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How to Create Effective Explainer Videos (with Examples)

If you’re wondering why brands use explainer videos, imagine this. 

On a busy work day, your boss asks you to find a project management tool for your company. You see a couple of leading software solutions through Google and head to their sites for more information.

The first one has a long homepage full of text info. The other one has a two-minute explainer video on top, which describes everything the tool offers.

Which one will you explore first? Since 54% of internet users prefer video content over text, you’ll probably watch the explainer video and recommend that tool to your boss.

No matter what you’re trying to market, explainer videos almost always do a better job than plain text.

But how do you create engaging and effective explainer videos to sell your ideas? 

In this article, we’ll cover explainer videos in detail, show you the best examples, and teach you how to create explainer videos that drive conversions.

What Is An Explainer Video?

An explainer video is a short (often around 2-3 minutes) and compelling video that sells an idea or product by highlighting its biggest strengths and benefits for the end users. Think of it as a video elevator pitch.

Most brands use explainer videos that are often screen recordings on their site’s homepage and product/service pages to communicate their core offer with a combination of visuals and background vocals.

An ideal explainer video should answer the biggest questions of your target audience and clearly describe how your product or idea helps them. 

It’s a powerful content format that allows SaaS brands, service portals, consumer service companies, nonprofits, and marketers, in general, to sell their ideas and drive conversions.

But explainer videos are not how-tos or tutorials. They don’t explain an idea's technicalities and focus on the high-level details and core benefits.

Why Use Explainer Videos?

Using explainer videos in your marketing, sales, and onboarding strategies has numerous benefits. Let’s quickly discuss some of them.

Drive Engagement

If an image is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a library. According to research, the human brain processes visuals 600 times faster than text content. This is why 68% of marketers say video has the best ROI of all content.

With an engaging explainer video, you can immediately capture your audience’s attention and quickly demonstrate your idea's main benefits and advantages. 

Save Time

Research shows that an average internet user's attention span is under 9 seconds. So, an average internet user is not ready to read the 2000 words you’ve written to explain your idea. This is why explainer videos are so valuable.

They describe your main value proposition in just a few seconds and persuade your audience to learn more about your product, service, idea, or offer.

So, your 2000-word article isn’t useless. But you need an explainer video to hook your audience first, evoke curiosity, and convince them to read on.

More Memorable

High-quality explainer videos are much more memorable than plain text. Here’s what Dr. Haig Kouyoumdjian, a renowned psychologist and author, says about the impact of visuals.

“Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered.”

A well-made explainer video communicates your message much more convincingly and stays in your audience’s minds for much longer, resulting in repeat interactions, word-of-mouth marketing, and conversions.

Great For Branding

Any pretender can create a fancy website these days. This is where a professionally designed explainer video can be an excellent differentiation point in your brand experience.

A high-quality explainer video immediately positions your brand ahead of your competitors, increases your credibility, and persuades your audience to give your product a try.

Where To Use Explainer Videos

You can use explainer videos to engage your audience on various platforms. Here are some of the most common places brands use them.

Website’s Homepage

Your website's homepage is the best palace to use an explainer video because it helps you engage your visitors and communicate your message effectively.

Most brands use explainer videos on their website’s homepage page as it allows them to demonstrate their core offer, explain its most significant benefits, and persuade visitors to sign up.

So, if you’ve done thorough audience research and know the most common questions of your website visitors, you can use an explainer video to answer them.

Product Feature Pages

Product features can be hard to explain especially if you’re marketing a new or complex product. This is where explainer videos can make your job much easier.

Instead of confusing your audience with technical jargon, create dedicated explainer videos for each of your product features explaining how they benefit the user.

This can improve your product’s adoption rate and make your marketing strategy more persuasive.

Brand Story/About Page

The About page is the second most frequently visited page on most sites. When your site visitors benefit from your content or like your product features, they become curious about your brand and the people behind it.

This is where you can use explainer videos to share your brand story and build a deeper connection with your audience beyond product features. Tell your story, share your values, and show your audience what your brand stands for.

