How can I use explainer videos to convert more prospects into buyers?

How can I use explainer videos to convert more prospects into buyers?


How can I use explainer videos to convert more prospects into buyers?

Many entrepreneurs face a similar situation: They’re start-ups with great ideas, but they’re struggling to get potential clients to pay attention to them, or to understand what they have to offer. The answer to this problem could lie in the explainer video, and here’s why.

A goldfish has a nine second attention span. In 2000, the human race could, fortunately, beat that figure by four seconds. Information overload has dragged that number down to the point where, in 2013, the humble guppy began to lead the race by one second, leaving businesses with a measly eight seconds to grasp their website visitors’ interest.

The Internet is crammed with enough text to weigh even the smartest koi down, let alone human readers, but the solution to these challenging conditions is simpler than you might expect.

While visitors tend to stay on a text-based site for four seconds, they are willing to dedicate 2.7 minutes to an Internet video. It is this trend that has motivated the dramatic rise of the explainer video, the short and seemingly simple solution that the world’s business leaders are using to drive drastic profit-hikes.

Explainer videos for start-ups

As the world’s most prominent businesses began to launch explainer videos en mass in 2012, conversion rates began to soar by 51%. With 52% of consumers claiming that explainer videos increase their confidence in products, it’s surprising that the concept didn’t catch on sooner.

Videos can cram data that would need 1.8 million words (3600 web pages) to communicate into one minute of animated visuals. This is never as crucial as it is for start-ups, who need to put forward a vivid brand concept that has never been heard of before.

Standing in the shadow of giants

Online engagement has overtaken virality as the holy grail of digital marketing. In the past, marketers tried to tap into what made those bossy kid and cute cat videos go viral. The result was a plethora of poorly targeted campaign videos and images, some of which received millions of viewers, but few of which led to actual sales.

By overlooking marketing 101’s primary directive to appeal to a defined group of consumers, businesses spent millions on popularity contests that did everything except market. In 2014, marketers are looking past viral campaigns to engage their target demographics more pointedly.

Online thought leaders such as Dropbox and Microsoft have demonstrated how a well-targeted explainer video can hit the bull’s eye without obliterating budgets.  The original Dropbox explainer in particular is worth a watch.

The Steve Jobs rule

Steve Jobs used to decline invitations to view PowerPoint presentations. He wanted one simple question to be answered: “What do you want?” When he gave his much celebrated speeches, his title was always a maximum of 140 characters long.

In Dropbox and Microsoft Skydrive explainer videos, the Jobs Principle comes to life: Simple animated gifs illustrate the message without drawing focus away from the primary message. Jobs’ ‘What do you want’ question becomes ‘how can you possibly live without us?’

The Dropbox Principle


Drew Houston’s Dropbox and Steve Jobs have a more contentious link. Once upon a time, when the world’s hottest digital storage service was the world’s saddest digital storage service, Jobs waved Houston’s concept away, calling it a feature rather than a product. Since then, the cloud service has risen to draw more profits per employee than Google does, becoming one of the Apple founder’s direst rejections.

Houston’s problem with his start-up was that he didn’t know how to demonstrate it to consumers. His solution was to create an explainer video for the Dropbox home page: One that was targeted, funny, and engaging enough to draw an initial 70 000 users. By focusing every visitor’s attention on the explainer video, Dropbox was able to get more people to watch and learn how the service worked.

This led to more sign ups because more people actually understood how Dropbox would help them. Five years later, Dropbox has well over 100 million users and the same explainer video on its home page is still its main marketing weapon. In essence, what the explainer did was turn what appeared to Jobs to be nothing more than an application into a value-adding product.

This, again, takes marketers back to an age before computers could network, when campaigns needed to define a brand concept before choosing a strategy. Jobs told Houston that he had to ‘learn how to be big.’ Explainer videos are tools capable of communicating ‘bigness’ in less than 3600 webpages.

Back to basics

Explainer videos are taking start-ups back to the concepts that they’d learn at Harvard Startup Marketing Bootcamp.

These firecracker tactics lead entrepreneurs through the most potent techniques available to them, forcing them to focus on a core process that will push them forward in minimal time.

If you have a business website and products or services you need to explain, a simple, to-the-point, explainer video can help hook potential website customers and get them buying with a direct value proposition that actually explains how you can help them.

Lana Hindmarch
Lana Hindmarch is the MD of HolyCow, a video and creative agency that helps companies explain what they do. Over the past 12 years, HolyCow has made over 300 videos for more than 200 companies, across the globe. Lana' draws on her 15 years' experience in the Marketing and Video Industry to deliver on the communication and business objectives of both Blue Chips and Start-ups. Contact; LinkedIn