How a Simple Video Skyrocketed Dropbox’s Sales (and How You Can Do The Same)

From two guys with a love of coding to 50 million customers and $257.2 million in funding in a matter of months. Sounds like a fairytale, right?

In fact, this is the story of Dropbox, a company consumers didn’t know they needed in 2009 until a simple explainer video showed them what they were missing out on.

So how did a single video skyrocket Dropbox from unknown to must-have? Let’s take it back to 2009 and dig in to how this incredible success story played out.

First of all, we need to look at the power of video.

In an age where people seek out human interactions in a world that’s becoming increasingly online, video adds a personal touch that a page of text simply can’t do.

But it’s not just the human element that makes video a vital part of any business, video has been proven to attract better quality leads and blast conversions through the roof.

Before we unravel the Dropbox story, let’s quickly recap why video is such a powerful medium.

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Why Video Is So Important Today

According to a Forrester study by Dr. James McQuivey a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words. While this finding was probably meant to be taken figuratively (McQuivey worked it out using the old “a picture speaks a thousand words” saying, and calculated it based on a video being 30 frames – or pictures – a second), there’s a lot to be said for the power of video.

It’s no secret that video can convey much more content and information in a shorter space of time than reams of written prose. This is because it utilizes several different senses, activating our visual and auditory memory in the process.

When you add to this the fact that visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners, video becomes a bit of a no-brainer.

Infographic from The Next Web

Infographic from The Next Web

What is an Explainer Video?

An explainer video does exactly as it says on the label. It visually explains how a product or service works and how it will solve customers’ problems.

In recent years, explainer videos have experienced a lot of love from big-name brands, like Facebook and Google, as well as smaller start-ups that need to highlight the benefits of using their product.

It’s no fluke that these companies are turning to explainer videos. According to research by ComScore, website visitors are 64% more like to buy a product after watching an explainer video – not an easy statistic to ignore.

65% of people are visual learners. Image via Jeff Bullas

65% of people are visual learners. Image via Jeff Bullas

Introducing Dropbox’s Explainer Video

There are thousands of brands out there rocking video, but none have quite taken it to the levels of Dropbox.

Now, we all know and love Dropbox as a file storing and sharing app where you can access your documents from anywhere at any time – genius, really, when you consider there wasn’t another tool like this around when it came out.

The reason?

People didn’t know that not being able to access their files from anywhere was a problem, because, as of yet, they hadn’t been presented with a solution.

So, in its early days, Dropbox had difficulty proving to the general public that Dropbox would save them tons of time and effort because file sharing wasn’t a common activity. And, at this point, the company was simply made up of two guys who had a love of coding. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, Dropbox has 50 million customers, can be used in five languages, and has $257.2 million in funding.

So what took it from being unable to articulate its benefits to it being a multi-million-dollar company?

What took it from two guys in a basement to a worldwide brand that is loved in every corner of the planet?

Answer: A short explainer video.

When Dropbox first emerged on the market, it cost users $99. To generate leads, the small team used Google AdWords, but soon found they were spending a huge amount for each sale – between $233 and $388, which was much more than the ROI they were seeing. (Sound familiar?)

In an attempt to bring down costs, they began offer extra space to existing customers who referred friends, family, and colleagues to the service. This got them 2.8 million shares in a month and got serious eyes on their products, but it wasn’t what landed them $257.2 million in funding or the worldwide acclaim they have now.

That was all down to a simple animated video.

The Explainer Video to Rule All Explainer Videos

Dropbox simple explainer video

Dropbox simple explainer video

Perhaps the most absurd thing about Dropbox’s explainer video is how low-tech it seems compared to the high-tech product it’s selling – but that’s part of the beauty of it.

The video itself introduces Josh, a paper cut-out guy travelling to Africa. He’s planned his itinerary across his desktop, his phone, and his laptop, but he wants all the information in one place. Over two minutes, Dropbox clearly and simply explain the how Dropbox helped Josh keep all his itinerary documents in one place and share his files with everyone back home.

It’s simple in its execution, but powerful in its message.

But Dropbox went one step further in their quest for simplicity. Instead of tucking their video away in the depths of their website for visitors to stumble across, they put it center stage on their homepage.

They stripped back all the “noise” and had two simple elements to their homepage – the video and a “download” button.

This considerably narrowed down visitors’ choices which, in turn, increased views and, ultimately, conversions (yep, sales!).

The top places businesses place videos on their sites

The top places businesses place videos on their sites

As an example of how powerful an explainer video is, Rypple, a social performance management platform powered by Salesforce saw a 20% boost in conversion rates when they recently added an explainer video to their homepage.

