Go-to-Market , Product Marketing — 09.28.2020

How to Use an Explainer Video in Your Product Marketing

Yhareli Chamboneth, Motion Designer

Imagine trying to persuade your friends in 2008 about a new social platform that only allowed you to share your thoughts in less than 140 characters. Or explaining to your coworkers in 2013 why switching to Slack was better for communication than email. For these two companies, being able to explain their value was critical due to how different their product was from others in the marketplace. One way that they addressed this challenge was to use a visual narrative known as explainer video. 

As the name suggests, an explainer video is a short animation between 30-90 seconds that uses a combination of graphics, texts, and sounds to explain a concept. It can be executed in a variety of styles, as depicted in Twitter’s and Slack’s explainer video. Yet, the best explainer videos always educate its audience and create curiosity to learn more. Specifically, as far as product marketing, explainer videos are best suited to reveal a new brand identity, showcase a new digital product, or highlight a new feature within an existing product. 

Reveal a new brand identity 

Whether it’s an up-and-coming startup introducing itself to the market, or a well-established company making a shift in its identity, brand reveals are significant. It’s the culmination of different teams, ideas, and concepts coming together to create a unified identity. An explainer video can capture that process and excitement in a way that words alone can’t. You’re able to show your customers how you’ve matured to better serve them or the fresh approach you will take to solve your industry’s problem. 

In the world of product marketing, a brand update often carries over into the actual product. Asana is an outstanding example of this. In 2015, when Asana revealed its new brand, the company did more than introduce a new set of colors, fonts, and messaging. The team carried over the new brand attributes into the product. The Asana explainer video does a wonderful job of promoting the new brand while showing how it’s being activated in the product. 

Reveal a new product or concept 

Speaking of product, one of the best ways to build momentum before a product launch is to use an explainer video that hints at its features or benefits. This medium allows you to focus on specific features but also gives the audience a broader explanation of how the app works. Another advantage is that you can incorporate other elements like visuals, sounds, and possibly weave in a storyline. This is exactly what did in 2018. It prompted an explainer product video before the summer launch and built anticipation for the new release. This video not only gave their customers an idea of what to expect, but it created an emotional experience with the product beforehand. 

Highlight a new features and integrations  

Even if your company is not launching a new product, there’s a chance that your app is constantly evolving to better serve your customers. As a result, an explainer video can introduce a new significant feature or a new product integration. Similar to product reveals this creates excitement and anticipation by helping customers visualize how this feature or integration can improve their existing workflow. We recently created a 30-seconds explainer video for a client to show how its product integrates with Zoom to help teams make better licensing decisions. A video lets you share valuable information in short amount of time. 

While explainer videos can benefit your customers, it can also be helpful to teams internally. It’s a great way to celebrate the role of different teams that work on a product. It can also help teams realign internally when they see the product’s new direction. Last, explainer videos can be repurposed for social media and other internal marketing initiatives. 

When not to use an explainer video 

Sometimes video is a great option, but an explainer video may not be the right approach. For instance, your audience requires a detailed walkthrough of the product in its current state. In that case, a product demo would be more appropriate. Explainer videos focus more on storytelling in a short amount of time than elaborating on technical details. 

Similarly, an explainer video may be limiting if you need to show people interacting with the product. Dropbox has often used explainer videos to introduce its new products. On one occasion, it combined one of its product videos with live-action to better convey the concept of team collaboration. This approach often requires more time to coordinate shooting the live-action and is more involved as far as execution. That’s why explainer videos rely mostly on existing brand elements and product visuals.

Although cliche, it holds true: A picture is worth a thousands words. Explainer videos are a way to give context to your audience by showing a brand and product in a new dimension. When leveraged properly, motion can bring to life your product marketing efforts. Whether it’s revealing a new brand, product, or an existing feature, explainer videos help you address your audience and connect with them.