Would you willingly sit down to watch a movie that’s halfway through?
Likely not—without seeing the beginning, you have no foundation for what you’re currently watching and no expectations for where the plot is going. The whole experience feels like a waste of time.
YouTube videos, sometimes called a trailer, are no different. Even if the video content is great, without the proper setup, your audience isn’t likely to hang around due to the reasons listed above. And many YouTubers are making this common mistake, effectively alienating their audience with their first impression instead of winning them over.
Luckily, there’s a super simple fix to this issue.
Once you learn how to make a YouTube intro, you have the power to captivate, entertain (or educate), and most importantly, retain your viewer’s attention through the duration of your videos. You know, all the way to the end where your YouTube outros and CTAs live.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In this post, we’re going to cover not only a step-by-step tutorial of how to make an intro for YouTube, but also the specifications, requirements, and best practices to make sure your videos have audiences hanging on every word. We’ll also throw in a few Promo.com (see our YouTube intro maker) tips and tricks for effortless intro creation.
Let’s get this party started.
What is a YouTube Intro?
A YouTube intro is a short clip (under 15 seconds) at the beginning of a YouTube video that establishes the topic, introduces the host, and sets the tone for the content. YouTube intros should have a strong brand identity (logo, colors, and taglines) and a consistent style so you can use them repeatedly on your YouTube channel.
The purpose of a YouTube intro is retention—you’re trying to convince your audience that your content is worth sticking around for instead of navigating to one of their 14 other open browser tabs or mobile apps. Typically, intros are applied to organic videos, as opposed to YouTube ads.
Related reading: How to create your first YouTube ad
This is an important distinction because the audience has already willingly chosen to watch (at least a portion of) your video—as opposed to seeing a pre-roll ad—which means you can use context to your advantage. The lights are on and the stage is set, so how are you going to execute?
Requirements and specifications for YouTube intros
Before we get into the type of content and footage you’ll need, the first thing you’ll need to do is to get your technical details correct. Understanding the technical requirements can also help formulate your strategy, so let’s start with the basics.
As with all YouTube content, the preferred aspect ratio is 16:9. If your video is formatted differently, the YouTube player will automatically adapt to the size you’ve used, but it’s best not to leave that up to chance. To achieve a 16:9 aspect ratio, you can encode your video at these various resolutions.
YouTube supports a wide array of video file formats, but you’ll like want to use the standard formats of MP4 or MOV. No sense in overcomplicating your life here.
In case you’re new to the YouTube terms of service, you may not, in fact, use any music you’d like to. Sure, “Come Together” from the Beatles might be the perfect fit for your intro, but it’s likely not worth the ensuing billion-dollar copyright infringement fine that’s sure to follow.
Create your own music, buy pre-licensed music, or use a video editing platform that already comes with royalty-free music included.
How long should a YouTube intro be?
YouTube intros should be between 6-10 seconds, and no longer than 15 seconds. Really though, you’re trying to achieve your goals in the shortest time possible:
- Hook your audience
- Establish your brand
- Set up your topic
If it only takes you six seconds to do that, awesome!
With the technical specs out of the way, let’s dive into how to bring it all together with a solid strategy and some best practices.
YouTube intro best practices
Now that you’ve got the technical details down, let’s move onto the strategies, best practices, and tactical tips that will help your videos stand out from the 300 million minutes of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to longer viewing rates and more engaged audiences in no time.
1. Establish the brand
We’re not trying to ride a tired horse here, but an intro is a perfect spot for you to display a heavily branded presence. The function of a brand, in general, is to promote loyalty by streamlining the process through which people understand your offer, which is exactly what you need to grow your YouTube channel.
That said, make sure you have at least a couple of these elements in your YouTube intro:
- Your logo
- Your YouTube channel name
- Your brand colors
- Consistent music or SFX
You can mix and match depending on your brand, audience, and goals.
2. Live-action vs. animated
As you follow the first tip, you still have plenty of room for creativity. Before you get too far along in terms of video production, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to use live-action footage or animation.
While all intros (including live-action intros) will likely have some form of animation, you’ll need to decide if you want animation to be the primary look you’re going for or an accent.
