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How to Increase Engagement on YouTube Videos With Cards

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Have you ever fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole? You visit to watch a tutorial or a music video but half an hour later you wind up watching something completely different, with no real memory of how you got there.

YouTube is set up to keep people engaged and watching, and audiences are profoundly active: they’re searching, clicking, liking and commenting at the same time. Keeping your audience's attention is difficult to begin with, but with all the opportunities on Youtube to be drawn away actually getting someone to click on any link you provide is pretty hard. But not impossible!

Adding a card to your YouTube videos is one effective way to engage and focus your audience's attention. With this technique, you can point viewers to the links you want them to click, not the ones provided by YouTube's algorithms (goodbye, dancing cats!).

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to add cards to your videos to engage viewers.

What Is a Card?

A card is a small interactive panel that slides out while your video is playing. Viewers first see a teaser line of text appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Screen shot of card teaserScreen shot of card teaserScreen shot of card teaser

This collapses after a few seconds, but the little “i” or information icon remains. When viewers click on the teaser or icon, the card opens and they can see its content.

Screen shot of card on YouTube videoScreen shot of card on YouTube videoScreen shot of card on YouTube video

Cards can include an image, text, and a clickable link to direct viewers to take a particular action. You can add as many as five to a single video.

Types of Cards

You can choose from several different cards:

  • Video or playlist – link to related videos (either your own or someone else's)
  • Channel – link to another YouTube channel for cross-promotion
  • Poll – create a multiple-choice poll and ask viewers to vote
  • Link – link to an associated website, or verified merchandise and crowdfunding sites

In some countries, like the United States, you can also add a donation card to raise money for non-profit organizations, or a fan funding card.

How to Add a Card

Creating a YouTube card is simple—take a look:

How To Use YouTube Cards

Adding a card to a YouTube video is a great way to promote other content on your channel, highlight collaborators, direct viewers to relevant sources of information, encourage interaction, and increase view time. Like any on-screen pop up, however, cards have the potential to be very annoying. Cards should complement the video—not compete with it—and enhance the viewer’s experience by adding relevant information at the right time.

It's best to use only one or two cards per video. Don’t overwhelm the viewer! Think about the main goal for your video. Is it to keep watching more videos? Visit your website? Buy a product? Whatever it is, focus on that goal and use your cards sparingly to help move people toward that action.

If you do use multiple cards, make sure to space them out on your timeline.

Tips for Using Cards

Here’s how to make the most of YouTube cards:      

  • Keep text short and simple. Use action words like “subscribe,” “visit,” “buy,” or “watch.”
  • Use simple, uncluttered images. Uploads need to be in .png format and no larger than 5MB. Keep in mind that the image will be cropped to a square.
  • Combine cards with a verbal call to action. For example, if your video mentions a website, add a card at that exact moment. The viewer can choose whether to click on the card for more information or ignore it.
  • Make sure the card appears at the right time. Cards work best when they appear later in the video, when viewers are looking for somewhere to go next. Set the card to animate in the last ten to 15 seconds of the video—not at the very end—so viewers have time to see it.

Getting Started

Start by reviewing your existing YouTube videos to see where you might add a card. Try asking: what do I want the viewer to do next? Watch another video? Visit my website? Buy a product? Then add a card. Your audience will thank you!

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