explainer-videoIf a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth infinitely more. We tend to retain more of what we see and hear, as opposed to merely what we read. Bonus: in the age of social media, videos are inherently shareable.

Explainer videos – informative videos that showcase your product or service and highlight its benefits – are a great way to communicate your message clearly and quickly. Plus, videos boost conversion rates, time spent on site, and SERP rankings. It’s no surprise more and more companies are making use of explainer videos to drive sales.

But like many other things in life, explainer videos only work when they’re well executed; a poorly-done video screams ‘amateur’. Here are a few pro tips.

Creating your explainer video

An explainer video essentially acts as an introduction to your brand, so it’s important to get the ‘voice’ right and ensure it sets a tone that’s consistent across your website and all other communications.

It’s vital to get to the point and hook viewers right from the start. For example, you could do that by focusing on a character (fictional or real), introducing a problem s/he faces, and explaining how you solve it. The ‘problem-solution’ script is a tried and true format, but if you understand the conventions involved, then it can be just as effective (if not more so) to deliberately break them and subvert expectations.

Videos struggle to retain viewer interest beyond about a minute, so keep it short, simple, personal, and finish with a call to action. Make sure it’s more than a simple walk-through. Step into the shoes of your customer – bells and whistles are great, but more importantly, how do those features benefit users? Outline the pain point your product/service solves. While you could no doubt go on about this for hours, you’ll quickly lose people if you don’t prioritize your key messages. Focus on a handful of the most important points – enough to pique the viewer’s interest, while answering any obvious questions – and then let users explore further of their own accord.

Your storyboard and script are the basis of your explainer video and will determine its success. This is not a process that should be rushed. Marketing powerhouses like Seth Godin are huge advocates of the power of storytelling is far more more memorable than an information dump. Videos that evoke emotion have infinitely more impact. The holy grail is to induce a physical reaction, be it laughter, tears, or goosebumps. Think about how this applies in your case. What emotions do you want to appeal to in your audience? How will they feel after trying out your product?

Placement of your explainer video

For maximum exposure, place your explainer video above the fold on your homepage and key landing pages (many people won’t scroll down below that). Display a prominent ‘play’ button on it, select an appealing thumbnail image, and consider adding a company logo or watermark for enhanced brand awareness.

But whether you choose to embed the explainer video on the page or place it within a lightbox – a lightbox player will encourage viewers’ full attention, but block out the rest of the page – resist the urge to set it to auto-play. It’s a huge pet peeve for most users.

Promoting and distributing your explainer video

Obviously, you should be sharing your explainer video through all your social channels. You’ll want to upload it to the likes of YouTube and Vimeo, making sure to add a descriptive title (ideally including company and product name), blurb (with a link back to your website), and relevant tags. Consider including it in other company communications: email newsletters, sales pitches, presentations, at events or trade shows, media kits, and other relevant brand collateral.

When it comes to wider distribution, getting eyeballs on your video can be achieved though either earned or paid media. As any marketer will tell you, the former is much more valuable, and it’s what you should aspire to by creating quality, shareable content that just might go viral. Where is your target audience hanging out online? Niche sites tend to drive targeted traffic (and if it’s through advertising, often at a reasonably cheap rate).

Social networks Reddit, Stumbleupon, and YouTube enjoy massive traffic and can yield clicks for as low as a few cents each. YouTube’s Promoted Videos feature will place your video alongside relevant search results. If you go down this path, bear in mind that you only have a couple of seconds to capture attention, so craft an enticing headline and image that will encourage click-throughs.

Paid placements can and should be complemented with outreach to related blogs as well. Ideally, you’ll have already cultivated relationships with relevant media (think quality, not quantity). If not, it’s time to identify some in your niche and target each one with a personalised pitch.

In summary

The best explainer videos are clear, compelling, and above all, tell a story. Explainer videos are quickly gaining popularity, and for good reason – there are few better ways to boost sales and articulate what you have to offer customers. So what are you waiting for? Start creating your explainer video today.