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What Is an Explainer Video, and How Should It Be Used?

What Is an Explainer Video?

An explainer video is a short video that clearly explains the products, services, or nature of a business. Its primary purpose is to educate viewers, and it can be either animated or live action. Explainer videos can have a selling angle — encouraging prospects to buy a product, engage in a service, or increase their affinity for a certain brand — or they can teach people how to use something they’ve already purchased. The popularity and usage of the explainer video has increased due to the natural expansion of Internet marketing, especially direct-to-consumer marketing.

Explainer videos can increase the speed of understanding, helping audiences connect faster with businesses and products. They also communicate the essence of a business’s brand.

Why Use Explainer Videos? How Should an Explainer Video Be Used?

Explainer videos are designed to lower the barrier of entry for potential purchases and engagement, and they work best within the context of a complete marketing strategy. They are most often embedded on website homepages and landing pages so that consumers see and watch them first before continuing to browse.

An explainer video will be far less effective if it’s buried somewhere inside your website or a user has to scroll down through several sections in order to see it. Because it’s an excellent vehicle for positive brand impressions, it yields the greatest results when it’s the first thing that a site visitor interacts with.

Why Do You Need an Explainer Video?

Everyone is looking for a reason to ignore you in today’s crowded marketplace. If you’re not telling the right story in an engaging way, your audience is going to dismiss you as being unable to help them. As the digital landscape gravitates toward visual storytelling, it makes to strongly consider getting an explainer video, which is becoming more of a necessity than an option for every company conducting business online.For those who already have well-known products and easy-to-understand services, an explainer video may be less important to create than other types of videos. For the majority of businesses, however, explainer videos can increase brand awareness and even convert potential customers. If you match any of the criteria below, you should consider getting an explainer video for your business.

6 Excellent Reasons to Get an Explainer Video:

  1. Your products and services are complex in nature and lend themselves to a demo, illustration, or explanation to help consumers understand them quickly
  2. You have a new brand or product that you’d like to introduce to the marketplace
  3. You would like to generate positive PR for your business by clearing up misconceptions about your products and services or showing how you’re giving back to society
  4. You have a complicated business model and would like to explain it clearly while differentiating yourself from competitors
  5. You want to give your audience an “inside look” at your product (and how to use it) before they buy it
  6. You want to show customers how to use your products and services after they’ve purchased

Explainer videos can prove especially useful for technology and software businesseshealthcare organizations, and B2B companies, who often have complex market offerings and need a concise, interesting way to explain them to their target audiences. Explainer videos are beneficial to many companies, however, because audiences have short attention spans and are growing accustomed to visual storytelling.

In fact, according to HubSpot, 68% of consumers say they’d prefer to learn about a new product or service by watching a short video, overwhelmingly beating out all other types of content. (The second preference was text-based articles at just 15%). When asked what type of video content they wanted to see, consumers cited explainer videos (39%).

How to Make a Great Explainer Video?

What makes a good explainer video? Great explainer videos can be highly valuable for your business because they typically have a long shelf life and can be used in multiple ways to promote your brand. To make a great explainer video, you need to incorporate all of the seven key things listed below.

7 Key Things That Make a Great Explainer Video:

  1. A script that clearly and concisely communicates your core message
  2. Compelling animation or live action that illustrates the script (meaning that it is not too flashy, distracting, slow, or misaligned with the voiceover or messaging)
  3. A voiceover that fits the tone of the script and visuals
  4. It accurately represents your brand and business and adds a “wow” factor
  5. The style and messaging resonate with your target audience
  6. It’s placed in a high traffic zone (such as your homepage) and promoted via social channels and email
  7. It’s directed at a single call to action that you can measure

Let’s talk about a few of these.

