There are many things – ideas, information, or updates – that you have to convey to your audience. However, it is not always prearranged that you will have a live audience to share your views with. In several circumstances and scenarios, you will encounter the necessity to communicate with audiences that are spread across the globe; but is it always feasible for you to travel and communicate with everyone in person?

Certainly not!

There is a channel, however, that allows you to reach out to as wide an audience as you wish to, with just a one-time investment of your time and money. That channel is explainer videos.

A Simple Guide to Creating Amazing Explainer Videos

© | Irina Strelnikova

In this article, you will learn about 1) what are explainer videos, 2) things you should consider, and 3) how to create awesome explainer videos.


What is an explainer video?

An explainer video is a concise, animated video that is hosted online with the specific intention of marketing an idea, a product or a service. Explainer videos are intended to have a two-pronged effect – to explain and to capture attention.

In today’s world, explainer videos have quickly gained in popularity so much so that they have become almost indispensable in the domain of product and service marketing. In fact, if the claims of certain marketing websites are anything to go by, a good explainer video can increase conversion rates by almost 150%.

(…and what it is not) An explainer video is DEFINITELY NOT:

  • A Viral video: However strong the marketing pitch of an explainer video may be, the intention is NOT to just gather views and likes as in the case of a viral video.
  • A Tutorial: An explainer video isn’t a tutorial either. It is supposed to be a short, to-the-point video, written to strictly adhere to a script and turning it into a tutorial will defeat its purpose.
  • A Company Overview: An explainer video is not focused on your company, but rather on the specific product or service that you are offering.
  • A Product Demonstration: An explainer video focuses on explaining to your targeted customer why they need to avail of your product or service, and avoids the technicalities of how the product or service actually works.

Why Explainer Videos are important and why we should use them

To stay relevant in this age of ruthless social media marketing, it is most crucial to have your own explainer video(s). Remember that an explainer video can be the difference between a successful and a failed marketing campaign. An explainer video is a potent device by which you can share content on social media. Keeping them short and succinct, while taking the aid of captivating animation themes will ensure that the audience is enthusiastic to learn more about your venture. Good explainer videos are able to influence your audience to connect with a known problem that you will shrewdly introduce in the video and concur with the solution that you will go on to provide. Also, it is a common human trait to have a preference for watching an interesting video instead of having to read paragraphs and paragraphs of lackluster text.

Types of explainer videos

Live-Action Explainer Videos: Not all explainer videos are animated. Some explainer videos use actual human characters (actors or real-life characters) to market a product or service. Especially when selling a product, it is preferable to showcase the actual product rather than an animated version of it. Also, in certain scenarios, having actual human characters makes it easier for you to connect with your audience at an emotional level.

Animated Explainer Videos: A great majority of all explainer videos are animated ones. This kind of format is preferred when non-physical products and services need to be marketed. An animation format allows you to be more creative than is possible with conventional live action.

Whiteboard Explainer Videos: This is a cost-effective kind of video and it involves the use of a whiteboard and markers in creating simple stop-motion animation sequences.

Kickstarter Explainer Videos: Kickstarter explainer videos are exclusively made for use in the popular crowd-sourcing platform, Kickstarter. These videos tend to be more detailed than regular explainer videos, and thus have a longer play time.

Some examples of remarkable explainer videos A notable live-action video that explains the merits of using cheaper, conventional razor blades, as opposed to the expensive, branded ones.


Chipotle – Back to the Start: A beautifully animated explainer video by the Mexican grill chain, Chipotle that explains the hazards of industrial farming and goes on to reassure the audience about their own healthier methods of organic farming.


Mint: A simple animated presentation goes a long way in explaining how Mint helps manage your money.


AirBnB: This video uses a smart combination of both live-action and animation to illustrate AirBnB’s vacation rentals and lodging services.



Understand your target: To make a successful explainer video, it is imperative that you work towards an explicit goal, instead of just making random videos. To this effect, it is mandatory to understand and define your target audience. By defining and profiling your audience, you will be able to understand the two realms –

  • Their characteristics: Every audience has its own unique characteristics. While profiling your audience, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of your audience like the level of education, level of professional experience, intrinsic responsibilities handled by members of your audience, personality traits, cultural characteristics and personal preferences, depending on the various types of audiences that you are planning to target. Also it might be productive to classify your audience into primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary audiences are the obvious targets – the people that will be using your resource(s). Secondary audiences are the people that will need to be targeted, but may not necessarily or directly act upon your initiative. Tertiary audiences are the people who are just about likely to take an active or passive interest in your initiative.
  • Their problems: Remember, an explainer video is all about an audience, and whatever problem you are setting upon to resolve MUST be the problem that your audience is facing. Simply put, you will need to be in tune with the exact problems of your target. To be able to do that, you will need to step in their shoes – ask questions and understand where they are coming from. An important element of problem perception is Audience Psychographics – the act of profiling your audience by parameters such as their mind-sets, values and apprehensions. Once a psychographic analysis is done, you will be able to comprehend the exact problems, needs and expectations of your audience.

