How to Get the Most Out of Your Explainer Video – Derek Gerber
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There are lots of reasons to include videos as part of your brand’s online presence, but have you considered explainer videos? These videos can specifically help to increase conversion rates, better clarify the objective of your product or service, generate increased interest in your brand, and increase web traffic, just to name a few. Derek Gerber, vice president of Explainify, fills us in on how any business can create and utilize explainer videos to build their audience’s digital experience.
Rich: My guest today is Vice President at Explainify, a marketing and advertising firm that brings brand stories to life through short form explainer videos. He is a passionate team-first leader with deep experience in sales and marketing strategies. A recognized expert by both HubSpot and Forbes Councils, he is obsessed with branding, sports marketing, and RPA technologies. Today, we’re going to be diving into explainer videos and the role they can play in your own digital marketing, with Derek Gerber. Derek, welcome to the program.
Derek: Hey, thanks for having me on here, man. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you.
Rich: So right before we got on, I asked you what RPA stood for. Why don’t you give me the answer again. What is RPA technology?
Derek: I’m a total geek about intelligent automation platforms and systems. And so my background in robotic process automation technologies started in the days of OCR, if anyone knows what that is. But every time you would take a mobile check deposit off your phone, you take that picture, all in information securely scanned and sent to your bank. I used to sell technologies, SDKs, and APIs that supported automation workflows like that. So the mobile world in which we live in is powered by these little subsets of technologies that are super powerful. And during my tenure, I liked to create videos to explain those complicated things and make them more fun and retentive. And so naturally I found myself here at Explainify, creating the same explainer videos that I did for other software companies now. So it’s really a lot of fun. It’s come full circle.
Rich: Great origin story, for sure. All right. Let’s start with the basics. If people haven’t been doing this in the past, what is an explainer video?
Derek: I love it. Today’s trends for video and content creation, you can actually see resembled in the format on social media stories, or even on YouTube shorts. There’s a lot of one to two minute type of content platforms in which we excel at. So when someone comes to your website and you’re working on campaigns for awareness, education, or revenue, micro explainer video formats, one to two minutes of content being used to create these different types of campaigns and retentive educational programs that help people better remember things, help them take action better and establish your brand authority. And so for all the content that we create, it’s typically between 30 and 90 seconds most viewers are interested in content for 45 to 60 seconds. But then we also have a whole subset of division of mini content, and we call them ‘social minis’, that can get produced from those additional pieces of content. So that they can be used in sales enablement and social media activities. So in the form of micro paid advertisements where something’s just moving on the screen to catch your eyes, it is a premium animation. We blend those together and bring them all to life with our clients.
Rich: All right. Now did Explainify start with a focus on explainer videos, or is this something that you found yourself focusing on over time?
Derek: From day one, Explainify was always focused on being the leader in explainer videos. And after 10 years, thousands of videos, the world’s largest brands have trusted us to create this content to life. And so you’ve seen it in the form of advertisements and national advertising campaigns when you’re streaming TV. You’ve seen it on websites and especially social media. But when you go to websites and you see those quick little product overview demos, or you go to the app store and you see that little micro video on what the app is like, we’ve created that over the last 10 years. And it’s all a form of explanation, just across different formats. But the medium has always been video.
Rich: All right. So why do you think that these videos have found such a big place in the marketplace? Why are they so valuable to business?
Derek: Absolutely. And I got to say, you know, there are lots of different ways to create content. And so people in the past have asked me, how do I get started? If you have a potato, then shoot it with the potato. It doesn’t matter. But as you start to venture in over time, you realize that some live action shots, especially in today’s new normal if you would, are harder to schedule, are very costly, just to be nice about it. And if that’s the look you want, then that’s good. But people have found that through premium hand drawn animation, that part can resonate with the brand and create evergreen content for three or five years. And animation is timeless, it’s ageless. So you can always find the right demographic to appreciate the complexity of animation you want to bring to life.