What You Need for a Great Explainer Video: A Script that Clearly and Concisely Communicates Your Core Message


An explainer video can’t be successful without a dialed-in script. QuickSprout argues that you should never let a video company write your script because “the video marketing company doesn’t know your business like you do.” Of course they don’t — but if you get into writing your own script, “knowing your business” may be exactly what gets you into trouble. If you’re too close to what you do, you won’t be able to explain it very well. Just about every business has this problem, which is why explainer videos came to being in the first place. Having an outside perspective can help you drill down to your most compelling message.

Being too close to your message is a problem that is easily remedied. When you start shopping for video production companies, you should ask them what approach they take for scripting and what that process entails. To write a great script, they should be asking you detailed questions and getting lots of important information from you. They may have excellent script writers and give you rounds of feedback so that you can edit and approve along the way. Or, you may want to hire your own contract writer to do the script for you. Whether you do it yourself or decide to hire someone, you need to understand the basics of writing a compelling script.

Basics of Writing a Compelling Video Explainer Script

  1. Discover what you most want to communicate. The process of distilling your message should not be taken lightly. Begin with lots of information — all the material you think you might need — and then evaluate your priorities. Start cutting the copy down until you have the absolute essentials.
  2. Choose only ONE message to focus on. If you try to communicate multiple ideas to your audience, they will leave distracted or confused. Let’s say Example Software Company wants viewers to schedule a software demo with a sales associate. They could focus on ONE of the following: 1) how their software is the most cost-effective solution for their target audience; 2) the key features that make their software different from the competition’s; or 3) how easy it is to get started with their software, especially with 24/7 support from Example Software Company’s team. All of these messages might be good for the consumer to know, but you should focus on the one message that would have the most impact (or compel action).
  3. Ensure that the tone of the script reflects your brand. The voiceover should take cues from the way the script is written, whether the tone is funny, smart, sophisticated, fast-paced, reassuring, exciting, calm, simple, whimsical, etc. Speak directly to your target audience and use the language and style that would appeal to them. Later, when you’re choosing a voiceover, make sure that the voice and inflection align with the feel of the overall message you’re communicating. A bad voiceover means a bad video — period.
  4. Determine a single call to action to close your script. Let’s return to Example Software Company. If they want potential customers to call for an estimate, the only call to action for the video would be “schedule a call,” not “visit our website” or “message us on Facebook.” Multiple CTAs divide your audience’s attention and lower the chance that they will take action.

Once you have a core script, circulate it among your team and get feedback; for the sake of efficiency, ensure that only one person makes the final decision on changes. Next, it’s time to decide what kind of visuals goes best with your script.

What You Need for a Great Explainer Video: Compelling Animation or Live Action that Illustrates the Script

Whether you choose animation or live action for your explainer video, the style of the video should fit the tone of your business and cater to your target audience, just as the script should. The visual scenery needs to align with the message you’re communicating. If it’s bright and flashy, but your message is serious, you should make changes; if it’s slow and structured, but your message is fun, you’ll have another misalignment.

Storyboarding can eliminate most of these issues up front. Storyboarding is usually the third step in the process of developing a video:

  1. Discovery / Strategy
  2. Script
  3. Storyboard
  4. Styleframes
  5. Rough Animation
  6. Sound Design

This is where the narrative of your script literally starts to take shape. That’s why, when you’re approving storyboards or samples, you should be meticulous and bring in other members of your team whom you think would have a good sense of what fits your business and the message of the script.

A good video company will be watchful on this as well, but they are still learning your brand and will want helpful feedback to ensure that you get exactly what you need. Catching key misalignments in the storyboarding phase will keep them from snowballing into bigger issues further into development.

What You Need for a Great Explainer Video: Placement

As we mentioned before, explainer videos are not meant to be buried somewhere within your website or used in your blog. They are high-impact pieces of content that need to be in a very visible or promotional space. For example, they can placed on your homepage (above the fold is best), on a targeted landing page where you drive traffic, used in social media campaigns, or emailed out to prospects or new customers.