Understand simplicity: Simplicity is the backbone of a great explainer video. Remember that it is always a simple video that gets you the most mileage with your audience – regardless of their intellectual level. People find it tricky and unappealing to watch a video that bombards them with tons of information. So, it’s best that you make a video that is easier to comprehend and doesn’t compel your audience to try and remember a whole lot of information. Your explainer video should just be an overview, and not a detailed walk-through or tutorial.

Select the video agency that would best suit your purpose: A lot rests on your choice of the video agency that handles the production of your explainer video. You might have a great idea, but if not executed well, it might just turn into a blot on the landscape. Consider the following decisive factors.

  • What aspects of production do they handle? Since you are aiming to create an engaging yet very simple video, it is helpful in many instances if you are able to handle the conceptualization portion yourself, instead of leaving it to the agency. However, scripting is a domain that you might like to entrust to a good script-writer from the agency.
  • Do you see creativity/uniqueness in their portfolio? It is very important to peruse work samples of the agency to make sure that their work is creative and all the samples are unique.
  • Are the videos engaging? When you browse through the video samples made by the agency, try and ascertain if you find those samples engaging. If not, there can certainly be no guarantee that the video that they will be making for you will be engaging either.

Select the optimal video playing time best suited to your purpose: Although opinions are divided as to what the optimal length of an explainer video should be, ideally a good video should be anywhere from a minute to two minutes long. Chose your content and try to incorporate all the important information within that time barrier, without going over the top. A good explainer video may not even be all-inclusive; it just needs to keep the audience engaged and enthusiastic to learn more.

Understand and ascertain the central idea of the video you are planning to create: While creating the concept for your video, it is mandatory to incorporate the central idea into the script. Since you are only allowed about 150 to 300 words to explain your idea, make sure that you do not waste it on unimportant or lesser-important aspects. A great explainer video script has four basic elements in its structure – the problem at hand, the solution you are offering, how your solution works and finally, a call to action. That’s it!

What your explainer video should be

Video should be transformative: A good video can not only change perspectives, it can act as a major agent of transformation. There are many industry examples of how great explainer videos have successfully transformed lives. When you are creating your own explainer video, try and get it to deliver valuable input to your audience about how the solution you provide has the potential to change their lives.

Video should be empathetic and have a light-hearted and positive tone: To get your audience to connect with your thoughts, it is important to first tune your explainer video to be in sync with theirs. Your video should have a tone that is empathetic to your audience’s problems and their general frame of mind. Having said that, it is also important to maintain a light-hearted and positive tone, and never go over the top in emotionally appealing to your audience. Incorporate a healthy dose of humour as well, if the theme of the video so permits.

Choose your words wisely: You will understand that in a short explainer video, you do not have the luxury of an extensive script. Spend your time well in creating a script where you can convey your idea(s) in the most succinct manner possible. Organize your ideas so that they have a smooth flow to them, instead of conjuring a script that looks like random ideas bundled together.

Customer value and business value should never cross path in the explainer video: Notwithstanding the importance of making a sales pitch, you should ascertain that you do not mix up the two elements – a genuine message that your audience is able to empathise with and selling your product or service. A successful explainer video always concentrates on the former. Remember the precondition that your video will most likely be viewed on a social media platform, where it will have to compete for attention with other “interesting stuff”. Anything that comes across as an advertisement will most likely be instantly discarded by your targeted audience. So, it is a best practice to only drop a subtle hint at the very end of the video to just let your audience know where you are coming from and what you are getting at, and leave it to their curiosity take charge of the rest.


How to Make an Explainer Video

Style: Depending on the product or service that you offer, you will need to finalize a style for your explainer video. If it’s a physical product that you intend to sell, then it is best to choose a live-action video style. In case, your product is non-physical (e.g. a software), then you can go for animated videos. If you are selling a service that needs explaining, it is best to settle on a simple white-board style of animation.

