There’s this big preconception that animated explainer videos belong only to the world of million dollar tech startups. When successful brands like Dropbox, Groupon, and Spotify used animated explainers to help launch their new product ideas in their early days, it’s easy to see how explainer videos gained the reputation of promoting exciting new virtual products. It’s also easy to see how many smaller, non-tech businesses might feel they’re completely unwelcome in the land of explainer video advertising.

Which begs the question: do small businesses really need explainer videos like fast-paced, fresh-faced tech startups do? And are explainer videos the right fit for promoting your small business? Putting aside our bias for just a moment, we’re looking at situations where the answer might be yes, could be maybe, and might even possibly be no.

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1) YES

… Because explainer videos are the perfect customer pitch

If you’re a small business looking to be a not-so-small business (or even to stay small but develop a rock-solid customer demand), it’s not enough to just get yourself in front of eyeballs and eardrums. You need to sell the sizzle of your brand, and let people know why their lives will be better for using your business. Animated explainer videos are structured with this purpose in mind because they follow the question and answer format that answers every customer’s burning question: how can I make my life better? 

What’s more, explainer videos are inherently short (3 minutes or less), memorable (using audiovisuals to increase message retention), and easy to understand (with sleek, simple graphics and a to-the-point script) – all the winning strategies for pitching a new business or product to customers. For more on the awesome power of explainer videos for pitching, check out our article: ‘Here’s why you should be using explainer videos for pitching’ (https://www.explanimate.com.au/heres-why-you-should-be-using-explainer-videos-for-pitching/).

… And because website video increases your SEO ranking

In this day and age, if you don’t appear on the first page of google results for your niche market, you pretty much don’t exist. This is why improving your search engine result ranking is so important. Google is known to change their ranking algorithms regularly and privately, making the rules of good optimisation tricky to pin down at the best of times. But there are a few key items that show up consistently as good practices for SEO: these include consistent quality posts, link building, and video content. 

Having an explainer video on the welcome page of your website works to boost SEO rankings for a few reasons. First, current ranking results suggest that Google is more likely to push search results with video higher than those without. Adding video content to new or existing posts is likely to result in boosts in organic traffic. Second, it means a video thumbnail shows up alongside the search engine result for your website, making the result a “rich snippet” – users are much more likely to click on rich snippet listings than standard snippets. Third, users are likely to spend longer (statistically 88% longer) on your website if it has video content, which is a metric that search engines love to reward. For small businesses, giving yourself the best chance to be seen is vital.

2) MAYBE

… Because share-ability doesn’t guarantee a return on investment

Here’s an obvious fact: The short, punchy, digital format of explainer videos means they are highly sharable. Here’s another obvious fact: getting an explainer video made costs money. When your budget is tight, or simply not as loose as the other guys’ budgets, it’s hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to advertising costs. 

High share-ability is a huge advantage in advertising, but means nothing without that initial audience proliferation. Regardless of how good your video content is or how much you believe in your small business, there’s no guarantee that this form of advertising will work to attract an audience due to the unpredictability of life events, technology, and changing social interests. Furthermore, online presence can take time – sometimes years – to hit just the right momentum for virality. For this reason, it’s worthwhile making sure you have a plan for your content before pulling the trigger on a video campaign, and even more worthwhile weighing up whether your business is at the stage of making calculated financial risks for potentially delayed returns.

3) NO

… Because you have no intention of growing your business bigger

Not sure why you’re here then but hey, no judgement. Some people just dig reading articles about business-related video production for fun. Keep on readin’, champ. In all seriousness, sometimes a business is purely a side hustle that we fully intend to be temporary. In these cases, neighbourhood word of mouth can keep us afloat with a small client base that will eventually run its course with time, so we can focus our hours on larger, more ambitious business pursuits. This kind of situation isn’t uncommon in solo-run ‘spare time’ jobs relying on repeat clients and low equipment costs, like tutoring and delivery driving. In these cases, the initial investment of video advertising can be a cost that isn’t worth bearing for such a short-term turnaround.

… And because good intentions won’t fix a broken system

Explainer videos are great tools for hyping great products. But just like big-name actors can’t save a terribly written movie, an explainer video can’t champion a product or brand that you yourself don’t believe in. If you’re asking yourself whether your small business really needs an explainer video, first ask yourself what your brand or product really has to offer. An explainer video won’t work as a quick, empty attention grab; it won’t work on a product that’s a cheap knock-off of another existing product; and it won’t work for a brand that has no substance behind its values. That’s because an explainer video is less like a megaphone for your brand, and more like a magnifying glass – it’ll show off exactly the features and customer value you focus on. And if there is no true value, it’ll show that off too.

Written by Maree Railton.