Why thumbnails are so critical in the modern era

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By now, it should be clear to you that video is one marketing trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Not only is it a perfect opportunity to captivate an audience on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but generally speaking it’s a form of content people just want more of.

Whether they’re sitting at a desk in their office or are on their phone on the train on their way to work, the video is a format that is easy and enjoyable to consume and that is able to communicate a wide range of complex ideas in a simple, fun way.

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But there’s also more to it than just the video itself. A lot more, in fact.

Yes, a video is an important part of your marketing efforts. But when one of your customers lands on a testimonial page with a video or even in a location like your YouTube channel, that seven-minute video isn’t the first thing they see.

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It’s the thumbnail that sums it all up into a single, sleek and easy-to-understand image.

Why are thumbnails so critical in the modern world of marketing? Read on to find out.

The Importance of Thumbnails: Facts and Figures

According to one recent study, one company saw a massive 70% increase in conversions after they changed the thumbnail to one of their videos. Let that sink in – they didn’t reshoot the video, they didn’t change the design of the landing page. They simply changed the thumbnail and almost immediately the response went from “lukewarm” to “overwhelming.”

Likewise, never forget what important role thumbnails play in your other efforts like SEO, too. When you search for a particular keyword on Google, video thumbnails are one of the first things that people see – probably before they even see the title of the page.

But also think about all the other video content you use in your campaigns beyond standalone pieces. Have you ever used multimedia presentation software to create slides with videos in them? Guess what – thumbnails are critical here, too, because once again you need to convince someone that stopping the flow of the presentation to watch a video is a step actually worth taking. They’re not just going to believe you out of the kindness of their heart.

All of this is to say that if you’re the type of person who always believed that the video spoke for itself and you usually just picked a thumbnail image at random, now would be an excellent time to change your way of thinking.

Picking the right thumbnails

Once you’ve acknowledged that video thumbnails are far more important than you probably realized, the next step becomes picking the right ones for your own content that will really hit the right note with your audience.

Generally speaking, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to this. After all, different audiences respond to things in different ways. Having said that, there are a few important qualities that all compelling, high-quality thumbnails usually share:

1. They’re always clear and they’re always in focus.

2. They’re usually bright and have high contrast, which helps them stand apart from other content on a page.

3. A lot of times they feature close-up images of the faces of the people who will actually be talking in the video.

4. They’re well-framed and offer a solid, thoughtful composition. Meaning that it’s a photo of someone’s entire face, not a weirdly cropped portion of it.

5. They feature a foreground that clearly stands out from the background. The subject of the thumbnail should never appear “lost” in the world around them.

6. Most importantly, they’re an image that accurately represents the content you’re asking someone to view. Don’t think that you can get by on the old “Bait and Switch” technique, because that’s a sure-fire way to irritate people.

In truth, thumbnails are actually something that you should be keeping in mind when you’re shooting your video, to begin with. That way, you can make sure that your video itself can be easily translated into a compelling thumbnail in the first place and that you have a lot of different options to work with when the time eventually comes.

At that point, all you have to do is sit down with a thumbnail generator tool like Visme (which I founded), select the appropriate image and you’re good to go. One of the most important (and most difficult) parts of the video content creation process is already accounted for and now you get to sit back, hit “Publish” and watch people react.

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Payman Taei
Payman Taei
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.

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