Take a look at the difference:
Athlean-X – animated YouTube intro example
Athlean-X is a super popular YouTube channel in the fitness niche featuring tons of strength training tutorials and tips. For his intro, he’s chosen to use a fully animated clip with his logo, tagline, and some music/SFX. Take a look:
Notice that this intro is only six seconds long. Since his videos are mostly tutorials, people looking for advice on how to do certain exercises, it makes sense that he keeps these short. Also, note that the music and branding are somewhat aggressive, almost like he’s getting you ready to pump some iron right on the spot which again, aligns with the needs of his audience.
Katerina Kountouris – live-action YouTube intro example
The other option you have for your video intro is to focus on live-action footage. In this example, fitness influencer Katerina Kountouris uses stylized b-roll from her video collection and animated text to create a compelling intro:
Her content is heavily dependent on her personal brand, so it makes sense to use footage of herself in various situations.
Whichever format you choose, have fun with your intro and keep the energy up!
3. Use animated text
We already covered this briefly above, but adding animated text to your intro is a great way to introduce the host of the channel, display your tagline, etc. You’ll notice that most of our examples use this technique.
Text overlays are a great way to communicate efficiently while also keeping the audience engaged.
4. Add some style
Your YouTube intro is not the time to be boring. Even if you don’t cover a topic that most would consider ‘exciting,’ your intro is the time to get people interested in what you’re about to show them. Using animations, text, and music—as noted above—are all good tactics to start off your videos on the right foot.
Don’t be afraid to surprise and delight your audience with an engaging intro.
Ideas from Promo.com intro templates
In case you didn’t know, at Promo.com we actually have a whole section in our massive template library dedicated to YouTube. There, you can browse ideas for your intros and get inspiration to make sure your content stands out.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Make Money
Do you have a YouTube channel on personal finance, entrepreneurship, or some other business-related niche? Grab this ‘Make Money’ template and customize it with your brand colors, tagline, and music to make it your own.
2. Marketing Solutions
Nothing spells out “I-D-E-A” like a good old-fashioned whiteboard drawing! This template can be used to advertise marketing services, but it’s also versatile enough to fit a wide range of consulting services.
Plus, it’s short enough to make a high-quality YouTube intro that segues seamlessly into your topic.
What would you use this template for?
3. Broken Glass
Need something with a little more edge? This Broken Glass template is the perfect clip to help you shatter expectations and, literally, break the mold. Paired with an aggressive music track, this template could be used for a variety of topics to great effect.
Feeling inspired? Good.
The last step is to put everything you’ve learned about making a killer YouTube intro into action with some video editing. Let’s bring this thing home!
How to add an intro to a YouTube video
If you read our recent post How to make a YouTube outro, you know that YouTube has a specific area in the YouTube Studio where you can add an outro, or “end screen,” as it’s called within the platform interface,
Intros, however, do not have this feature, which means you’ll have to edit your intro into the video itself using your editing software of choice. That said, this is super easy to do with Promo.com.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating up a YouTube intro with the Promo.com editor.
Step 1 – Sign up for free at Promo.com (or log in to your account)
If you don’t weigh-in, you can’t wrestle, so do yourself a favor and sign up for a Promo.com account today. It’s free to try, so take a few seconds to set up your account and give our video tools a shot.
Step 2 – Choose the YouTube intro video template that suits your needs
As we mentioned in the previous section, we have a massive library of video templates, including clips specifically designed for use as YouTube intros. You’re sure to find something you like!
Step 3 – Customize your video by adding your text and logo
Once you’re inside the Promo.com video maker, it’s super easy to customize different elements of your video to add your own flair. Everything is point-and-click or drag-and-drop, so you don’t have to worry about complicated processes that are hard to understand.
In fact, you can create stunning marketing videos in minutes, not days, with Promo.com.
Step 4 – Preview, download, and done!
Finished with your intro? Preview your finished result and make sure it looks good to you. From there, download your clip and add it to all your videos—done!
We hope that you’re on your way to creating eye-catching intros for all your YouTube videos!
When you’re ready to take your YouTube channel to the next level, consider promoting your content with YouTube ads. Here are some resources that can help:
- How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on YouTube?
- How to create your first YouTube ad
- YouTube Advertising: The Complete Guide
Keep us updated on your progress by posting your content to social media with the hashtag #promoteanything.