What is an explainer video?

Selling your products and services online isn’t easy. There’s so much competition that it’s difficult to stand out among the noise of thousands of brands using the same tactics to sell their products. There are so many ways to advertise your business, and it can be difficult to find the right solution that will help your business grow. 

Enter explainer videos. 

There’s no visual marketing strategy more attractive or entertaining than a well-crafted explainer video. They grab and retain the viewer’s attention longer than static visuals while also offering a great outlet for storytelling techniques and emotional marketing.

But like most advertising tactics, explainer videos need the right amount of care and dedication to get right. That’s why we’ve put together this guide.

What is an explainer video?

An explainer video is a short video where a product or service is presented in an inviting and creative way. These videos are usually not longer than a minute and a half, and pack in a lot of easy-to-understand information. Explainer videos can be created with live-action, animated illustrations, 3D animations, or a mixture of two or more. The creative angle for an explainer video depends on the brand story and style of each company.

It’s important to note that explainer videos and TV commercials might seem similar, but are in fact quite different. The majority of tv advertisements are direct sales pitch that tends to turn viewers away—they are salesy, repetitive, and only occasionally entertaining. 

Explainer videos live in a different space, the internet, where everything is accessible at any time and the viewer chooses to watch it. An explainer video is a story that converts, it’s more than a simple sale opportunity. 

That said, explainer videos can still learn a thing or two about TV commercials. Both explainer videos and TV commercials can tap into storytelling and emotional marketing to reach the viewer in a positive way.

Types of explainer video

Whiteboard explainer videos. These videos are created as if someone was writing or drawing on a whiteboard. It works best when the elements added to the whiteboard have a creative approach. There are a few different styles:

  1. A person writing and doodling on the board filmed and edited with narration.
  2. A digitalized design where the information appears as if it’s being drawn on the whiteboard automatically.
  3. A stock graphic of a hand on top of a digitalized design of information appearing on the board.

Animated explainer videos. 2D animated explainer video is essentially moving illustrations. It’s also sometimes called flat animation because it has no sense of depth. This style can be simple or incredibly creative and may lend a unique feel to your explainer videos that will be more memorable. 3D animated explainer videos are usually quite memorable and attention-grabbing. A 3D animation can be done as a 3D character in a 3D world, or it can be used for engineering videos where machinery and parts are visualized in 3D mockups.

Live-action explainer videos. This style involves footage of real people. They can be talking to the camera or be part of the visuals while there is narration. These videos sometimes have motion graphics elements added on, such as text that comes in and out of view, or shapes, lines, and colors that make moving compositions. 

Stop motion explainer videos. Last but not least, is the stop motion explainer video. These are created with plasticine characters or other physical sculptures that are photographed frame by frame to then animate in the video editor.

The qualities that make explainer video effective

The effectiveness of an explainer video is usually more than you’d expect from any other type of visual marketing strategy. In one or two minutes, the story you tell in an explainer video can carry more weight than a regular campaign. 

Here are the 4 main qualities that make explainer videos so effective:

  • They simplify complicated or dense concepts. An explainer video can simplify any type of information into digestible pieces. What you might consider boring and drab can be brought to life with engaging images, illustrations, and animations. With a concise script, an explainer video can help customers understand any part of your business.
  • They help visualize data. Too much data can be difficult to understand quickly, but explainer videos can include data visualizations that are animated, engaging, and easy to watch. 
  • They trigger emotions. The most effective type of explainer video is the one that tells a story using emotional marketing techniques and strategies. Triggering viewers’ emotions makes them act upon what they see and are inspired to want to know more.
  • They are memorable. Information is easier to grasp when it’s short and sweet. Furthermore, information is easy to remember when it’s attractive and engaging. A well-executed explainer video will stay in a viewer’s memory for a long time, especially if the visuals are well-crafted with a solid strategy and story behind them.
Did you know that..
– Eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour
– 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
– Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text
Ref: Shift

A great explainer video example for inspiration

No matter if you are selling products or services, you can easily find examples of great explainer videos for almost any type of industry or business. Here below, we show you an explainer video featuring Mark Sposato, a Learn from Fiverr instructor, giving Illustrator drawing tips for creating a killer logo.

