*Updated January 2022
How you start a video matters.
In fact, the first 30 seconds of a video are more important than any of the interesting, funny, or breathtaking moments that come afterwards.
YouTube uses the term “audience retention” to measure how much of a video the average person watches before closing the tab or jumping to the next video. After 2 minutes, 5% of people have already moved on. After 6 minutes, average audience retention drops by 20%.
This graph tracks the attention for a video with a 25-second intro. There's a steep dropoff as the intro drags on and on and on. (Source: Fullscreen)
As a creator, you know that YouTube is a very competitive platform. Every video is fighting for its life against millions of others. And while the amount of time people on YouTube is on the rise — up to 12 minutes per person per day — you have to compare that to the 500 hours of content that’s being uploaded every single minute.
If you’re still in the early stages of building a channel, those numbers can be intimidating. Discouraging, even. But the truth is that having a good intro in your videos will help improve your audience retention rate (and also create some “brand consistency” for your channel).
That’s why you need to think up YouTube intro ideas. It helps make sure your videos become the sort of content that people watch from start to finish. As extra benefits, a solid intro will build your audience, strengthen your channel, and even help your videos rank better in YouTube’s search bar.
In other words, it’s the sort of thing you can’t afford to overlook if you want to build a successful channel.
How long should your YouTube intro be?
As a best practice, you want to keep your YouTube intros short. The ideal length is around 5 seconds, but certainly no longer than 20 seconds.
It's important to keep this benchmark in mind at all times. That way, you can hook viewers and showcase your brand as soon as someone clicks on your video.
Note: Even though it's not ideal for your YouTube intro to be 30 seconds long, this won't automatically hurt your video's engagement. As long as the intro adds value to your video (instead of just fluff), the occasional 30-second intro is okay.
Using Video Intros to Build a Brand
Part of building a successful YouTube channel is to craft a brand for yourself. Establishing that gives you viewers something to recognize and relate to, a sort of standard that sets your content apart from other creators.
When you think about your favorite brands, you probably notice a few similarities. One thing that’s true of successful businesses is that you know one of their ads when you see it. There’s something instantly recognizable, and that comes down to having a strong brand.
As a content creator, you probably don’t have a team of graphic designers and brand experts. But what you do have is creativity. And building a unique, engaging intro functions like a logo for your brand — it ties your videos together, and also gives viewers an idea of what to expect.
Now that doesn’t mean your videos all need to start the same way. But one easy place to start is to come up with a standard that can tie your videos together no matter what the topic or content is.
People expect YouTube content to pull them in quickly, keep their attention for a few minutes, and then they’re on to find the next video.
You can believe that mindset becomes even more important when planning your video intro.
But you’ll also want to show off your channel logo and title. Again, this is just instilling your personal brand onto the content. It’s a way of owning the content, and letting the audience know how to find more of your videos (even if they click away before watching the entire thing).
Coming Up with Youtube Intro Ideas
Once you have a generalized plan for how to use your video intros, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff: Actually coming up with ideas and seeing if you can pull them off.
The best place to start is with competitor research. Look up the channels you aspire to be like, or channels that focus on the same sort of content, or channels with an audience size similar to yours. This is a perfectly normal way to figure out what works well for other people, which should — at least in theory — work for you too.
Just try not to spend so much time researching that you get overwhelmed. After all, there are thousands of videos on YouTube of people showing off intro maker templates, tools, etc.
This can help jumpstart your process for planning and writing the script for your next video.
Once you have an idea of what other channels do, you have a few options on how to proceed. Or, more specifically, you can go a couple different directions for the type of YouTube intro ideas you want to use.
However, you’ll need to remember that different intro styles say different things about your channel. And your content needs to fulfill whatever promises that your intro gives.
Vloggers tend to film in the same location, so the spot where you put your desk will become a sort of visual “home base” for viewers. Thumbnail collages suggest you’ll do a lot of videos, animated intros suggest a more lighthearted or whimsical tone… You get the idea.
Song choice should also play a big role in your video intro. Going with a low-energy acoustic song or a classical piano piece might work in some cases. But for the most part you’re going to want to bring some energy and excitement, regardless of the topic of the video.
Royalty free music is sort of our thing here at Soundstripe, and knowing how to use music in YouTube videos can be a real asset for any content creator. But it’s particularly important when you are thinking through your YouTube intro ideas.
We recognize the value of high-quality music that will set your videos apart, and we’ve built song playlists specifically to help you find the perfect song to match the tone you want to create.
Yes, a Soundstripe subscription would give you access to thousands of songs to test out with your intro. But it’s worth remembering that music choices help you control a viewer’s response to your content.
Focusing on your intro style matters. Choosing a visual presentation and “brand” for your channel matters. But those are all part of building an audience over time.
Music helps you create the right mood and energy level for your intros, and that’s something that has a direct impact on audience retention.
Which leads to engagement, and then subscribers, and then returning viewers. And all of that leads to a healthy and successful YouTube channel for years to come.
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