videos are shared every minute on Twitter
hours of video are uploaded to YouTube in the same amount of time
We live in an “information at hand,” tech-driven world, with access to global knowledge available at our fingertips, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Anything you ever wanted to know is literally waiting to be discovered on the internet.
Around the beginning of this shift in information sharing, the explainer video was created. First came Powerpoint, the grandfather of explainer videos. Images were combined with text to pitch or explain a product, service, program, or anything else.
With the advancement of technology, this form of packaged information evolved into explainer videos with moving graphics, characters, and an audio component. Now, viewers are more engaged than ever before.
Explainer Video Basics
Is an Explainer Video Right for You?
A video on Crazy Egg’s homepage increased conversions by
In 2007, the company Common Craft created an explainer video called Twitter in Plain English. The videos’ objective was for its audience to understand exactly what Twitter was and how it functioned. They used simple graphics and straightforward wording to tell their story. The video was a success, and has gone on to generate almost 10 million views. Its creation marked the start of the explainer video era with an exclamation point.
Explainer videos provide help to any company looking to grow and build a strong customer base. It explains who you are or what you do and promotes your business at the same time. It’s an excellent way to reach the audience you already have, and it’s an even better way for new customers to discover you.
With the amount of time people spend on YouTube each month (over 6 billion hours watched), it’s clear that video is a really important form of communication and it’s here to stay. Everything and everyone is online, and an explainer video is a way to be included in the ever-growing online community.
There’s no denying it, explainer videos are an investment in your company’s future. With more and more people watching online videos, your investment will help you reach customers through one of the most attractive mediums available, a tool to attract customers for the next two to five years.
Explainer videos are becoming a more important component of every company’s marketing checklist. They’ve proven to generate leads, boost conversions, and increase sales while clearly explaining who you are and what you do. Are you ready to join the ranks of businesses investing in their future by making an explainer a part of your marketing mix?
unique users visit YouTube each month
hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year.
According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
source: YouTube.com, September 2013
There’s a term we use here at Switch Video called Brain Science. Brain Science is essentially the psychology of audio and visuals working together in a single message. Our research has found that on average there is a 75% increase of understanding and application of the material when both auditory and visual senses are stimulated compared to just auditory. This means that the most effective way to get your message across is through video. Simply put, our brains are hardwired to respond to video messages. Three things to keep in mind:
Simple Stories Sell – Our working memory can only handle so much information at one time. Overwhelming people with too many details leads to confusion, and confusing presentations are quickly forgotten. That’s one reason why simple, concise explanations work better at getting your message across. The brain can only focus on and retain bite-sized bits of information throughout the viewing process.
Memories Matter – While the brain’s working memory is rather limited, prior knowledge and stored memories influence a viewer’s ability to understand content presented in your video. Explainer videos rely on metaphors to build on a viewer’s past experience and knowledge. Relating products and services to things consumers already know goes a long way in building understanding and confidence in your company.
Video and Sound Create a Winning Team – Audio and video deliver a one-two punch that creates a lasting impression on the human brain. Research shows that, on average, people experience 75% greater understanding of the information delivered when using a combination of sight and sound. Studies also show that people retain 58% more information when both auditory and visual senses are stimulated.
The brain science of explainer videos
When stimulating only the auditory sense, on average people understand and can apply
of the material presented vs
when both auditory and visual senses are engaged
Case Study #1: Rypple (now Work.com)
Work.com (formally Rypple before being aquired by Salesforce.com) wanted a video that would improve conversion rates on their website and engage visitors in a unique way. Rypple placed the video on their home and landing pages, and tested it against a control page and another landing page containing a live action testimonial from Facebook. Not only did Switch Video’s landing page perform better, increasing conversions by 20%, but it also lowered the customer acquisition cost and generated leads that were more engaged and ready to use the product.
The Rypple video produced by Switch Video recorded a play rate of 30%, which is a 78% increase from the average play-rate for online videos. Not only so, but 56% of viewers traditionally watch half of an average two-minute video and only 40% of viewers watch the video through to completion. The Rypple video performed much better. 75% of viewers watched half of the video (an increase of 34%), and 50% watched the video through to completion (an increase of 25%).
Jesse Goldman, VP of Customer Success at Rypple, had this to say about their video: “The video does a great job at explaining the problem Rypple solves, more than you can do in a small number of words on the page.” And right he was because 1.8 million words is the equivalent of one minute of video, according to James McQuivey of Forrester.
