YouTube Cards – The Ultimate Ninja Guide

YouTube Cards are a great way to suggest handy resources to your viewers and they’re a fantastic tool to add at the point of a video just before your audience attention drops off, so that instead of leaving your channel – your viewers are instead redirected to another one of your relevant videos.

Whether or not you have cards installed on your video is also one of the completion metrics that the YouTube algorithm looks for, so having them set up may even give your video an SEO boost!

First time here?

Every tip, trick, technique and tool that you find here on Ninja Tricks is part of a bigger strategy that is designed to help you grow your YouTube channel.

The experience I have gained over the last 11 years of digital marketing and social media wrangling has shown me that success on YouTube requires both momentum and consistency. It's about more than just having the tools. It's about using those tools strategically to build momentum and about consistently engaging with your audience.

That's why I show you:

  • How to set your channel up for success, right from the start
  • How to promote your videos using a strategy that's perfect for new and small channels
  • How to consistently engage and grow your audience

This strategy is suitable for any niche and even for the newest of channels. It's also the exact same strategy that I'm using to grow the Ninja Tricks channel.

If you'd like to know more, it's all explained in my free 3-day YouTube Fast Start program.

What are YouTube Cards?

YouTube cards are the small rectangular links that you might have noticed popping up for a few seconds in the top corner of videos. They are also known as information cards, due to the information symbol that gets displayed on the card.

YouTube cards can be used to link to videos, playlists or YouTube channels and if you’re a part of the YouTube partner program you can also use cards to add links to your website.

Each video can have a maximum of 5 information cards.

How do YouTube Cards work?

When a YouTube Card first appears, it displays a short ‘teaser' message that, ideally, encourages the viewer to click on it.

When the viewer clicks on the teaser message, the full information card – which contains an image, a custom message, and a content link – is displayed as an overlay to the video.

If there are multiple information cards attached to the video, the viewer can scroll through and view all of them.

How to add info cards to your YouTube Video

I made a video that shows you exactly how to add info cards to your YouTube video.

Here are the detailed step-by-step instructions for how to add info cards to your YouTube video…

There are two ways you can add cards to your videos.

Adding cards during the video upload process

The middle step of the video upload process is all about video elements – including end screens and cards.

To add cards to your video from the video elements page, just click on the blue ADD link to the right of where it says ‘Add Cards’.

Adding cards to existing videos in YouTube Studio

In YouTube Studio, go to the video that you want to add cards to and click the edit pencil.

In the details tab, which is where your video title and description live, on the right hand side below the video link, playlists and end screen boxes you’ll see a little information icon and the word Cards. Click on the edit pencil to add cards to your video.

The Cards Interface

The Cards interface looks exactly the same regardless of whether you’re uploading a new video, or accessing the interface from your Creator Studio.

There are three main areas in the cards interface.

At the bottom there is a timeline with three rows, depicting your audio, your visuals and your cards.

When you first open the cards interface, your whole video from start to finish will be showing in the timeline. If your video is long and detailed, you might need to zoom in to position your cards properly. If that's the case, you can use the zoom tool to get the view of your timeline that you want.

The timeline has a scrubber, or a progress line, to show you which part of your video you're looking at in the preview window, and which also guides the position where your new card will be added.

Once you've added some cards, you can check out how they will look in the preview window.

The other very important part of the interface is the card manager – which is where you add and edit your information cards.

Adding information cards to a video

To add a card, the first thing to do is to move the scrubber to exactly where you want your card to appear.

Select the type of card you want by clicking the blue plus button.

Video Cards

Video cards redirect the viewer to a different video. If you've mentioned another one of your videos in your content, then it's a great idea to provide a link to that video as a card. Video cards are also a great way to distract and direct viewers to one of your more engaging videos at the point just before they're likely to leave, based on your audience retention data.

To add a video card, position the scrubber to where you want your card to appear.

Click the blue plus button next to where it says ‘video card' or by clicking the blue ‘+ CARD' link and selecting ‘Video' from the options.

Choose a video, either one from your own channel or from somewhere else on YouTube.

YouTube automatically chooses text for your video cards, but you can add your own custom message and teaser text. You've only got 30 characters to work with, so make every word count!

The teaser text gets displayed to the viewer when the card appears.

The custom message is displayed in between the video thumbnail and the video title after the viewer has clicked on the teaser text.

Playlist Cards

Playlist cards redirect the viewer to one of your playlists. They are more commonly used toward the end of a video and have the added benefit of significantly increasing your channel's watch time.

To add a playlist card, position the scrubber where you would like your card to appear.

Click the + CARD link and selecting ‘Playlist' from the options.

Select the playlist you want to feature.

Add your custom message and teaser text.

