Your Complete Guide to Explainer Videos

Here are some jaw-dropping statistics and facts about business, brand and product explainer videos:
  • Where both text and video are available on the same webpage, 69% of users would prefer to watch video to learn about a product or service.
  • A staggering 98% of users say they’ve watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.
  • 74% of users who watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service subsequently bought it.
  • 77% of consumers say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a video.
  • 45% of businesses who use video say they have an explainer video on their home page. Of these businesses, 83% say their home page explainer video is effective.
  • 47% of businesses who use video use it in their email campaigns. Of these, 80%believe it to be an effective tactic.

New technology, digital platforms and a novel way of doing things has provided businesses with an ever-expanding number of ways to reach out to their target audiences. Well-crafted, high-quality digital videos are a proven way to ensure that businesses and brands reach out to their intended audience, connect with them and hopefully nudge them to take an action (or at least remember the video for a really long time).

This guide attempts to uncover the power of explainer videos and explains why businesses must invest in quality digital explainer videos through statistics, research data and case studies. It also provides examples of campaigns that have been successful due to creative explainer videos and their effective marketing.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth millions.

Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research states that just one minute of video is equivalent to a whopping 1.8 million words or 3,600 standard webpages.

What does your company or product actually do?

This relatively simple sounding question may not always have a simple answer.

Over the last couple of decades, the internet has facilitated the ability of businesses to extend their reach far beyond their immediate localities. This has allowed them to not only tap a wider set of audiences, but also given them a fantastic avenue to demonstrate their products and services, subsequently resulting in boosted conversions and sales.

While you may have a fantastic elevator pitch ready and even document your offerings in great detail, how will you ensure that the target audience understands, accepts and falls in love with your product or service? How can you build trust among your customers when it comes to making them believe that your brand or its offerings will help solve pertinent challenges that they face?

This is where video formats excel. Brands can introduce themselves and explain their products and services through short and creative videos. Products and services can be described visually through a variety of media allowing prospective clients and customers to ‘virtually sample’ a company’s products and services.

According to Bloomberg Media, people spend hours every day watching videos with television as the number one source. However, the fastest-growing segment (by far) is online video with growth rates over 50 per cent every year. The potential impact of this growth can’t be ignored.

The appeal of videos is easy to understand. In this fast-paced world, videos provide instant gratification, avoiding the tedium of having to leaf through numerous pages of boring text or still images. Multimedia storytelling helps create numerous opportunities for businesses to blend videos with text, images, content and interactivity to create a more meaningful and memorable experience for the audience (viewers).

Although digital video is increasing in popularity globally, advertising inventory is still scarce. Cost per Thousand (or CPM) is a commonly used method in the world of online advertising whereby a publisher is compensated a predetermined amount for every 1000 ad impressions served. This method enables an ad publisher to ensure full visibility on value delivered to advertiser. With video, user engagement is easier to track, fine tune and sustain. In other words, your money is out there.

A great digital marketing strategy that includes creative videos is therefore extremely essential for ensuring the potential growth of a business.

What is an explainer video?

Essentially, an explainer video is a short video that explains a business idea through a visually-animated story.

Explainer videos have become a popular means for brands to enlighten their customers or prospective clients about their vision, mission, to demonstrate their products and services as well as provide customers with a quick overview of the primary functions of their existing or new offerings.

Explainer videos can also be used to increase engagement within the company with its employees, board and shareholders. They are also used as a tool to train staff or to disseminate information online or during events like trade shows and conferences.

Using a combination of images, animation, live action, text and audio, the product, service or business can be demystified in an engaging and entertaining manner through an explainer video.

Why should businesses invest in creating explainer videos?

The digital explosion has ensured that the internet is now the first step in any customer buying journey – from deciding where to eat, what to wear, planning a vacation, to buying a new refrigerator. Today’s smart consumers are most likely to research a product or service on the internet before investing in it. Moreover, the internet is also a platform to bring new services to a customer’s attention.

Given the shortening attention spans of today’s audience and the scarcity of time, it is highly unlikely that your potential customers will plough through a text-heavy website and read countless reviews of a product or service before making a buying decision. A majority of people would rather engage with a short, informative and entertaining video that gets to the point quickly and effectively.

An explainer video with a clear call-to-action can enable companies to attract new clients or customers while retaining existing ones (brand loyalty). An explainer video for a company’s in-house purposes (i.e. for employees, management, etc.) could be used in a similar way to strengthen brand internalisation within these stakeholders.

Video marketing and explainer video industry statistics that back up this claim.

Research and several studies suggest that people who watch a video about a product or service online are 85% more likely to make a purchase. Conversions or return on investment is perhaps the biggest advantage of creating videos for business. That is because one good video can do for a business the equivalent of 100 sales executive on ground!

The figures on conversion rates are staggering when compared to other forms of media. Read more about it in this article.

What are the different types of explainer videos?

Explainer videos come in various shapes and sizes. They can be tailor-made to suit your company’s needs. Explainer videos can be divided into four broad categories:

  • Live Action Explainer Videos
  • These comprise of camera recordings of human beings explaining or demonstrating how a particular service or product works.

