How to Create and Promote Explainer Videos

social media how to Are how to videos part of your social marketing?

Are you looking for tips to improve the creation and promotion of your videos?

Explainer videos are a new trend in how to videos. They help your customers and promote your product or service.

In this article, you’ll find out what explainer videos are and how to use them in your marketing.

Why Explainer Videos?

Video is one of the most powerful forms of social media content. If you’re not sharing video, but your competitor is, then they have a persuasion tool you don’t. You need video if you want to get in the game, and explainer videos are an easy way to do that.

Explainer videos are exactly what they sound like. They’re short videos (ideally 60-90 seconds) that begin with a customer problem and end with the solution to that problem.

You can use explainer videos to introduce a new product, service or company, or even to clarify an exact problem and solution for people who need to see it to understand it.

Convertable uses explainer videos to show people exactly how their service can solve lead prioritizing issues.

In this article, you’ll find five tips about explainer videos that will get you moving in the right direction.

#1: Outline Your Explainer Video

In its most basic form, an explainer video has just two parts: problem and solution. But of course you need more than that to make it work. You need to get the viewer involved by creating a visual story. To create a visual story, you need to have an outline.

Creating anything is easier when you have an outline to work from. This is especially true of content creation, from ebooks to white papers to videos.

The video outline below is actually modeled on a proven storytelling framework and is a good place to start.

explainer video process

Use an outline to create a good story that hooks your audience.

As you flesh out your outline, create a character that draws people into the story, and then introduce relatable problems that your customer wants to solve—hook them by playing to their fears and worries so they can’t look away.

Next, make the solution look impressive. Show how your product or service fixes every one of the problems you exposed. Show what it feels like when those problems are solved. This puts the viewer in a positive frame of mind (and more likely to click over to your landing page and/or buy what you’re selling).

Finish with a clear call to action—Contact us! Buy from us! Download our ebook!—and provide contact details including your URL, links to downloads and your phone number.

When you’re done with your outline, write a true script. Having a script keeps you focused and helps you stay within your 60- to 90-second target.

#2: Make an Explainer Video

If you’ve been putting off making video content because it’s too expensive, I have some options for you. Some companies spend $5,000 to $10,000 to outsource a good online video. If you have the resources to do that, great! But many small businesses don’t, and that’s why the following tools are handy.

powtoon explainer templates

Powtoon has six templates for explainer videos, or you can create your own.

I like PowToon because you can create an animated video on your own, for free. I created my first one in just over an hour. The only catch is that there’s a short 2-second “Created with PowToon” announcement at the end.

GoAnimate is another option. It’s not free, but it’s only a few hundred dollars per year. They say you can make your first video in less than five minutes!

If you’re not interested in animation, try making a narrated PowerPoint video. The quality of this type of explainer video depends heavily on good graphics, a quality voiceover and the right music. In my opinion, though, it’s worth putting the time or money into one of the other options.

#3: Work With a Production Vendor

It’s fairly easy to find companies that create explainer videos for you, but evaluating those vendors is time-consuming. A few things to consider are the company’s process, the number (and quality) of examples they have and the price.

explainer video production houses list on quora

Quora has a good crowdsourced list of production houses to create explainer videos.

As you go through the process with your vendor, build flexibility into your plan. Creating a video (even a short one like an explainer video) can take two months or more.

The process usually goes like this: You (or the vendor) writes a script based on your outline, the vendor creates a storyboard, you give feedback, the vendor animates the storyboard, you give more feedback, and finally the vendor produces it.

I’ve found that it’s good to get input from your team or other stakeholders on the script and the storyboard. Just keep in mind you may have to keep everyone focused; people need to respond quickly to keep the project on track.

#4: Send Viewers to Your Landing Page

If you’re publishing your explainer video on YouTube, you can add annotated links to your video, but they can only link to other YouTube videos (which isn’t a bad thing if you have an established YouTube channel).

To drive people to your website like Lowe’s does (specifically a landing page that promotes your product), you can put an annotation in your video that shows your website address, but viewers can’t click it. They’ll have to type the URL into their browser.

lowes explainer video with cta

Lowe’s finishes their explainer videos with a call to action and link that drives traffic to a landing page.

If the URL is more than your domain name (e.g., www.yourdomain.com/promotions/landingpage), shorten it with bit.ly and customize it to something memorable. For example, we used http://bit.ly/myeasyoffice for a video we did for a client.