Channel Cards

Channel cards redirect the viewer to a YouTube Channel. They are more commonly used toward the end of a video, or to accompany a call to action about subscribing. You can also use them to link to another channel that you are collaborating with, or to another channel that has videos that your audience is likely to be interested in. In theory, although I haven't seen it done before, you could also use channel cards to give a shout out to someone from your audience.

To add a channel card, first position the scrubber to where you want your card to appear.

Click the + card button and select ‘channel' from the list.

Type in the name of the channel you want to link to, which is probably going to be your own channel, or possibly the channel of someone you have been collaborating with.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the custom message and teaser text boxes have gone red and there’s a warning icon showing up on the channel card. There is also a warning shown at the top of the cards interface.

When we hover over the warning icon, it reminds us that channel cards must have a custom message, so you'll need to add one before you can go any further.

For channel cards, I use a message like: ‘Get AMAZING YouTube tips’ for my teaser text and ‘Get AMAZING YouTube tips from:’ for my custom message.

When we click the preview card, you’ll see that this ends up reading in our card as ‘Get AMAZING YouTube tips from Ninja Tricks.’

Link Cards

If you’re a part of the YouTube partner program you can use cards to add links to your website, which can be beneficial for building email lists and current promotions.

Unfortunately, to be eligible to apply for the YouTube partner program your channel needs to have accumulated more than 4,000 hours of public watch time in the last 12 months and you also need to have more than 1,000 subscribers.

Needless to say, most new YouTube Creators including myself are NOT currently in that position and will need to stick to using cards to promote videos, playlists and channels for the time being.

From previous experience, I can tell you that adding link cards operates in the same way as adding the other types of cards.

How to delete a YouTube card

To delete an information card, just click on the trash can icon next to that particular card.

How to reposition a YouTube card

One of the mistakes I make all the time is forgetting to move the scrubber location before I add a new card, and accidentally putting my cards on top of each other in the one spot.

If you’ve put one of your cards in the wrong spot, this is how you can fix it.

You’ll notice that you can only work on one card at a time in the card editor. The card you’re working on will show up as blue (and not grey) in the timeline view, and will also have a blue line next to it in the card area.

The first step is to find the correct timing for the card using the scrubber and the video timeline. The exact timing of the scrubber position is shown above the timeline.

In the cards area, select the card that is in the wrong place, and simply change it's time to the correct time.

If you aren't sure which card is in the wrong place, or you want to use the preview to make sure everything is working, just change one of the cards' timing by 10 seconds. The cards will show up properly on the timeline and you can position them as appropriate.

If everything's a mess, just delete your cards and start again.

How to set up a template for your YouTube cards

If you find yourself adding the same cards time after time and you have TubeBuddy installed, there’s a handy little check box down the bottom that you can click to turn the cards you just added on the current video into a card template.

That way, for your new videos, you'll save all the mucking around with custom text.

To save your cards as a template, click on the checkbox at the bottom of the cards interface.

You'll probably want to change the name of your template to something a bit more generic than the title of your video, then click the ‘OK' button.

How to use your YouTube cards template

Selecting a cards template is as simple as clicking on the TubeBuddy box in your cards area and selecting a template.

Check the details in the Apply Card Template and make sure that the cards you want to import from the template are highlighted (blue background). When you're ready click ‘Apply Selected Cards'.

Make sure you go through and adjust the timings for your cards to make sure they match the timings of the new video.

Ninja Tricks for YouTube Cards

Here are some ninja tricks for using YouTube cards to your advantage:

  • Make sure that your teaser text for your cards is benefit-driven rather than feature-driven – we're trying to entice our audience to click the link.
  • Make sure that your custom text has a strong call to action to reassure the viewer that the next video or playlist is related to the last one and to encourage them to click on the link.
  • For videos that have a sharp viewer drop off, position an enticing relevant video card just at the point where the drop off begins.

How to get the most out of this tip

So you've just read all about YouTube cards but at this point, they're not going to make any difference to your channel.

Remember, just reading about them won't actually improve your YouTube marketing – you need to take action and implement these tips to actually benefit from the results.

If you don't have time to add your cards right now, make sure you save this post for later by pinning it to your YouTube Tips board on Pinterest.

Will this information help anyone else you know?

Feel free to share it around!

Be as involved as you can with your YouTube marketing and you'll see success with your channel growth. To learn more about YouTube marketing, how it works, and the best ways to grow your channel, make sure you grab my free 3-day YouTube Fast Start program.

Blue skies!

P.S. If you followed these steps to add YouTube cards to your videos, would you please let me know? I'd love to find out how it went and see if there's anything that needs to be updated in this guide. Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with me on social… or both!


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