Video Thumbnail Guide: Get The Most Clicks And Engagement

When it comes to video marketing, a lot of people often focus on the bigger picture – having the right background music, picking a trending topic, or featuring a star guest. But in reality, little things such as choosing the right video thumbnail also make a world of difference in increasing your clicks and views. 

YouTube said that 90% of the best-performing videos on their platform have custom thumbnails. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that even though thumbnails may be small, they are a mighty marketing tool. 

So, if you are having trouble attracting viewers to your videos, this guide is for you! We’ve put together all the information you’ll need on how to make an eye-catching video thumbnail – let’s get started shall we?

What is a video thumbnail?

A video thumbnail is a pre-selected frame taken from the body of the video and featured as the ‘title’ frame. 

Funnily enough, the term thumbnail comes from the image being reduced to roughly the size of a human thumbnail. 

Using the thumbnail, viewers can click on each postage-sized preview to quickly understand if the video they’re about to watch aligns with the goal they’re looking to achieve. 

In today’s fast-paced world, viewers decide in a matter of seconds if your video is worth their attention; therefore thumbnails are more important than you may have guessed. 

In the example below, Slack has used a clean and minimal approach to their video thumbnails, thus making it easy for viewers to understand the topics.

How to use thumbnails?

Thumbnails are everywhere – from Google image search to YouTube, most visual search engines use thumbnails to organize media. Thumbnails is often the first introduction to your video content, therefore it is essential to know the advantages of using this magic tool.

You can use thumbnails to:

  • Unify the branding to indicate that the videos belong to your business. In this example below, salesforce has included their branding in each of their videos, creating consistency and a professional image to the brand.
  • Use it to convey the subject of the video. In the example below, we can clearly understand the content of the video through the thumbnail. 
  • Attract viewers to your video, compelling them to click on it. Big, bold, and catchy fonts are often used by GaryVee to create a clickable thumbnail.  
  • Use the thumbnail to quickly distinguish between products and video types. Here, Hubspot has clearly differentiated their product videos from its how-to videos. 

How do I create a video thumbnail?

There are plenty of ways in which you can easily create a custom thumbnail for your videos. Here are a couple of platforms you can use:


Canva is a dream-tool for all your video thumbnail needs as it is loaded with hundreds of different design elements, fonts etc, making it an ideal platform for creating a synchronized playlist or channel. With Canva’s super-simple drag-and-drop interface, you can easily create a great-looking thumbnail in just a few steps:

  1. Launch Canva on your desktop or mobile app and choose a template you wish to use as your thumbnail.
  2. Add design elements such as banners, icons, illustrations, and other graphic elements, or you can also upload your image taken from the video.
  3. Choose from a variety of fonts and add your text.
  4. Choose your colours.
  5. Your thumbnail is now ready to be uploaded to the video platform of your choice.

On the downside, to experience Canva to its full potential, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Adobe Spark

Another great tool for custom thumbnails, Adobe Spark offers you the ability to create, save, reuse, and resize the thumbnails, making all your videos instantly recognizable.

  1. Click on the ‘Get started now’ tab under the header to start creating your thumbnail.
  2. Choose the platform for which you want to create the thumbnail – for Facebook or YouTube etc.
  3. Upload a photo or choose from thousands of free images right in Adobe Spark.
  4. Pick a template, add text, change colours, layout, etc to create your perfect thumbnail without hassles.
  5. Download it to upload into your desired video platform.

Similar to Canva, you need to upgrade from the starter (free) plan to get access to all the functionalities offered by this tool.


An interactive and easy-to-use editing tool, Fotor has all the rich features, that even beginners who haven’t made a thumbnail before can make one without any fuss. With this tool, you can play around with the elements like images, stickers, and text to create one outstanding thumbnail. It’s okay to believe you’re a design wizard, with this one.

  1. Open Fotor and click on the ‘New Design’ icon, to choose the template dimensions. 
  2. Select the template designs available on the tool or create your own design from scratch.
  3. Choose from a variety of layouts, texts, backgrounds available to maximize your design.
  4. Tap preview to check the final version and save your work. 


Creatopy is an amazing tool that you can use to create bomb thumbnails with. Loaded with a ton of elements and icons, it lets you stack layers upon layers upon layers – which is exactly what you need for your elements to pop out at the viewer. Another great feature is the animation feature – you can now animate your elements on the thumbnail. How cool is that? 

  1. Go to +CREATE on the top right-hand corner of the tool choose the platform for which you would like to create the thumbnail for.
  2. Choose a background image from the tool or a screenshot from your video, and upload it into your images on Creatopy. 
  3. Add a catchy text on your thumbnail.
  4. Decorate your thumbnail with elements such as shapes, emoji etc. You can also animate your elements to add some fun to your thumbnail
  5. Download your work. 


78.8% of marketers consider YouTube to be the most effective platform for video marketing. The recommended YouTube thumbnail dimensions are 1280 x 720 pixels. Here is how you can add a thumbnail to your YouTube video:

  1. On a new video: From the ‘Upload video’ option, scroll down to ‘Thumbnail’ and click on ‘Upload thumbnail’. The platform chooses three frames from the video you uploaded – you can either choose from these or you can add a custom thumbnail.
  2. For an existing video: Select the video from your channel, tap on the blue ‘Edit Video’ button, then scroll down to ‘Thumbnail’ and click ‘Upload Thumbnail’. 

P.s: If you don’t want YouTube to pick a random image from your video, you can insert your custom thumbnail by first verifying your YouTube account. To do so, go to Creator Studio’ and click on ‘Verify’. The platform will require certain information such as ‘Your Country’, ‘Your mobile number’ etc. along with a verification code to complete the process. And voila, you’re all set to upload your custom thumbnail.