So there are templated companies, and they do a great job for what it is. There are live action only companies, and there’s a great spot for that in the market, too. But right in the premium animation land, that’s your one chance to inspire and impress your audiences to really drive the best campaigns for. And through the video and content creation that we do, we partner with all of the world’s best voiceovers, script writers, and animation talents, to bring the look that you want to life. And that’s what’s unique about Explainify is that we can scale to those levels with the best talent. So if you want the Apple voiceover guy, we have that guy. If you want the animator who did that commercial you saw on TV, we know them. That’s the fun that we get to bring to life. And it just all gets curated in one spot.
Rich: It’s interesting. It reminds me of years ago, I read a book called, Comics Explained. You can see me visually, I’ve got Spiderman all over the place here. I’m going to be comic book fan. But I remember reading this quasi-scientific book about comics and part of the reason of being so drawn to it – drawn, interesting choice of words – but drawn to comics is the fact that the characters are a little bit simplified. And when characters are simplified, we see ourselves in them. And I wonder if the idea of animation, part of it is we’re drawn to things we could put ourselves in, and it’s easier for us to imagine ourselves in a cartoon than it is in real life. Because when we see somebody in real life, well, no, that’s Derek. I know that’s Derek. Where if it’s somebody who’s just drawn somewhere in, you know, hand drawn, I can be like, no, I can imagine myself in that situation. So, might be some other benefit to animation as well.
Derek: Yes, no with animation, again it relates to all ages. And so there’s levels of complexity and time. And that’s how we position solutions for our clients. So there’s a strong look, if you look at just the simplistic form of animation, which we can all relate to. If you look at shows like The Morning Show, that the very popular Apple+ TV show, their whole intro is all purely animated.
And, you know, it’s just amazing to watch the trend in life through the new normal, we’ve all had to make some adaptations. But what I love about art and what you’re bringing to life, is that because of this new normal and this demand to create content, and now NFTs and the metaverse and all the new platforms coming to life in the inspiration, we’re seeing new art forms come to life that are really, truly resonating across all age groups right now. But then driving us into that next level. So from my technology background to this, to watching art getting reinvigorated by new content creators that have a new platform. It’s really exciting to see the evolution come to life.
Rich: I’ve seen a lot of these explainer videos on the web. Are there certain industries or businesses that are best served by explainer videos? Do you find that certain industries or certain types of businesses are always the ones coming to you?
Derek: You know, I’m going to say, yeah. It’s actually it’s nice to break it down like this. If you’re a software company, you’re basically going to need it. And the thing is, with software, it evolves all the time, and it can be really complicated. And when you’re trying to do different licensing models across different types of solutions available, you want some users to be as self-guided as possible. So 80%- 90% of business making decisions are done before they contact your sales team. That means they’re on your website and they’re searching for solutions online. And if you have the most standout solution that gets them started in five minutes, you’re naturally just going to find success. So it starts in software for absolute a hundred percent certainty.
And you can approach that a lot of different ways. It can be more templated. It can be live action recording of software demos. But when you animate it, you can create evergreen content that lasts for life. So through different software cycles and different iterations of the program, as it develops over time, you can still use the same content and still be on brand through the entire experience. And that’s what’s exciting about what we can pull to life. And we do that for brands that you know and love today, you’ve seen our videos.
But then on the flip side, now we’re talking about, you have the three pillars I mentioned: awareness, education, and revenue. You even find that in healthcare applications or new biotechnology applications. We’ve done COVID products and explaining how to use products, how to use a new technologies available that no one’s ever seen. And so by creating educational series, educational video libraries, that help people get better legal and financial information in those industries and can be as self-guided as possible. You start to realize that the entire internet is starting to form around you can find any information you need and get started in five minutes. And video is the best medium to do that with.
