How An Explainer Video Helped DropBox Grow from 0 to 100 Million Users
Explainer Video Marketing

How An Explainer Video Helped DropBox Grow from 0 to 100 Million Users

By Mainak Biswas August 23, 2014 - 1,754 views

DropBox is a cloud storage application for storing and sharing your important files from anywhere.  It lets you seamlessly access documents across all your devices with internet connection. It also means that you no longer have to save and transfer the files through flash drive or email. Even if you don’t download the application, it is available to you through your account on their website. Today, DropBox is valued at $4 billion despite spending very little money on advertising. Such exceptional growth story has hardly been witnessed by any start-up SaaS company. It is used by individuals and businesses across the world.

Launching DropBox

DropBox was first released in September 2008 by former MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. Houston claims that his habit of forgetting USB drive at home during his college days led him to conceive this idea. The success story of DropBox has left everybody awestruck because a simple explainer video changed its fortune over a short span of four years when the number of registered users crossed the 100 million mark in November 2012.

And exactly after a year in November 2013, DropBox touched the mark of 200 million users. Isn’t it phenomenal?  The struggle for DropBox was not easy as for any other start-up company. Like many others, DropBox started advertising with Google AdWords in 2009 but soon it realized that they were spending $233-$388 per conversion which was way too expensive for any company that priced its product at just $99. Clearly, this approach was not practical for any start-up company.

Video referral campaign

After receiving a poor initial response, DropBox started offering extra storage space to its existing users in exchange for invitation to their friends through social media. The campaign significantly helped the company as the early adopters eager for more space started sending the invitations across and soon 2.8 million shares were sent in a month’s time resulting which DropBox got its 2 million users.

Creation of an explainer video

The concept of file sharing and backup devised by DropBox was completely unknown to the people in 2009 when the cloud storage phenomenon started making news across the world. It was difficult for people to understand this concept and realize the potential of cloud storage to their benefit. The company by spending less than $50,000 on an explainer video created by CommonCraft added 10 million additional customers to its user base. It was indeed a remarkable achievement by a start-up. Moreover, many studies show that videos are quite effective for information retention for human brains. No wonder that they lead to higher visibility and conversion rate.

Simplicity of web design

The simple reason why the explainer video worked for DropBox is that it focused solely on the benefits rather than on technical specifications and features. People were more interested to know how this seemingly complex product adds value in their routine functioning.  On top of that, their website design has been fairly simple. The homepage only featured two main components i.e. an explainer video and a download link. This left the user with no other option than to watch the compelling video and then download DropBox to their PCs.

Return on investment

The impact of explainer video was so powerful that it helped the owners to pitch their idea to investors. Video made it fairly easy for them to explain their innovative solution. When you demonstrate something visually, it hardly takes a moment to clarify the exact picture. DropBox received a total venture capital funding of US$257.2 million from investors like Y Combinator, Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.

It is evident from the fact that DropBox owes much of its success to a simple explainer video that increased its conversion by 10% within a year. With less than 4 million users in the beginning, DropBox was able to double this figure in 2009. And an estimated return on investment for explainer video was between $24 million and $48 million. In 2013, the video received an average of 30,000 views per day and was viewed over 30 million times. Today, DropBox has over 275 million users and is still growing strongly.

DropBox video review

  • Video was short and to-the point with clear explanation of the idea
  • A white background highlighted the graphics and animation used
  • Frequent use of the logo in the video helped the audience to recognize the brand.
  • Videos is interesting to watch as it explicitly explains the working of DropBox, its advantages   and how it is used by a person to share documents, itinerary and images.

Why an explainer video is so effective?

Explainer videos can do what thousand words can’t describe. Filling your website with textual content does not work the same way as does a simple and easy to understand product demonstration video.  An ideal explainer video uses a story, a case study by following a problem-agitate-solve approach. With its strong visual message, they enable you to fulfill your marketing goals. They are often used by companies with seemingly complex or technical product. Moreover, people resist reading time-consuming text in a fear that they will be left confused after reading.  These explainer videos are not only meant for your customers but also for your employees and investors. There are many reasons to why many companies rely on explainer video today:

  1. Engages the customer – Even while watching a video, customers lose interest if it is too long, boring or beats around the bush. Keep your explainer videos short and quirky. Hire a professional production team that understands your business idea and delivers exactly what you want.
  2. Entertain the audience – It is natural for every child to watch cartoons as they narrate innocent stories away from hardships of real life. Similarly, it is innate for adults to relate to animated explainer videos as narrate an imaginary story. They are not simply watching the video, they rather enjoy watching it. That’s the reason they are gripped to it. Animated characters, images, graphics, colors, drawing and sound effects all together add an element of entertainment to the video.
  3. Easy to understand – Explainer videos follow the most explicable approach to state a point. They introduce a problem and then suggest a possible solution that creates curiosity among the audience. The climax is your product that resolves all their issues. They also build upon the existing knowledge of your target customers so they are not left wondering what your video is all about.
  4. Increases visibility – After optimizing your video for search engines, your video has 50 times more chances of being ranked on the front page of search engines. It is proven that customers tend to spend more time on your website after watching a video as it gives them a reason to explore. Moreover, search engines give a preference to videos over text. And a website with authentic video optimized correctly will obviously get higher visibility and thus a higher conversion rate.
  5. Easily shareable – Social media is enriched with video-sharing. People love to share videos as they more informative, entertaining and quick to understand something new. They even have the capability of going viral. Whether you post it on your website, blog or social media profile, they can be easily shared from any location.
  6. Smarter pitch – Explainer videos are always working there for you online. Your video is seen across the world targeting global customers. It saves your time and money in explaining your product to them. Explainer video overcomes language barriers through a strong visual appeal and thus you increase your customer base irrespective of their native language.


There are many start-up companies who are fraught to create SEO-friendly textual content without adding much benefit and are losing their money to content writers. It is time that you create an explainer video for your company. Let your target audience know easily what you do without letting them struggle through text.

The significance of text can’t be mitigated as it is used for detailed explanation. But for getting the customers to read your text, you need to stimulate them. Furthermore, the simplicity of its homepage, easy sign up process, referrals and its availability on multiple devices and platforms led to its victory. DropBox did exactly what was desired at that time and today their success story is conferred as a case study in every B-school.

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