How to Write a Great Video Script for Killer YouTube and Marketing Videos

How to Write a Great Video Script for Killer YouTube and Marketing Videos

by | Mar 26, 2019 | Video

Here’s a crazy statistic about the state of video:

More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years. (Insivia)

And: 147 million Americans watch video on the internet, according to Nielsen.

Well, you might ask… But does this mean video content is being consumed by our audience?

Glad you asked.

Yes, yes it does.

  • 46% of users take some sort of action after viewing a video ad (Online Publishers Association)
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online (ComScore).
  • 96% of B2B organizations use video in their marketing campaigns, and 73% of those organizations report positive results to their ROI (ReelSEO).
  • Real estate listings that include a video receive 403% more inquiries than those without.
  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video.
  • 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text (Forbes).

Let’s be honest –  if you’re ignoring video, you’re missing out.

Words are great and all, but in written form they can be a little overwhelming at times. Even if text is broken up by spaces and cool pictures, our consumers want a different way to digest information.

Source: BestAnimations

This is not (at all) to say written content is falling out of favor. In fact, written content is needed more than ever, with 85% of Facebook videos watched on mute and the captions read. Don’t forget that 47% of buyers read 3-5 blogs before interacting with a sales rep. So when it comes to the inbound marketing process, the written word is #1.

Did you know... 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video. And 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text. Learn how to plan and script your best video via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

For us, that primary format will never change (you’re reading a blog right now!). 99% of our customers come through our inbound content, and have for eight years now, so we know that it works.

Videos are a trending content type because of a fundamentally human element that makes them much more relatable. Plus, it’s easy to consume them. Click play, sit back, enjoy.

It’s as easy as that – no wonder people enjoy video content. It’s why people flock to sites like YouTube, whether they want to be entertained, informed, or both. About 1.9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month.

Last September, I started focusing on growing my YouTube channel, and have remained committed to a minimum of publishing two new videos/monthly. (We publish 1-2 blogs per week, so those continue to take precedence.) I’ve seen incredibly great organic reach from it, solid traffic and even leads come our way – and even better returns after getting more strategic with my script and strategy. I’ll cover some of the strategies I use on a regular basis in today’s guide.

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably looked to master most of the popular content types out there. Blogs, news articles, and web pages are all important. However, knowing how to write a great video script is also valuable. Think of it this way – a video isn’t an alternative to a written content piece. Instead, it’s a creation based off a well-written video script.

Today we’ll go over how to write a great video script. Planning, creation, promotion – we’ll cover everything from beginning to end.

Learn how to write a great video script for better marketing videos, from planning to creation and promotion, in @JuliaEMcCoy's new guide. Click To Tweet

how to write a great video script for youtube videos

Creating a Great Video Script: The Complete Guide

1.    Defining Marketing Explainer Videos (and Their Benefits)

2.    How to Ideate Your Video – Matching Ideas to Goals

3.    How to Create Your Script – Drafting an Outline and Beyond

4.    Producing and Publishing Your Video

5.    Final Thoughts to Make Your Video a Success

how to write a video script

What is a Marketing Explainer Video? Why Should You Make One?

“You want me to buy this? Well, why should I?”

“Uh, well, let me explain that…”

We’ve all been on one side of this dialogue at some point – maybe both. If you’re the person who is trying to explain how your good or service could benefit a potential buyer, hopefully your explanation is organized well enough so you don’t start the answer with “uh.”

Sometimes we’re told the answer to this question should be organic – and in a way, that’s right.

Yet, when we’re making a video, we want to sound like we’re reading from a script. The script is the key to a good video, especially one detailing a product or service.

Image from IdeaRocket

A good explainer video uses time efficiently – saying exactly what the listener is looking to hear by tackling the important points in direct succession.

Consider these tips when you want to make an explainer video:

  • Be Concise: You can be descriptive, but try to start with a simple 1-2 sentence pitch that summarizes your product and what it does.
  • Know Your Audience: Focus on who you are writing to – but more importantly, focus on what problem you can solve. People watch explainer videos to find out how you can help them. Be specific, and cut to the chase quick.
  • Consider Consulting Outsiders: Sometimes it helps to have a fresh perspective when writing your script. When in doubt, ask previous customers for feedback.

When you’re looking to create a great script, you have a few options. You can look for a sample video script to fill in, or use it as inspiration for your own template.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we start writing the script, let’s talk about the research portion.

julia's video script

Step One: Ideate Your Video – Matching Ideas to Goals

The great thing about writing a video script is that you start the same way you would if you were writing a blog, product description, social media post, or any other type of copy.

Strategy should precede a #video, just as it should any other content type. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Strategy is your foundation for any content piece. I’ve talked previously about my 3-bucket topic strategy. It’s a way of connecting your ideas to your goals.