Placement is also key to your explainer video’s impact as an educational piece or sales asset. The process of measuring the success of your video won’t be straightforward unless you have a very specific call-to-action that is trackable. Most of the time you won’t know the exact ROI, but you may be able to determine the video’s usefulness within the structure of a marketing or social media campaign.

Explainer videos in general are preferred by consumers and can generate a boost in your brand awareness, even contributing to conversions, but their effectiveness drops significantly if they are put in the wrong places.

What You Need for a Great Explainer Video: A Single Call to Action You Can Measure

Most of the time, explainer videos add to the positive signals that allow people to understand, trust, and interact with your business. You may see significant results on landing pages, especially if you’re driving certain kinds of traffic to the page (and the messaging on the page is targeted for that audience), but if you have the video on your homepage, it will be harder to tell if the explainer video is making a major impact without a couple things:

  1. Customer feedback
  2. A single, trackable call to action

If you want to know what your customers or site visitors think of your video — whether it’s working or increases their understanding — you should ask them! Whether you email your list or include a short form underneath the video (“Was this video helpful to you? Yes / No”), you can find out whether your video is resonating with consumers. You can also do this with tools like Hotjar, where anonymous users can give feedback on your website experience so that you have data to improve the usability of your site.

But one of the best ways to find out the ROI of your explainer video is to include a specific call to action that you can track. For example, you could do one of the following:

  • Ask them to visit a webpage ONLY mentioned in your video: “Visit [your site name].com/action to find out more.”
  • Ask them to call a phone number that is specific to the explainer video.
  • Tell them to call your company and mention a certain word to receive savings.
  • Use a video hosting platform that allows you to track views of the video to see if people are watching
  • Track the number of clicks on an in-video CTA button

If you have a strong concern about the ROI of your video, this is the best way to know exactly who is converting.

What Kind of Explainer Video Is Right for My Business?

Animated vs. Live Action Explainer Videos

“Should we go with animation or live action?” This is a common question from business owners and marketers who are looking to create an explainer video.

The answer depends mostly on the nature of your business and what you’ll be using your video for. What would your target audience resonate with? If you’re a restaurant with delicious food to showcase, you should probably choose live action over animation. If you’re a tech company, animation can explain the features of your software products far better than live action can. At the end of the day, you need to consider what you’re trying to communicate and how your audience would like to see that message illustrated. You may be well-positioned for either video style.

Some businesses may see animated videos as too cartoony or whimsical for their taste. However, not all animated videos are actually cartoons — they are simply motion-graphic based. The advantage of animated videos is that they can last a very long time. They don’t easily go out of date or need to be revised (this may also depend on your script, however). They can also entertain with fun styles and techniques that provide conceptual illustrations where concrete illustrations fall short.

Live action videos will require casting, props, and on-set production. If changes need to be made, all of this must be resourced again. With animation, edits are much easier to make later in the process. On the flip side, even though animated videos require fewer elements, computer animation can be time-intensive. Don’t assume that either one is more expensive; pricing is mostly determined by the video company you use and the nature of the video you want to develop. The video company you work with should be able to show you multiple examples, let you choose your preferences, and make recommendations based on what you’ve chosen and what they can provide.

Screencast Demo Video

A screencast or demo video is separate from the animated and live action styles. Although it is possible to use animation or live action for a demo, screencast videos can be much more efficient for this purpose. A screencast is produced when the computer screen itself is recorded so that the user can demonstrate the capabilities of a certain product (or ways to use it). These videos can be made with DIY screencasting tools like Loom, or video production companies can create them, providing more polish and editing. Since these straightforward demo videos can keep prospective customers from having to read large portions of text, they can accelerate understanding and provide a helpful boost in conversions.

What Is the Ideal Explainer Video Length?

