A website’s home page is one of the most highly visited pages, if not THE most visited page in your site. In many cases, it’s the only page your visitors see, which means that if you want them to understand who you are and what you do before they move on to something else, you’ve only got a few precious seconds to explain it, otherwise you may never get a second chance to “pitch” it to them and capture their interest. That’s why a clear, straightforward one-line description of your company or product is so important (as opposed to hifalutin mumbo jumbo that doesn’t really explain anything at all), but even beyond a one-liner, there’s no better way to convey what you do than in the most engaging content format of all: Video.

“Video tugs on heart strings. It elicits potent emotions. It makes people laugh – heck, it makes people feel. And when people feel connected to your brand they want to engage, they want to share, and they’re more likely to do business with you.”
~ Jennifer Pepper (Source: The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Video)

If the advantages of using video as part of your content mix aren’t already obvious, here are a few stats to think about:

1) According to Forreseter Research, video is the fastest-growing digital content category; they forecast that more than 90% of the online population will regularly watch online video by 2017.

2) In a recent survey by video-creation platform company Animoto, it was found that:
bullet-pink-20x104 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
bullet-pink-20x101 in 4 consumers actually lose interest in a company if it doesn’t have video.
bullet-pink-20x104 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important.
bullet-pink-20x1080 percent of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important when learning about the company (Source: PR Newswire on Animoto video marketing survey)

3) According to Unruly, video enjoyment increases purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%

All of this evidence suggests that creating an explainer video for your startup may be just the thing that provides the extra push needed to compel your website visitors to engage with your brand and explore your product further. Even if the engagement isn’t tangible after first watching the video, if they enjoy it, or if it explains what you do super-effectively, the odds are that they will recall your brand or product far better when they eventually realize that they do need your services, than had they not watched your video at all.
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What’s ahead in this post (click on a link below to jump directly to that section):

bullet-pink-20x10What makes an effective explainer video?
bullet-pink-20x10Some pointers about your explainer video’s script
bullet-pink-20x10A word about promoting your explainer video
bullet-pink-20x106 experts share their top tips for successful Explainer Videos (Click on an expert’s name below to jump straight to his tips)

Avi Graiver, Owner & CEO of Animation Cowboy StudiosAvi Graiver
Owner & CEO
Animation Cowboy Studios
Maayan Froind, CEO & Founder @ Awesome Tel AvivMaayan Froind
CEO & Founder
Awesome Tel Aviv
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Nadav Arbel, CEO @ The Moving Company animation studioNadav Arbel
Owner & CEO
The Moving Company animation studio
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Arik Ben-Ari, Founder & Creative Director @ Igloo Creative HouseArik Ben-Ari
Founder & Creative Director
Igloo Creative House
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Founder/Executive Creative Director @ natieEitan Chitayat
Founder/Executive Creative Director
natie
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Ben Eshet, Co-founder & Creative Director @ Clutch Animation HouseBen Eshet
Co-founder & Creative Director
Clutch Animation House
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So what makes an effective explainer video?

An explainer video is a short video, ideally between 30 to 90 seconds, that explains a certain pain point and introduces your brand as the obvious choice to help solve it.

The video can include either real footage or animated illustrations, and often the key to its success lies in the effectiveness of its script. Some experts say that as long as the concept is memorable and the script is well-written, it will still be successful, even if the visuals aren’t necessarily of “Hollywood” caliber quality.

Also, explainer videos are a type of evergreen content, meaning that even if they require a relatively high one-off investment compared with the production costs of other types of marketing collateral, a well-made explainer video can serve as a permanent asset not only in your website, but you can also use it as part of other marketing initiatives as well.

Furthermore, if you host your explainer video on popular video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo and make sure that you tag it with the right keywords, then it will also be indexed when people search for companies or products like yours, so it’s possible that people will learn about your company through the video without visiting your website first. That’s why it’s important that your explainer video is well branded and includes your website’s URL at some point either during or at the end of the video.

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A few pointers about your explainer video’s script:

1) You should write it yourself, or at least provide the outline to the video producers. No one understands your company, product or target audience (and their concerns) better than you, so although a video producer might have professional script writers in their team who can finesse what you write (which can actually be quite helpful if you don’t have much experience writing video scripts yourself), it’s still important that the main points that must be featured in the video come from you.

2) Less is more, so keep it short and focus on “must include” talking-points only. Since you have an intimate knowledge of your product or service, you might be tempted to cover as much as possible in the explainer video, but you really shouldn’t. For one thing, there’s only so much you can say in 30-90 seconds (which usually translates into a written script of around 200 words or less). But even more importantly, viewers have a very short attention span and may not watch the whole video all the way through, so you need to identify the most important things you want to say about your product (ideally limit it to 3 main points), make sure that you get to them quickly (ideally in the first 30 seconds) and focus on explaining them super-clearly.