Case study #2: Dropbox (produced by Common Craft)
Consumers who watch product videos are
more likely to buy products, compared to those who do not watch product videos
Source: TMG; We Capture
In 5 years, Dropbox went from 0 to 100 Million users, all thanks to savvy marketing and an explainer video on their homepage. Dropbox’s simple homepage design focused 100% of their visitors’ attention on the explainer video.
There weren’t any other links or messages that got in the way. The explainer video led to a 10% increase in conversions, and with 100 million users, that’s 10 million extra customers from using an explainer video. With $4.80 of revenue per customer (based on estimates from 2011), that’s an extra $48,000,000 in revenue per year.
Styles and Uses
Whiteboard is a very popular style because viewers are drawn in by a simple story unfolding as it’s “drawn” before their eyes. It’s engaging and fun to watch. Whiteboard videos tend to be the most professional and are great for businesses who speak to a more educated audience. This style contains images drawn by a digitized hand to appear as if you were drawing an explanation live in front of a group of people.
Two-dimensional graphics are another popular form of animation because of the creative options that come along with this style. They feature full color and animation that really bring your video to life. 2D animation is great for speaking to consumers and more general audiences. If you’re looking for some extra creative whimsy to help your business or product stand out, 2D animation is the way to go!
Much like 2D, the creative possibilities are endless with the 3D style. The scenes are more polished and realistic. 3D videos, however, are exponentially more expensive than 2D animation due to the time and equipment that’s required. 3D videos also aren’t as simple as other styles and can overwhelm the viewers working memory. If you’re looking to clearly communicate your message and make sure customers remember the most of what they watch, another style might be better.
With claymation, characters and props are made out of clay or other materials, photographed frame by frame, and then edited together. This process is referred to as stop motion animation. They’re highly creative, but come with a higher price tag due to the amount of time and work that goes into a claymation project. If you want something truly unique and impressive, and time is not of the essence, claymation may just be the style for you!
Live action uses real people, scenes, props, i.e. the whole works. This style is the real deal, literally. It’s popular for commercials and movies and is offered by some explainer video companies. Live action is a great style, but it puts limitations on what you can do, unless you have a Hollywood budget. This style is better suited for promotional type of videos that have little explanation or education. Also, keep in mind that, at a certain point, the video will look dated since hairstyles, clothes, and film quality all go out of style.
That’s right. Such a thing exists. Can’t decide if you want stop motion or 2D animation? Mash them up like potatoes! It’s possible to combine video styles; you just have to make sure it isn’t distracting. The end result should be simple and clean, but you can combine whiteboarding with 2D animation or live action with 2D animation. It’s totally up to you! Just ask the company you decide to go with about this option. They might not think to mention it, but it’s completely doable. A hybrid style of video is always unique, and keeps the audience interested because of the changes in the visuals.
Looking for Inspiration?
1. What Is Dropbox?
Dropbox’s original paper cut-out video used a story and metaphors to explain cloud computing before the concept was widely understood.
2. Coca-Cola Content 2020
Coca-Cola created a 7:57 whiteboard video to share their new brand strategy that revolves around content creation.
3. Dollar Shave Club
The Dollar Shave Club video uses humor and shock to connect with a universal experience and create a message that every guy can relate to.
The live action video MailBox created to introduce their app used imagery, live action, text, and music to tell a story without words that was both descriptive as well as inspiring.
5. The ABC of Architects
Andrea Stinga and Federico Gonzalez created a motion graphic video as a shareable piece of content that presents the top architects listed A to Z along with their best known building.
For more inspriation, check out our list of the best explainer videos at https://www.switchvideo.com/resources/the-best-explainer-videos/
Verticals and Use Cases?
While explainer videos are typically used to explain complex ideas or content, they have
different use cases depending on the vertical.
Whether you’re a technology company, a pharmaceutical company, or a non-profit, there’s a style and use case that will work for you. We’ve had the privilege of working in many different verticals. Below is a list of ways explainer videos can be used based on the industry in question, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. As you read through, consider the many different ways you can use an explainer video for your business.
Consumer and Packaged Goods
Sales tool for email
Social media contest explainer
Education tool about financial matters
Policy shift announcement
Financial tool description
Food and Beverage
Public relations campaign
Fundraising and Advocacy
Educational video with sponsor mention
Contributor recognition/thank you
Health and Beauty
Social media contest
Tips and tricks
Compliance and code of conduct
Internal messaging and procedure
Channel partner communication
Sales and outreach tools
Medical + Pharmaceutical
Trade show booth
Property developer promotion
Order process orientation
Shipping and Logistics
Shipping chain education
Tourism and Hospitality
Compliance and regulatory
Hiring and Working
Hiring the Right Company for You
The first thing to do is research, watch explainer videos from different companies and find out what their process is. Make sure you gather an adequate amount of information on the topic so when you go to make a decision, it’s one you feel good about. There’s no right or wrong answer across the board, but there is a right or wrong answer for you. Make sure you don’t feel bullied or pressed. If you do, that’s not a good company to work with. You are the client commissioning the product, so make sure the company you work with is happy to work with you and is one you’ll get along with.