How long should your explainer video be? The short answer is… short. It’s reported that viewer attention drops off after two minutes, and many businesses keep to this standard: Small Business Trends reports that 73% of B2B videos are less than two minutes long. To keep engagement high, focus on creating an explainer video that’s between 60-90 seconds long. You may only need a video that is 30 seconds long; or you may need one that is two minutes long. This will largely depend on what you’re trying to communicate. Overall, however, if you stay under two minutes, you should be able to keep your audience’s attention.

Be aware that longer videos will naturally cost more, simply because more time and resources will be involved in developing them. This is why carefully distilling your message and tightening your script on the front end is so important.

Shorter videos fit the short attention span of today’s audiences, but they may also leave viewers confused about what to do next if they don’t include enough information. Your video should be interesting, compelling, and to-the-point — leaving viewers with a clear call to action. They should know exactly what to do next once the video is over.

If you’re unsure what length of video you need, consult with your video production company to see if they have suggestions. You should know your preferred length before you get into production, but sometimes you’ll be deciding once you see the script. Any changes prior to production, however, will cost much less than those during or after production.

How to Use Explainer Videos in Your Overall Marketing Strategy

Many businesses seeking explainer videos know that they need a video, but they aren’t sure how to use it or what results they should expect. And this is OK! The truth is, explainer videos work best as components of a larger strategy, but simply looking to get a high quality video is a step in the right direction.

Using Explainer Videos in Your Marketing: Considering the Whole Funnel

The key objective of a sales funnel is to generate leads or potential customers. When you use an explainer video in the context of your funnel, you should be thinking about what stage in the process it will be most useful to you and why. Because explainer videos aim to educate your audience, they do best at the top of the funnel (at the primary interaction point) or post-funnel (when you are teaching current customers how to use your products or services).

You can even put an explainer video on a targeted landing page where you plan to drive paid traffic. If you have this page in place prior to using a video, you’ll be able to see the “before and after” effect once you add a video to the page.

When you know where your explainer video will go and what goal you want to achieve, you’ll be more prepared to create a high-impact video. An explainer video should solve a specific problem of understanding for your audience, and using it within the context of your funnel makes it more effective than it would be on its own. However, the beauty of an explainer video is that it can be used as a standalone or as a component in multiple promotional strategies.

Using Explainer Videos in Your Marketing: Choose Your KPIs

Before you get an explainer video, identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your current marketing strategy as well as for the video you want to develop. If you convert 20% more leads because of the video, is that important? If you simply get a bump in your overall site traffic — or even your sales — due to this marketing effort, will you be satisfied? It’s best to come in knowing what signals you’d like to measure. You may want an explainer video for your business in general, but if you have complex products and services, you could do well to create an explainer video specific to each one. With KPIs already in place, you would be able to see that cost-benefit ratio more easily.

What Kind of Results Can You Get from an Explainer Video?

If you’re looking for specific ROI from an explainer video, you’ll want to reference our section about having a single call to action you can measure. Remember that nearly 70% of consumers prefer to watch a short video on a product or service (in comparison with consuming other types of content). But results from video marketing are clear based on its surging growth as an industry over the past few years.

Video Marketing Statistics

  • In 2017, video editing platform Magisto reported that video marketing was a $135 billion industry in the US alone.
  • Cisco predicts that 83% of all online traffic will be video traffic by 2022.
  • Outbrain says that 87% of marketers are currently using video.

As video starts eating up a bigger piece of the content marketing pie, those who aren’t using video (or who are using it less) are quickly being left behind in the marketplace:

  • Wordstream reports that marketers using video grow their revenue 49% faster than those who don’t.
  • HubSpot states that the vast majority of marketers (83%) believe that video gives them a good ROI.
  • CrazyEgg says that their explainer video generated an additional $21,000 in revenue.

For at least the past decade, video has proven to improve conversion rates and significantly increase brand awareness. The key question for marketers today is not whether your business should invest in video, but how much your business should invest in video.

How Much Does It Cost to Make an Explainer Video?

