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What is an Explainer Video?

If you are looking to explain to all your leads and existing customers about a specific product or service, video marketing is one of the best ways to achieve this.

With so much information that you need to share, such as the important specification, prices, goal and what makes it better than the rest, you need a succinct and clear way to present it to your audience. One of the most effective ways you can do this is with an explainer video.

We’re sure you’ve heard the term before, but do you know what one is, and even if you do, how do you go about making the best one possible? We are going to answer these questions and more in the following post. 

What is it?

It is a short video, normally of no more than 1 to 2 minutes that explains a product, service, company or even just a concept in a very simple and easy to digest manner. The focus of these kinds of videos is the viewer. 

Interestingly the first official explainer video ever uploaded was published by Common Craft in 2007 on YouTube. Called RSS in Plain English, it does exactly what it says on the tin. 

Due to the success of the concept, it became the benchmark for many other businesses and websites who made similar videos and included them in their marketing strategy. Although they often take the form of animations or “whiteboard” videos, there are no hard and fast rules about it.

What Makes an Explainer Video a Good One?

Now we have covered the basics, let’s look at what is normally included in these kinds of videos. While the content may be different, almost all explainer videos meet the following criteria.

  • High Quality – the quality is important, with regards to quality and production, for the video to successfully engage with the audience
  • Match the brand tone, style, and target audience – explainers are most effective when their tone and style matches with the company branding and are designed with the target audience in mind
  • Focus on solving a problem – rather than just talking about a product or service, the best focus on a problem the audience is familiar with and explain why they need a product or service to solve the problem.
  • Feature an effective call to action – there’s no point in having a great explainer that doesn’t tell your audience what you want them to do after they’ve finished watching it.
  • Short – you will find most are less than 3 minutes, with the most effective lasting only 1 to 2 minutes. 

With the above in mind, then, how do you convey all you want to in such a short length, while maintaining the quality, including a powerful CTA and solving a problem in a way that’s easy to understand?

You follow the same structure that all explainer video creators follow:

  • What is the problem?
  • How does your service/product solve it?
  • Why should your target audience choose your solution?

You need to be economical with what you include in your explainer videos. Too many fail because they get wrapped up too much in the what or the how without focusing on what’s important, the why.

You see, it’s all very well explaining your company, its product or service, but if you don’t effectively communicate why they should choose your solution over others, you’ll lose your audience. 

What Types of Explainer Videos Are There?

You will probably have noticed that there are a lot of different kinds of explainers out there. However, there are only two main categories that we want to focus on.

  • Animated Videos
  • Live-Action Videos

Animated Explainers

Animated explainers are the most popular and common form, because of their stylization and how easy they are to make. As explainers by their very nature are designed to be educational, animations are more interesting to watch than a man or woman standing (or sitting!) in front of a camera and talking. Within the category of animated explainers there are a few different styles you can opt for, including:

  • Motion Graphics – often featuring 3D animation, these are normally used to explain the story of a company or product with the use of objects that represent what is being discussed to engage with your target audience’s imagination using images rather than text.
  • Character-focused – these depict cute and relatable cartoon people based on your target audience and are used to tell the story of your company’s services or products and how they can be used to solve their problems
  • Simulations – this form of animated explainer features fully screencast video footage of the service or product you are promoting in use and are used most frequently as an overview for digital service or product or software.
  • Chalkboard/Whiteboard – although popular, it could be argued that the whiteboard/chalkboard explainer is a little overused these days. They basically feature writing and (sometimes) rough sketches on a whiteboard or chalkboard. One of the reasons they are a popular choice is that they are fun and inexpensive to make.
  • Infographic – infographic explainers use iconography, graphs, and charts to explain the features of a product, service or business in a similar way to an infographic.

Live-Action Explainers

Live-action explainers are exactly as they sound – videos using people and real-world objects to explain the service, product or even company you are trying to inform viewers about.

Although they are much harder to do well, when they work, they can be very effective. 

The Benefits of Explainers

Give how much they are used online, from industry to industry, if you haven’t tried adding an explainer video or two to your marketing strategy, it may be time to start doing so.

To summarize all the above, we felt it worth highlighting the major benefits of using explainer videos.

  • They are very short and to the point
  • They can be curated easily to your target audience
  • They are effective at spreading brand awareness
  • They take often complex and complicated concepts and ideas and explain them in a fun and interesting way
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