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How to Create Effective Explainer Videos with 13 Examples

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

On a busy workday, your boss asks you to find a project management tool for your company. After a quick Google search, you see a couple of leading software solutions and head to their sites for more information.

The first one has a long homepage with walls of text info. The other one has a two-minute explainer video at the very top, which succinctly describes everything the software tool offers.

Which one will you explore first? You’ll probably watch the explainer video and recommend that tool to your boss.

No matter what product or service you’re trying to market, explainer videos almost always perform better than plain text.

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

This article will 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 and compelling video, often only two to three minutes in length, 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 screen recordings on their site’s homepage and product/service pages as explainer videos. This communicates their core offerings with a dynamic combination of visuals and background vocals.

The ideal explainer video should answer your target audience’s biggest questions and clearly describe how your product or idea helps them. 

It’s a powerful content format that many brands, including SaaS companies, service portals, consumer service companies, nonprofits, and marketers, use to convey their ideas and value.

Note that explainer videos are not how-tos or tutorials. They don’t delve into the technicalities. Instead, they focus on the high-level details and core benefits.

Why are explainer videos so beneficial?

Using explainer videos in your marketing, sales, and onboarding strategies can benefit you, your team, and your business,

Drive engagement

If an image is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a library. According to research, the human brain processes visuals up to 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 2,000 words you’ve written to explain your idea. 

By contrast, explainer videos 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 don’t worry, your 2,000-word article isn’t useless. But you need an explainer video to hook your audience first, evoke curiosity, and convince them to read on.

Be 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. This drives repeat interactions and word-of-mouth marketing.

Improve branding

Anyone can create a fancy website these days. But a professionally designed explainer video can differentiate your brand experience.

Even in a two minute clip, your brand can display its culture, tone, and personality. You can attract and boost credibility with your target audience, immediately positioning your brand ahead of your competitors.

How to make explainer videos 

Want to make an explainer video that keeps your viewers engaged and motivates them to take action? Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Clarify the goal for your video

Your first step is to get really clear on why you’re creating the video in the first place. That is, what’s the point of your explainer video?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • 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 will help you determine the type of video you want to publish and where you’ll publish it (e.g., website, social media, landing page, etc.).

Then, define your video’s messaging strategy and call to action (CTA).

Explainer videos are great for demonstrating features and benefits, but they’re not sales videos. The messaging strategy shouldn’t be focused on converting; it should be about educating your audience.

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. As such, your CTA might be to encourage the watcher to book a full sales demo.

Step 2: Choose an explainer video type

Your second step is to decide which type of explainer video you’re going to create.

You’ve got six main options:

  1. Live action

  2. Live stream

  3. Animated 

  4. Whiteboard

  5. Kinetic typography

  6. Screencast 

The goals you set out just now will tell you what kind of video you need.

For example, if your primary goal is branding and awareness, you might opt for a live action video like Airbnb. 

But if you’re on a limited budget, an animated explainer video might be a suitable alternative.

Similarly, if you want to highlight a specific product or service feature, you can create a Loom screen recording demonstrating how it works.

All of these video types work well when paired with the right goal, and when you use the right tool or hire the right professional to create them.

Step 3: Create a storyboard

Here’s where you get into the meat and potatoes of the video itself. Start by sketching out a storyboard.

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

Think of it as a strategic document for your explainer video that provides a bird’s-eye view of your content.

You don’t have to get super fancy with this. A simple hand-drawn cartoon-style storyboard will do the trick, with a brief description under each frame, like this:

Cartoon-style storyboard
Source: ResearchGate

Step 4: Finalize the characters

Once the storyboard is done, you need to finalize the characters featured in your video. It could be just one person talking about your product, or it might include multiple presenters, or even your own customers.

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

If you do use characters, you’ll either need to find real people to play them, use an AI tool to create avatars, or animate them.

Step 5: Write the script

Now that you’ve got the skeleton of your video ready, it’s time to fill in the details with scriptwriting. 

The script includes the actual words that your characters or background voice artists say and what your viewers will 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 two to four minutes, your script won’t be as long, but every word counts. 

It can be a time-consuming process, so an AI text-generation tool can speed things up a little.

For instance, you can take the scene descriptions you created in your storyboard, plug them into ChatGPT, and ask it to generate your explainer video script. It might not produce a perfect, finalized script, but it will give you a starting point, which you can then tweak to your liking.

Step 6: Produce your video

It’s time to create the explainer video itself.

The exact process here depends on the video type you’ve selected.

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.

To create an animated video or whiteboard video, you’ll likely need to hire professional services or use specialized software tools.

However, for screencasts made by recording your computer screen, you can create quality videos using Loom. Loom simplifies both the screen recording and editing process. 

Install Loom’s Chrome extension and record your computer screen with your voice in the background. If you like, you can enable the front camera and show your face in the corner of your video for a personal touch.

Step 7: Edit for higher engagement

You’ve made it to the final step. It’s time to edit your content to make it presentable and remove any unnecessary 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 at the same time. 

If you’ve used Loom to record a screencast, you can use the built-in editing tools to trim and stitch your content.

You can also add annotations, background music and audio effects, CTAs, pointers, and various other elements to polish your video.

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

How to make explainer videos for digital products 

One of the great things about digital products, such as online courses and software platforms, is the ability to quickly and easily create professional product demonstration videos using screen recording tools.

With a screen recorder like Loom, you can pull together an instructional video or product walkthrough in minutes.

Here’s how.

1. Plan out your scenes

Begin by mapping out the video you’re about to produce.

A simple hand-drawn storyboard like this should do the trick.

Storyboard Simple
Source: Vyond

There are also some great AI video tools out there that can help you create a storyboard, such as Boords and StoryboardHero.

