We all know first impressions matter, but did you know that for most people it comes down to a fraction of a second? According to the New York Times, if a video fails to load in less than 0.4 seconds, we generally click away. Subconsciously — and then in practice — there’s little room for error online these days.
That means that the short explainer video you use to greet new customers is vastly important—and if it’s not a home run, you may be losing a good amount of potential business. So what’s the difference between a great video and a bad one? Does it mean spending thousands on a top-tier video company? Does it mean breaking the bank for a beautiful actress and allegedly hip writers?
No. It doesn’t. All it takes is a little planning, some wisdom, and the desire to do it right. Here are seven steps you can take that are sure to produce the winning explainer video you need to get customers on board.
Create a Strategy
You know the five W’s: Who, what, when, where, and why? Your strategy is basically answering those questions. Some call it a creative brief. The idea is that you’re gathering as much information on your potential viewers and your purpose as possible. It’s the foundation for everything else you do with your video.
Once you answer those questions, you have a clear path, and a roadmap that you can always return to. The devil is in the details, but when you have a plan for the full picture, it can make those biting decisions far simpler.
Strip Your Script Bare
According to TheNextWeb, your video should be “as short as possible.” Realistically, your explainer should land somewhere between 0:45-0:90. Why? Because that’s all people are really going to watch.
While in theory it’s nice to think that viewers are going to watch your ten-minute video that explains each detail of your product—leaving them completely sold—that’s just not the case. People want information quickly, so you need to focus on the essentials.
The best way to do that is to first write out everything you want in your video without focusing on the length. Then, strip out every non-essential word you can until it fits into a neat package that you can be proud of. Just make sure that you can still keep the tone fairly conversational.
Keep Things Moving
Whether you’re going for the single-shot approach, a text-based video, or animation, make sure to keep things moving. In the same way that nobody wants to read a huge block of text, no one wants to listen to a monotone narrator read a 90-second-long sentence.
Bring up new images on screen every few seconds, add visually stimulation subtitles or captions. Don’t give viewers an excuse to grow bored.
Be a Little Quirky
There’s nothing wrong with a little personality. Whether you’re an iconic author like Kurt Vonnegut or a priest at Sunday mass, everyone appreciates when personality and humor glimmer through—even just for a second.
When you’re writing your script, casting your narrator, or creating your visuals, don’t be afraid to show your viewers your true humor. You’re selling them on your business and product, so make sure they don’t get the impression that that business is dry as a bone.
Trust a Pro
No, you should not be using your iPhone to film your explainer video—unless of course you’re Spike Jonze filming Kanye West’s latest. Even renting equipment for the day can make all the difference in the world without destroying your budget.
Make sure that your sound is clean, the picture is solid, and there’ no evidence that this was all made in someone’s basement. While it may seem crazy to pay for a voice actor, it’s important to understand that amateur sound-quality can be a major turnoff, as well as a red flag.
Cutting corners on voice talent is not going to communicate the professional level you’re trying to achieve.
Find a Quality Player
It’s important to keep in mind that viewers don’t have a whole lot of patience when it comes to consuming information.
People may be watching your explainer video from their brand new MacBook, or they may be watching it on a phone, public computer, or smart TV. It’s important that you host your video on a player that is cross-platform friendly that can deliver the video with ease.
If people are having a hard time loading your explainer, they’re probably not going to go to very great lengths to make sure they watch it. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your video is accessible. Otherwise you’ll have lost them before the video ever started.
Make a Sale
At the end of the day, you’re trying to show them why your product, site, or service is worth their time. A great sale isn’t always a hard sale, but it’s about you representing your best. If you can do that with flair: great. If you’re more comfortable with simplicity, that’s fine too. Keep in mind that just because the user is currently on your site watching a video doesn’t mean that you can’t use other conversion methods to make the sale.
What’s important is that you know your customer, and meet them where they’re at. If you can understand that, making an explainer video will be a piece of cake. Just know that it takes time and patience, even when the end product is only 90 seconds.