Range of Pricing for Explainer Videos

The cost of an explainer video can vary widely. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $25,000 for an animated video and between $30-35K for a live-action video, but those numbers deserve some context. Video production is naturally expensive and multi-faceted — but as discussed above, it can be well worth your investment.

The Cost of Animated Explainer Videos

The low end, between $1,500 and $8,000, will generally get you a video that is templated and uses limited resources. You can get a decent video, but the risk of misrepresenting your brand or getting a cookie-cutter final product is higher. If you’re limited to a budget within this price range, just make sure that you ask an explainer video company these 3 questions before you hire them.

The high end ($25K) is for animation you’d see on major broadcasting networks on TV. You will probably not be seeking this type of quality for a video, so make sure that you don’t pay this price for anything less.

Everything in between — from $8K to around $25K — will get you a good video, but you should be getting far more than just a product. In order to get something that will really work for your business, you need a partner, not just a vendor. Great video companies will genuinely care about your brand and help you drill down into your message, illustrate it well, and help you put it in the right spot so that you can achieve greater success for the valuable resources you’re spending.

The Cost of Live Action Explainer Videos

Live action explainer videos are estimated to run between $30-65K, and the reason is because you’re dealing with actual production assets and human resources. Booking a location, casting actors, purchasing props, and getting a wardrobe are just one piece — you will need to pay for a director, sound engineer, a cinematographer and other production associates, as well as editing and post-production work.

If you’re a large company and a live action video would fit the style and message of what you’re trying to do, this may be an excellent investment. As is the case with animated videos, you just want to make sure that the video production company you’re working with is detailed, organized, thoughtful, informed, and has your best interests in mind.

How Do You Choose the Best Explainer Video Company?

Choosing the Best Explainer Video Company: Setting Your Goals

In order to choose the best explainer video company to work with, it’s best to set your goals and expectations ahead of time. If you’re completely new to video and need guidance, evaluate a video partner by their ability to ask detailed questions and offer you insightful recommendations. If you work with a team that simply takes orders without providing any expertise, you’re putting yourself in a position of risk — which is fine if you have plenty of knowledge on video creation but dangerous if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

Think about what you would most want a video to do (as part of your marketing strategy), what exactly you want to explain or promote, and how you’ll know that you’ve achieved your goal with the video (success criteria). Will it be successful if your CMO says she loves it? Will it be successful if you are able to use it in multiple places? Will it be successful if it helps you bring in email leads? The more information that you can give to the video company, the better they’ll be able to serve you in the creation of the product.

Choosing the Best Explainer Video Company: Working with People Who Care About Your Brand

You can work with any video company you want — one that is experienced in hundreds of styles, one that is boutique and focused on customization, one that is simple and straightforward — but all that matters is that you work with people who genuinely care about your brand. If they’re only focused on a paycheck or their own artistic vision, you may end up with an explainer video that is unusable or doesn’t serve your purposes. Here’s how to tell if a video company cares about your brand:

  1. They do their homework. They ask you lots of questions up front, probe into your strategy (maybe even help you build a strategy!), and read up on your business through your website or any materials you send.
  2. They present options for style and make recommendations based on what you tell them… and they remember what you’ve chosen. They are always offering advice but are careful to hear everything you have to say (because they are keen on learning as much as they can about your brand and business).
  3. They educate you about their process and ensure that you will have plenty of opportunities to provide feedback and approval. They want to make sure you’re getting what you ask for and that it will ultimately work for its intended purpose.

Choosing a video company to work with can often be reduced to pricing, but there is so much more to consider — especially when you’re spending money on an asset that can serve you for years to come! You may want to keep within your budget, but don’t sell yourself short by working with a company that puts their interests in front of yours.

Choosing the Best Explainer Video Company: Focusing on Risk Reduction

When you’ve decided to spend a certain amount to create an explainer video, the next step is figuring out how to reduce your risk. In addition to interviewing companies to ensure that they care about your brand (as discussed above), you’ll want to ask the following questions.