Social Media Platforms

Videos are the most popular content type on social media. Yet, the average watch time per video on social media is just under ten seconds.

The lesson? Short, focused, and engaging videos perform better on social media. This makes explainer videos ideal for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other social networks.

Presentations And Conferences

Most corporate presentations and conferences are boring and unengaging. But you can stand out and capture your audience’s attention by including an explainer video in your talk.

Instead of describing your product idea or topic through PowerPoint slides, convert all the relevant information into a high-quality explainer video. 

Doing so would help you communicate your message more effectively and make you look more competent and professional.

Marketing And Fundraising Campaigns

Whether you’re pitching your startup to investors or looking to raise funds for a worthy cause, explainer videos can drastically increase the impact of your message.

A short video that not only tells but shows your investors and donors what you plan to do, can go a long way in helping you raise funds and turn your dream into a reality.

Types Of Explainer Videos

Now that you know what explainer videos are and where you can use them let’s dive deeper into the different types of explainer videos you can create for your brand.

Explainer Video Type #1: Live Action

Live-action explainer videos are like professionally designed commercials that show real people, instead of animated characters, using a product or service and explaining its benefits. They’re ideal for established brands and companies selling physical products. 

Here’s an excellent example of a live-action video by Vervoe.

Creating live-action explainer videos is expensive because to stand out, you need to use high-definition cameras, professional lighting, multiple actors, scripting, editing, etc.

But it’s worth the investment if you’re looking to stand out and establish your brand’s credibility.

Explainer Video Type #2: Live stream 

The main difference between live action and live stream videos is that the latter is broadcast live and unedited. 

Livestream explainer videos are risky because you might unintentionally say something not aligned with your brand’s messaging policy. But they’re the best for creating credibility and a strong connection with your audience. 

Most brands live stream explainer videos on Facebook, YouTube, or other social networks and take their audience’s questions live, making the videos more interactive and valuable.

They’re quite popular in the eCommerce and online retail industries and help brands drive sales. However, don’t use them if you have an evolving product or if you’re not experienced in handling live broadcasts.

Explainer Video Type #3: Animated

Animated explainer videos are among the most popular video types businesses use to engage their audience and drive conversions.

They’re most commonly used by SaaS companies looking to explain how their product works and benefits the end users. 

Since animation is a vast field, you can use a number of animation types for your explainer videos—for example, 2D and 3D animations, 2D character animation, motion graphics, etc.

Here’s an example of an animated explainer video by Ahrefs.

Here’s another explainer video that uses character animation.

Animated explainer videos are ideal for a wide range of businesses because they open unlimited possibilities. You can use them to describe any process or ideas you can imagine.

Explainer Video Type #4: Whiteboard

Whiteboard explainer videos are another highly engaging video type used by brands for storytelling and explaining complex processes.

They usually show a hand drawing different characters with a narrator doing the storytelling. They’re fun to watch and highly engaging as they keep the viewer guessing what will be drawn next. 

Here’s a classic example of a whiteboard explainer video.

Whiteboard animations are much cheaper than 3d or 2d animations and live-action videos. This makes them ideal for brands looking to create quality explainer videos on a budget.

Explainer Video Type #5: Kinetic Typography

These videos primarily show animated text with various animation effects to communicate a brand’s message. They’re easy to create and ideal for short motivational videos or explaining easy-to-understand processes. However, they offer limited scope for branding and aren’t a great choice for demonstrating technical product benefits.

Here’s an example of such explainer videos

Explainer Video Type #6: Screencasts

Brands use screencast explainer videos to demonstrate their product features and show the product in action. They’re ideal for giving your audience an inside at your product and allowing them to experience its benefits.

Here’s an example of an animated screencast explainer video that uses a combination of conventional text animations and screen sharing to demonstrate a product.

Screencasts are also great for turning regular presentations into engaging videos. For example, Braze uses Loom screen recordings to create short explainer videos on different topics related to thought leadership, product marketing, and customer engagement.

Here’s an example.

7 Examples Of Best Explainer Videos By Different Brands

Before diving into the process of creating explainer videos, let’s quickly view some of the best explainer video examples by different brands.

