Before devouring a marketing video, most viewers will catch a visual preview. Known as the thumbnail (or thumb), these images often display in search results and newsfeeds. Done right, they provide a snapshot view of the inner video. A moment frozen in time … the defining image of your visual subject matter. But know this — if the thumb fails to intrigue, invite, and inspire, audiences won’t click. Therefore, your thumbnail better work like a charm.
How do you ensure a properly-functioning thumbnail? Surprisingly, an effective first-step is to back off from the image and focus on the supporting tagline. This is the packet of descriptive words strategically placed within or beneath the thumbnail image. Said verbiage summarizes video content in a compelling way. Or at least it should.
But know your limits – current wisdom places the maximum number of words at six. Any more is clutter. Yes, concocting the right description will take some doing. But the effort will be amply rewarded by more clicks.
If you’re contemplating a text-free thumbnail (as many marketers do), expect painful penalties. Without the fortifying energy of intriguing words, images stand to lose impact power. And marketers lose clicks, but take care not to over-do it.
During word assembly, don’t duplicate the video title. Instead, aim for a sneak-peak at the forthcoming content – just as the image does. Both text and thumb must work in sync, amplifying the power of each.
As for the image itself, marketers must pay heed to the time-honored principle known as making a connection. Close-ups reliably do this. An interesting face, front and center, unfailingly draws viewers in. Now embellish the face with emotion (almost any show of feeling will do), and you’ve energized the image in a big way.
Also impactful on a visual level is contrast. Strikingly different colors, particularly used to offset background and foreground, create instant intensity.
If you have questions or comments about creating effective thumbnails for marketing videos, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.