This means your creativity will be geared to translate to ROI.

Here’s a preview of the strategy. I teach a detailed step-by-step usage of the 3-bucket strategy in its entirety in my comprehensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

different content types and their goal buckets

Follow this format, and your script will always serve one of three purposes. The first is to help your video appear higher in search results – yes, SEO matters in videos, but more on that later.

The second is to make sales or build connections that can facilitate sales. The final one is to build awareness about your brand and what it can offer. If you’re really talented, you can translate your ideas into a script that accomplishing two or even all of these goals.

Your ideas should hit at least one of these goals. If it doesn’t, it may be time to rethink it. Luckily, if you’re going for an explainer video based on a product or service, you’re likely to hit one of these goals with relative ease.

As with any content you write, your goal is to coordinate your creative efforts in a way that drives real results:

  • You want your video to rank higher in search results
  • You want your video to increase sales and lead generation
  • You want your video to grow your brand’s reputation

Think about what someone searching for your video would type into YouTube or Google. Concentrate on how your video’s topic can solve the viewer’s problem. And last, but not least, make sure your brand’s values are represented when you’re scripting the video.

Speaking of which – let’s move on to tips for starting your killer video script.

Step Two: How to Write a Great Video Script for YouTube & Other Platforms Based Off an Outline

I did say that strategy should precede a video script just as it should any other content type. There’s another familiar tactic that translates as well to script writing as it does to blogging, social media marketing, and anything else – formatting and creating an outline.

Check out this opening to one of my own personal video scripts:

Here’s how the content translated to video. I don’t read an actual script, so I simply read and re-review and commit to memory before getting on camera.

This sample video script excerpt uses a simple but strong opening. As soon as you click play, you find out who I am, what I do, and how I can help you.

Then, directly after, you find out the seven specific content types you’ll be learning about. Viewers appreciate when you get things going quickly, and give them an overview of what they’ll be learning about if they continue watching.

Knowing how to write an explainer video script with a strong start is critical for keeping your viewers around. YouTube’s algorithm is smart – if it sees people are sticking around, you’ll have higher retention rates and thus your video will rank higher.

Like this script format? I created an example in Google Docs. Download it here!

While we’re mentioning YouTube specifically, it’s good to mention why we’re optimizing the script for this platform. YouTube’s numbers speak for themselves – over 5 billion videos are watched on the site each day. There’s no danger of running out of original content either, as over 300 hours of videos are uploaded to the site every minute.

This is a double-edged stat, though. While it means you have a big audience to appeal to, they need to find you first. This brings us to the first sub-topic of discussion when you’re writing your script.

Question: Does SEO Matter for Video Scripts?

It’s easy to think that since your words will be spoken rather than written by the time they make it to YouTube that keywords don’t matter. But, think again – SEO matters in your script, your headline, your tags, and your video description.

Not sure how to find the right keywords for your YouTube video? You could always go with the tried and tested keyword research tools like KWFinder and SEMrush. However, there are more video-specific tools out there you can use.

I recommend VidIQ – there’s even a free version you can try.

example of vidiq

VidIQ on my channel. The insights are amazing!

This tool works as an extension for Chrome, automatically giving you insights about the best keywords. While there is a free version, the lowest-priced paid plan is a great deal. Known as the Pro version, it offers more analytics and research tools for only $7.50/month. I pay for the Pro. The insights you get in keywords and YouTube SEO alone is worth it.

The video example in our template above shown ranking #4 in YouTube! The VidIQ insights are awesome.

While you still only have room for one user and one channel, you get double the competitor tracking (6) and additional features like a keyword research tool, historical analysis, and stats on trending videos.

SEO is important for video scripts for the same reason it is important in any other type of content. If you know what your audience members are inputting into the search engine, you make it easier for them to find your video.

julia's video script

Additional Tips for Fleshing Out Your Video and Script Pre-Publishing

You have your format, your intro, and your keywords – but that doesn’t mean you’re finished. When you’re fleshing out the script, there are a few critical things to remember.

  • For starters, consider length. You want to keep the length at around 8-10 minutes MAX. If you can say what you need to with less, feel free. Some companies like to keep their explainer marketing videos around 2 minutes. However, when you go up to the 6 minute mark, you gain more opportunities to connect with your audience.

If your video is creeping up to the high end of this frame, you want to make sure you have plenty of supporting graphics to keep things interesting.

Here’s an example of what my editing process looks like, before my video goes to my producer. I love Camtasia TechSmith for this process. So easy and simple to use!

You’ll notice the main track is peppered throughout with graphic overlays, which ensure the visuals are not changing too sporadically, but not remaining so constant the viewer becomes disengaged.