Rich: Yeah, I’m just thinking about, almost any business – certainly software – but in any business where you’ve got a complex sale or something difficult to explain. I mean, you can create explainer videos for flyte new media that would be about how SEO actually works or how to optimize it. And I know one of our longtime listeners does things like glass showers. You could explain how to make the right choices to explain our videos to. So, yes, obviously software’s a good one. But anytime you have something that might be complex to explain or something that is best demonstrably, that could be a place where you would use it.
So if businesses are setting out to create explainer videos, what are some of the first steps that they should go through? What’s the process you take your clients through?
Derek: Absolutely. Well first things, first put video first. Don’t wait to the end. Too many time we see dozens of meetings, 20-30 people sitting in a room going, “Ah, okay, I guess we need a video.” You wasted six or nine months in that process. And then you’re going to go seek it after. And then you’re going to go get budgeting. If you build video first into your campaigns for awareness, education, and revenue, you’ll find that the ROI on the backend is immeasurable. Because the gaps that you’re going to fill for the years to come from that single investment, you can start to create supporting content that continues to amplify the effect of that original pillar content.
So when you start in those basic areas, video first would be step one. Two, awareness, education, and revenue. I’m going to keep saying it. Those are the three pillars for what you need to build upon. So start in those areas. If you don’t have an ‘about’ video about your company, look at today’s market. Everyone’s online trying to build relationships with companies – because there’s so many choices – that best identify with their own morals and brands. So it’s beyond just what you do for a living, but how you do it and your brand and your culture. Now that starts to get reflected in the animation complexity, the music that you choose, the voiceover that you choose, the cadence in which you’re delivering information. All of that matters and it’s called ‘branding’. So always start there from the educational side, you can teach people how to use products, teach them how to use your website, teach them how to get started on their own investment portfolio when they download the application. Whether you have videos that are online on social media or in app, keep in mind that you want to create genuine, insightful, and helpful information so that people can continue to self-guide and educate themselves during the process.
And then on the backend, sometimes you got to make videos to make money. So there’s also revenue generation. And that’s also one of the most favorite and most typical areas in which you think about. Revenue generation is only amplified by the success of the first two. So you got to take those first, awareness and education, and use that to support your educational campaigns through additional awareness and additional revenue gen. They all feed each other, is my point. They all stack up in the end and that’s the way to get it done.
So you go, number one, you put video first. Two, you follow the three pillars. And then three, you set some guidelines and go get it done. You pick one person to be in charge of it. Don’t assign it to a group of 10 people, they’ll never come up with a decision. You need to pick one stakeholder who’s going to drive this campaign home for life and then that’ll be it. And those are the three simple pillars. Again, started with video, right?
Rich: Alright. So what are some of the hallmarks of effective explainer videos? Like is it about length? You mentioned that a couple of times. Is it always about animation? What are some of the other things that are gonna increase my chances of having an effective final product?
Derek: Oh man, I gotta say, we’ll start with your brand. How you want it to look. How you want it to feel inside the video. The things that we’ve discussed, the voiceover type, the words that you pick – words or no words. We’ve done videos that are explainers with no words in them and heavily relying on the animation to explain the journey and the experience inside of the video. So really, first you’ve got to know your demographic. Who are you trying to communicate to and what do you want them to do. Do you want them just to understand, do you want them to be educated, or do you want them to take a conversion step and download the free trial or buy and subscribe or whatever the thing is that needs to happen in that process? So whether you’re in B2B or B2C, you need videos that cover all these different pillars. But I got to say how you get it done is the more colorful, illustrative part of it, because there’s a science to it. It’s 50% science and it’s 50% feng shui in how you do it. So the science is, you need these videos. Done. Check. How you go get it done and how you want your brand to be perceived in that whole process, that’s going to be the key to building a future relationships online.
Rich: Awesome. Okay. So let’s say we’ve worked through it. We got the video. What are we going to do with it? I assume we’re going to put it on the homepage of the website, but what are some of the other ways that we can really leverage these videos and get the most out of it?