If you want to make it really easy for your audience, add a live link in the YouTube video’s description field. Place the link first in the description so it’s not cut off into a “See More” area.

What makes a good landing page for an explainer video viewer? Create a page that makes visitors feel they’re in the right place and tell them why they should contact you or give you their email address.

lowes explainer video landing page

This landing page for Lowe’s explainer video immediately lets viewers know they’re in the right place.

#5: Promote Your New Video

Naturally, you’ll want to promote your new explainer video to your owned media lists (e.g., email, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.).

The fastest way to be sure you get views on YouTube is to promote your video with YouTube pre-roll ads. These can be anywhere from $0.08 to $0.20 per view. A best practice is to create two targeting groups—one for topics (your video shows up as related to the video someone is currently watching) and one for interests (your video shows up as related to the video topics someone usually watches).

lowes explainer video on facebook

This Lowe’s explainer video generated 134 shares in 6 days.

You may also want to try Facebook ads to promote your explainer videos. When you share your video in a Facebook status update, you can promote that post to reach more of your audience.

Conceive, create and distribute.

That’s all there is to it. Go forth, make your video and when you post it, tell me so I can check it out!

What do you think? Have you used explainer videos for your product or service? How did your audience respond? Leave us your comments below.

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About the Author, Brian Carter

Brian Carter is author of the books The Like Economy and LinkedIn For Business, Brian has been marketing online since 1999. He speaks, consults, and is VP of Marketing for Infinigraph. Other posts by »




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  • Michael Kelberer

    Nice How-to. Bet this would work great for non-fiction writers too!

  • redcrew

    Thank you for the outlining the steps for creating how-to explainer videos. I know I’ve benefited from many how-to videos in my work. I’m surprised there’s no mention of adding transcripts to the videos. By adding transcripts, Google can index the content in the video. Which means more people who are searching for that content can find it. Once you have transcripts, captions can be easily added on YouTube and Vimeo.

  • http://entrebond.com Blake Schreckhise

    I have seen these explainer vids before, and I think it would definitely be a good thing to get into. Especially since most people are curious to see how a problem is solved even if they don’t personally have that problem!

  • http://briancarteryeah.com/ briancarter

    Not a bad idea, but YouTube has been able to transcribe videos itself for years (although they don’t show it), and a lot of people believe that’s already used in ranking them, even if you don’t add a transcript to the description. I prefer to use the description for a link they can us to get to the company website- you can do both but I put the link at the top of the description. :-)

  • redcrew

    Yes, YouTube does have automatic transcriptions, and they are getting better. But they’re not perfect. Based on my own experience with YouTube videos and transcripts, unless the person speaks clearly or is a professional actor, the automatic transcription will misinterpret many words. Google doesn’t index automatic transcripts, due to the high number of errors. If you’ve already created your transcript, why not upload it to YouTube? Adding the transcript allows search engines to index all the content, including content for long tail searches. And it provides people who are hard of hearing or deaf the opportunity to access your video.

  • http://briancarteryeah.com/ briancarter

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear- I was agreeing with you! :-)

  • redcrew

    My mistake. Sorry for the confusion! :)

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  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    Thanks Brian – This has been on my list. I think we all need one on SlideShare/LinkedIn, as well as our primary website. Also, happy we had a chance to meet at SMMW14 – just before Bryan Kramer’s session I think. :)

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Great point! Thanks for sharing! I’d probably find the transcripts useful in explainer videos too.

  • 4Tom Vinciguerra

    Hi Brian,

    Very handy article as I’m in the process of scripting an explainer video as we speak.Thanks!

    Do you know if there are benefits to using YouTube versus other platforms (e.g. Vimeo)? It seems a lot of the explainer vids I see use Vimeo. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

    keep up the great work

    Tom

  • http://www.videocartoons.com/svglibrary David Bradley

    At VideoCartoons, we believe you need a really clear handle on your ideal viewers. If you understand their hopes, worst fears and their circumstances they’re wanting to change, you can then craft your script to hit them squarely between the eyes. Fail in this challenge, and you’ll be wasting your video dollars (IMHO).

  • http://convertable.com Patrick Smith

    Hi Brian,

    Great article and thanks for featuring the Convertable video! We used PowToon and it’s a very easy-to-use service to quickly create a cool little animated video for an affordable price. We’d recommend PowToon to anyone.

    - Patrick, Convertable.com co-founder

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Great post. I learned about Powtoon and GoAnimate because of the depth of your how-to post. Thank you for this post.







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