An explainer marketing video has the power to tell a genuine story about your business in 60-seconds. Before pondering what funky illustrations and animations your video will contain, you must focus your all your creative juices on nailing your explainer video’s script. A nicely written, engaging script is the basis for an effective explainer video. Without a killer script as the base, all the proceeding creation activities won’t be able to do their part to make a great explainer video.
Stage and movie screen producers concur: The real strength is all in the script. Technicians can clean up a scratchy audio track or lumpy animation sequence, however, no amount of audio-visual wizardry is going to rectify a lousy script.
Explainer Script Structure
An effective explainer video script structure has 6 parts:
Let’s examine these six parts of an explainer script in detail so that you can write a killer explainer video script.
A great Hook is the secret sauce for a killer explainer script There are several approaches you can take to write the perfect hook:
- Rhetorical Question
- Catchy Sound Byte
- Startling Assertion
- Imagine approach
- Problem Beneficial End Result How I Did It
The first one is Rhetorical Question approach, this is a great approach. In social media one of the most popular post approaches is where the author is asking a question. One reason why a rhetorical question approach is so effective is because it makes the audience ponder the answer.
An example question could be “How are you planning on growing your business?” or “How do you intend on converting your website visitors into leads?” and “What if you can’t hold your website visitor’s attention when they are looking at your products and services?“. The last one is effective because it also starts playing on the fear factor, “what if…..?“.
Catchy Sound Byte
The next hook type is the Catchy Sound Byte approach. Here you want to shock the audience with a punchy phrase or statement. Employing the Catchy Sound Byte approach involves saying something like “The late great Steve Jobs was quoted as saying.. ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’..lets innovate the way you grow your business, obtain new clients”. This is a catchy little sound byte that attracts the audience into watching the rest of the video.
The Startling Assertion approach involves starling by stating a startling fact, for example a startling statistic on how paid advertising doesn’t work, how it leads to very few sales. It goes without saying that this hook approach involves you knowing your research to make sure that the fact or statistic that you are stating is true.
Next is the Imagine approach. This hook is called Imagination as it involves painting a picture in the mind of the audience. For example, this scenario involves writing something like “Imagine if everyday you’re receiving new jobs. When you open your inbox in the morning there are five customers awaiting your response.”
The imagine hook involves painting a positive picture in the viewer’s head.
Next is Problem Beneficial End Result How I Did It. This is quite a mouthful but let me explain. For example, the script will sound something like “In this video we are going to show you how our business was struggling to convert website visitors into sales, and how we were able to solve that problem in one week by using website video on our product pages“.
In this example, we stated the problem: Our business was struggling to convert website visits into sales. We stated the beneficial end result: we were able to solve that problem in one week, and How we did it: using video on our product pages.
Don’t fall into the trap of many of the explainer videos out there that jump straight into the problem bypassing the hook. Although this method works, testing by Video Soapbox shows that the hook is the higher converting explainer video script.
The Hook leads right into the problem, when writing about your problems, think about the frustrations whic are particular to you, and their respective cause. Describe problem and or the frustrations that your viewer may be having e.g. “Your sales are on a downward trend, or Your projects are not being delivered on time, and You try as hard time and time again, but you can’t seem to lose any weight.
There are all kinds of problems that your audience could be experiencing, and they are associated with what your product and services solve. Therefore, you want to clearly state what the problems may be.
The Implication or what exactly may happen if that problem doesn’t go away. Exactly why is it so bad to have this problem? Here you provide an argument on why it is so bad to have this problem. For example, you’re not making enough sales, which is affecting your income, which in return affects your ability to pay your bills.
This is where you set the viewer at ease as your products and service enters the scene like a knight in shining armour. So, they have this problem, which caused this implication, what did they do next? They found this amazing product, your product or service. In the next few seconds briefly explain who you are or your product or service that you are promoting.