3) Follow a logical structure and finish with a call-to-action.

bullet-pink-20x10Begin your script by describing a problem or pain point. Using empathy and humor, and basically anything that appeals to the viewers’ emotions works particularly well.

bullet-pink-20x10Then, briefly introduce your company. Don’t be afraid to mention points that can help establish trust with the viewers, like how many customers are already enjoying your product (if the number is impressive), any well-known clients who are already using it, whether your product is recognized as industry-leading, award-winning, etc.

bullet-pink-20x10Introduce your product or service: Demonstrate (if possible) how it works and explain how it can solve the problem. If there are any special benefits to using it over other similar products, then mention those too.

bullet-pink-20x10Finally, end with a call to action. Ending with a call to action is important because it encourages the viewer to do more than just “clap their hands” when the video is over, but actually engage and interact. Also, it makes your explainer video more measurable. For example, without any call to action, you can measure (fairly easily, using Google Analytics) things like how many times it was viewed as a percentage of total visits to the page, how much of the video was actually viewed (what percentage watch it all the way to the end and what percentage only watch a small portion of it, etc.) and whether viewers clicked through to another page in your site after watching the video or exit your site. But this type of data won’t really tell you for certain what sort of impression the video left on the viewer and how inclined they are to use your product as a result.

By adding a specific call-to-action, it’s much more likely that the viewers will indicate their level of interest by performing an action of your choice, eliminating the need for you to ‘guess’ whether the video was effective or not. For example, you could ask viewers to sign up for your newsletter, request more information, click through to another (specific) page, download your app or a free trial of your product, share on social media, etc.

4) Don’t try to appeal to the entire world: Remember who your video is aimed at and tailor the script specifically to them.

“The more specific your video is, speaking to a narrow niche, the better it will perform when it comes to conversion because it won’t be burdened by unqualified views, or those who have no interest in your offering. If you narrowcast a targeted message that capitalizes on the pain points of your ideal prospect, your video will retain viewers who are actually interested in what you do and they’ll likely have the budget to spend on your offering. In other words, you’ll attract and maintain the leads worth following up with.”
~ Jennifer Pepper (Source: The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Video)

Bearing this in mind, think about the language you use in your script:
bullet-pink-20x10Go for a casual or conversational tone
(even business professionals are still just people!) and appeal directly to the viewers by using words like “You” and “Your”.
bullet-pink-20x10Avoid jargon, unless your product is relevant to a specific niche,
in which case it makes sense to use terms that your target audience is already familiar with. Just don’t overdo it, because simple is still best.
bullet-pink-20x10Whether your product or service lends itself to a “fun” script or not,
if it’s possible to introduce a character to help “tell a story”, then that can make the video more memorable. If not, try to use a touch of humor at some point, as people tend to enjoy videos that make them laugh, or at the very least smile.

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A word about promoting your explainer video

It’s possible to provide exposure for your explainer video beyond the obvious channels like your website, social media channels, landing pages, etc. For example, Social Media Examiner’s Brian Carter recommends promoting it with YouTube pre-roll ads and Facebook ads:

bullet-pink-20x10YouTube pre-roll ads can cost anywhere from $0.08 to $0.20 per view. A best practice is to create two targeting groups – one for topics (your video will show up as related to the video someone is currently watching) and one for interests (your video will show up as related to the video topics someone usually watches).

bullet-pink-20x10To promote via Facebook ads, first share your video in a status update and then promote the post to reach your target audience on Facebook.

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6 experts share their top tips for creating a super-effective explainer video (with awesome examples!)

6 experts share their top tips for successful Explainer Videos

I asked 6 local (Israeli) video/animation experts to share some of their favorite work and tips with readers who are contemplating producing explainer videos for their startups or refreshing their existing videos. Enjoy!
Avi Graiver
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Avi Graiver, Owner & CEO of Animation Cowboy Studios
Avi Graiver, Owner & CEO @ Animation Cowboy Studios

Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. The main goal for this video for Spaceek is to explain why the company’s product is the best solution for parking problems today.

The video is effective because we made a point of following the 4 rules of thumb for a killer video: Timing, Creative, Branding and Positioning.

bullet-pink-20x10Timing: The ideal time for explainer videos is around 60 seconds, so the script should be constructed in a way that draws the viewer in, and broken down into describing the problem (about 30% of the video), the need, or the “wouldn’t it be great if…” concept (about 10% of the video), and the solution (about 60% of the video).

bullet-pink-20x10Creative: Make sure that the creative appeals to your target audience and use a theme that they will instantly identify with.

bullet-pink-20x10Branding: All graphics should be custom-made for the brand, including any unique characters, color palette, style of illustration, tone of voice, etc. Consistency in the branding will strengthen brand-recall and authenticity for the audience.

bullet-pink-20x10Positioning: An explainer video isn’t just about explaining how the product or service works. The caliber of execution and the production quality of the video is indicative of the brand’s overall standards and dedication to quality in everything they do, so it also helps to position the company (in the eyes of the viewers) against its competitors.

