Brands use explainer videos to introduce a product or service quickly and memorably. They’re incredibly effective on landing pages and getting users to take an action. In fact, that’s their entire purpose.
Explainer videos aim to increase your understanding of a product or service and convert you into a customer. It sounds simple, but it’s actually no small task.
Technology and social media have reached a level of saturation and adoption by the masses that allows today’s businesses to reach consumers in new ways. Savvy marketers figured this out a few years ago and, since then, the style of explainer videos has become wildly popular.
Typically, you’ll see explainer videos on product and landing pages. This is where the need for explanation is greatest and, more importantly, most effective at converting prospects into customers. This is why it’s so important to have the right team for production.
Despite their popularity, creating explainer videos is anything but simple. There’s a certain science to them. They’re the antithesis to end-all be-all for everyone – they’re targeted and specific, meant for a small audience of select viewers.
That’s not to say that explainer videos can’t be effective for larger audiences, but the way they’re made caters to the tip of the spear. Any customers converted after that is simply a bonus.
So What Do Explainer Videos Look Like?
Problem and Setting
Many explainer videos are animation-based and use generic graphics and voice over. The structure is often broken down into a format of problem, solution, and product/service.
At the start, explainer videos present a scenario and establish the setting. We quickly grasp where we are and who the target market of the video is. Quick hints are given about the demographics the product or service caters to.
This is why one popular explainer video tactic is to outline the targeted demographics in the first eight seconds. They want to hook you or forget about you as quickly as possible.
After all, if the explainer video is about a new dog training product and you don’t have a dog, do you really want to wait until 1:30 into the video to figure out that it’s not for you?
This time is much too valuable to not have your audience hooked from the beginning.
That’s why explainer videos start by emphasizing a hassle you regularly experience or have experienced in the past. They may even bring in some animations and sound effects to exaggerate this and really try to get under your skin.
They want to hook you or forget about you as quickly as possible.
Once these explainer videos bring back all your awful memories, they happily provide you with the solution to all your problems or an update on a new way to do things – of course!
The middle part of an explainer video is filled with a new age solution – a modern technology breakthrough, a new service specializing in just what you need at an affordable price, or a subscription you didn’t know you’d always been wanting or needing.
The mood of the video then changes along with the music and we, the audience, are left craving this new solution to our problems.
Guess what’s next? The company of your dreams.
After happily explaining the solution to your deepest needs, Company X is here to save the day!
The last part of an explainer video is reserved for the company’s product or service and their direct call to action (or CTA).
Here, they’ll introduce you to the product they’re pitching. If it’s a cloud based product or SaaS, they’ll take you inside the program, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at its features. If they’re selling a physical product, you’ll see a demonstration showing off its best attributes. They’ll wow you with powerful stats and show you what you’re currently missing.
They make is so easy – so serendipitous – that they just happen to have the product you’re looking for. They’ve identified you (the audience member) by your age, need, location and interests, and showed you a better mousetrap for your problem – funny how that works sometimes, huh?
Now that you know how explainer videos work, let’s talk about how they’re used and how effective they can be.
There are several ways to measure the effectiveness of a video, and what success looks like for one company over another can vary greatly. Here are some things to consider when measuring your explainer video’s success (or setting up goals for its performance).
- How will you be getting people to watch?
- Where will your intended audience come from?
- How much traffic do you already have?
- What percentage of traffic are you already converting?
- Do your products/service vary greatly from one another? Do you need a specific video for each one? Or will one video suffice?
- What, specifically, do you want your audience to do after watching the video?
Depending on your answers, you’ll want to choose between a few different routes when creating your video. This is something you’ll want to discuss with both your internal team and with the production company you choose to work with.
Your conversations will shape several elements of your explainer video, including its style, length, script and design. They’ll also provide insights into the landing page(s) displaying your videos, as what is displayed next to your video is very important in supporting the video’s call to action and overall effectiveness.
In some cases, a 5% increase in conversions would be considered wildly successful. In other instances, your main goal might be educating prospective users about a brand new product. Whatever the case may be, knowing what you hope to get out of your explainer video will inform its creation (and its eventual success).
Recently, TAR Productions worked on an explainer video for the startup HouseCall and decided to take a newer, more creative route.
As described above, most explainer videos follow the same formula in terms of structure. While this works for many companies – and still continues to do so – we wanted to do something different with HouseCall. Something special.
In talking with the team at HouseCall, we quickly identified that we didn’t want to go with a traditional explainer video. HouseCall was working on an app that would make home maintenance a heck of a lot easier, more transparent and safer. The ramifications were substantial, and we needed a video that would effectively illustrate that.
Animation wouldn’t suffice, and we felt that there were too many “Meet Bob” examples out there.
What we did have going for us was the advent of brushless gimbals, a technology that allows – for the first time – ultra smooth camera movements with maximum mobility. We could now take a camera anywhere to capture cinematic movements, resulting in total immersion for the audience.
This gave us the idea to follow our character throughout a house where she used the app in several manners and, without cutting the camera, took her back through a moment later with everything magically fixed.
Now, we did use some super sneaky special effects to make this happen, but without this new stabilization hardware, we would never have been able to achieve this creative look.
The HouseCall team used the explainer video as their launch tool and quickly announced new rounds of angel funding. To date, they’ve raised more than $3M in startup capital.
Creative explainer videos worked for them – and they can work for you too. All you need is a little ingenuity and a team that knows how to leverage this video style.
How have you used explainer videos in the past? What has been the best use of explainer videos you’ve seen?