7 YouTube Video Thumbnail Hacks You Should Try Today

By on May 25, 2019

Your YouTube video thumbnail can make or mar your entire video marketing efforts. Because they are small, many only pay little or no attention whatsoever to their YouTube thumbnails.

Similarly, people or brands who create a lot of YouTube videos may over time begin to pay less attention to crafting click-worthy custom YouTube thumbnails, and instead settle for the suggested default freeze frames.


But this is negatively impacting your YouTube view count. Your YouTube video thumbnail is what viewers see first when browsing through YouTube. It is their first impression of your video, it determines whether they’d click or pass.

Importance of Video Marketing

Video marketing is not new, it has been around a while. It has been used in TV commercials, movie trailers, etc.

Video is one of the most powerful ways businesses and brands promote their content. 63 percent of businesses are already using video to market their content, according to  Wyzowl. Out of these, 82% are of the opinion that video marketing is an integral part of their strategy.

Video is growing rapidy, currently, 83% of business believe that video marketing gives them a good return on investment.

According to Hubspot, 97% of marketers are of the opinion that videos help their customers to better understand their product.

Cisco predicts that more than 80% of all traffic will consist of video by 2021. There is no doubt that video has come to stay and the numbers would only get even better with time.

Importance of YouTube Video Marketing

YouTube allows users including businesses to upload videos of all sorts. These videos can then be seen, commented on, or shared across other social media channels.

If you are yet not leveraging the power of YouTube, then you are certainly missing out, because more than one billion hours of videos are watched every day.

Second only to Facebook, YouTube has over 1.9 billion monthly active logged in users making it the second largest search engine in the world.

YouTube is highly important to advertisers, as its mobile ads are 84% more likely to hold attention than TV ads. In 2018, YouTube was ranked as the most popular IOS app.

These are all important facts, which is why your YouTube thumbnails should be carefully created, so your videos are not wrongly judged by their covers and bypassed.

Which brings us to

Characteristics of a Good YouTube Thumbnail

A good thumbnail can make a world of difference in your view count. It is a major part of why viewers click or pass.

A good thumbnail image and a good title is a winning combination. You should aim for it.

There are certain properties a good thumbnail possesses, such as

  1. Size

Size is one of the most important differentiators of a good thumbnail from a poor one.

According to Google’s recommendation, your image is expected to be 1280×720 pixels with a maximum width of 640 pixels.

  1. Ratio

Your thumbnail is expected to have an aspect ratio of 16:9 for best results.

  1. Format

Your YouTube thumbnail is expected to be in any of these formats; JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG.

  1. Image File Size

The image file of your thumbnail is expected to be under 2MB.

  1. Title

There are a lot of benefits attached to adding a text heading to your video thumbnail. One of the benefits is that it gives viewers more context and insight into what your video is about.

And here are

7 YouTube Video Thumbnail Hacks You Should Try Today

  1. Combine Colors Correctly

You can make your thumbnail stand out by maximizing colors.

Basically, the brighter the color, the greater the chances of your thumbnail standing out.

But it is important that you don’t go overboard as this may not only look cheap and gaudy but may even offend the eyes.

If you’re unsure of what’s best, pass the image file over to your graphics editor who may be in the best position to turn up the saturation enough to make your thumbnail stand out.

And if you must do it yourself, filters should be your best friend. The use of filters to sharpen the edges of the images or effect small changes to the hue/saturation can pull attention to your thumbnail, and consequently your video.

  1. Include (at least) a Human Face

Whenever possible, include a (happy, smiling) human face in your thumbnail. It is even better if you can get a close-up shot.

This way you humanize your video and make it easier for your viewers to connect with your brand/brand message  and click.

Adding emotions to your image will stir sympathy, empathy and curiosity in viewers, prompting them to want to delve deeper.

  1. Use Action Shots

If your video allows for it, using an action shot as thumbnail can add a sense of motion which can prompt viewers to click on your video.

The more the action you can pack in a thumbnail, the better. This will speak volume to the viewers, plus inspire them to take action.

  1. Include Text to Give Context

If your thumbnail image does not immediately convey meaning to viewers, a good suggestion will be to overlay some form of narrative.

However, your text should be large enough and legible, but at the same time must not overshadow the other  content.

  1. Be Branding Conscious

A good brand uses every marketing opportunity and avenue to strengthen branding.

A good example of this can be found in Lowes, which uses a signature blue to differentiate itself from the crowd.

  1. Test

Tools such as TubeBuddy allows users test their thumbnails before they go live.

A/B testing your thumbnails will ensure you put out nothing but the best, plus testing them with your viewers increases participation and user generated feedback.

  1. Utilize Whitespace

If you choose to use pre-designed image or graphics in your thumbnail photo, then you can utilize whitespace to your advantage.

This keeps your thumbnail looking clean and organized with that high-quality look obtainable in professional images.


Not only do thumbnails help to positively influence click-through rate, they also play a key role in branding your channel.

Start creating thumbnails that get you thumbs up all the time. Let us know what has worked for you.

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