because of the fact that a lot of those files are much larger than that upload size.

    So, a few things that you could do is, one, you could save it as a jpeg or you could try to reduce the resolution of it, which isn’t always recommended. If you had to have it as a p and g, but also the dimensions, even though you can do a 1920×1080 YouTube, a lot of the time, will recommend that you do 1280×720 just for variations in across different devices and everything.

    So they’ll accept a 1920 by 1080. But they don’t guarantee that it won’t be. Sometimes, you know, some parts of it might not be cut off, and so with every pixel counting as much as possible, sometimes it’s better to go with the 1280 by x, which also coincidentally, when you go to export p and g or not will have a smaller file size than a 1920×1080.

    Dane Golden:
    And we do 72 dpi. Some people do 144, but really you don’t need more than 72. In our, in our estimation. And remember, even though you’re making this big file that’s as big as maybe a. In resolution as your video, 90% of the people are going to actually see it the size of the thumbnail. If, if you’re looking at me now, they’re going to see one side of my glasses.

    That’s how big it’s going to be. So look at every thumbnail before you finish it and look at how it looks. Very small. Now, some people will watch it on TV and that’s great, but it really, mobile is where it’s at for almost all of you. So think of it that way.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    And I think if ca in case anyone didn’t catch that, you said a bunch of people, the majority of people end up seeing it on something the size of a phone. And not only that, but it will typically be with multiple others. So it’s not. Just taking up the entirety of the phone. It’s probably going to be two or three deep on a phone.

    So before you export, you should always probably shrink down to about 25, 12 0.5% to see what it looks like smaller on screen. Because if you can’t understand what the thumbnail’s about, if you can’t read your text, if you don’t get the general gist of what the video is about, then perhaps you need to take a look at the thumbnail again.

    And a lot of people design for a desktop computer because that’s what they’re maybe designing on, but forgetting that most people will never see it that large.

    Dane Golden:
    Right. And remember, and, and, and you can tell if you have a good, it’s very easy to tell if you have a good thumbnail by just looking at one metric and it’s not click through rate. It’s audience retention. Look at your audience retention and look at that first few seconds of the video. If, if there is a down slope, that means there’s a disconnect between what you promised in the thumbnail when they clicked and when they started watching.

    You Either didn’t, you didn’t describe it right, or your video doesn’t fulfill the promise and get to the point that you have described and entice people.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    I’m going to give. Possible alternative to that, and that is you may want to look, and it could be a video worth saving or possible of saving if you went into the YouTube editor and if you see that hockey stick of death is what we like to call it, that immediate drop off, could we. Chop off the first 20, 30, 40 seconds.

    If it’s a long intro that you repeat, you ramble. You don’t get to the point. And that’s another way is maybe the thumbnail is okay, but people were like, oh my gosh, they take so long to get to the point. It could be a video worth saving or could be saved if you chop off the front end of it. So that could be something worth testing as well.

    Dane Golden:
    Now that that doesn’t apply. If you’re doing a preroll ad, you always see a, just a huge swoop down when people, start watching the video. Now I use Photoshop. I’m O.G., I use Photoshop. I just started learning on Photoshop years ago and I just never stopped. But I think, are you a Canva user or are you both?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    I have Canva, I use Photoshop, and I also use PicMonkey. I have a variety of places that I, I will go to. And the nice thing about some of those, such as the more consumer friendly ones, such as PicMonkey or Canva, they have a lot of built-in templates that you can start from Photoshop. Sometimes is a little bit more advanced in the way of, a lot of the time you have to start with your own.

    Blank space or you know, your own template and go on. But they do have Adobe Express, which is kind of in that family, which they have also started coming out with some templates as well. So if you are someone who needs some additional help, there is something like that. Or some people also have like YouTube.

    Thumbnail starter packs, which I don’t think is a bad way to go either, because a lot of the time they’re coming from years of experience or curated type of mind in what maybe works in YouTube. And if you could go basically have all of these packs that are kind of like tried and true type of templates and then just put in your own pieces, that could be a lot easier than starting from scratch, which just seems like a dreaded like scary thing for a lot of people.

    Dane Golden:
    Yeah, and it takes time. Sometimes it’s just more affordable and good to use a service or somebody who you’ve, you’ve decided does a good job. I’ll put my affiliate code to custom thumbnails in the description because that’s one service I have used before and I have recommended, don’t currently use it right this minute, but that’s really just based on the nature of the clients that I’m doing.