Derek: The best ways to amplify the investment in the video content that you create is for one, put it on your website. You’re going to get the SEO points for it. So make sure it’s on a video analytics platform that you can measure. So most people forget to say that part, but it matters. And we’re partners with Vimeo, Vidyard, many other platforms. Obviously across the world, YouTube, we have videos on all those different platforms ourselves, and we’re analyzing the metrics and we’re looking at things like viewership, likes, dislikes. That’s fine. But what we really want to focus on is time on video. Even if you make a one-and-a-half-minute video and you realize that people only stick around for 45 seconds, well, then you really got to start to break the video down from there. So it takes seven seconds to keep your attention, another seven seconds to explain why I should care when watching the video, and then I only got 30 more seconds to get my message across, to reinforce an action that I want you to take. You could spend all your time trying to build a five-minute video only to realize you only need 30-45 seconds. So short and sweet is the place to start with things like that.
So once you know your demographic, once you have the analytics, then from there creating out your journey for your proper demographic is going to be the key influential point. What platforms are they on? So again there’s social media of course, but there’s all these new emerging platforms, Discord, the Metaverse is coming, there will be even more. So this isn’t just about making decisions for today, it’s how could your content continue to live on and scale from there? So as long as you’re tracking, find the appropriate platform for the demographic that you’re trying to communicate to, and then go for it and start creating some content. Don’t wait nine months. Don’t wait a year. We’ve seen those things. Get started today because once you get one done, then you have your style figured out. You have the voice, you have all the hard things figured out. So our clients are really popular with this model, okay, we start with a couple of videos, two or three. And then we come back and then we build out video sets of 20, 50, 100 videos plus. Because they know that those first few were done, we know what we want now. And we continue to work with brand new teams to nail the rest of the content that needs to be created.
Rich: Yeah. One thing that I keep on hearing here is branding and consistency. So it sounds like it’s really important to get those first few down, in terms of tone and the way they look to make sure that they are on brand, so wherever they may show up, that it’s going to be recognizable for our audience.
Derek: Yeah, and it’s okay to switch it up. If you have quarterly types of angles you want to take on your brand, there are plenty of brands I can show you that do that on a regular basis to change up the look and how they want to promote things. But really, I got to say, one of the worst things that you can do is create a lot of inconsistency. You don’t want to have your website looking like it had 17 different. On it like that doesn’t make it look like you have all of your stuff together. So if it’s a coordinated effort, it’s okay to switch it up a lot, as long as it’s all syndicated, but on the back end, most people aren’t thinking like that. And so when you have this content and it needs to last for three or five years and then have supporting supplementary content, because that’s what all of the internet algorithms want you to have ongoing, helpful, genuine, insightful content creation. That’s how you get the points. There’s the secret. But if all of that is going to be created and you’re looking at a journey for three to five years, it better all be matchy-matchy unless you’re making huge stylistic changing choices.
And we’ve had clients who, again they create content, and it works for years, and then they rebrand. We already have all of those materials stored for them. So rebranding, it only takes a fraction of the time and the investment. So it’s not a complete redo of the things, we just make some refinements and then come back out with a new look. So it’s important to work with the same partner for consistency of looks, feel, tone. Again, the whole cadence part that we went through, but really on the back end too. It makes it a lot easier to go back and refresh something or update a piece of content that you need without having to buy it all over again or go through that painful process. That’s why it’s frustration free with us because we know that from the start.
Rich: So you touched on this earlier, but are there any specific KPIs that your customers, your clients, are looking for? What should we be paying attention to as we’re building out these explainer videos to make sure that they’re working?
Derek: Excellent question. And I’ll tell you why, because the goalpost always changes for those clients. Some are just interested in PR awareness and what they can buy for every million years at the end. So CPM, more important to some than others, but you’ll find that those are more PR awareness generation campaigns. So if you go back to the three pillars, you’ve got awareness, education, and revenue. On the educational side is someone trying to purchase a program and get through the entire video and have higher test scores at the end when you pop quiz them. That shows that your content is working better. So it’s not always just on the forefront of did I get 10 million people to see this video. It really depends on what’s going to be important to you. So we’ve seen them all.
