When people search for videos, they tend to do so very quickly – often in a matter of seconds. Same thing goes for email marketing, where marketers need to fight for attention amongst a flurry of work emails, newsletters, and spam. If you want people to click on your video, you need to catch their attention with an attractive and relevant thumbnail.

This tiny image functions as a link to your video, but it’s much more than that. It also acts as a poster for your video. Either it will convince people to watch, or it will deter them from watching.

In this guide, we’ll review what makes a good thumbnail and how you can test it to set up your video for success.

The Rule Of Thumbnails: 5 Considerations For Optimizing Video Thumbs

How to Add Video to an Email Newsletter

Using A/B Split Testing

The Rule Of Thumbnails

Most hosting platforms will automatically choose a thumbnail for you – usually a still image extracted from the middle of the video. In most cases, that image won’t be good enough, so you’re much better off designing and uploading your own.

Below are some tips to help you design a winning thumbnail.

5 Considerations For Optimizing Thumbs

1. Explain Your Video

The first priority is to show potential viewers what your video is about. Of course, a thumbnail can’t accommodate a great deal of information, so choose an image that represents your video’s overall content.

2. Put a Title in Your Thumbnail

This is one of the few times that a word is worth a thousand pictures. Sometimes people eyes are more drawn to the thumbnail text than the actually title in the search window. Just don’t write too much; the thumbnail is already pretty cramped.

3. Choose an Enticing Image

Naturally you want an image that will draw the eye, and entice people to click. Some people have taken this to extremes, using swimsuit models for thumbnails in videos that have nothing to do with swimsuits (or models). There’s no point getting people to your video just to have them stop watching.

4. Make it pop

Solid backgrounds, bright colors, bold patterns – all of these will help to make your image stand out. Even a snazzy border can distinguish you from the other thumbnails in the list.

5. Fill the Frame

If your thumbnail includes a person, make sure they’re framed close-up so they’re not too small. Even a mid-level shot might be difficult to see.

The Gist

Thumbnails ideally should be planned in the creative development process and considered during filming or animation, in case a specific image is required. It can sometimes be difficult to find a suitable frame in a finished video, especially when filming people speaking.

We’ve all had the experience of browsing videos, and we all know how important that thumbnail can be in the decision to click. If you’re already investing the time, energy, and money to make a video, putting the extra effort to create a winning thumbnail is a great way to get ensure success.

Further reading: 3.5 Ways to Increase Views to Your Landing Page Video  Read Post

Further reading: Getting Started with Video Hosting, Optimization & Reporting   Read Guide

Using A/B Split Testing

Will an image of a person work better than a close-up on your product? How about text in your thumbnail explaining what the video is about?

If you’re unsure what kind of thumbnail might yield the best results, why not setup a controlled experiment to see which one works best?

By setting up different versions of a landing page, each with a different version of your video embedded, you can then compare the results. You might find that one version has a better retention rate or is better for conversions. You never know until you try!

Below are 5 things you may want to test in order to optimize your thumbnails to get more clicks.

Split A/B Testing

5 Things to A/B Test

1. Thumbnail Image

Video hosting platforms will automatically generate a thumbnail for you, but that image won’t necessarily be relevant, so you’re much better off designing and uploading your own.

Will an image of a person work better than a close-up on your product? How about text in your thumbnail explaining what the video is about? Thumbnails act as a poster for your video and can make a huge difference in play rates, making them the best place to start with A/B testing for your videos.

Read more: 5 Considerations for Optimizing Video Thumbs

2. Testing Your Call-to-Action

Believe it or not, the difference between “Download a free ebook” and “Download your free ebook” can result in tangible differences in click through rates. The timing of a call-to-action within a video is also an important consideration, as it won’t be seen if it’s too late in the video.

This one may require a re-edit of your video, unless you’re using a professional hosting solution like Wistia which allows for custom CTA’s during the embedding process.

3. Testing for Video Length

It’s tempting to simply say that “shorter is better”, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, videos that are longer than 2-3 minutes may be shared more often, possibly because it takes time for your audience to establish a strong enough emotional connection for them to forward the link to other people. The Kony 2012 documentary is a good example of this.

Studies have shown that average viewer retention rates tend to be roughly the same for online videos around 3-4 minutes in length as 5-10 minutes, but that viewers decide within the first 30 seconds whether they will continue to watch the rest of the video – a clear indication that expectations matter.

So how long should your video be? The answer is probably something like “long enough, and no longer”. But one way to know for sure may be to make two versions of the same video and put them to the test.

Read more: The Long and Short of Video Length

4. Testing Placement and Size on Page

You’ve invested a lot in this video, so let’s make it the focus so that it can do its job, placing it ‘above the fold’ and free from other links or distractions.

Then again, the video may require some setup with the use of copy and a strong call to action (eg. “Watch the video below to learn more..”) in order for visitors to hit that play button.

Read more: 3.5 Ways to Increase Videos to Your Landing Page Video

5. Testing With and Without a Video

By setting up a ‘before and after’ test to compare the same landing page both with and without a video, you might actually find that the absence of video is better for conversions – although this tends to be rare.

Being able to quantify any increase in metrics such as conversion rates can help you accurately measure ROI for your video marketing efforts, hopefully allowing you to justify investing more in video in the future.

Explore our other resources where you’ll find more articles and videos covering everything you’ll come across in working with us.
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