As you can notice, this is a great example of a well-structured explainer video as it simplifies and divides technical information into easy to understand digestible pieces.

How to make an explainer video

Here below are the key steps for creating your first explainer video:

Step 1. Define why you want to create an explainer video

One of the first steps to creating your explainer video is defining the “why.”

What is the reason behind this project? Why do you need this video? Here are some questions to get you thinking about the purpose of your explainer video: 

  • Do you want to educate your audience to use your products better? 
  • Are you trying to give them a behind-the-scenes look at how the product they love is made in your facilities? 
  • Do you want to increase sales or conversions?
  • Are you trying to improve brand awareness? 
  • Do you want to decrease pressure on your support team, who are consistently answering the same questions? 

Think through these possibilities and decide on the main “why” for your video. This will inform every decision you make as you produce this video. Remember to focus on one major goal: if you try to accomplish too much in one video, you risk overwhelming your viewers and achieving nothing at all. 

Step 2. Define your target audience

It’s important to know who you are creating the explainer video for, in order to get the messaging and tone right. Pinpoint and define your target audience early on. Is the video for potential clients or for people who are already customers? Look at your brand’s user persona. Are you targeting the same or similar people, or do you need to create additional personas to understand this audience?

Step 3. Define your products or services

Note down exactly what product or service will be featured in the explainer video. Will it be a global explainer video about your company or only about one specific product? Will the video introduce a new service or will it explain how to use it? Be specific, and remember to keep a narrow focus—you have to sufficiently explain your chosen topic in under two minutes

Step 4. Craft a clear message and call to action

The final element for your explainer video is to be clear on the message you want to send and the action you want viewers to take. What problem are you solving for your viewers? Craft a message that will resonate with your target audience by using terminology they understand or use regularly.

Finally, define the call to action. What is it that you want the viewers to do when they see the video? Here are some possibilities:

  • Ask them to visit your website to learn more
  • Call your sales team to set up a demo or make a purchase
  • Share the video with their social networks
  • Use a promotional offer to buy your product or service
  • Provide their email address to receive news and offers

As with all other elements of an explainer video, this should be specific and very focused so your viewers know exactly what to do next. 

Step 5. Choose the tone and mood for your video

Now that you have a foundation for your explainer video, it’s time to hash out the details. Your video needs to have a set tone and mood that will carry the viewer along for the story. Even though you can choose the tone and mood for your video, don’t forget that you must always keep in mind your brand voice. Your explainer video still needs to feel like it belongs to your brand

The tone is how the story is told, the words that are used, and how they are said. There are many different options for tone in an explainer video. For example, your video could be:

  • Friendly and Informative
  • Serious and Academic
  • Fun and Vibrant
  • Deep and Meaningful
  • Caring and Supporting

The mood of the video is the feeling the viewer will get when seeing it. This goes hand in hand with the tone because they need to be in sync. If the tone of the video narration is fun, then the visuals should be as well. Likewise, if the tone is deep and meaningful, the visuals must be so as well.

No matter which tone and mood combination you choose, it must be crafted in a way that will emotionally compel the viewer to act, ideally with some sense of urgency. The idea is that with the tone and mood, you can tap into your viewer’s emotional core. That’s why it’s important to know your target audience when putting together the foundation of your explainer video.

Step 6. Work on the script

Once you have established your tone and mood and clearly defined the other foundational elements of an explainer video, it’s time to write the script. You can write the script yourself, but hiring a professional scriptwriter can save you time and provide you with a high-quality script that expertly meets your needs. 