The Results of the Explainer Video

Now let’s get to the really good part…

Dropbox experienced some mind-blowing results after releasing their explainer video and placing it in the spotlight on their homepage. Here are just some of results they achieved with this simple method:

  • A 10% increase in sign-ups (which equated to 10 million extra customers)
  • $48,000,000 extra in revenue each year
  • Investors to the tune of $257.2 million. Dropbox used their video to pitch the idea to the top seven venture firms in Silicon Valley – all of which responded almost immediately

With results like this, the power of the explainer video is hard to ignore.

Why The Explainer Video Was So Successful

1. Video is proven to increase conversions

The reality of it all is that video leads to a huge increase in conversion rates. In research carried out by Internet Retailer, product videos increase the likelihood of purchase by a whopping 85%, while videos give 52% of customers more confidence when they’re making a purchase.

For a new and relatively unknown company like Dropbox at the time, this was invaluable in showing their authenticity and expertise in file sharing.

2. Our brains respond to videos

As humans, our brains are hardwired to respond to videos. People retain 58% more information from video than plain text, and the vast majority of the population are visual learners, placing yet more power in the humble video.

3. It highlighted an unknown problem

At the time that Dropbox came about, file sharing was practically non-existent. Even the most high-tech of companies were using other methods to share their documents, so a large portion of people didn’t know they needed a solution.

Through the animated two-minute short, Dropbox presented its product as a solution to a problem they didn’t know they had – until they were faced with it.

The key to doing this was highlighting how the idea of Dropbox could be carried over into other parts of our lives – like leaving our keys in another pair of trousers – creating a connection and resonating with viewers.

This taps into our two types of memory: Our working memory and our long-term memory. The way that Dropbox presented their product brought the working memory and long-term memory together in order for viewers to be able to relate to a concept they probably hadn’t even considered before.

How Video Will Impact Your Business for the Better

Dropbox’s incredible success with their explainer video wasn’t a fluke or a shot in the dark.
In fact, it’s a proven system that many other companies are now getting on board with – and you can do the same.

Before now, you might have considered creating a video to be time-consuming, expensive, and resource-heavy, but in actual fact, producing professional quality videos (yep, ones you’ll be proud of and—better—help you sell like crazy!) is now easier than ever.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which video can improve your business – just like it did for Dropbox.

  • Grab Attention

A recent study about people’s use of the internet showed that the average attention span is around eight seconds – which is, unbelievably, a shorter attention span than the notoriously ditzy goldfish.
This means you have a grand total of eight seconds to grab the attention of your audience and draw them in. So, not only do you need to make sure you get your message out there loud and clear, but you also need to make sure the content you’re presenting quickly engages people.

Cue the explainer video.

Not only do these types of video encourage visitors to learn more about your business, but they hold the limited attention span of consumers. With a compelling script, you can keep the attention of viewers every eight seconds (or, every 20 words).

According to Adweek, having a video on your site can increase the average user’s time on it from 43 seconds to 5 MINUTES.

  • Present your product as a solution

Perhaps the biggest success of Dropbox’s explainer video was that it managed to convince people it offered a solution to a non-problem at the time. It managed to persuade viewers that file sharing was a problem and that they needed a solution – even if they didn’t consider it to be that important.

With an explainer video, not only can you share the benefits of your product (remember, people buy into benefits, not features), but you can present it as a solution to either a problem that already exists, or a problem that people don’t know they have yet.

This is much more effective than reeling off a list of features, and allows potential buyers to see what their lives might look like after they’ve purchased your product.

  • Build authenticity and trust

In an age where everyone seems to be an expert, authenticity and trust are vital for any business wanting to grow in community and revenue.

Consumers are no longer the passive receptacles they once were, and are instead reveling in their ability to choose what they buy and who they buy it from.

Where do explainer videos come into this? Because they add a human element to your brand, they show viewers that you understand their problems and can empathize enough with them to create a solution that will wipe away all their worries with a simple click of the “buy now” button.

Adding a human element puts you head and shoulders above your competitors and makes customers feel like they’re at the forefront of your mind.

Final thoughts…

As is evident here, video can be the icing on the cake, especially for companies that have tried many other tactics to no avail over the years.

We can learn a lot for Dropbox’s experience with their explainer video. Simplicity is key, but so is tapping into a problem your audience have and presenting them with an easy solution. This is the crux of creating a successful business, and a short explainer video helps to highlight this.

So, after seeing the undeniable evidence here, will you be breaking into the world of video? Are you ready to blast your conversions through the roof and impact your business for the better?

Video might just be your answer.

I hope that you will see the full potential of explainer video marketing: a scalable way to increase conversion rates for your site.

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend that you download the free report I made.

The report will show you how video can increase your sales pipeline & profits not found in this post.

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