7 Ingredients for an Awesome Explainer Video

Jack Knopfler on Content Marketing

It’s pretty difficult to get people to pay attention to your brand in the digital age.

In a recent study by Microsoft, it was concluded that the average human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish (8 seconds to be precise)!

In regards to landing page optimization, this trend is particularly poignant.

With only 8 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, having an ambiguous, unclear or unaesthetic landing page can be extremely costly. Adding a succinct, informative explainer video can improve conversions by as much as 86%, but effective explainer videos don’t just happen.

A good explainer video uses powerful imagery and an engaging story to convey the key facets of a business, product, service or technological process.

From the scriptwriting to the animation to the audio mixing, the recipe for creating your explainer video is complex.

But if you include these seven key ingredients, you’ll have all the makings for drastically improved conversions.

Ingredient #1: Compelling Script

In order to create a compelling script, it’s essential to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and then reverse engineer something that they’d love to see. Think about the desires, ambitions and problems that your customers have, and try to write a script that addresses them.

While you may want to write your script yourself, you’re likely to find more success by using a writer who specializes in video scripts.

When you hire a professional, you can convey the key information about your business, your clients and what you want to achieve with your video, then they can go away and produce something masterful for you.

A couple of rounds of revisions to get things right is normally required, but the more you’re able to communicate at the beginning, the better your end result will be. Your scriptwriter isn’t a mind reader, so don’t leave out any details which are obvious to you but might not be to him or her!

A good script should:

  • Explain the problem(s) your customers are facing
  • Introduce your solution
  • Showcase how it can benefit their lives (benefits are much more important than features!)
  • Wrap the video up with a positive ending for your customer and a call-to-action (CTA)

While this may seem like a formulaic approach, a talented writer will be able to infuse some creative flair into the story, which will help viewers feel engaged, not like they’re being sold to.

Ingredient #2: Beautiful Visuals

Writers will tell you that the script is the most important component of an explainer video, but there’s no denying that visuals also play a crucial role.

You can make an effective explainer video using generic, cartoonish visuals, or custom artistic images, but visual style should be a deliberate choice.

The style of the visuals should always depend on the company, industry and product or service they address. A lighthearted, comedic video for a serious or artistic product is a terrible mismatch and vice versa.

For instance, Kraken Rum promotes their product using a series of videos that features dark hues and a mesmerizing artistic, illustrative style. A generic animation style with balloon-headed characters would not have received anywhere near the same level of engagement on social media.

There are 90s video game style explainer videos, comic book style explainer videos and even explainer videos that are deliberately badly drawn to make an ironic statement!

Creating an explainer video with a distinct visual style will really help you to stand out, particularly if your competitors have videos which look highly generic.

Ingredient #3: Succinct Length

Typically, an effective explainer video is between 30 seconds and two and a half minutes.

People lose attention quickly, so the shorter your video is, the better.

Since you know your business intimately, you probably have lots to say about it, but remember that the video is for your customers, not you!

Aim to get your key points across and encourage your visitors to take action, but don’t waste any more time than necessary.

When you’re looking to make a script more succinct, ask yourself what parts really deliver value to your audience and which ones you can live without. Remove anything that doesn’t propel the story or impart key information to your audience.

Although it can be heart-wrenching to remove parts of your script that you love, you can ease the pain by remembering that shorter videos are less expensive to produce.

Ingredient #4:  Professional Voice Acting

There are great sites such as Voices and VoiceBunny where you can find professional voice actors. You may also have good luck with more general freelancing sites such as Upwork and Freelancer.

When posting a job for voice actors to bid on, always specify the tone and delivery for the performance (lighthearted, comedic, epic, corporate and so forth).

Although it’s wise to give your voice actor enough room to impart their own creativity on the project, aim to provide very precise, detailed instructions about the project.

Avoid ambiguity at all costs.

A professional voice actor should have a comprehensive portfolio, ideally featuring a selection of different styles and tones.

While it’s important to look out for a voice actor who can deliver a captivating performance, audio quality is also crucial.

Any clicks and pops in your voice actor’s portfolio is a definite red flag. If your voice actor sounds like they are recording their audio using a $10 microphone that came free with their laptop, avoid them!

While an expert audio engineer can make a mediocre recording sound good, it’s best to start with something high quality to begin with.

Ingredient #5: Original Music

Avoid generic elevator music at all costs!

If your music sounds like it was taken from a stock library rather than composed specifically for the project, this is a bad sign.

It’s best to hire a professional producer who can tailor the music to the narrative of the video. With original music, key parts of the story can be emphasized and you can really help to drive home the conclusion (where your awesome product saves the day).

It is impossible to convey progression if your music is a mundane, four-bar loop, no matter how great your script and voice acting is. Although it costs a bit more, original music will add a level of sophistication that simply can’t be matched.

Ingredient #6: Professional Mixing

If the music and the vocals don’t compliment one another, this can come across as very unprofessional.

The most obvious mistake that many companies make during mixing is making the music too loud or too quiet in relation to the vocals. However, there is much more to mixing an explainer video audio track than just matching volume.

A good engineer may EQ the vocals and add some compression to keep them sounding consistent and impactful.

Some light reverb can be added in order to emphasize specific points and build atmosphere. Ambient sounds and other effects can also be added in order to create a truly engaging video.

A good audio track should sound good on headphones, laptop speakers and larger speakers – this is a fine art that a good audio engineer will have mastered.

Many explainer videos sound as if the voice over was simply dropped on top of the music and then the volume was adjusted – and that’s it! Don’t fall into this trap.

Audio engineering is just as important as the music and the voice acting, yet it’s often overlooked.

Ingredient #7: The X-Factor

Put simply, the “X-factor” is the difference between a moderately effective video and a viral sensation.

A video can be special for a variety of reasons; perhaps your script is insanely funny or you used a particularly creative concept to promote a topic which is normally mundane.

A unique style of visual animation can also work in your favor, as can a voice actor who really delivers a truly captivating performance.

If you want your video to not only explain your products and services but to also work for you as a content marketing tool, think about the ways in which you can stand out from your competitors and deliver something stunningly unique!

As marketing guru Seth Godin says:

“You don’t get unboring for free. Remarkable costs time and money and effort, but most of all, remarkable costs a willingness to be wrong.”

Jack Knopfler is the Lead Content Editor at Mammoth Infographics. He has a background in digital marketing and has helped clients in a range of industries to improve their presence online.