Explainer Videos – how to use them effectively

Posted by | February 14, 2013 | Digital Marketing | One Comment

How to use explainer videos.

Explainer videos take a brands product/service and explain clearly to the viewer the benefits. We find that the explainer videos that work really well, are ones that present the ‘problem’ (building empathy) and then show you how your product/service solves the ‘problem’. They don’t list a whole load of features, they tell a story.

Google use them, Dropbox use them and we use them. Oh and Yodelay use them.


A well thought out explainer video can be one of the most powerful ways to grow your business.

They also offer a level of ‘detachment’

Usually seen as a bad thing, detachment can offer some rather unique benefits. Unlike a ‘interview’ style corporate video, where people being people, will judge whoever is on camera. Even down to whether they like their tie (by which point they’ve stopped listening to what they are saying), explainer animations show things in a different way.

With explainer videos, it is easier to get across the message you want to portray without other unwanted distractions. That being said, the ‘message’ within your explainer animation needs to be spot on.

The story of Dropbox and explainer videos

Dropbox ran a failed campaign using Adwords. This cost them as much as £245 ($388) per new customer acquisition  Dropbox’s product price tag was £62 ($99), so not exactly a profitable campaign! Until, about 5 years ago, Dropbox decided to strip everything back and create a site with only two main elements:

1. An explainer video

2. A Download button


The explainer animation showed how Dropbox could benefit the lives of their uses and this significantly increased their conversion rates. Despite there being lots of similar services competing with Dropbox, they become what they are today. A very successful company. We use it on a daily basis and love it, which means others probably do too. This obviously would of had a big bearing on their success!

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Here are some interesting video statistics

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The rise of the explainer video

More businesses than ever are jumping on the band wagon and you can see why. There are case studies after case studies documenting success. Crazy Egg recorded an increase to their income by over £13,000 ($21,000) a month. Visual.ly had over 80,00 signups from an explainer video they produced. Dig about and you’ll find plenty more.


Points to think about when producing an explainer video

1. Tell a story in a structured way. Start with the problem and build empathy, then show them the ‘benefits’ they will get with your product/service. Write the script first to make sure all your key points are included and then think about how to present this information creatively.

2. Be creative and literal. This way you will tick the boxes for people that need to be entertained while listing to your message and those that need to see things literally to fully understand the benefits.

3. Choose an excellent Voice Over artist and direct them to get just the right tone. People will be less receptive to your explainer animation if they don’t like the Voice Over than if the animation/illustrations don’t quite do it for them. For some reason people are far more sensitive to sound than they are visuals. This goes for film too.

4. Set yourself targets and measure your ROI. Make a note of the conversion and sign-up rates you currently get and then make direct comparisons when you release the video. Also look at the analytics in YouTube (we’d recommend hosting it there) and see which bits people are going back to re-watch (audience retention).


About Oliver Lawer

  • Chris Johnson

    Congrats on 15mm pageviews!