The Result continues the script along by telling the audience what happens by using your product or service: It fixed their problem in the script, e.g. “They saw a 5% increase in conversion rates over the next week.” You tell the audience how the product or service solve the problem(s) mentioned earlier in the script. So therefore, the potential customer no longer has to worry about that problem because you have explained that your company has a solution that will help them achieve their goal.
Now that you have given the viewer the result, now you top it off by providing them with selling points to entice them. Here you describe the benefits of your product or service, highlight to the audience what you can provide them with that they won’t get elsewhere. What is you unique selling point?, e.g. if you are selling products your script may say: “lowest prices, guaranteed on-time delivery, or top notch customer service“.
Additionally your script could go over how your product and service works, this is prudent if it is complex. This might be a process flow or a walkthrough so people can understand the benefits. It is also effective to finish your Selling Point with one good last selling point to drive the benefits home.
And finally the close, where you finish the script by making the potential client feels like contacting you straight away. The script could say “How would you benefit by achieving these results?“, or “let me ask you a question, would you like to achieve these goals yourself?” or “So if you want to fix these problems today and escape these frustrations, contact us today or click the buy button below“.
The last example is known as a Call To Action, and make sure to include your tagline. The explainer video should include your logo, slogan, website address and social media handles, that you want your client to know so they can take action.
This is the basic structure, try spending some time looking at explainer videos out there on the web and see if you can match in the video where these 6 pieces of structure fits into the script.
Script Point of View
In addition to having a structure: you also need to have a Point of View. In other words, who’s point of view are we explaining this story. The three ways to do this is:
- My POV
- Character’s POV
- Audience’s POV
Tell the story from My POV, tell your story. Here you’d say something like “let me tell you how I was barely able to pay my bills, but now I am making more sales thanks to using explainer video on my website“.
So in this case you are talking about yourself. This is a great POV as you are telling a story about yourself, it’s very personal way of talking about your product or service.
The second way is talking from a character’s POV. In other words tell the story from a third party’s POV. When telling someone else’s story your script will sound something like: “Meet Robbie, Robbie has this problem where he can’t seem to make enough online sales“.
Here we are talking about a third-party character named Robbie. This is a very popular POV for making explainer videos.
The third and final one is the audience’s POV. Talk directly to your perspective customer about a problem they may be facing. “Are you having trouble converting your website traffic to sales?“, “Is your website not closing the deal for you? Let me tell you about Explainer Videos“. Here we are talking about the customer, we are talking to them directly.
These are the three basic POVs for writing an explainer video script. It’s good practice to keep your script in a single POV rather than mixing it up.
Optimize your Calls to Action
The video’s call to action, or CTA, is the core element of your video’s scipt that you need to test, measure, and optimize. Your CTA leads potential customer on to make the next step, so it’s mission critical to ensure that it’s working. It’s easy to create several calls to action and switch them in and out with minimal work or production overhead. Some marketers espouse creating and A/ B testing video openers, middle scenes, and closers. Video Soapbox doesn’t recommend this; when you’re producing a high-quality explainer video, creating that much additional content is prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
Instead, just focus on your script’s CTA, here you lead your audience to the next steps in your video’s last frame. It’s best practice for an explainer video to leave viewers with a destination URL and voice over instructions. As this content is static, it’s easy to create a few different versions. When wrapping up crafting your script, write down 3-5 ideas to call the next step. Some good ones might include, “Click here to download our whitepaper (or ebook)”, or “Subscribe to our newsletter.” When getting production costs, let your video producer know that you would like to create a few different versions with alternate CTAs. These additional still frames and voice over ending lines should not incur too much extra production costs.
As it’s best to assume nothing in internet marketing. Test your CTAs in the same context before drawing conclusions. Aim for simple actions like getting the viewer to download your giveaway and enter your email list. This is much easier than getting a prospect to agree to a consultation with a salesperson.