For each scene you sketch, write a brief description of what you’ll explain. For example:

“Provide an overview of what the viewer will learn from watching this video.”

2. Write your script

Next, draft the script you’ll use as the voiceover for your explainer video.

The scene descriptions you wrote in the previous stage can be helpful guides. You can even throw them into an AI tool like ChatGPT to create a first draft, then adjust them as required.

Speaking of AI, you might like to use an AI text-to-speech solution to “record” the voiceover. Here, you simply copy and paste your script into the tool, select voice parameters like accent and tone of voice, and generate.

This can save you considerable time in the recording process.

3. Record 

Here’s where the magic happens.

Jump into your demo video maker or screen recording tool, and open up the digital product you’re featuring in your explainer video.

If you’re using Loom, you can create a custom screen size so that your viewers stay focused on the product and don’t see your other 75 open tabs.

Custom screen Loom

You might have to record several takes to get it right. Don’t worry, you’ll fix that in the edit.

Or, you can make use of Loom’s new Live Rewind feature. Instead of starting from scratch, if you make an error or misspeak, you can simply hit pause, rewind to where you messed up, and continue on from where you left off.

If you’re using an AI voiceover, you might still wish to read the script yourself or have the AI-generated voice play in the background as you record to keep the audio-video timing aligned.

4. Edit as required

Here’s where a good explainer video becomes an awesome explainer video.

If you’ve recorded multiple takes, select the best sections of each and cut and stitch them together in your video creation or editing tool.

Make sure your voiceover syncs up with the edited video, and add any background music and sound effects.

Consider adding captions or subtitles to improve accessibility. Loom’s AI add-on can automatically generate captions and subtitles, making this a pain-free process.

5. Go live

The final step is moving from video production to video marketing, finding ways to get in front of potential customers.

Embed your video on the relevant pages of your website, host it on YouTube, and inject it into email campaigns to speed up your sales process.

And don’t forget to share it with your team! Not only will they benefit from a little extra product knowledge, but they should know that it exists and where to find it so they can share the video with future clients.

What makes good vs. bad explainer videos? 

What should you focus on to ensure your explainer video ends up in the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Shame?

Clear and focused objective

Explainer videos are not documentaries. They’re short, focused videos that aim to give your viewers a high-level introduction to your product, idea, or offer. 

Poor explainer videos are unfocused and don’t lead to a clear outcome.

This happens when those responsible for creating the video don’t have a strong understanding or intention about what they want their audience to learn.

On the flip side, effective explainer videos know exactly what information they want to convey, and only include relevant content.

This also helps them stay nice and concise, so viewers are more likely to watch the whole thing rather than leave halfway through.

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.

Concise and engaging script

Speaking of concision, a short, succinct, and engaging script is key to a great explainer video.

Most explainer videos are around two minutes in length—which, you’ll realize when you film your first one, isn’t a whole lot of time.

Your goals should be to use a few powerful words rather than many empty ones and to stick to the main content objective.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a long, meandering video that doesn’t inspire anyone to watch in full or take action later.

Speaking 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.

A focus on benefits, not features

Forget your product’s technical superpowers when creating an explainer video—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.

Video and audio quality

Technical quality is also an important consideration here.

Ineffective explainer videos have shoddy edits and crackly audio. They may be unfocused or have amateurish animation.

Impactful explainer videos, on the other hand, have HD resolution and professional animation, precise editing, and high-quality audio that perfectly syncs with the visuals.

This creates an air of professionalism. When your video is pro quality, customers will assume the same of your product.

Pacing and timing

A concise script is important to explainer video success, but that doesn’t mean you should race through the voiceover to pack more into a two-minute video.

Explainer videos that move too fast and don’t include natural pauses between statements and scenes make it hard to digest information.

The best explainer videos feel like a natural conversation, as if you are speaking with your viewers in person.

Relevant and compelling CTA

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.

Explainer videos that don’t have a clear or relevant CTA, or even worse, don’t have one at all, are less likely to convert viewers and contribute to the goal you set out in the first place.

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.

Your CTA doesn’t have to be purchase-related, by the way. 

You might ask the viewer to sign up for your email newsletter or check out other educational content. The point here is that the CTA is relevant to the video content itself and is a natural next step for the customer.

Types of explainer videos

Now that you know how to design a strong explainer video and its necessary qualities, let’s dive deeper into the different types of explainer videos you can create for your brand and where you can use them.

Explainer video type #1: Live action

Live-action explainer videos are like professionally designed commercials. They show real people, instead of animated characters, using a product or service and explaining its benefits. This type of video is 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, and so on.

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. 

Live-stream 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.

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 that’s drawing different characters while a narrator does 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 a kinetic typography explainer video.

Explainer video type #6: Screencast

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 look 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.

7 examples of great explainer videos

Here are 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 demonstrating how your product makes your customers’ lives easier without being overly promotional.

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

Explainer video example #2: ClickUp

ClickUp, another leading project management tool, uses this 2D animated explainer video on its website homepage 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, a 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. Here are two different types of explainer videos Airbnb has used in the last few years.

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

The second 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 both are equally engaging and capture 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 shared. Instead of storytelling, this video shows the company’s Chief Marketing Officer (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 viewers engaged till the end.

Where to share 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 homepage

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

Most brands use explainer videos on their website homepage 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 just 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, most people on social only focus on them for a few 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

Corporate presentations and conferences have a reputation for being boring and unengaging. But you can stand out and capture your audience’s attention by including an explainer video in your session or keynote.

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

Doing so helps 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.

Ready to make your first explainer video?

If it’s your first time producing an explainer video, discuss your ideas with professional video creators and seek their advice before saying “action.”

Or, for high-quality productions that are simple yet effective, create a Loom screen recording. Add professional polish to your product or service video without the professional price tag or lengthy production timeline. 


Jun 29, 2024

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