November 10th, 2023

Best explainer practices to bridge the gaps

Christian Heerde

Imagine you find yourself opening an entertaining video on youtube. You are curious about the story that will be presented to you in just a moment. But on starting the video, you are greeted by an  explainer video ad on a completely different context: “Hey, this is Tom. Tom is a software engineer…”

Your gut is cringing, and you can see yourself rolling up your eyes. Whoever got the idea, to get on the radar of people with this content in this moment of time, should be sent to the moon.

Now, imagine yourself being interested in a certain service, and you want to gain clarity about it. You start up your search engine to educate yourself about service providers, compare them and learn about how things work. An explainer video in this situation is a treasure tool. It bridges the gap of getting potentially interested leads further down to the conversion phase of the sale.

Especially at this point, some companies understand the role of an explainer video wrong. In many cases, marketing departments expect that a single video can get their potential leads from unaware straight down to conversion. They think the video will create interest among potential leads, sending them right away to the homepage. With this assumption, explainer videos end up as ads on YouTube.

Taking a closer look at human buying processes, we undertsand that an explainer video is not positioned well at the awareness phase of the funnel. Let me embark on that: Explainers are usually not the most entertaining deliverables in marketing. Placing them at the first position of our communication strategy, will be understood as pushy, and might result in negative effects. Instead it is necessary to pay attention to the state in which a potential lead is being situated in, at the very moment they take notice of our brand.

Explainer videos ...

  • bridge the gap between awareness and conversion

  • are best suited for the consideration phase

  • are a tool to lower buying resistance on behalf of the interested

  • show a transformation that the potential customer desires

  • position ourselves as the expert and the potential client as the hero of the story

1. Entertainment:

The emotional states of your potential client is a critical guide for successful marketing strategies. We cannot enter the sales-funnel (e.g. YouTube ad) with educational communication material. First, we have to entertain our audience and make them aware, that we (and our products) exist.

There are no enumerations of product features at this state of the process. We can not blurt things out, eat cold spaghetti or have intercourse without foreplay. Short, emotional stories, strong visuals and empathic messages are best practices to warm things up.

In summary: Entertainment is the hook, that pulls the potential client in.

2. Consideration:

As soon as we successfully gained their attention, we need to educate and inspire our potentially interested. The buying cycle is a process of change, happening with defined steps that are psychologically driven.

In this phase we evolve from an entertainer to an inspiring expert. We demonstrate to the potential client that the change they seek is possible and that we can lead the way. This is the best place for educational material like explainer videos.

In summary: Education shows the transformation, that the client seeks.

3. Conversion:

The grand finale. Our potential client has arrived at the thought that our solution sounds really great. He is ready to buy but needs to be pushed a little further.

As well-educated experts in the field of psychology, we know that we have to give assurance now. We have to higher the stakes, compel them to make the step and if necessary, wave a clear offering in front of their nose.

In summary: Conversion is about a clear but limited offering of your helping hand.

A good explainer strategy looks something like this:

1. The first 6 seconds of your explainer are critical. Your most important message should hit at this point. And ideally it can be understood without any sound

2. Your explainer contains your best performing and already tested messages

3. Clear benefits and outcomes always win out features. Your explainer uses a clear story formula and focuses the script around the client, and how your solution positively impacts her situation.

4. The last 6 seconds of your explainer are critical. What feeling will your audience leave the video with? End with a cliffhanger: the transformation of the potential client. This is the desired new reality your audience came here for in the first place

5. Have a clear call to action at the end of the video

6. Without a dedicated sales landing page, the explainer will not be effective. The video itself is not doing the conversion-part of your sales pipeline

7. Explainers with more than 2 minutes, wont be watched in full. An exception of that rule are internal communication videos

8. One explainer alone will not work effectively. It needs to be accompanied by entertaining video ads and conversion video bumpers to get potential clients through the pipeline. Every phase of the sales funnel needs specifically dedicated tools

9. Take a systemic approach and use all assets from your explainer in the following ways:

  • Take existing visuals and animations and create one or more short attention grabbing versions to position them at the awareness state of the sales pipeline (e.g. social media)

  • Do the same for the conversion phase and create very short videos (max. 6 Seconds). Integrate your strongest message with a clear offering here. Show this video to already interested leads

  • Limit your offer (with a limited availability, spots to fill, amounts to take)

  • Use assets of your explainer like visuals, images, illustrations and audio to create content for social media posts, blogs, radio spots, podcast ads, landing pages and even printed material if necessary

  • Create different formats of the visual assets like 16:9, 9:16, square-formats, etc. and use them as ads and posts on social media and other channels. If possible, change perspectives (with 3D material) and built a visual library of your assets

To summarize:

Don’t just create one explainer and leave its assets on the table. Your explainer needs a campaign to be effective.

I hope this article was of any help for your future advances. Feel free to contact me, if you have any feedback, or share your experiences.

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