Script: A good script is an inherent part of a successful explainer video. While you may possess excellent writing skills, it is still better to hand over that responsibility to a script-writer from the video agency. Having an independent-minded person write the script will ensure that it is written from a layman point of view, and will thus be more comprehensible to your audience. Of course, you will have to keep the script writer up to speed with your exact requirements while allowing him the freedom to use his creativity.

Voice-over: Having a professional voice-over is a very important aspect of audience engagement and retention. Cut no corners here. There are many locations where you can source great voice-over artists. You can seek the help of a professional agency, or browse through hundreds of suitable voice-actor profiles on sites such as It is also equally important to ensure that the audio quality of your video is immaculate. Poorly-recorded voice-overs can destroy the credibility of the explainer video and that of your business.

Video Production: The actual video production is an intricate process that involves a lot of sound decisions. The very first decision that you will have to make is to decide whether to work on the production yourself (then you should use one of the leading video editing software) or enlist the services of professionals. Of course, professional help doesn’t come cheap, the minimum being at least a few thousand dollars. For that much money, you will be guaranteed a top-notch explainer video that not only looks great, but is able to woo in an audience as well, provided of course, you assign the task to a renowned video agency. On the other hand, if a diminutive budget is your concern, you can take the DIY route and make use of animation software like Pow Toon to help you get the job done by yourself, with minimum computer skills. If animation doesn’t interest you, you can create live-action footage with the help of a simple camcorder or even a cell phone camera. Another viable and economical alternative to hiring an expensive video production company would be to employ a freelancer. Freelancers are omnipresent in online staffing platforms and a few hours’ worth of research should land you with a competent one.

Music & Sound Effects: It is most often a great idea to infuse the voice-over with some soothing, captivating music in the background. There are several sites available that offer thousands of brilliant background scores that can be used on your explainer video. All you need to ascertain is whether the track you have chosen is available for public use according to its licence agreement.

Measuring Performance: Once your explainer video is online, it is imperative to track its performance vis-à-vis the number of views it has accumulated, which geographical region it is being viewed in, what demography of the population it is popular with, etc. Since the video will be hosted on a popular video hosting platform like YouTube or Facebook, most of the above details regarding performance can be collected from the insights provided. A more detailed insight can be obtained via Google Analytics.

Enjoying the Advantages of an Explainer Video: There are several advantages of having any video online. Especially when the video is an explainer video, it can do a wonderful job of boosting the all-important conversion rate of your business website. Secondly, videos in general account for more than two thirds of all content searches made on the internet – having an explainer video on your site can multiply hits and visitors for your website manifold. Good explainer videos also ensure that visitors stay on your website longer. Lastly, since explainer videos are hosted on popular video-sharing websites, they are “shareable” across most (if not all) social media platforms.

How to Promote Your Explainer Video

Once you have successfully created and hosted your explainer video, the next important step would be to promote it. While you can always share your video via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the viewership will be organic, and thus limited. To enhance the viewership significantly, you would need to opt for paid advertisements. YouTube offers pre-roll ads that are charged per view of the advertisement. A similar setup is available on Facebook as well, wherein a post containing the link to the video can be promoted as a Facebook ad to a target audience for a fixed charge.

How to Target the Right Audience and Managing Traffic

Targeting the right kind of audience will be achievable once you sort out how many people should be watching your video and for how long.

Average page view / video view ratio: Many factors contribute to the video viewer ratio:

  1. The quality of incoming traffic.
  2. The quality of copywriting around the video – catchy headline, summary etc.
  3. The prominence of the video on the web page – the video has to represented by a prominent thumbnail, icon or a tile.

View to Completion Rate: When a video is engaging, it naturally boasts a good view to completion rate. While making an explainer video, you should always take into account the typically short attention span of humans. However, attention spans vary from person to person, depending on the age group, sex and level of education. For example, young students typically have a good attention span ranging from three to six minutes, but the same cannot be assumed for mature adults. Thus, it is important to understand the attention span of your target audience and decide the length of your explainer video accordingly. In general, however, it is best to have your video hover over the 1-2 minute mark.

Considering User-Generated Video Testimonials

Lastly, it can be a clever touch to incorporate user-generated video testimonials along with your explainer video. Having user-generated content will help the audience connect better with your cause and elicit a greater sense of conviction in general. This heightened level of confidence and conviction will most definitely result in better sales figures for your product or service.

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