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. Live action is usually used in video when a product or service requires real life validation, like in the fashion industry for example. But in most other cases animation is much more efficient in creating a conceptual visual language that is unique to the brand. Also it allows you to unleash your creativity because it’s more cost effective.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. If you truly understand the benefits of an explainer video, then you should avoid producing one using low-cost, “off the shelf” solutions that come with ready-made templates etc., because it detracts from your brand integrity. If anything, it strengthens the brand of the off-the-shelf product than your own. Instead, use a professional studio (if possible). A professionally made video should not only tell the right story with the right messages but also implement brand values and a visual language that follows the line of your logo and other marketing assets.

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Maayan Froind
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Maayan Froind, CEO & Founder @ Awesome Tel Aviv
Maayan Froind, CEO & Founder at Awesome Tel Aviv

Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. The main goal of this video was to introduce Sizer to some potential investors. Because Sizer is an innovative new product, it was important to explain how it works, but in an interesting way.

In my opinion, an explainer video is a more interesting way for marketing people to deliver the product’s pitch because it allows them to use humor, funny animated typecasts, bold titles and strong narration.

A few tips:
bullet-pink-20x10It’s important to start your video with description of the problem that your product intends to solve, and if you can, try to describe it through a story. Sometimes a funny story works better than an emotional one (depending on the situation). Personally, I always prefer videos that don’t take themselves too seriously.

bullet-pink-20x10Try and create some build-up leading up to the moment when you introduce your product as “the problem solver”. This can be done through the music swelling or even taking a short pause just before you announce the solution, all of which helps to make the ‘aha moment’ in the video memorable.

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. Animated videos will always be cheaper and usually take less time to deliver. It’s a great solution for concepts that can’t always be delivered by humans (for example, instructional videos). On the other hand, showing real people using your product tends to achieve a more emotional response because people relate more personally to human characters than to animated ones.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. Here are 3 tips:
bullet-pink-20x10Follow the 90 second rule: Don’t make your video too long. People are generally impatient so you best get the point as soon as possible.
bullet-pink-20x10If your GUI is too complicated to show on a video, adjust it for this specific use (drop unneeded parts of it and show it as simply as you can).
bullet-pink-20x10Sync between important titles and narration and make sure that the narrative always corresponds to what is shown on the screen, otherwise you’ll confuse viewers.

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Ben Eshet
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Ben Eshet, Co-founder & Creative Director @ Clutch Animation House
Ben Eshet, Co-founder & Creative Director @ Clutch Animation House

Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. The main goal of the video is to inspire you to download the GroupShot app on to your iphone. To do this, we decided to focus on 2 aspects: How easy the app is to use, and the fact that it actually works!

To demonstrate the product’s simplicity, it’s important to keep the video short, because if you need more than a minute to explain something, then it automatically suggests that maybe it isn’t so simple. And to show that the app works as simply as we promise in the script, we chose to use live video of a finger that actually uses the app, so you can see for yourself.

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. Video is real, and animation is a fantasy, and for good and for bad this is the main different between the two. If you want your video to look real, true and believable I would choose video, but animation offers a world of endless possibilities, fantasy and fun. And you can get let your creativity run wild much more with animation, so in a way it is a question of marketing objectives. Generally I would say a little bit of both works best.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. My advice is – Keep it Simple. It may be a cliché, and you’ve heard it a million times, but not following this rule of thumb is still the most common mistake. When you build, live and breath your startup 24/7, it’s natural that you’d have a lot to say about it, and although it may ALL seem very important (and often it is), if your audience loses its attention even for two seconds, they’re gone, so it’s not a good idea to overload them with too much information. Choose the absolutely most important things you need to get across and focus only on those.

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Arik Ben-Ari
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Arik Ben-Ari, Founder & Creative Director @ Igloo Creative House
Arik Ben-Ari, Founder & Creative Director @ Igloo Creative House

Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. The main goal of ADAP Therapy’s video is to present the company’s product in a unique, engaging and easy to understand way. To do this, we decided to present the main messages as simply as possible, using a creative storyline and straightforward explanations.

Dealing with such a sensitive subject (addicts in recovery), we chose to use generic characters to represent the protagonist. We’ve found that this is an effective way to raise empathy among the viewers without being too specific. Also, the fact that we were limited in time (a good explainer video should present a product in a minute, more or less) was actually a big advantage because it forces you to simplify complicated message to their most basic form in order to get them across effectively.