  • Use pictures and animations, as this is the fun of videos. Remember, you’re treating your viewer to a visual and auditory presentation. Get creative, and let your artistic side shine when it comes to choosing what graphics you’ll feature throughout the video.

Even something as simple as supporting images and charts can do the trick for making your video memorable and keeping your viewer engaged until the very end.

  • There’s even room to be creative with your soundtrack. Granted, knowing how to write a music video script requires a bit of a different skillset than when you’re writing an explainer script – but a good audio backing track or smartly placed sound-cues can still be great additions.

I leave

Reminder: Simplicity Over Flare, Benefits Over Features

The final point to cover for script writing involves the KISS method.

Keep it short and simple – we already talked about the value of being concise, but don’t get so focused on flare that your video’s effects overshadow its substance.

Simplicity isn’t just good for video scripts – it’s good for marketing in general. Over the past decade, publicly traded brands in the Global Brand Simplicity Index top 10 have outperformed major indexes by a whopping 433%. More consumers (62%) are prepared to pay more for a simple experience.

Images, effects, and any creative elements should be secondary to the message itself. The message should always be focused on benefits – not features. Viewers don’t want to hear you explain how many thing your product can do. They want to know how it can help them.

Ten fancy product features won’t be as impactful as one user-focused benefit as the focal point of your presentation.

Simplicity over flare, benefits over features. This and more #video tips in @JuliaEMcCoy's guide Click To Tweet

Step Three: Production and Publishing Tips for Finalizing Your Video

Your marketing explainer video should be concise, punchy, and based off a well-researched format. This can greatly increase its chances of being successful.

We’ve got one more critical area to discuss – production and publishing. Let’s start with the importance of having the right people around you. I use the same producer, a wonderful video expert Renata Franco, for all my videos. She does an amazing job on my final production with music, on-screen text, an intro, and combining any B-roll that I have. And that’s why I recommend just as you may consider hiring a video script writer, you should put as much thought into hiring a producer.

Producing a video is a very involved task. The process has many steps, including:

  • Formatting: Formatting your video for production means setting the aspect ratio and FPS, as well as making sure all your audio tracks are leveled properly.
  • Effects: You can add effects during the mixing and export process – this is a great time to give the video that final polish, such as using a mastering toolkit to boost the audio, or adding captions during each of your main talking points.
  • Trimming: In some cases, you may need to eliminate small parts at the beginning or end of your clips. You may even have to get rid of some altogether if it means keeping the video within a specific time limit.

Even if you don’t hire a producer to do all these things for you, you can hire them for their oversight. You can be the one at the controls, and use their expert input as a guiding point. You can also do the opposite – have them do the production work with your input being the guiding force behind the decisions.

What about tools? We already discussed a great tool for finding keywords as part of the scripting process, but which tools are most helpful for producing the video itself? Let’s talk about three main tools you should consider:

  • Camtasia: TechSmith’s Camtasia is a video tool that can do almost everything. It’s an easy way to record your screen, and it can also be used for editing videos on both Windows and Mac. There’s a free trial available, and the software is intuitive enough that even newcomers can pick up on it quick. It’s also loaded with other features video creators will love.

  • YouTube Beta Studio: Touted as the new home for creators, this platform lets you manage your channel and observe insights all from one place. It replaces the long-running Creator Studio, and gives you plenty of features to use for both research and publishing.

  • Ahrefs: This handy SEO tool is great for writing video descriptions. Before you hit that publish button, make sure you have a stunning description. It may seem like a small amount of text, but it has a big impact on your video’s ranking potential.

These are just a few of the popular tools you can use for the publishing process. Publishing may not be exactly what you think of when you’re looking to learn how to write a great video script. However, it’s an integral part of the process for making your video a success.

Final Thoughts: Scripts Are the Foundation of a Winning Video

When you see those videos that pull in millions of views, tens of thousands of likes, and hundreds of shares each day, you know a lot of work went into them.

But it isn’t just about sitting in front of a camera and being great at improv. It’s about taking the time to write a script – one that speaks to your viewer and gives them valuable information.

Learning how to write an explainer video script takes time. You’ll also learn what works and what doesn’t as you go along, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself for the first time – or even the first few times.

Like any other content type, video scripts require research, formatting, a focus on SEO, and an ability to mix creativity with technical insight.

Knowing how to write a script for an explainer video that takes YouTube by storm takes study and practice. But when your video starts bringing in those views, likes, and subscriptions, you’ll know it was all worth it.

When it starts bringing in brand awareness, search engine rankings, and sales potential, you may feel like writing scripts for an entire series.

Need help writing an engaging video script? That’s a creative writing task our team of 90+ expert writers can handle. We’ve written video scripts for insurance companies and many more. See our pricing here!

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