Explainer Video Example #1: Asana

Asana’s live-action explainer video is an excellent example of showcasing your product benefits and showing how your product makes your customers’ lives easier without being overly promotional.

Asana uses this video in the main hero section of its homepage so that its website visitors can immediately get a high-level view of its core offer.

Explainer Video Example #2: ClickUp

ClickUp, another leading project management tool, uses this 2D animated explainer video on its website homepage. It uses animated characters to describe why ClickUp exists, what problems it solves, and how it's different from other similar tools.

This video stands out because of engaging animation, clear script, and just the right details a new user needs to become interested in the product.

Explainer Video Example #3: Mailchimp

Mailchimp is among the world’s leading email marketing solutions. But it’s also known for its creative video campaigns and engaging content.

This 3D animated explainer video markets one of Mailchimp’s exclusive video series on the ups and downs of running a business. It doesn’t have any background narration and uses animated text and characters to communicate its message.

It’s a fun video that’s likely to interest anyone running a business.

Explainer Video Example #4: ScheduleBase

ScheduleBase is an online scheduling tool designed for businesses with remote and field workers. It uses an engaging whiteboard animation video to explain its core benefits and how it simplifies workplace scheduling.

Explainer Video Example #5:Airbnb

Airbnb is known for its outstanding commercials, brand videos, and educational content. I’ve picked three different types of explainer videos Airbnb has used in the last few years.

The first one is an incredibly engaging live-action video showing how Airbnb customers feel welcomed even when they’re strangers.

The second explainer video shows multiple Airbnb hosts sharing their experiences meeting and hosting new people and how it has impacted their lives.

The third video is the most impressive of all. It markets the Airbnb fund that promotes and finances creative hosts designing unique spaces for Airbnb customers.

Each of those videos uses a different angle to communicate its message. But all three are equally engaging and perfectly explain their core benefits.

Explainer Video Example #6: Shopify

Shopify, the world’s most popular online store platform, uses this explainer video on its website homepage. The video describes how Shopify has simplified eCommerce and empowered people worldwide to open and run full-scale eCommerce businesses without any technical skills.

Explainer Video Example #7: GetResponse

This live-action explainer video by GetResponse differs from the other videos I’ve shared. Instead of storytelling, this video shows the company’s CMO describing one of its new plans along with its benefits.

The video’s picture quality and subtle animations give it a professional look. Plus, it’s short enough to keep the viewers engaged till the end.

How To Make An Explainer Video

Want to make an explainer video that keeps your viewers engaged till the end and drives action? Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Finalize The Video’s Goal

Why do you want to create an explainer video? Who are you making it for? What do you want the viewer to do after watching it? How does it align with your marketing, sales, and branding goals? How does it contribute to your long-term goals? 

Answering these questions before making an explainer video is critical because it will help you determine:

  • The type of video

  • Where you want to publish it (e.g., website, social media, landing page, etc.)

  • Its content

  • Its messaging strategy

  • Its call to action

And many other critical components that make an explainer video successful.

For example, explainer videos are great for demonstrating features and benefits, but they’re not sales videos. Similarly, they’re excellent for creating product awareness and generating email sign-ups, but they’re not product tutorials that go deep into a product’s technicalities.

So, before making an explainer video, make sure you know exactly why you’re doing it.

Step 2: Choose An Explainer Video Type

We’ve discussed several explainer video types in this article so far. So which one do you want to create? Obviously, it depends on your video’s goal.

For example, if your primary goal is branding and awareness, you might go for an Airbnb style live action video. But if you’re on a limited budget, you might go for an animated explainer video.

Similarly, if your video is about a specific feature, you might want to create a Loom screen recording demonstrating how it works.

Or, if you want to narrate a story on a budget, perhaps you could go for a whiteboard animation. All of these video types work great if you choose them for the right goal and hire professional help to create them.

Step 3: Create The Storyboard

Your video’s storyboard is a high-level description of how the story will flow. It covers things like the angle of your story, the environment and surroundings, the characters, the number of scenes, etc.

