Thursday, December 22, 2016

Seven Tips for Creating Effective Explainer Videos

Seven Tips for Creating Effective Explainer Videos

The popularity of explainer videos has skyrocketed over the past few years. And no wonder: they are proven to rank better in search engines, they increase your website traffic, and they help your audience retain information 30% more than static text does.

  Having created dozens of explainer videos over the past 8+ years, I have gained a lot of insight into avoiding pitfalls and developing effective videos. If you are considering investing in a marketing video in 2017, read these useful tips for creating a video that can help you drive more sales.

1. Keep It Short
Think of your explainer videos as your company's elevator pitch. That concept comes from the studio heydays of Hollywood, when a screenwriter would catch an executive on an elevator ride. The screenwriter would then "pitch" an idea to the decision-maker in 30-60 seconds. And that length is the sweet spot for capturing your audience's attention, we've found. In fact, the shorter the video, the more likely your audience will continue watching it. Moreover, if you don't capture viewers' attention within the first 10 seconds, you'll immediately lose 20% of your audience.
Tip: When writing a video script, keep in mind that 150 words equals roughly a minute of voiceover (VO).

2. The Script
Without a well-written script, you won't have a solid foundation for your video.
In my experience, it's almost always better to hire a scriptwriter. Some companies like to try to write their own scripts, but if you're not familiar with the process you can wind up wasting time and effort. Using a writer allows you to be direct and to the point, and to stay on track.
The first few seconds are the most important part of a video, and a scriptwriter can help you create a hook to grab the viewer's attention. Scriptwriters also have a good sense for how much time to allow for pauses and breaks, leaving breathing room so the message can be easily retained.

Tip: When reading a script, allow for pauses—a few seconds for an interaction and a few seconds for the call to action. If you don't account for this time in the scriptwriting stage, the video will likely require additional budget.

3. Storyboard
A storyboard is a key element in video creation. A storyboard is a series of slides with text descriptions to define the look and feel and animation style of the video. For a 1-2-minute explainer video, the storyboard might include roughly 24 still images with text descriptions. This process will help you better visualize the entire video and save you time in the animation stage.

Tip: When creating the storyboard, try to be as detailed as possible to ensure less backtracking later on.

4. Use a Professional Voiceover Artist
The right voice will help keep your video interesting and fill any dead spaces or pauses in your video.

Voiceover artists record themselves in a soundproof room and use equipment to edit out any irregular sounds. If you were to try to record the script yourself, you'd most likely end up with irregular tones, pops in the audio, and background noise. Unless you are a professional VO artist with a soundproof room, there's no need to record it on your own.

Years ago, it would cost a few thousand dollars to hire a professional voiceover artist, but today there are various online options, with costs ranging from under $100 to just a few hundred dollars. It's as easy as going online and picking the right VO for your video.
Here are a couple of websites we like to use for our audio:
5. Grab Your Audience's Attention
You've noticed the running theme about keeping your video short. And, as I've already noted, it's important to grab the viewer's attention as early as possible. You can do that, and keep their attention, in several ways:
  • Use teasers: If you're selling a product or service, you can mention that a particular piece of info will be revealed later in the video.
  • Use simple language: Try not to get too crazy with the professional lingo. Keep it conversational. The goal is to explain your product or service as quickly and clearly as possible.
  • Use typography: Even if your video includes voiceover, it's good to back that up with some overlaying text that points out the major points of your product or service.
  • Keep the video moving: My biggest pet peeve, and the reason most whiteboard animations don't work, is the absence of movement. Your audience will surely drop out if they are looking at the same old graphic, or a repetition of animation, throughout your video. Keep changing things up to keep the video interesting.
6. Live Action Isn't Necessarily Better
One of the biggest misconceptions when creating a video is that it's very expensive. But explainer videos don't have to be; in our experience, most fall within the $2,500-$5,000 range.

Many people think of video as live footage, but around 90% of our video work is graphics and animation. By using typography, photos, and illustrations, you will achieve the same effect as a live video—and save yourself thousands of dollars.

7. Music
It's amazing how background music can bring an entire explainer video to life. Music helps fill in any pauses in the VO or animation and keeps your video interesting from beginning to end. It also sets the mood for your video, so choose carefully! Is your video funny? Serious? Is it for a corporate presentation? Picking the right music will help hook your audience. These are some of our favorite music sites:
Tip: When using music with VO, keep the volume very low so it doesn't interfere with the voiceover. Listen to the VO and music with and without headphones so you can better determine the correct audio balance.