    But, that’s a service that I can recommend. If you’re like me though, sometimes you, you want to launch a video the minute you finished it, and you have to give them a little bit of…

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    You do, you have to get, and I’ve used them in the past before too, and they can create good items. The only thing caveat that I may give with that is you need to have a little bit of I an idea what you want and then they can embellish on it. I would say like you, a lot of the time, we’ll give them examples of, I like this and here’s why I like it, or here’s what I’m thinking, and then they’ll do it.

    But if you don’t already have sometimes a little bit of a starting point, it would be harder to go to them, I think, and be like, This is what my video is, and then say like, go. So is if you’re someone who can very do a good job of verbalizing what you’d like to see in a thumbnail, they’re fantastic for that.

    Dane Golden:
    Mm-hmm. Okay, so here’s a tough question. Let’s see if she can answer with something other than depends

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Hmm.

    Dane Golden:
    what is the right click through rate for a video.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Yeah, double digits are higher. I’m going to give you an answer, but the answer’s always still asterisk. It depends. I would say the goal is double digits are higher because most frequently the average is between two to 10%.

    Dane Golden:
    For you geeks there. When she said asterisk, it depends. She wasn’t talking about the asterisk that you put in writing. That was a coding term, which means all, that’s what asterisk mean. Am I right? You were using an old coding tool that meant asterisk. Not, it

    wasn’t.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Yep. That’s a sequel command. Yep. Yep.

    Dane Golden:
    So, so it’s in a few languages, so, but go on. I just couldn’t let that pass that you were talking. Geek speak. Go on.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    I would say traditionally, and a difficult thing about that as well is it also needs to be coupled with impressions. So you could have a very high clickthrough rate, but if it’s only been shown to like four people, it’s not really a true measure of much of anything. So you need to have it with a good number of impressions.

    And one thing is you would think. Oh, well, if I have a certain number of impressions. However, if you were to get on, let’s say the trending tab, all of a sudden you’re a creator on the rise. Anything like that, that happens where all of a sudden it goes past your normal viewership base and then is exponentially boosted to other people who, who have maybe never seen or heard of you traditionally, what happens is then you get a huge increase of.

    Impressions, but your CTR will usually tank quite a bit after that. So it can be really difficult to come up to someone and be like, it should be 8%, but if it has, you know, 10 million impressions, that could be outstanding.

    Dane Golden:
    Yeah, so you want to sort of compare it to your other videos and see how it’s doing. And particularly, like we said in the, YouTube thumbnail testing tool within TubeBuddy, you can compare one thumbnail to another of the same video. And if it’s, remember if you, if one is getting 2% and one is getting 4%, It’s not 2% better.

    It’s a hundred percent better because 2% is half of 4%. So 4% is twice of 2%, which means that’s a hundred percent better. So that means you’re going to get twice as many views, not 2% more views. So 2% is actually a lot, but let’s say. All your videos are getting 5% and you find one that gives 8%. Well, either that’s a really good topic or you just did a really great job on the thumbnail, but the reason your thumbnail clickthrough percentage can get lower, the better you do is if YouTube just says Shelly.

    I just think your thumbnails are the best in the world and your videos are the best in the world. We’re going to show this to the entire globe. Well, not everyone, I’m sorry, Shelly, not everyone is in the globe is going to like your videos or my videos or anyone’s videos. There’s a limit. So the more at marketing there is essentially the smaller percentage of people actually will resonate with.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Absolutely.

    Dane Golden:
    Now we didn’t really introduce ourselves. My name’s Dane Golden from VidAction, and we help businesses with our YouTube ads drive more business. So we’re a performance-based agency. We also do consulting for businesses and how to make your YouTube channel better. And Shelly, you have a couple of businesses too.

    Tell, tell us. Shelly Saves The Day.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Yes. Shelly Saves The Day is my YouTube consulting, and that’s my personal YouTube channel as well. And so I can help anyone figure out YouTube video strategy. And then my other side of me is called Content Minis, and that’s a video editing service for people with long-form video podcast or longer videos who want to create shorts from it.

    Dane Golden:
    Might not even be on YouTube,

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    It might not. It might be on TikTok or you know, Pinterest or Instagram reels. Basically short video for vertical, distribution everywhere, on every platform that accepts vertical video.

    Dane Golden:
    No, I mean, the original source video might not have ever been on YouTube or any other platform.

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    it could be. We’ve done webinars, we’ve done all kinds of, longer videos. So pretty much, as long as it’s a video and we will chop it up. So we’re a video chop shop, is what I like to say.

