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How to Nail Your Explainer Video First Time

Explainer videos are big right now. You’ve probably visited countless websites where the first thing you see (apart from an enormous pop-up) is an animated video.

Why are they so popular? A few reasons:

  • They convey complex information in a simple format.
  • They are visually engaging for new visitors.
  • Visitors get a good feel for your brand voice.
  • They provide instant familiarity with your brand.
  • Use them to instruct visitors what to do next.

But while explainer videos become increasingly common, they are not always easy to get right.

But get them right you must, because your explainer video will very often have pride of place on the home page and will be the first thing visitors see. So how do you create one that converts into more business?


Choose the Right Type of Video

The first thing you need to do is decide on the right type of explainer video for your business. There are many to choose from, and all have their benefits.

  • Live action—This is where you film real people and products, and it’s a great option when you are selling a physical product because you can show exactly how it works.
  • Animation—Probably the most popular type of explainer video, this adds an element of fun and a lighthearted tone, often telling a simple but compelling story.
  • Whiteboard—These are where you sketch out the text and animations as the voiceover narrates. Simple but effective.
  • Screencast—If you have a software-based business, you can use a screencast to show your product in action.

Which would work best for your business? Have a think about it and try to imagine your video on your home page. What instantly comes to mind? If you’re stuck, look at what your competitors are up to. Don’t copy them for the sake of it, but use their videos to get some pointers.


Short and Sweet Is Best

There is an ongoing argument about the benefits of long versus short copy in sales copywriting (the argument continues because both can be highly effective). But with explainer videos, stick to short. 60 seconds is ideal, but videos tend to range from 30 seconds up to a maximum of three minutes.

This explainer video from Stitch Fix is just 30 seconds long, and it includes everything you need to know for a good introduction to how it works:

That’s not to say that you couldn’t make it longer. In fact, it would probably be easier to create a video highlighting all the great things you do for your customers. But people expect something snappy when they view your explainer video. They are not ready to invest a lot of time in viewing.

An explainer video by its very nature is designed to explain what you do and how you solve problems in a short summary, so stick to the format. On top of that, keeping it short forces you to keep it tight and get straight to the point. You will have to zone in on exactly what matters to your customers, which is a good exercise in itself.


Create a Script Based on a Simple Format

The script is the starting point for any video. No matter if you are using a video production company or professional animators, you should start work on your script yourself. Start off by brainstorming ideas. Don’t worry about the length for now. Instead, write down all the features and benefits you can think of, and decide what you want viewers to do after they get to the end of the video.

As you do this, you will probably come up with ideas for the visuals, so write these down as well. If you’re not sure where to start, use a tried and trusted format:

  1. Start by introducing the problem, the main pain point you are going to address.
  2. Introduce your solution and explain why it is the answer to the problem.
  3. Expand on the solution by showing how it works or how to start using it.
  4. End with a call to action.

The call to action can be anything. What do you want your visitors to do?

  • Download a white paper?
  • Contact your sales team?
  • Visit the product page on your website?

Think about the ideal action you want them to take, and end the video by encouraging viewers to take that action. If you stick to this format, you will end up telling a short story, which is exactly what you want to do. Stories can be effective in marketing, and they work particularly well in videos.

You could be even more explicit with your storytelling, like Ethical Coffee Chain does with its animated explainer video:

A typical one-minute script is about 150 words, so use this as a general guide. Once you’ve finished, read out the script slowly and clearly and time yourself. It’s also a good idea to read it to someone who does not know anything about your business. Do they understand what you do and the problem you solve? That will provide you with a good guide to whether you’ve nailed it.


Make It Benefits Focused

As with all marketing and sales material, the focus should be firmly on the benefits of your products or services rather than the features. With explainer videos, it’s easy to focus on what you do. When introducing your business and your products, you can easily slip into providing a list of features rather than how what you do helps your customers.

Don’t make that mistake.

There is a place on your website where you will want to explain all the features, but your one-minute explainer video is not it. If you’re not sure what the benefits are, simply ask yourself how your products improve your customers’ lives. Then make these the focus of the video.

Don’t Be Too Serious

Even the most serious of companies can afford to be more lighthearted in their explainer videos. But what does this mean?

You don’t need to make it humorous (although you can if it suits your brand). But don’t make it too serious either. Have a bit of fun. This is your first shot at capturing attention, and something a bit more lighthearted can make it more interesting and engaging, no matter who you’re targeting.

Like in this video from IT-MAN, which uses a unique style based on an 8-bit video game, with some humor thrown in:


Quality Matters

Finally, never scrimp on the quality of explainer videos. No matter how lighthearted yours might be, it should always be a professional product. That means you’re going to have to spend some money. But remember that you might be using this video for years to come, so get it right first time and the investment will be worth it.

  • Hire a voice actor (this can make a huge difference).
  • Use high-quality audio.
  • Spend time choosing the appropriate music (check out PremiumBeat for this).
  • Use a professional animator.
  • Don’t shoot it on your smartphone.

If you hire a professional video production company, this will all be taken care of. But if you are piecing your video together using a separate animator, copywriter, etc, then you’ll have to make sure the quality stays high. Nothing will turn off visitors faster than a scrappy-looking video that looks like it’s been thrown together in a few hours.


An Essential Tool?

Are explainer videos essential? No, but things are increasingly moving that way. Video has never been so popular. People love video content, and an explainer video is a simple and effective way to include a video on your website.

Don’t use an explainer video because everyone else does. But do consider using one. And if you would like to place one on your home page, follow these tips to ensure you create something that is worthy of having pride of place on your website.


Author avatar
Jason Corgiat
Jason Corgiat founded LeapGo to be a website development company that offers a consultative approach. “We don’t expect our clients to know everything. They come to us with expectations that we will look out for them and make suggestions based on experience or data. We structure all of our services to create accountability on our part. It’s a refreshing change for most clients when we ask them to hold us at a high standard.” Jason’s experience and ability to identify and solve problems quickly and efficiently is what draws people to him. When asked, a recent client stated “Working with Jason has been a great experience. He and his team came in and completely turned around a failing web property of ours. We though it was dead and were about to shut it down but now it’s one of our most profitable websites.” Small business website to corporate ecommerce, local SEO to multi-million dollar digital marketing campaign, Jason has been a part of it all. Since founding his web development company in 2001 Jason has made many public speaking appearances, been on the radio, quoted in several magazines and most recently had a 7 page interview published in a website design book by author Bruce C. Brown.

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