How to Increase the Click-Through Rate of Music Videos With the Help of Covers

YouTube is one of the major platforms for the development of musicians. More than 2 billion people visit the platform every month, and music is the second most viewed category among all content on YouTube. But promoting musicians through the platform is not so simple.

At AIR Music we often encounter the following trend: musicians are ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars to shoot a video and only 10 minutes to create a cover for it. As a result, they spend their budget but do not get enough number of views. Recently, I wrote about how to get 3 million views on YouTube in 3 days and touched on the topic of channel visual component. Now I am sharing a guide on how to increase the click-through rate of music videos for free.

Usually, musicians think that covers are an additional element of thefinal stage of a video publication, which is not worth to paying much attention to. Some artists just choose just beautiful shot for their covers, without taking into account the specific features of their platform. For YouTube, the amount of money spent is not so crucial. The main thing is the visual component that can attract the attention of a potential viewer.

Why Covers Are Important?

Let’s take a look at the traffic and viewers’ sources of your content. We did a little research at AIR Music: we took data about the top-8 artists from the CIS for all of 2019 and derived an average.

As a result, we received the following figures:

  • 25% of viewers come from featured videos;
  • 9% – from the main YouTube page;
  • 20% – from ‘Mix’ playlists – the so-called endless playlists which are created based on this track/video.

As you can see, 54% of new viewers come to watch videos thanks to the platform’s algorithms, which is not influenced by channel owners. But the most exciting thing is that the social networks of artists bring in only 0.64% of the audience, while digital mass media brings – 3.77%. These low rates stem from social network algorithms that react to the loss of users. And mass media traffic is difficult to compare with YouTube.

Now let’s move on to the status of your viewers. On average, only one viewer in ten subscribes to the channel of video placement. Based on these statistics regarding promotion on the platform, we can conclude: the music video will get to the recommendations of those who are not subscribed to your channel. To be more precise, they will see the video cover.

How to understand whether the cover is effective or not

To do this, turn to YouTube Analytics and look at the ‘CTR for video thumbnails’ rate. It displays data for both the entire channel and for a single video.

In our research, we found a CTR of 8.71% – this is the average value, which means that the cover was shown 100 times, but got 8.71 times clicks. At AIR Music, we recommend aiming for a 9-9.5% CTR.

During the first days of video publishing, the CTR of the cover is always higher. After that, it gradually declines. Therefore, try to track metrics for the first several weeks after publication.

Crucial features of video cover creation

Design a powerful visual component to induce a potential viewer to click on the video. To draw attention to your cover, consider the following factors:

  1. Those audiences that represent Western culture, reads information from left to right. This is how they read articles, books, whatever. And they do it from top to bottom.
  2. The human face is the most effective tool for attracting attention. If possible, put the artist’s face on the cover of the video.
  3. Due to the YouTube interface, the video timing is placed in the lower right corner of the video cover. This is a point that many designers often forget.
  4. The cover has only 1-2 seconds to catch the attention of a potential viewer.
  5. An artist on YouTube does not compete with other artists, but with all the content that is potentially interesting to a viewer. On the platform, the music video is published alongside content from bloggers, gamers, interviewers, and other content creators. That’s why it is necessary to research the trends of the platform before designing your cover.
  6. Human beings are lazy creatures in a content-rich world. They will not waste time on something that they do not understand, or that does not attract their attention.
  7. Covers can and should be changed after the clip is published. Sometimes it is impossible to predict the one that will generate higher engagements. If you see that the CTR of your cover is low, try to change it and monitor how it works.

In my company, we measure the CTR on the selected clip for the first two weeks.

  1. Then we prepare several cover designs.
  2. We place each of the chosen covers for two weeks and measure their CTR.
  3. After that time, we pick the winner or continue the tests.

Thus, it is always necessary to test video covers. They have to fit the stage image of the artist, be in harmony with the key message of the video, coincide with YouTube trends and be target audience-oriented.