Explainer Videos: The Step-By-Step Guide to Making Them on A Budget

Dale Cudmore
Last Updated on September 19, 2019
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You’ve figured out how to get traffic to your landing page, but now you have a new problem:

Those visitors aren’t turning into subscribers or customers.

If you’re getting zero interest after hundreds of visitors, either your traffic isn’t targeted well, or your offer isn’t optimal.

However, if you’re getting at least some interest, chances are that you need to improve the clarity and attractiveness of your offer. In marketing terms, you need to do some conversion rate optimization.

Thinking of Making an Explainer Video?

One of the best ways to see an instant boost in conversion is to add an explainer video to your landing page.

Customers are 4 times more likely to watch an explainer video than read about a product. It gives you a chance to highlight the features of your offer and answer questions.

The only problem is that explainer videos can be expensive to create. Large companies pay thousands of dollars for videos that are 1-2 minutes long, and they can take months to produce.

Obviously, most small businesses can’t afford that.

I’m going to show you how to make an effective explainer video and how to do it relatively quickly. The best part? I’ll show you how to do it without spending thousands of dollars.

Why Your Business Should Have an Explainer Video

Before you invest too much time into creating a video, you need one thing: traffic. You need at least a few hundred visitors to your landing page per week to justify putting resources into creating an explainer video.

Let’s look at why you need more traffic before investing in video:

  • If you’re getting five sales a week, a video might help you get ten sales. Depending on the price of your product, that’s not a big enough boost to justify the time and cost investment in a video.
  • However, if you’re making 50 sales per week, and a video helps you double it to 100, then it’s worth your time.

Case Studies: Boosting Conversions and Revenue

Let’s look at some real-world examples of what explainer videos can do.

When CrazyEgg added an explainer video to their home page, it increased conversion rates by 64% and boosted revenue by $21,000 per month, according to Demo Duck, creators of the video.

Watch Crazy Egg’s explainer video.

MyVR, a vacation rental management company, saw a 34% increase in trial signups with their explainer video.

Four Types of Explainer Videos

Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating an explainer video? Don’t worry, we’ll take you step-by-step and through the important areas.

While the script and execution are very important, you must first decide which type of video you’d like to make.

We’ve broken the types down into four categories:

  • Animation
  • Whiteboard
  • Product demonstration
  • Live action.

Any of these types can be effective, but you should pick the video type that best fits your offer or industry.

Animation

Animation videos are popular. You can opt for a 2D or 3D video, but 3D is more expensive.

Video: Example of a 2D animation explainer video

Whiteboard

You’ve likely seen whiteboard videos many times before. They consist of a plain white background, with content seemingly being drawn on the screen with a marker.

Although this technique is animated, the popularity of whiteboard videos deserves its own category.

Video: Example of a whiteboard explainer video

Product Demo

Research shows that 80% of consumers think that demo videos are helpful when making purchasing decisions.

If the selling points for your product are best seen in use, a demo is likely the best type of explainer video for you. Although you could animate your product, nothing beats seeing it being used by an actual person.

Amazon Go Video: Example of product demo explainer video

Live Action

Live action videos focus on people. Your video could feature you, your employees, or your customers.

Here are some of the most common live action explainer video premises:

  • A customer giving a testimonial of their experience
  • A founder talking about why they created the product
  • A tour of the manufacturing facility

It’s essentially a short skit, so you’re only limited by your creativity. The most important part is to include something that demonstrates the value of your product.

Dollar Shave Club Video: Example of a product demo video which helped launch a product.

The 8 Most Important Parts of an Explainer Video

Although it’s impossible to cover in-depth all aspects of an explainer video, there are some elements that all good explainer videos have in common.

  1. An effective script – Imagery can help you make points about your product, but the text is what converts viewers.
  2. An introduction slide with a value proposition – Make your company and product clear right away. State your most appealing value proposition upfront to intrigue viewers into watching the entire video.
  3. Expand on the pain – Your product solves a pain that the viewer experiences. By quickly expanding on the problem you can show that you understand it. It also gets the watcher in the right mindset.
  4. A clear difference – Make it clear why your product is the unique or best solution to the stated problem.
  5. Explain your features – Imagery can show your product in action, whether live or with animation, and highlight the value you’re offering.
  6. Tackle objections – Address common hurdles to buying your product. If people say it’s too expensive, mention  your free trial offer or refund policy and encourage viewers to see the results risk-free.
  7. Ask for the sale with a CTA – To get people from passively watching a video to taking action requires you have to supply a trigger. Use a call to action (CTA) to guide them toward the easiest way to purchase or sign up for your offer.
  8. Remove doubts with social proof – If celebrities or influencers buy your product, make them known. Testimonials or case studies from happy customers will alleviate skepticism or hesitation from potential customers.