If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC


Paid vs. Organic Traffic: Which Generates More (and More Qualified) Leads?

Paid vs. Organic Traffic: Which Generates More (and More Qualified) Leads?
As an inbound marketer, the belief is that non-intrusive, organic traffic is at the core of marketing's future. It's the best way to become a thought leader in a digital, global society—and connect with prospects and leads at the various stages of the buyer's journey.

But you should also see the many pros of relevant paid traffic efforts that lead visitors to high-quality content. Such advertising can be an undeniably successful part of a marketing strategy.

Paid traffic isn't about clickbait or spammy links. It can be a healthy method of reaching a new audience if you feel your brand and solution get lost in the spider web of the Internet.
So, in the debate of paid traffic versus organic traffic, which wins?

Basics of Paid vs. Organic
Paid traffic comes in many forms: Some of you may instantly picture spam popups circa 2004, others may think about affiliate links in blog posts, influencer marketing, or pay-per-click ads.

All those boil down to a simple concept: Via a "middleman," whom you pay, you place your marketing content in front of an audience that wasn't necessarily looking for you. That can be an effective tactic for reaching people who haven't yet found your site, or those who are shopping at competitors.

Organic traffic, on the other hand, to a large extent results from the practice of creating search-engine-optimized content (SEO) that earns high-ranking links in search results. You appear when prospects cast their "net" into the Google sea, looking for answers to their questions.

In principle, these two types of marketing often compete. In the case of one sample client, they came head-to-head. Here's what happened when a technology client compared paid blog coverage and organic traffic in the same marketing campaign.

From Theory to Practice
This sample client is a relatively new product branch of a multimillion-user global brand. It's in the early phases of building its own Web presence and gaining ground in the corporate data safety industry. While it invested in inbound marketing as a consistent driver of high-quality content and organic growth, it also wanted to test paid blog coverage or a "programmatic campaign" approach. It partnered with a secondary agency that would place them in the relevant links section of larger publications, like the Huffington Post.

Although team members knew this type of marketing action would focus mainly on driving traffic, not leads, they still hoped the thousands of new visitors would create at least a moderate amount of qualified leads. Instead, they instantly saw the website's overall conversion rate plummet. The handful of leads who did convert on the blog posts were largely unqualified or used fake emails.

At the end of the 60-day campaign, these were the following results:

  • Overall website conversion dropped 86%.
  • Paid blog traffic converted at 0.1%, while organic traffic converted at 2.0%.
  • Organic traffic, although lower in absolute numbers, resulted in more leads than the paid blog traffic.
  • The sales team also reported those leads from natural traffic were much more valuable, because nearly all the leads from the paid source were unqualified.
How to Test Your Strategy
There were a few lessons learned in this campaign that can help you improve your paid marketing strategy and ensure success in your own testing:

  • Most important: it is essential to see the two practices as less of a faceoff and more of a complementary fit. Although organic traffic takes time to build and to earn higher rankings, it is a core part of future successful digital marketing techniques. Paid traffic can be a bridge to help you gain ground in your space while you wait for organic traffic to kick in, and can even boost the number of eyes on your best-converting content. Marketers must start to test how the two work together, not ask, "But which one should I use?"
  • Next: maintain an open mind as you start to test paid tactics. Your unique customer personas, industry, and content will all influence your results, and they require continual tweaking until you derive benefits from paid tactics.
  • Also: do not abandon your organic progress in favor of a 180-degree turn toward paid traffic. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a marketing strategy that combines paid and organic traffic. Start small with your paid search efforts, perhaps running a 30- or 60-day campaign that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, instead of investing all of your marketing budget into a method you aren't sure will work just yet. Better yet, weave your paid and your organic efforts together.
  • Finally: be diligent with the details for your paid-traffic efforts. Make sure every piece of content you direct paid viewers to is relevant and has an engaging call to action. You may even consider creating a landing page form specific to these unfamiliar viewers. Consider not allowing those with accounts at free email providers (such as hotmail) to fill out the form; vet the leads with one or two more questions than you may typically ask an organic viewer. Force these likely less-qualified leads to provide real information, and weed out spam leads who haven't found you naturally. Learn to qualify your leads through the sales funnel.

When you've found a rhythm and combination of paid and organic efforts that work for your business, stick to them (but do keep testing to make sure they remain in force). Instead of asking "Who wins the race, organic or paid?" let's ask, "How can our marketing win using both practices?"