  • Animated Explainer Videos
  • These videos leverage the power of 2D and 3D animation to create engaging and creative stories that have a mass appeal.

  • Whiteboard Explainer Videos
  • These are a popular form of explainer videos due to their simplicity. They are used to give detailed explanations about various products and services through black and white illustrations created on a virtual whiteboard.

  • Kickstarter Explainer Videos
  • These videos are mainly used to raise funding for a particular product or service. They attract potential investors and are used in effective crowdfunding campaigns.

Apart from the aforementioned broad categories, let’s also look at specific styles and types of animated explainer videos that are popular:

  • 2D and 3D Animation
  • These are widely used animation techniques in explainer videos. 2D animation comprises of both characters and environments created in two dimensions, using perspective in order to create an illusion of depth. 3D animation is mainly used for commercial purposes and has gained a lot of popularity due to its ability to allow content creators to experiment and create detailed videos.

  • Motion Graphic Animation
  • This style is designed to be engaging and easy to follow. It is best for companies that have a complicated product and service. It is also ideal for companies to build trust and create a buzz around their brand. As the name suggests, this form of animation shows graphics in motion.

  • Kinetic Typography Animation
  • This video style conveys ideas through animated words. Often coupled with inspiring background music, the style is used to inspire people and express ways of thinking.

  • Digital (or Non-Digital) Cut-Out Animation
  • Both types of cut-out animation are simple in terms of look and movement. They enable audiences to concentrate on listening to the message (voiceover) in the video.

  • Cartoon Animation
  • Who isn’t familiar with cartoons? They can be used to incorporate lot of colours, humour and expressive characters to create warm, engaging and highly entertaining videos.

  • Silhouette Animation
  • As the name suggests, only silhouettes can be seen in this form of animation. If used creatively, the videos can be really engaging, especially if they are loaded with humorous content or social messages.

  • Animated Music Video
  • These can be used to demonstrate a product or service in the form of a music video. Great background music along with typography can really make such a video stand out.

  • Live Action + Animation
  • Mixing both types of explainer videos, this style gives you the best of both worlds. You can be personal and build trust with the live action part, while also entertaining and illustrative with the animation part.

  • Animated Infographic
  • Animated infographics are generally used for education, eLearning, training or number presentation purposes. Animation like this is packed with a lot of facts, data, numbers, charts and other kinds of statistics. It is essential that you keep the audience engaged while presenting heavy data, and animated infographics help you do just that.

  • Stick Figure Animation
  • As the name suggests, the characters on screen are animated stick figures. They can be used in a playful way to demonstrate a service, product or tell a story.

  • Screen Capture
  • This style basically involves a screenshot being recorded with audio narration and text/graphic elements. The audio narration uses the screen to illustrate examples of what is being explained. It is good for those who want to create video tutorials or explain how a solution or software works.

  • Stop Motion Animation
  • This is a technique that consists of photographs. An object is photographed as it is moved in small amounts. This creates the illusion of movement when the series of photographs is played in a sequence.

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What are the characteristics of an explainer video?

Explainer videos enable your business to make an unforgettable first impression. A great explainer video starts with a great idea that can be translated into a decent script. A short and simple script (90 seconds or less) is often more appealing than a long-winded, detailed explanation of a product or service.

A typical explainer video script focuses on the problem, presents the solution, explains how a product or service works, highlights USPs and ends with a call-to-action.

Typically, videos that appeal to consumers to consumers possess certain common traits:

  • A solid script
  • High-quality visuals
  • Animation that manages to engage the viewer
  • Steady pace and progression
  • A clear, concise message
  • Good background music and voiceover
  • A strong call-to-action

As serious as the topic may be, it is important to remember that people love to be entertained. A successful explainer video is one that manages to strike the fine balance between information, education and entertainment.

A great explainer video, however, is nothing without a solid digital marketing plan. It will only reach the target audience if businesses take efforts to market it and enable it to get the visibility it deserves.

Explainer video production process and best practices

The making of an explainer video typically includes the following steps:

  • Conceptualization -Exploring, discussing and finalizing the idea for your video. This step includes brainstorming sessions with your team as well as the studio’s internal creative team.
  • Scripting -Scriptwriting or screenwriting basically refers to the process of putting down the concept on paper. This includes writing how the video will progress, along with shot-by-shot breakdowns and detailed dialogue or voiceover.
  • Storyboarding -This step involves sketching the entire video idea on paper (or digitally) to get clarity on what the characters, objects and environments in the video will look like.
  • Filming (or Animation) and Direction -Live-action videos involve shooting with a camera on set or at a real location with people (actors or brand representatives), while animated videos involve creating characters, designing environments and animating them according to the script and storyboard.
  • Voiceover and Background Score - Once the visuals are in place, the next step is to add audio to the video. This includes dialogue dubbing, foley, voiceover and background music.
  • Postproduction - The postproduction stage is when the video is enhances using various techniques and packaged in its final form. Live-action videos are often embellished, modified or corrected using visual effects.

