An explainer video is exactly what it sounds like – a video that explains what a product or service does and why customers should buy it. This type of video is so effective that it is becoming more popular, with big names like Facebook and Google using it as much as startups. Statistics show that website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product after watching an explainer video. A successful explainer video is produced professionally, is short, and includes a call to action at the end, and many of them use animation rather than live-action techniques. Now we’re going to talk a close look at the Dropbox explainer video.

Dropbox explainer video

The Dropbox Explainer Video Case

One of the most successful videos of all time belonged to Dropbox, whose minimalist website added to the video’s impressive performance. Dropbox is the brainchild of Drew Houston and Arash Ferdorski, two MIT students who kept forgetting their flash drives at home. To solve their problem, they designed a product that would make files available from any device with internet access.

Dropbox was not an overnight success, despite the issue of file sharing being a relatively new concept. People did not understand what it could do for them or why they needed it. In its earliest incarnations, Dropbox cost each user $99. It advertised using Google AdWords but ended up spending $233 to $388 for each conversion. The approach was not profitable, so Dropbox started offering extra storage space to its existing customers in exchange for social media shares. Customers eager for more storage space shared away. At its best, the campaign reached 2.8 million shares in a month, garnering Dropbox 2 million customers.

Dropbox introduced its explainer video in 2009. It chose an explainer video company that specializes in a mishmash of paper cutouts and stop-motion animation to create a Dropbox explainer video. Dropbox paid $50,000 to make the 2:10 short. The video itself starts with a narrator fantasizing about a “magic pocket” that the user can put oft-forgotten items (like keys or a wallet) in for unlimited access from any location. It then shows how Dropbox is like a virtual magic pocket by following the story of a fictional character named Josh. Josh goes on a trip to Africa and uses Dropbox to back up important files and share vacation photos with his mom. It highlights the many useful features of Dropbox, including accessibility, data storage, and file sharing. The video ends by showing the viewers how they can download Dropbox.

Winning with the Minimalist Approach

Dropbox made good use of its video by simplifying its website. Once the video was released, Dropbox’s website homepage consisted of only two elements: the video and the “download” button. This gave visitors nothing to do except watch the video and download the product, thus increasing views and conversions. The video perfectly explained what Dropbox did, so customers understood what Dropbox could do for them and were more apt to buy in. By then, Dropbox was a free-market company, meaning it offered a free version of its services along with a better paid version, so users felt even more incentive to try it.

Dropbox’s approach turned out to be a success. Within a year, Dropbox conversions increased by 10%. Dropbox had 4 million users – double its number in 2009 – at the beginning of 2010, largely thanks to the Dropbox explainer video. Depending on the source, the estimated ROI for the Dropbox explainer video was between $24 million and $48 million. Common Craft says that in 2013, the video garnered an average of 30,000 views per day and has been viewed over 30 million times.

Now, after seven years of existence, Dropbox has 275 million users. Dropbox used several marketing techniques to reach the status it has today, but its use of a simple two-minute explainer video was admirable. It spent $50,000 on a two-minute video and made it the star of its website. The video was unassuming and easy to understand and garnered Dropbox a 10% increase in conversions in one year. And, with 90% of online shoppers reporting that videos helped them make purchasing decisions, it is clear that the approach is working for others, as well.

Achieving a Return on Investment

Dropbox saw a huge return on investment with its explainer video and its minimalist approach that focused all attention on the video. This is exceptional, especially since the average cost of an explainer video is between $6,000 and $10,000. Dropbox spent $50,000.

Since Dropbox created its explainer video, much more now goes into analyzing a video and the impact that it has on a business. Areas that are looked at include:

  • Engagement and drop-off rates
  • Heat maps to determine the hottest sections of a video (what was skipped, re-watched, etc.)
  • Page views and assigning a value to them
  • Tracking results through the different distribution channels
  • New leads and assigning a value
  • New sales
  • Increase in employee productivity because the video is doing a percentage of the work

Each of these elements helps determine the true return on investment of the video. It isn’t a matter of subtracting the cost of the video from total sales. It goes much deeper. Take employee productivity, for instance. If a company is paying an employee to market, but the company then invests in an explainer video and the explainer video does part of the employee’s job, that employee can focus on other tasks. Focusing on other tasks that move the company forward results in an even bigger payoff.

It is all about efficiency, and promotional videos are a way to automate the marketing process. Once a video touches social media, the audience does the rest of the work through social shares. Post a video across multiple platforms and get even more traction. In some cases, videos automatically cross over into multiple social media platforms because of viewers that share the same content across all their channels. It is like turning the consumer base into brand ambassadors. When they see something entertaining, it takes just one click of the share button for the video to be seen by hundreds more.

Duplicating What Works

Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to determine what works. Dropbox has done this. While the Dropbox explainer video is no longer on its homepage with just a sign-up button, the company is leveraging video. On the company’s homepage, more in-depth information is given about its services. This is especially necessary since Dropbox has introduced new products.

Obviously, Dropbox hasn’t forgotten about how the art of the video took the company to great heights. Every time a new product is offered, a video is created to accommodate it. The videos are typically less than 90 seconds in length, but there is a wealth of information in the short period. Due to the large number of videos on the internet today, being short and to the point is very important. Although the initial Dropbox video was 2½ minutes in length, which is long by today’s standards, it beat all odds. It pulled people in by identifying a problem and telling viewers how Dropbox could fix it.

Fixing a problem is technically the crux of any explainer video. That is what works, and that is what businesses should stick to. Add entertainment and information, let the consumers know that you are targeting them, provoke emotion, and tell the consumers that your product or service is the solution they are looking for. Do all this, and you can influence a buy. Let people know that you know their problems exist and that you are there to take hold of them and conquer them. People are always on the lookout for that type of dedication from a business. A high-quality video with the right message is going to relay that dedication.

Following the Dropbox Example

To break out into explainer video success, you need to have a good script and good video content so the audience can be engaged and driven through the sales funnel. Dropbox had the great script and video. However, some experts argue that the quality of the video lies in the script alone. While this can be true in some cases, people want something that is entertaining and/or informational to watch. If you can nail down both elements, you don’t have to worry about the arguments experts are having because both were done well in your video.

Overall, Dropbox used a successful formula in the creation and execution of its Dropbox explainer video that can work for virtually any business. The return on investment that the company experienced was phenomenal, so it only makes sense that the company has duplicated the process by creating promotional videos that identify the pain and present a solution.

What great explainer videos have you seen that were memorable? How were the scripts? How was the video content? Did they drive you toward a buying decision?

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