A great scriptwriter will:

  • Have strong writing skills: A good scriptwriter has to be a good writer all around. 
  • Be creative: To be able to write a good script in the tone you need it to be, the scriptwriter must have a good creative streak to be able to tap into what you need from them.
  • Take constructive criticism in a positive way: It’s highly unlikely that the first draft of a script will be ready to use for your video. You’ll have to send edits and revisions. A good scriptwriter will take those in stride and work with you to make the script better.
  • Be able to work under pressure: A good scriptwriter can write under pressure and time constraints. 
  • Be disciplined: You need to have work done on time. Your scriptwriter needs to be able to deliver, especially since an explainer video is a team job.

Now that you know what you need from a scriptwriter, here’s what you need to know about the script and how it’s put together.

Your scriptwriter should know all these but it’s good for you to know as well so you can give feedback accordingly.

#1. The script needs to be short. Since the video shouldn’t be longer than 90 seconds, your script needs to be the corresponding length. For a 60 second video, the script should be between 100 and 150 words. For a 90 second video, the script should be about 240 words. 

#2. It needs to be written in the 2nd person. Remember that an explainer video’s purpose is to send a clear message to the ideal audience. At all times, the message should be directed at them. Use “you” and “yours” to direct the content to the audience.

#3. It should follow a 3 act structure. Take a cue from the film industry and set up your script in three acts. Simply put, these are a beginning, middle, and end. But since an explainer video is much shorter than a movie, use “what,” “why,” and “how” to structure your three acts.

#4. The script must address pain points. Always think of your target audience and what you are solving for them. Name the specific pain point you are addressing and offer the solution.

#5. It needs to provide real value through effective storytelling. Focus on the problem and solution as mentioned above. Your value proposition should be presented in the first 30 seconds of the script. The story you tell in the script needs to engage your audience from beginning to end.

Step 7. Put together a storyboard

The script is the foundation of the storyboard. A storyboard is the first visualization for your explainer video. Storyboards are simple drawings of your video, frame by frame. Each frame is represented as one rectangle in an ordered sheet of rectangles. In order to get these right, you’ll benefit from hiring a professional storyboard illustrator or designer.

In some cases, the main artist for the video can also create the storyboard, but there are professional storyboard artists that can sketch a storyboard for any type of video. 

This is the process for creating a storyboard:

#1. Piecing the script into frames. Before sketching the frames of the storyboard, the script must be separated into bite-size pieces. Take notes on the script as to what you’d like to show at each point of the story.

#2. First draft and revisions. The first draft of a storyboard is usually in simple black and white sketches. It broadly visualizes what will happen in each frame. Underneath each frame, is the section of the script that needs to match with it. This will help the voice-over actor prepare the reading.

#3. Style frames. After the first draft has been reviewed by all the stakeholders and everyone is in agreement, then the illustrator or designer will need to make the style frames. This is a high-fidelity storyboard where each frame looks almost exactly as it will look in the final product. It can include notes about movement and animation as well.

#4. Shot list. The shot list is a checklist that describes in detail what is needed for each frame. What needs to be seen and what will need to be done to achieve it. For a live-action explainer video, this would include props, wardrobe, etc.

Step 8. Create illustrations and designs

This part of the process will vary according to what type of explainer video you choose to make. A live-action video might only need a small amount of motion graphics or illustrations to support the footage. In some cases, you might already have brand illustrations and all you need to do is expand on them. 

This is how your visuals need to be put together:

#1. Organize the assets. Using the script, storyboard, and shot list, make a list of all the characters, elements, and backgrounds that need to be created.

#2. The artist gets to work. The artist designs everything on the list, making sure everything is covered.

#3. First draft and revisions. You check the first sketches and give feedback and revisions for a second draft.

#4. Second drafts. Second drafts are checked and if there are more revisions, the process continues.

#5. Final drafts. All visual elements are finalized. But keep in mind that when the frames are animated, some things might have to change slightly.

In order to get the best results with the illustrations and designs for your explainer video, hire a professional designer or illustrator who specializes in the style you’re looking for. When looking for the right type of artist, take your time to search using different filters, and watch videos in their portfolios. A 2D illustrator is not the same as a stop motion artist, although sometimes they can offer both services. Also, not every artist has the same style. 