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It is always important to make sure that your video is of the highest quality and stands out in the clutter of other business explainer videos. Here are a few things you must avoid doing:

  • Replicating someone else’s video
  • Making the video too lengthy and text-heavy
  • Using jargon, technical lingo and complex language in B2C videos
  • Outsourcing the explainer video creation work to an amateur
  • Rushing into the production/filming/animation process until you have finalised the entire video on paper

How are the successful businesses out there using digital explainer videos?

Besides the really big brands that we are all familiar with, including the likes of Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Spotify, Pinterest, Microsoft and Airbnb, a lot of lesser-known companies and even small start-ups are realizing the power of explainer videos. It is likely that you will find the use of explainer videos very common in many industries and for good reason. Here are a few examples:

  • Manufacturing -Explainer videos are extensively used by manufacturing companies to showcase their strengths, facilities and tell the audiences everything about the brand.
  • IT-Animated software videos have become the norm today. Almost every brand or tech company now uses animated videos to introduce new products, explain how their offerings work and present them in a visually-appealing manner.
  • Education-Schools, colleges and other educational institutes often use videos for marketing their courses and showcasing the institution’s facilities and other USPs.
  • eLearning -Animated explainer videos can help make the eLearning experience better and more interactive for the learners and also enable organizations and corporate trainers to engage the audience speed up the learning process effectively.
  • Entertainment- Businesses from entertainment and media sector use explainer videos in different forms for a variety of purposes, including branding, marketing and advertising.
  • Hospitality-Hotels, restaurants and bars often rely on the magic of animated explainer videos for marketing purposes. Since social media, online apps and websites are great avenues for such businesses to reach out to their customers, the use of explainer videos is widespread in this domain.
  • Tourism-From promoting offers and packages, to providing travel tips and educating people about destinations, travel and tourism businesses often resort to creating catchy animated videos that convey the message effectively.
  • Healthcare-Healthcare and pharma companies use explainer videos to demystify complex subjects, talk about core medical topics, demonstrate the working of a product or service, and even advertise their business.
  • BFSI -You will find a huge array of banking, accounting and finance videos that are made in the explainer format. This is because complicated topics can be explained easily using animated videos and they also provide these businesses with an opportunity to present their brand and its offerings in an engaging format.

Here are a few great examples of animated explainer videos from different industries along with a few reasons why we think they are so successful:

  1. The humour-driven explainer video
  2. Videos need not be serious in order to make a serious point. The Australian metro services used this video to appeal to teenagers and to take safety seriously:

    The campaign was massively successful (in terms of numbers). The video collected millions of views and likes on YouTube as well as social channels. And although drawing clear parallels is difficult, a 21% reduction in railway accidents and near misses followed the campaign.

  3. The kickstarter video
  4. A pest control product by the company IllumiPest required funding to get their product on the market. IllumiPest’s primary goal was to attract, inform, and direct an audience of investors to their website to participate in a bidding process for exclusive rights to the patent pending product.

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    Whiteboard video for from wizMotions on Vimeo.

    Using a simple storytelling technique, their whiteboard animation video explained the unique concern of the pest control industry in a way that any investor or manufacturer could clearly understand the need and value of the IllumiPest product. Their product has now received funding for 20 million dollars!

  5. The viral video
  6. Who can forget Dollar Shave Club’s explainer video that reached viral success almost overnight, thanks to its unique style!

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    The video uses a ‘shock and surprise factor’ to grab your attention immediately. The witty lines, single-shot approach and humorous content not only makes you laugh, but also drives the message home.

What to look for when choosing an explainer video production company?

Selecting an explainer video production partner is no easy task, given the plethora of options around you. However, there are a few things that you must consider in order to make this process easier:

  • Experience
  • It is important that the video making company that you choose is experienced enough to handle your project with ease. Amateur video creators or companies in their nascent stages are bound to create mediocre or shabby videos. Check the studio’s experience (number of years in the industry) and also look at their showreel or portfolio.

  • Expertise
  • While some studios offer animation or explainer video as a secondary or tertiary service, it is essential that your video making partner is an expert in creating the kind of videos you are looking for. It is recommended that you work with a specialist, since studios that specialize in offering explainer video solutions are bound to churn out quality work faster and in a more professional manner.

  • Timelines
  • The turnaround time or TAT is a key consideration when it comes to creating explainer videos. Once you shortlist two or three potential explainer video production companies, make sure you ask them questions about the process they follow and how much time it will take for them to deliver the kind of video you are looking for.

  • Cost
  • Some studios offer a flat rate while others might furnish a quote based on your unique requirements. Whatever the case, it is vital that you keep the costs in mind while partnering with a production house. Once you tell a studio what you need, get a quote from them and compare it with what other companies are charging. In the end, it is about making sure that you get the highest quality of work within your budget.

With digital explainer videos becoming a popular way for businesses to increase conversions, it is essential that you tap into this trend to maximize your company’s potential. Partner with experienced digital video creation companies to get started with your explainer videos. Remember – Your brand is unique and collaboration with exceptional artistic and storytelling capabilities can effectively deliver the required message!