Finally, colors, movement and sounds all serve to stimulate and engage the viewer and help him understand your product, so we used all of those elements in the video.

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. Depending on the subject matter, some products work very well with live video and you can convey the experience in a more realistic way using live footage. If you use people in your video though, pay attention to casting, because sometimes using real people can evoke emotions that aren’t necessarily the ones you were With animation, my mantra is that “everything is possible”. With the right design you can really appeal to your target audience, create the precise brand image you want to project, and present technical information or data much more attractively.

As for budget considerations – creating a cutting edge video requires an investment regardless of which route you choose (live footage or animation), but when it comes to complex production, there’s no doubt that with animation you can get as many “actors”, “locations” and “virtual effects” as you want, for a lot less.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. My top tip for anyone considering creating an explainer video is “be focused”:
bullet-pink-20x10Make sure you showcase your product’s best features and unique selling points. The viewers’ attention span is practically nil so your video should present ONLY what’s important.
bullet-pink-20x10Create the video with an “audience-first” mindset.  This video is for your target audience, not for you, so everything from the concept and the script to the creative approach should be created with their preferences in mind (even if it’s different from your personal taste).

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Eitan chitayat
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Founder/Executive Creative Director @ natie
Eitan Chitayat, Founder/Executive Creative Director @ natie

Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. Our SmartPack animation was played immediately prior to presentations to potential investors, so its main goal was to arouse their interest and curiosity in the pitch they were about to hear. It’s essentially a “teaser” video.

Several elements contribute to the success of this animation.

bullet-pink-20x10The most important one is its visual style. It takes a topic that’s not exactly visually inspiring (workplace chaos and demands) and gives it strong visual appeal with its use of color and character animation. So an unpleasant topic becomes something the audience can truly enjoy watching.

bullet-pink-20x10At the 0:20 mark, packages begin dropping from conveyor belts above, requiring our beleaguered hero to catch them all. This is a great example of animation’s ability to effortlessly communicate all we need to know about a situation since it is able to speak in a kind of visual shorthand.

bullet-pink-20x10Finally, at around 0:37, we see another example of what animation can do especially well: give physical form to something intangible (in this case, software). This three-dimensional object can then be manipulated, passed from one character to another, etc. It can become an important character in the animation, and that’s something that is not easily done in film.

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. The decision whether to use video or animation should be determined primarily by the nature of your message. Animation is remarkably versatile and is suitable for almost any client. The main exception is for projects that derive their power from human imagery, as is often the case in health care, for example. In those instances, well-shot pictures of people are hard to beat. But even in health care, animation is extremely useful for training, product demos and countless other purposes.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. Remember not to dismiss animation because you’re thinking of it as “cartoons.” Yes, a colorful, fun, visually witty animation is irresistible to watch. But a talented animator and designer can develop a look and visual style appropriate for the most serious of messages. It’s a very effective vehicle.

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Nadav Arbel
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Q. What is the goal of this explainer video and what makes it effective?
A. The goal of the video was to introduce the company’s product Skyfence, to generate some interest around it and to convey some technical information about how it works.

The video works because:
bullet-pink-20x10We were able to write a script that specifically appeals to the target audience’s main concerns and interests
bullet-pink-20x10The script includes a description of the problems currently faced by the target audience and a relatively detailed solution offered by the product in just a little over 90 seconds.
bullet-pink-20x10The video opens with visuals that are strong enough to capture the audience’s attention in the first 15-20 seconds of the video (which is critical)
bullet-pink-20x10The use of humor makes a traditionally “dry” subject less “boring”, and in so doing it makes the company more memorable to its viewers
bullet-pink-20x10The video uses visuals that are in line with the company’s existing branding, which creates a seamless experience for the viewers

Q. In what situations would you recommend video versus animation and why? Is it just a budgetary consideration or are there other factors that should influence the decision?
A. Choosing an animated video over real footage isn’t always a budgetary consideration, as sometimes really sophisticated animations can be more expensive. The choice to use animation is often made because it’s actually easier to convey complicated ideas (especially in relation to tech or software products) – more simply. And by conveying the idea simply, we can also convey it faster, which is crucial since we are fighting to maintain the attention of the viewer from the moment they start watching.

Q. What other piece of advice (or “top tip”) would you offer startups/companies that are considering creating an explainer video for their business?
A. My best advice is to approach explainer videos as though they were movie trailers. They should be short enough so as not to reveal the “whole” story, but still generate curiosity and interest for the product. Also, remember that viewers are generally impatient, so as much as you would like to mention as much as you can about the product, you should only focus on a few, main points and make sure you finish with a compelling call to action.

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