Your video doesn’t necessarily need to be short. Although I advise keeping your video under 2 minutes for production costs, viewers are typically happy to watch longer videos if they’re engaged.

Research shows that about 65% of viewers will stay through more than three quarters of a video.

How to Make an Explainer Video for Cheap

Before we dive into our step-by-step guide, a word of advice: keep your expectations realistic.

The video examples we linked above cost thousands of dollars to make. Our goal is to help you create a video that costs a few hundred dollars or less, so the quality will be different.

Video can still improve your conversion rates, but be realistic about your ability to mimic the case studies mentioned before.

Step #1 – Write the Script

You can save money and create the best video possible with this advice: Write your own script.

You should write the script yourself regardless of whether you can afford to hire a writer. No one knows your product and your customers as well as you do. The more the message in the script resonates with viewers, the better your conversion rates will be.

Make sure your script contains the elements we outlined above. If you need help getting started, begin with answering these questions:

  • What is the best benefit that your product offers?
  • What pains or problems does your product solve? Order by severity.
  • How does your product fix these products (e.g. features)?
  • What objections do customers have before buying your product?
  • Do you have any offers (e.g. free trial), testimonials, or case studies you can highlight?

If you can answer those questions, you’ve written your script.

Step #2 – Create a Storyboard

Now that you have the text finished, you need to pair it with images. A storyboard helps to map the flow of your ideas. You can think of it like a PowerPoint presentation.

Video: How to create a storyboard using sticky notes. No art skills required.

Your storyboard doesn’t have to be pretty, you’re just trying to figure out how the video will generally look. If you would like a more professional storyboard, you can use a tool like Boords or Canva to make it easier.

After that, the last step is to make the video.

Step #3 – Make the Video

Depending on your budget, your technical skills, and your interest level, you have 2 options. Either will do.

Hire Freelancers

The best way to find freelancers that small businesses can afford is to heed this advice:

  • Avoid the cheapest animators who might have little experience or language proficiency
  • Avoid top tier freelancers who charge hundreds of dollars per hour.
  • You’ll typically want to avoid agencies as well, as they are more expensive and deliver slower.

One place to find good freelancers is Upwork, which showcases video animators with a wide range of quality and prices.

upwork freelancers

If you opt for a narrator to read your script your video (as opposed to using only text), you’ll need to hire a voice actor first. You can find voiceover specialists on Upwork as well.

After you’ve hired a video producer or animator, you can send them your storyboard and your script. You’ll want to meet with them to walk through the script together.

If all goes well, you’ll have a solid video back in a few weeks.

DIY With Video Creation Tools

If you don’t want to hire a freelancer to create your video, you can do it yourself with online tools that serve this purpose.

I’ve used several different video creation tools. I’d recommend PowToon to start with. If it doesn’t suit your needs, try RawShorts or Animaker.

To remove branding watermarks and get access to all features, you’ll need to purchase a paid plan. Usually the fees for these plans are well within reach of most small business budgets.

Using PowToon

By far the easiest way by to create a video is with PowToon, using one of their pre-made templates.

powtoon templates

PowToon has many templates to choose from, so chances are you can find one appropriate for your product or offer.

basic template

The editor itself looks a lot like powerpoint. The difference is that the slides are animated. You can preview the video at any time using the play button at the bottom.

Just replace the text and objects in the template with appropriate ones for your video.

drag and drop editor

I found PowToon’s drag-and-drop editor to be easy to use. You can use the timeline at the bottom to determine when objects appear in the animation.

I will warn you that there is a pretty steep learning curve, but that’s why it’s so cheap. However, PowToon offers several in-depth tutorials.

Summary

An explainer video can increase your landing page’s conversion rate, even if it’s not perfect. Just make sure your expectations are sized according to your budget.

If you’re happy with your improvements, you can take them to the next level by A/B testing the video vs. another video. Creating a different type of video and comparing the two can yield even better conversion rates.

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