Choosing The Right Custom Thumbnail

I am often asked this question: “Which of these three thumbnails will get the most clicks?” I get it, we all want clicks as clicks equal ad revenue / business leads as well as subscribers and that’s the goal right?

The YouTube Creator Academy has said, “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails” so it’s no secret, a compelling thumbnail design is an important element to your success.

But a click through rate of 50%, 75% or even 100% doesn’t matter if the wrong people are clicking on your thumbnail. I can look at 3 different thumbnail images and decide which is the most compelling from a creative standpoint, but there’s a bigger picture we need to look at.

What?? A 100% click through rate doesn’t matter?

Well, sort of… let me explain.

If the wrong people are clicking your thumbnail then what good is a high click through rate? If people click your thumbnail and only watch 10 seconds of it your view duration is going to be very low and in turn the algorithm will look at your video in an unfavorable light.

What??? The wrong people will click my thumbnail? How is that possible? I want you to look the message of your thumbnail and metadata from the micro level.

Take me for example.. I have a brand new channel where I talk about custom YouTube thumbnails. I don’t think I’m going to accidentally show up in the search results for “how to cook keto chili” (though that sounds delicious) or “how to knit a blanket”, but I need to be careful that I’m reaching the right people at the right time.

Let me explain… If someone is looking for a video about the thumbnail dimensions but the message of my thumbnail and metadata are foggy, I may inadvertently be showing them a video about something totally different. If they click the thumbnail and in a few seconds realize that their immediate needs aren’t being met (ie: they realize that they aren’t going to learn about YouTube thumbnail dimensions) they’ll leave the video and my view duration is going to be lousy. So even if you get stellar click through rate on a thumbnail, if they aren’t watching more than a few seconds, because your metadata and thumbnail weren’t focused in on your message with laser precision, then what value is that thumbnail to you?

We need to be looking at our thumbnails from not just an aesthetic perspective but from a competitive perspective as well.

Logout of your YouTube account, clear your cache and open an incognito tab. Jump onto YouTube, not logged in of course, and enter the title of your video or search terms that someone would type in to find your video. 

Now that you are looking at the search results ask yourself these questions.

-What is compelling about the first 10 thumbnails that I see?
-What do the first 10 videos have similar about them? Look at the thumbnails, metadata and channel names.
-What do I need to do with my thumbnail and metadata to properly compete with the first 10 videos that I see?
-How can I structure my thumbnail to have a competitive advantage over these thumbnails?

You’ve got this! 

Some of your videos are going to explode others may be duds… It’s just the way it is. Keep your head up and push forward. No one is ever going to give you permission to be successful, so give yourself the permission needed and get to work.



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