But then again, for the revenue generation side on the back end, how long did people look at the vehicle? Did they click the link at the end? Did they go, did you see when you launched this video, you generated another million dollars? Those are the types of stats that can matter in all those different campaigns. But from the holistic point of view, you should have those types of relevant KPIs for each one of those efforts so you know that not every video is created. That’s what I think I can really drive home is, what’s the point of the video? Why are we here today? If this is successful today, what does it mean for you tomorrow? Those are going to vary throughout the company and what you’re trying to run for campaigns, but we’ll work with you to establish that tone and cadence so everything you’re doing is on brand, and it’s also hitting the goals that you expect at the end.
Rich: So you mentioned ‘click the link’ at the end and I did, this was actually tied into a question I want to ask. What level of interactivity are currently available in explainer videos? I’ve only seen ones that are basically like I’m watching the animation and that’s it. So are you able to create ones that are a little bit more interactive than that?
Derek: I’m really loving that you’re bringing this up right now. Because going into our 10th year after thousands of videos, there had been a demand in lots of different ways, but a couple of different demands are creating more interactive, personalized video. And traditionally, the only real answer that you had available was unless you were going to completely, entirely custom curated project online and spend six, seven figures on an experience like that. How do you create more personalized things on demand? You can only ever offer more videos, but now going into our 10th year, we actually are having a premium partnership with Vimeo as one of their latest, innovative, and premium explainer video providers to use their platform, to create interactive video content and sequencing.
So from a new technology from their standpoint is that they’ve updated their platform. To enhance the capabilities to give you that more personalized experience. There have been other platforms in the past who have attempted to do these things, but maybe all the things weren’t as refined as they could have been in. So now you see the really big industry players shortening the length of content, and then also creating more interactive elements so that you can have one video for one product, serve three different demographics and actually deliver the most appropriate messaging and content to that person. So again, if you’re filing a bank loan and you want someone to understand, you could start with age ranges, you can start with locations, you can start now creating an endless loop of personalized custom content for that person and do it all in one video. Not 50 videos, but one video. And I think that’s what’s really powerful is that with our next technology advancement with the platforms themselves, the content is getting shorter. People just want to hear the message that’s most important to them. So I can understand it in under a minute and take some action. So the interactive video part has come with the techniques, technology advancements, most recently in the last year. That’s the most exciting part about that right now is we’re going to be on the forefront of that next year.
Rich: In this scenario I’m signing up for a bank loan. Are they showing me three different options? Are you under 18, 18-35, 35 and older? And then I’m choosing, is it like ‘choose your own adventure’, but the buttons are within the video? Is that how it’s done?
Derek: Perfectly simplified, ‘choose your own adventure’ inside the video. And the shortcoming was the technology platform. When one of the video players just delivering a video, it’s sending new bits and data and saying, that’s the next image, that’s the next image. But with the interactive part, it puts a pause on the stop. And then inside the content, getting into more technical later, it knows what’s media to go grab next and deliver that to you. So it’s in sequential form and following the right journey, as you may want to the messaging. So again, if it’s inside of getting a new home loan, or maybe you’re checking in to the hospital, it could be something like are you heading into surgery or outpatient, and then you can play the video that’s most relevant. Are you checking into your hotel? What are you interested in? So you can start to get into any industry with any form of personalization around that.
Rich: It’s not dissimilar to chatbots these days, where you’re basically having a conversation with a bot. The language has all been pre-programmed, but anybody can be served by a well created bot. And so basically that’s what we’re doing here is you’re able to create a really big file of all the different options for videos. So it’s not just you’re teaching me one thing, I’m able to drive to the area that I want to learn what I want to learn or to buy what I want to buy. Because I’m sure there’s e-commerce components built into some of these too, or at least it could take me to something where something’s already in my shopping cart, ready to checkout. Correct?