A good place to begin is a company’s portfolio. What clients have they worked with? Do they have a lot of experience? A portfolio lays it all out on the line and gives you the best idea about what your video will look like.
Going with a company you feel good about eliminates the onset of potential headaches along the way. If you get frustrated with the company when discussing the project, it’s only going to get harder once you start making a video. You want to have fun making your explainer video! This is really important because it will come across in the finished product.
Enjoying who you work with is a key part of the video production process because how much you enjoy the process will show in the final product.
The Typical Production Process
We have a proven, 5-step process we follow here at Switch Video to consistently make effective explainer videos. The details vary at different explainer video production houses, but the process is fairly the same across the board. Here is a step-by-step overview of what our production process is like.
Step 1 : Discovery
This step sometimes gets skipped with other companies, but we make sure to always start with a proper discovery phase. Discovery is where we go over the details of the project, our process, how we do things and find out what the client is looking for. This is vital to making sure we deliver exactly what the client wants and sets a flow for the duration of the project.
Step 2 : Script
Higher end companies will have a professional writer on staff to write the script for you. In-house script writers will usually have direct contact with clients whereas outsourced writers will not. The scriptwriter will send clients multiple concepts for their review, based on what they were looking for in the discovery part of the process. They will make edits and adjustments according to what the clients’ specifications are. When all is approved the script moves into the storyboard phase.
Step 3: Storyboard
A professional begins the storyboard phase once the client has a general idea of what they want for visuals. A storyboard shows still images next to a script, providing the client with a clearer idea of what the final product will look like.
Step 4: Animation
This is where the animator puts everything into motion! At this point the storyboard has been approved by the client and now it’s time to animate the characters and images. Again, just like a scriptwriter, a good animator will work in-house and can be contacted by the client directly. During the discovery portion of the project, we conduct a call with the client and all members of the team working on that project present and in the same room. A good way to tell if your video team all works together in the same office is if they’re on calls together. Otherwise, your video may be getting outsourced.
Step 5: Delivery
Your project is complete! Your explainer video is ready to share with your potential customers in any number of ways. Your video producer will provide you with a number of different file formats, will help you with video storage, and will show you how to embed your video on your website and into emails.
Should You Write the Script?
There’s a slight debate over whether or not you should write your own script or have an agency write it for you. Neil Patel, for one, says that you should write it yourself. Here’s our take on the subject:
If you can take advantage of a full service production company, then you should. Neil is right that you know your product the best. He’s also right that you should interview your past clients and website visitors and use their comments to help you inform the scriptwriter.
The best approach is to share your knowledge with the experts you’ve hired through a guided briefing process so that your ideas are tested by the experts. If anything, you need to let the production house push back against your ideas. That’s the feedback we received a few years ago. A lot of our clients wanted us to stop listening to them so much. Why? Because they wanted a better video, not a company that says yes to whatever they asked for.
Unless you’re an experienced scriptwriter or copywriter,
You shouldn’t write ityourself
It’s hard work. At Switch it took us producing 200 videos before we got really good at what we do.
When you write your own script, you don’t get the outside perspective from someone who’s not dealing with your product day in and day out. If you’re a marketing genius, you may be able to pull it off, like Neil Patel, but if not, having someone provide another perspective is what will take your script from good to great. When we produced our own homepage video at Switch, our founder, Andrew, simply shared his goal for the video and let the team work their magic. He didn’t want to get in the way. He felt too close to the project and that he needed the team to work on it without his interjections. The end result was a much better video.
Neil is right that the script is the key to producing an awesome video and that you should use your extensive product knowledge, client knowledge, and skills to contribute to the video production process when you’re working with your production team.
If you want to get a head start on your own or if you just can’t afford a full service company, visit the appendix to find scriptwriter tips, examples, and templates.
Tools for Bootstrappers
Want to make your own video? Here are some tools that can help you along the way:
Using Camtasia, you can record what’s happening on your computer screen. Afterward, use their powerful video design studio to add in the elements like animations, sounds, themes and backgrounds.
Tools like GoAnimate! and PowToons try to simplify the process further with drag-and-drop menus you can use to create your own animations.