Think of it as a strategy document for your explainer video that provides you with a bird’s eye view of your content.

Without a storyboard, nobody knows how the story flows, who’s the hero, and where they’re going.

Step 4: Finalize The Characters

Once the storyboard is done, you need to finalize the characters of your video. It could be just one person talking about your product or multiple customers like the Shopify video.

Some videos might not have a character at all. Instead, they could focus entirely on the viewer and explain the product's benefits by connecting it with the user’s biggest problems.

The characters you finalize need to be played either by real people or animated figures.

Step 5: Write The Script

The script includes the actual words that your characters or background voice artists speak, and your viewers hear during your video. So, you need to choose them carefully and craft the script using words that your viewers can easily understand and relate to.

Since explainer videos aren’t usually longer than 2-4 minutes, creating a script isn’t as complicated as it is for a longer video. However, you’d still need to choose your words carefully and ensure you have the finalized script when you shoot your video.

Step 6: Produce The Video

The production process of your video would depend mainly on your video type. For example, if you’re shooting a live-action video, you’d need a more formal setup with professional lighting, sound, cameras, actors, editors, etc.

Similarly, you’ll need to hire professional services or use tools to create animated videos like whiteboards, and 2D or 3D animations.

However, for screencasts, you can create quality videos using Loom since it considerably simplifies the whole process of screen recording and editing. You can install Loom’s Chrome extension and record your system screen with your voice in the background. Or you could enable the front camera and show your face in the corner of your video.

Once you complete recording your screencast, you can use Loom’s editing tools to trim and crop your content, add annotations, background music and audio effects, calls to action, pointers, and various other elements to make your video look more professional.

Step 7: Edit For Higher Engagement

Once the video production process is complete, you need to edit your content to make it presentable and cut off any unnecessary video parts.

For live-action videos, you’ll need the services of a professional editing company or service provider. However, for animations, editing is usually a part of the video production process and happens side by side. 

Remember that your explainer video’s performance and engagement rely heavily on its editing since this step determines the quality of your final content.

Tips And Best Practices For Making Effective Explainer Videos

Before we wrap up, let me quickly share a few best practices and tips for making effective explainer videos.

Explainer Video Tip #1: Keep It Short

Explainer videos are not documentaries. They’re short and focused videos that aim to give your viewers a high-level introduction to your product, idea, or offer. So keep them short, ideally under three minutes. But under no circumstances should an explainer video be longer than five minutes because that kills its purpose.

Explainer Video Tip #2: Focus On Benefits, Not Features

Forget your product’s technical superpowers when creating an explainer video because your audience doesn’t care about features. They want to hear the benefits and how your idea or offer makes their lives easier. So, think from their perspective and always let the benefits drive your video. However, use subtle connections between benefits and features to ensure your viewers get the hint.

Explainer Video Tip #3: Include A Call-To-Action

The purpose of an explainer video could be to persuade the viewer to sign up for a free product trial, subscribe to your email list, make a donation, or any other action you want them to take. So, always add a clear and clickable call to action button at the end of your video. In addition, encourage the viewers to click on your CTA in your video script.

Explainer Video Tip #4: Use An Uncomplicated Script

Talking of scripts, don’t try to be too cheeky when writing your explainer video’s script. It’s ok to add a few clever dialogues here and there, but if your whole video script talks between the lines, you’ll never be able to clearly communicate your message. So, when it comes to video scripts, keep them simple.

Explainer Video Tip #5: Test Different Formats

You might believe animated explainer videos are best for your brand since all of your competitors use them. But don’t let this assumption stop you from trying and testing other video formats. Sometimes you could stand out in your industry and get a much higher response than your competitors by trying a new video format. So, keep testing to find the optimal video format.

Ready To Make Your First Explainer Video?

If it’s your first time, go for something simple yet effective like creating a Loom screen recording. It not only looks professional but also doesn’t cost you much compared to other video types. But if you’re  ready to jump in, discuss your ideas with professional video creators and seek their advice before designing your content.


Aug 22, 2022

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