Facebook users love videos so much that the platform gets up to 8 billion combined views per day. The recommended Facebook video thumbnail size is 1200 x 628 pixels. 

  1. On a new video: Click on the ‘Add Video’ screen to upload your video, and then click on ‘Thumbnail’ in the right column to select from 10 default thumbnail options. If you want to add your custom thumbnail, scroll down to ‘Custom Image’ and click on ‘Add Image’.
  2. For an existing video: Select the video on your Facebook page and click on the three dots icon at the bottom right corner if you’re using a business account or on the top-right of the video if you’re using a personal account, then click on ‘Edit This Video’ to update the existing video thumbnail image.

So what if you have an image and you want to convert it into a thumbnail? 

How to turn a picture into a thumbnail?

Turning an image into a thumbnail is an easy task thanks to many free online tools that can help you take any image and reduce its size to a thumbnail in a jiffy. While some tools provide you with the option to decide on the dimensions, some tools use a drag-and-drop interface.

A quick and easy way to create a thumbnail, this tool allows you to simply drag and drop your image(s) and also select the dimensions you need based on the platform.

Your images need to be a JPEG or PNG file that is smaller than 1 MB. You can then download the thumbnail and use it on your desired platform.  It’s simple, isn’t it?

QuickThumbnail is an ideal tool when you have to simultaneously resize your thumbnail image for various platforms. With this tool, you can resize according to percentage or fixed sizes, crop, enlarge images, and do so much more for free. All you have to do is upload the image and select from the options available based on the platform you wish to post on.

How To Make YouTube Thumbnails On Android With A Free App

In today’s world, people prefer to get most of their work done on their mobile phones, right? If you are one of them and are on the lookout for software tools that can assist in the creation of video thumbnails on your mobile device, here is an app that can blow your mind – Pixel Lab. 

With Pixel Lab, you can add stylish text, 3d text, shapes, stickers, and drawing on top of your pictures like never before. With a clean and simple interface, you’ll be able to create stunning thumbnails in just a matter of minutes. 

Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Install the pixel Lab app from the Google play store
  1. After the app is downloaded, click on the Open button to get access to the app. 
  1. Next tap the edit button.
  1. Now you can write your text that you want to appear on your thumbnail.
  1. Now click on the Save button to save your text.
  1. To change the color of the text, click the text box and select the color icon at the bottom.
  1. You can also change the background color and save it.
  1. Once you’re happy with the results, save your thumbnail by clicking Save as Image icon. 
  1. If you wish to change the image format as per the platform you’re posting on, you can do that and save to the gallery.

So that’s how you create a video thumbnail on an android phone using a free app.

How to add a custom thumbnail using Hippo Video?

We all want things quick and easy isn’t it? When we’re talking about something as trivial as a video thumbnail, no one has the time to switch between tabs – creating a thumbnail on one tool and uploading it into another. This is why with Hippo Video, you can save a lot of time as there is no fuss and downloads are not required – it’s as straightforward as you can get. So here we go as we take you through the few steps that are involved in creating a kick-ass custom video thumbnail:

1 Log in to your Hippo Video account and go to your library.

2 Select the video to which you’d like to add a thumbnail, and click on ‘CUSTOMIZE VIDEO’ that is available on the right menu. 

3 Now, you can simply choose the ones which are suggested or upload your customized image to add as a thumbnail.

4 In case, if you like to select an image from your recording, pause the video at the frame you want.

And that’s not all! Hippo Video has an additional feature for you – Personalize your video thumbnail! 

1 You can also personalize your thumbnail, by clicking on the ‘PERSONALIZE VIDEO’ title also available on the right side menu. Choose the ‘THUMBNAIL’ title to start personalizing your video.

2 Then you will see options to choose ‘PERSONALIZED TEXT’ or ‘PLACEHOLDER IMAGE’.

3 Choose ‘ADD PERSONALIZED TEXT’ to add relevant text with merge fields.

4 Choose ‘ADD PLACEHOLDER IMAGE’ to personalize your thumbnail by uploading an image/business logo.

5 Once you’ve added the required elements to your thumbnail, click ‘SAVE.’

Why is GIF thumbnail recommended?

Marketers are constantly on the lookout for new and creative ideas to engage their audience and what better way than a GIF thumbnail over its boring static counterpart? According to the 2020 State of Email data released by Litmus, 51.28% of marketers said they’re using animated GIFs at least sometimes in their marketing emails – and for good reasons. 

If you want to join the bandwagon, you can create your animated thumbnail with a video marketing platform like Hippo Video. 

Best practices while creating a video thumbnail

Love is not the only thing that happens at first sight – the concept is also applicable to video thumbnails as they have to impress your audience. To create a catchy and beautiful custom thumbnail, here are a few tips and tricks that you can consider:

Remain Consistent

It is important to be consistent with your YouTube thumbnail design and font so that your brand and content get familiarized with your target audience. 

Humanize your thumbnails

People are more enticed to click on thumbnails with human faces because they feel a certain connection with it, thus increasing your video views. 

Play with words

Don’t just focus on the image – the text also has a role to play in getting clicks. Your thumbnail has to give a snippet of what the whole video is about; therefore add your text with caution. Also, as much as possible, refrain from using click-baits as this strategy can annoy your viewers. 

Choose apt colors

Be wise when choosing colors for your thumbnail – go for complementary colors since they will stand out. 


Thumbnails are the missing puzzle to why many businesses face a dull click-through rate for their videos. To fit the puzzle in place, utilize the power of thumbnails and crush your video marketing campaigns like never before.

Let your viewers click your videos and stick around to watch them without ignoring them. Good luck, and let us know how it goes in the comments below!