It seems like only yesterday that we first heard of Dollar Shave Club, doesn’t it? It might be tough to remember where you first heard about the subscription shaving service—from a friend, a co-worker, or maybe a significant other who no longer found your stubble endearing.
The brand’s explainer video is pure marketing genius. Those 93 seconds put the small startup on a trajectory that culminated in its $1 billion acquisition by Unilever in 2016.
While the Dollar Shave Club video went viral because it’s funny, its value goes beyond the entertainment factor. Not only was it able to reach a massive audience, it also very effectively and succinctly communicated relevant details: for a competitive price ($1 per month), high-quality razors (with steel blades, pivot heads and lubricating strips) are shipped straight to your door.
Viral video ads like this succeed in large part because they can transmit the most information in the shortest time, giving your brand the opportunity to showcase its best features in addition to exciting and entertaining viewers.
A Personalized Introduction to Your Brand
How would you like to have the opportunity to spend two minutes with all potential customers, showing them exactly why they should choose your brand instead of your competitors? Imagine how powerful your own passion for your product could be for interested consumers. This is the power of an explainer video.
Demonstrating this kind of contagious enthusiasm is often what ultimately wins your audience over, turning viewers into customers. After social performance management platform Work.com added an explainer video to its homepage, conversions increased by 20%. What’s more, according to Wyzowl’s Survey: The State of Video Marketing 2016, of the 45% of businesses that have explainer videos on their homepage, 86% say they are effective.
In order for an explainer video that sits on your homepage to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing, these nine simple but critically important elements are needed to effectively (and perpetually) deliver your brand’s messaging to your target audience.
1. Analyze By analyzing what makes a brand’s explainer video go viral, you can glean some overall best practices to make the most of yours. If you focus on the following aspects, your explainer video could have a decent shot at becoming a viral ad that reaches viewers who might not have ever heard of your brand otherwise.
2. Pre-production Spending enough time in pre-production will allow you to flesh out your video and determine which style fits your brand. Consider your audience and the problem you hope to solve for them, and then decide how to best relay your product’s core features. Coming up with a goal for your video (a certain number of likes, for instance) and end with a call to action that supports this goal (such as “Click here to like us on Facebook!”) helps you measure the results.
3. Call-to-action When creating your call to action, always try to conjure the best-case scenario: The customer was blown away by your video and is now strongly considering your product. Don’t expect viewers to seek out more information on their own. Instead, decide what you want them to do next, and set them on that path.
4. Think ahead If you think carefully about your video ahead of time, you can plan to shoot some alternate scenes that you can A/B test or utilize later as you optimize your campaign. When it comes to video, thinking ahead will always help you maximize the return on your investment.
5. Keeping it short is key It’s unlikely your explainer video will enjoy as much success or exposure as Dollar Shave Club’s, but you can do a few things to maximize its effect. It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping your video short is absolutely essential.
6. Don’t overwhelm Deciding what information to leave out is challenging. The more passionate you are about your product or service, the more you’ll want to share all the exciting details with potential customers. However, the shorter your video is, the more people will watch it. Lots of extra information won’t do any good if the length of your video turns viewers off.
7. Animated video For a particularly complex product, using an animated video can help simplify it and quickly walk customers through the story of its creation. These videos can elicit a strong emotional response from audiences, but they’re typically less personal. InCrowd’s MicroTracker advertisement is a good example, effectively illustrating the product’s capabilities in just 39 seconds.
8. Narrative ads are the easiest videos to repurpose because they’re usually carefully scripted, so you can plan different scenes and takes. Designed to walk potential customers through a very specific set of features and highlight the most important elements, they’re great for tech companies and e-commerce retailers. In addition to showing the product in action, for example, Kudrone’s mini-drone’s narrative ad has a scripted voiceover that succinctly explains the product’s main selling points.
9. Quality. Quality. Quality. The type of business you’re marketing will greatly influence the content of your explainer video. However, one area where you don’t have much choice is quality. If you’re filming your company’s video on your iPhone, you’re probably going to regret it. Dollar Shave Club couldn’t have made its viral video on its own, and it didn’t try to. You shouldn’t, either.
While a survey conducted by Accenture Interactive showed that many consumers still find video advertising invasive, that attitude can be overcome with higher-quality videos. Don’t be afraid to allocate some of your budget toward producing a killer explainer video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 8 million—especially if it goes viral.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May 2017 and has been updated regularly.