Derek: And you could even see on the platforms such as Instagram, on social media. New let’s just call them OCR recognition technologies, because that was my background to start with. But we’re scanning these images with AI and natural language processing and able to look up these images in real time. And if you have ever used Google’s image capture to search for an image or a location or asking them what plant this is ,the Amazon you know, web service within itself as you go into the Amazon app has a similar feature of image recognition. So these image recognition technology to some of the first platform developments you’ve seen in real time, take that concept and take it to a new level. So I can buy the handbag that I see in the video. I could see the guy riding the go-kart that I want for Christmas, and I can add it to my shopping cart and pay through Instagram. One-click buying to a whole new level.
So now imagine the same type of technology and adventure inside of a video. That’s the most exciting part right now. And soon you’ll be able to scan any virtual piece, and you can already do interactive shopping now, but the interactive content to be delivered more dynamically, that’s the part that’s on the horizon.
Rich: Very interesting stuff. I can only imagine what the metaverse and holograms and AR and VR coming down, all the different ways in which basically the same idea could be implemented through a number of different media that still haven’t even arrived yet.
Derek: That’s right. And again, we’re still talking about two dimensional videos. We lead the way in premium animated explainer videos, but that demand is also going to change. How do I make it more interactive? How do I deliver the content dynamically? Then it’s going to be like, how do I get it into the metaverse? How do I create an NFT project, and then share this with all the people, because it’s a crowdfunded effort? And that’s the fun part is we’ve been talking about science and then the funky way of it. It’s like the technology in the art that’s coming to life from that. That’s a form of this right now. And so the platforms in which we divulge this information and get all of this into our brains, those are rapidly evolving right in front of us right now.
Rich: It is very interesting, because I think up until this point, it’s been helpful, but static. And what you’re saying here is now it’s about to completely blossom and go in a thousand different directions. And really, it’s this concept of explaining things in simple animated ways. But now we’re talking about interactivity, and now we’re talking about putting on your Oculus, and all these other things. It could be a great platform for building your business, building your nonprofit, teaching people about cryptocurrency and NFTs, whatever you have, that there’s probably a way to make this work for you.
Derek: And after doing a couple of crypto videos and doing other blockchain technologies on the backend, those complicated things to explain, there’s a place for those right now, the static imagery of the video we provide, there’s going to be a new demand into the VR and AR space. And so I think with the VR part, you have the technology of the head. Does that rapidly change or evolve into something else, and they shoot lasers around the room and it feels like you’re in a virtual environment and we’re in the movies all of a sudden? Or does the AR part start to take off so when you’re wearing your sunglasses, you look around the corner and you see your favorite shop and then outside, there’s a video playing in the shop of new merchandise inside and it knows it’s you. And now you start heading into Minority Report land, and all those crazy sci-fi movies where it starts to personally advertise based off the content price. So it’s still a couple of years from that. But that’s the idea. This whole Ready Player One environment where content is dynamically generated for you. That’s going to come through a mix of VR and AR, but you’re still going to have a demand for the content, how it gets displayed to you in your everyday life. That’s what’s going to dynamically change over the next 120 years for sure.
Rich: Awesome. This has been eye-opening, Derek. I want to thank you so much for coming by. If people want to learn more about you or Explainify, where can they go online?
Derek: Absolutely. Just visit us online at explainify.com. Again, we have a huge curation of all our different projects to inspire you. So we look to provide genuine, insightful, and helpful information. We have a newsletter you can sign up for, or just casually follow on social media, and you can learn a couple of tips and tricks every single day from our team.
Rich: Awesome. Derek, thank you so much for stopping by.
Derek: Pleasure to be here. Thank you so much. And look forward to catching up with you soon. Thanks, man.
Derek Gerber is the person to talk to if you’re looking for another creative way to reach your audience and level up their user experience. Check out his website to find out what else Explainify is doing in the explainer video space.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.