    Dane Golden:
    Okay, now I want to talk about one of my tools that I use, and there’s a few tools like this, but this is sort of the, I guess I call it the original tool that does this. It’s called Remove bg, and I’m probably going to add my affiliate code, but you can use other tools like this. It simply does this, it simply re removes the background of an image so you can overlay it on another image. We have found that some sort of collage works best in a thumbnail. You want a little bit of text a, a image with a background removed, whether it’s you or a horse or a car or whatever it is, and then some sort of interesting background. Maybe a solid, maybe a gradient color, maybe a very busy color.

    Depends on the style of your channel and your business with businesses generally that we work with b2b. We go a little bit more on the boring side, on purpose, because we’re trying to build trust. And a little too flashy can be, can be a little bit too silly for the customer. But what it, what you used to have to do is painstakingly in Photoshop, remove the entire background with this little lasso tool.

    And this with AI over the past few years just makes it so much easier. You don’t have to match exactly what’s in the video to what’s in the thumbnail. It can be an image with you wearing a different type of clothes or a different hat or whatever. It, it just matters. Is it intriguing and is it relatively, you know, honest?

    Are you trying to trick someone or are you trying to entice them? And that’s the, that’s the line. Do you have, other similar thoughts on that?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    I would say if we’re giving advice on what makes a, a thumbnail clickable slash a winner, a couple of other things that I’m going to. Come into is one spacing. So this is everything from the rule of thirds, you know, where are things placed on the canvas, as you will say. Also paying attention to what I call no man’s land, which is that lower right hand corner.

    Frequently people, usually beginners will end up putting text or something important over there, and it’s almost always going to be hidden by the timestamp on YouTube. So that is just not an area that I ever tend to put anything unless it’s the logo for. Me or something that is just repeatable in every single thing that is like, it’s not that big of a deal to keep.

    The other thing I’m going to say is color theory, maybe, it could be in the food genre. It could be if you are someone who covers a variety of topics and you wanted to do a different color for each type of thing in a playlist or some other thing. But keeping in mind, Color science. And that could be, there’s a reason why a lot of restaurants use orange and yellow and red because those are colors that make people hungry.

    So you see…

    Dane Golden:
    Is that…

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    McDonald’s? Yes. And McDonald’s and Burger King. And a lot of those will always use that type of coloring. You know, there are certain things that you feel when you see blue or red, and so, If you are in the business of that type of thing, you may want to look at also brand, brand colors, things that are complimentary or, you know, across from you on the color wheel that are going to cause the most intrigue.

    So just some general rule of principles there to keep in mind. So that’s going to be color science and the rule of thirds.

    Dane Golden:
    Do you, let me ask you a little bit more on that color science, because I have always noticed, I mean, I guess I’m no genius that most fast food have red and yellow in their logo somehow. But are there things that make you like think, oh, these people know what they’re talking about with data. You know, this is a good color for a data company, or this is a good color for a car company, or things like that.

    Is there that degree of color science and do you have resources for

    this?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Of course there’s, you know, colors for everything. That’s why you see a lot of stuff like associated with speed, like in, in the red and green type of, right, because it’s like the go, on the stoplight and like the stop sign red and those types of things are. So a lot of the time you’ll see black, white, and red when it comes to data and financials and a lot of graphs, right?

    So we start looking at graphs and we see like Black Friday and you know, you see red when you’re. Stock prices are tumbling, things like that. And so that’s why a lot of people will use accents of like red arrows or something that they really want to draw attention to on a thumbnail. There’s a very specific reason why some of those colors are absolutely used all the time.

    So I mean, there’s everything from the science of color. I mean that it’s, it’s been written about so many times from medical, psychological, as well as art and artistic type of things, and you can find those videos or articles. Everywhere.

    Dane Golden:
    All right. Good tip. That’s a really good tip. I hadn’t thought of it in that, in that color theory based on industry before. So, I’m going to be doing some reading and watching some videos on that, Shelly, until next week. How can people find out more about you?

    Shelly Saves The Day:
    Come to my website, ShellySavesTheDay.com. If you want to find out anything about coaching, consulting, or content minis, it’s all housed there. And come hang out with me on YouTube if you want to see more videos.

    Dane Golden:
    And I’m Dane Golden VidAction.tv. If you’re the type of business that is, a SaaS platform or a coach that has a membership program and you’re looking for a performance based YouTube ad system where we do all the ads, We pay to run the ads, we pay to do the campaigns, and you just pay us based on results.

    Look in the description, contact us, and if we’re a match, we might want to work with you. Until next week, here’s the helping you help your customers through video, okay? Hitting the stop.

    VidAction
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