3 Questions to Ask an Explainer Video Company Before You Hire Them

  1. What is your feedback and revision process? In other words, how many opportunities will you have to make changes to the script, voiceover, and video? How much time will you have to review? How quickly will changes be made, and who is in charge of ensuring that they are made correctly? How strict is the video company on deadlines, and can they guarantee that your deadline will be met? What happens if it isn’t?
  2. Who is the point person on this project? It’s worthwhile to know who will be giving you updates and can answer any questions you have during the process. You should get one or two people assigned to your project (two is better, so nothing falls through the cracks) and have their contact information.
  3. Will you get to keep the video files? Who owns the video? This is a question most people never think to ask because they have no idea that they would need to. You may engage with a company and only be able to license the video from them instead of owning it. If you want to own your video and all the files, make it clear. The video company may not automatically deliver all the files to you, but you’ve paid for them, so don’t walk away without them. Those assets are graphic elements that can be used in other parts of your marketing.

You also want to make sure that the video company you choose has insurance in the event of errors or omissions that cause you damage. Getting the answers to these questions will help you understand how the process will work and whether or not the company you’re speaking with is worth hiring.

8 Great Explainer Video Examples

What Are Some Examples of Great Explainer Videos?

Sometimes it’s easier to describe what kind of video you want after you’ve seen a few great examples. We’ve selected eight explainer videos that we believe really capture the essence of what these kinds of videos can do. Of course, we’ll start this list with some of the favorites we’ve done!

1 – Panasonic LinkRay Explainer Video

This video illustrates the unique capabilities of Panasonic’s Link Ray product, showcasing different applications for how consumers might use it in their everyday lives. This is also a powerful example of how a complex product can be simplified using an explainer video.


2 – Yale Assure Lock Explainer Video

In this explainer video, Yale demonstrates the unique qualities of its digital key application, showcasing the simple design and applications to app users. The animation in this video clearly highlights the product’s ease of use and benefits over physical keys and locks.

3 – Menguin Explainer Video

In this video, Menguin promotes its tuxedo rental services and simultaneously explains to viewers how easily it is to get started. Their business model and all its key points are demonstrated simply through motion graphics and just a few brand colors.

5 – Dexter Edward Fognigma Explainer Video

Dexter Edward uses its video to introduce a service called Fognigma, which allows users to protect their data exchanges with secure, temporary environments. This is a tool with many layers of sophistication that is easily explained to viewers with motion graphics and a voiceover.

5 – Wrike Resource Explainer Video

This video for Wrike Resource offers a demonstration of Wrike’s software, showing potential customers how easy it is to use while pitching it as a solution to common project management problems. This is often where animation excels because it can effortlessly illustrate complex processes and provide an inside look at a digital resource without giving away too much proprietary information.

6 – LinkedIn Job Search Explainer Video

This short and sweet job search video for LinkedIn clearly communicates how simple it is to find a great job and apply for it through the LinkedIn site. Viewers come away knowing exactly why LinkedIn is a preferred job search engine and how it can benefit them.

7 – Uber Explainer Video

This live action video for Uber shows Uber drivers how they can receive payment quickly and easily through Instant Pay. This video is more of a tutorial for the Uber Driver App than a promotional video, though it could also be used for promotional purposes.

8 – Plated Explainer Video

This video for Plated showcases how adventurous eaters can enjoy lots of different cuisines by getting food delivered to their doorsteps. It offers the comfort of home-cooked meals and the diversity of international flavors.


Create an Explainer Video

Are you looking for the right partner to work with to create an explainer video for your business? Contact the Explainify team today. We can help you set goals, create a strategy, and develop an outstanding video that will compel your audience to take action. Our team of experts has worked with both small businesses and major brands to create high-impact explainer videos. It all starts with a simple, no-obligation conversation. Click here to get in touch — we’d love to speak with you!

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