5 Ingredients For An Explainer Video That Converts

Explainer videos are amongst the most popular types of online video.

As regular readers of our blog will know, we love a good stat to confirm why you should be using video in your marketing mix. 

Here’s a great one to kick off. Having a video on your landing page can increase conversion rates by 80% (Hubspot). Another is that four fifths of customers prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it (Animoto).

Statistics like these are the reason why so many businesses have an ‘explainer’ video on their website, often on the home page. When we say ‘explainer’ video, we are talking about a video that shows viewers how a company’s products or services work, like this one from Pinterest.  

Typically these are short animated videos with a friendly, often humorous, tone. They don’t have to be animated though, live action works too. This is often a better choice if you sell a service or physical product and want to generate a human connection with your audience. Girls Don’t Poop by PooPourri is a fantastic example of a witty and engaging live action explainer video.

(Girls Don’t Poop by PooPourri)

Explainer videos fit at the consideration stage of the customer journey. They are watched by people who are deciding if what you offer meets their needs and how you square up against the competition. So what are the five ingredients for an explainer video that converts?

1. Script

Every successful video starts with a good script and an explainer video is no exception. The script needs to be tight as the ideal explainer video is only around only a minute or a minute and a half long. This equates to about 200 words or less.

Like all marketing videos you want to get your key message out up front (in the first 20 or 30 seconds) before you lose viewers’ attention.

Keep your language conversational and simple. Whatever you do avoid jargon or technical terms as this is almost guaranteed to have people clicking away. Make the video about the viewer by using the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than talking about yourself – ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘us’.  

Most important of all entertain and, ideally, make the viewer smile. A little gentle humour goes a long way in an explainer video.

2. Have a engaging lead character or narrator

Although your product or service should be the star of your video, the way you get viewers to connect with you is through your narrator or lead character. As the face or voice of your product they need to be likeable and someone your audience can relate to.

This is especially the case if your product or service is dry or difficult to explain. Adam McKay was up against a similar problem when he directed the film The Big Short due to the complex nature of its subject matter, the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. How he dealt with it offers a clear lesson to producers of explainer videos. His solution was to break the fourth wall and use Selena Gomez, Margot Robbie and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (among others), to explain various obscure financial terms.

It is unlikely you will have the budget to cast a Hollywood A lister for your video but that doesn’t matter. The star of this video for Tonx coffee is an unknown but he’s perfect for the part. His beard, pyjamas and dressing gown reflect precisely the audience Tonx is trying to reach.

TONX – Truly great coffee in your kitchen, without much fuss. from Blue Bottle Coffee on Vimeo.

3. Show the benefits through storytelling

As we said earlier, an explainer video fits at the consideration stage of the buyer journey. People will view it after they have become aware of what you offer but before they have decided to buy it. 

What your video should do is identify the viewer’s pain point, the problem they need to overcome. You must demonstrate how your product or service does this. In the Tonx video, the need is for decent coffee when you wake up in the morning. The message is that Tonx gives you exceptional coffee, delivered to your door.

The way this message is delivered is through a story, in this case – as in many explainer videos – a simple journey. The main character’s journey is waking up, having a shower, picking up his post and then making a brew of coffee using the fresh coffee that has just been delivered. The final sequence is our main character, and other similar characters, enjoying that all-important first caffeine hit of the day. Another company that has used a journey to great effect in an explainer video is Air BNB (and quite a scenic journey it is too, as you would expect).


4. Voice and video quality

You want your video to look and sound professional. You won’t be surprised when we tell you that the best way to make sure of this is to engage professionals. In other words, a video production company. The same goes for the people in the video. Don’t be tempted to skimp on costs by getting your mum to do the voiceover for your video or a friend to act in it.

The voiceover in an animated video is especially important as is it is needs to carry the viewer along and keep them absorbed. A monotonous voice or one that puts the inflection in the wrong places is a surefire route to failure.

A video production company will also ensure your video has the right flow and that the words and pictures dovetail in a way that keeps the viewer watching. They can also put in music and sound effects, seemingly small add-ons but ones that can have a large impact on viewability.

5. Calls to action, distribution and analytics

Don’t forget that your explainer video is only one stop on the customer journey and its value should be measured by how effective it is in pushing the viewer to the next stage, purchase. Have a clear call to action in your video so that the viewer keeps moving along the purchase funnel.

Once your video is online, your job isn’t over. There are any number of analytics you can use to measure the effectiveness of your video. Depending on where you host your video, there will be all sorts of tracking options that can tell you how many views you receive, where people pause or drop off, and how many viewers watch all the way. You can use this information to improve the video in a re-edit or change your call to action.

You can find our more about Element 26’s Product 100 and Service 100 explainer videos here and here. We also produce bespoke explainer videos. To discuss how we can produce an explainer video for your business, call us now.

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