Killer Explainer Video Script Writing Tips
This post wouldn’t be an Ultimate Guide without some best practice tips to help steer you in the right direction.
Make several drafts
“The first draft of anything is shit” Ernest Hemmingway. So, relax just get something down on paper, anything, it’s a start. As it’s an iterative process you will have plenty of time to edit as you go, so don’t worry if sounds like shit. Start out rough, there’s no need to use perfect wording first up. Use silly adverbs as placeholders if needed. If you’re pondering a word that describes how awesome your product is, use “awesome” for now, and come back and use something better next edit. This will let you keep up your momentum.
Smaller is better
The script’s length is dependent on your audience segment. An audience in an auditorium can typically last about 6 to 8 minutes before their focus begins to drift. An explainer video has 3 minutes tops to do its job. The typical length is between 30 to 90 seconds, with a mere 6 seconds to grab their attention and pique their interest.
Lead with your message
Condense the message of your entire script to just one sentence, and make sure that sentence somewhere in the first 30 seconds of the explainer video. This signals to the audience what to pay attention to throughout the video.
Read your script out aloud
This obvious exercise is a script writing must! The way that your script sounds in your head, is actually completely different to how it sounds out loud. Keeping a natural, medium pace will help you get a good feel for the script’s length.
Keep track of time
At each stage in writing your drafts, time out your script and include the runtime at the bottom. Use the stopwatch on your smartphone. Keeping track of the runtime helps you stay on budget by avoiding the costs incurred by length overages. If you’ve outsourced the scripting, mark the runtime of your writer’s drafts if they haven’t already.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Borrow an existing structure. Watch an explainer video that resonates with you, and “borrow” or re-interpolate the script’s structure. Hopefully their script is talking about your industry, or familiar problem. On your second pass, you can edit their video’s script to make it fit your particular product or service.
Also, try out looking further than explainer videos. Examine films, TV commercials, and virals. Reading material can help too, even if they come from static content like books, articles, or comics. Getting inspiration from an external voice will keep your writing flowing, and you’ll re-contextualize ideas for your script.
Keep it simple and real
A common mistake in explainer videos is using big, complicated words or unfamiliar jargon. You can keep the script simple without sounding like you’re focusing the pitch at the most ill-informed layman. Make sure your speaking the audience’s language if they are specialists. Don’t over complicate your message with ambiguous, clever words. You’ll come across smarter with an air of sophisticated simplicity within your explainer script.
Tell a story
Let dry facts, statistics and definitions remain in text books and lecture halls. The human brain is hard-wired for storytelling, it was our only medium for upward of twenty thousand years. When our brain receives information in the form of a story, our sensory cortex lights up. Do your best to keep with a good explainer video structure and POV as mentioned above i.e. Problem Beneficial End Result How I Did It.
Use cliches with confidence
Why are there so many cliches?: Because they work effectively. Your potential customers will know what you mean when you use a lightbulb to represent an idea, or a flying paper airplane to represent communication. Avoid deviating for some vague, complex metaphor if you can use an instantly-recognizable device.
Easy on metaphors
In addition to the last tip, be mindful not to serve up too many metaphors. You don’t want to sound abstract or convoluted. Limit metaphor to just a couple in your explainer script.
Go lightly on superlatives
Following on from the previous point, superlatives like “Sleek, intuitive, easy to use, new, great, seamless, instant” are powerful in a website video. But when you stack too many superlatives in your script you’re likely to loose your audience, failing to make a killer explainer video.
Use humor wisely
If it supports your core message humor is a great device. You need to make sure that any use of humor dovetails nicely into the story that your are telling. Poorly timed humor in your explainer script can distract your audience, or worse put them off your brand.
Humor used in the animation may provide a better affect, be mindful of excessive use of humor within both the script and animation.
Hopefully by now you know just how important a well written script is for your video’s success. Take the concepts from this ultimate guide to writing a killer explainer video script, and make them your own and incorporate them into your marketing.
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