Use the Fiverr filtering options to search for the exact type of artist you need. Choose your favorites and look at the videos in their portfolio to choose the right ones to interview.

In a preliminary conversation you can ask them:

  • How long is your process for the delivery of visual assets?
  • I love your style but can you adjust it a little to fit my brand?
  • Do you also sketch storyboards or do you prefer someone else do that?
  • Do you know how to illustrate for 3D animation?

Step 9. Hire a voice-over actor

With the script and storyboard in place and a good sense of the tone and mood, it’s time to find a voice actor. Choosing the right voice actor is essential for setting the tone and mood. 

Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a voiceover actor:

#1. Vocal range: Voice actors can add to the tone and mood of a script with the way they read it. That’s their magic power. 

#2. Versatility: Along with range, they are also versatile and can adapt the voiceover according to your directions.

#3. Perfect sound: They have professional studios to record great voiceovers.

#4. Relatability: Voice-over actors know how to make your script sound relatable and with their skills, can tap into the emotions of your viewer. 

#5. Brand familiarity: When you use the same voice-over actor for all your explainer videos, it creates brand familiarity and instills a sense of recognition in your viewers.

When you’re looking for the perfect voiceover actor, be sure to ask some important questions to make sure they are the right fit for your project. For example:

  • Can we hear some examples of your vocal range in different voiceover styles?
  • Is being a voiceover actor your full-time job?
  • Do you speak different languages?
  • Do you have any acting experience?

Asking if being a voiceover actor is their full-time job is important. If it isn’t, you can’t count on them to be available when you need them. Professional voiceover actors are usually available to do voiceovers on demand.

Step 10. Animate the scenes

With the illustrations finalized, it’s time to animate them into scenes. The animator will take all the illustrations and designs, add motion and movement to bring it all to life. The type of animator you hire will depend on the type of video you are producing

Take a look at the different professional styles:

#1. 2D animators: These artists work with your flat static illustrations and add animations and movement in the same flat style. They won’t make too many changes to the illustrations, just piece it all together with movement, transitions, and motion.

#2. Motion graphics animators: Motion graphics professionals concentrate more on animated elements rather than characters with a storyline. They can use the already illustrated assets and add motion or create it all themselves. Many times, motion graphics animators work over live-action footage, simply adding an added visual value.

#3. 3D sculptors and animators: 3D sculptors and animators will need to have the illustrations visualized from every angle. The sculptor will use 3D sculpting software to turn the flat illustrations into 3D objects. The illustrator that creates the characters, objects, and settings will need to work closely with the 3D animator to reach the desired effect.

#4. Stop-motion artists and animators: These artists can sculpt plastic characters and build scenes for them to interact with. They will then photograph the scene frame by frame, adding subtle movements and changes every time. All the photographs will be put together into scenes. Many times, stop motion sculptors and animators work as a team to be more productive and not take too much time. Note that while this process is very unique and creative, it is also the most time-consuming.

Step 11. Music and sound effects

Don’t forget that you also need background music and sound effects for your explainer video. You can use stock music or hire a musician to compose something special. If you use stock music, there may be other explainer videos out there with the same tunes. Composing your own music might be costly, but it will ensure that it belongs only to your brand. You can then use that music for all your explainer videos in the future.

When looking for a musician to hire, search for these qualities:

#1. A good range of styles: Check musician profiles to hear what they have to offer. Do you like what they’ve composed? Are there different styles in their repertoire?

#2. Easy to communicate with: A musician needs to be able to understand what you need and then deliver a tune that matches the tone and mood you wish your video to have. When you give feedback or revisions, they should be able to improve upon your requests.

#3. Fast turnaround: You need a musician that can deliver results fast. Are they willing to work one-on-one with you until you have what you need?

#4. Professional studio and music equipment: It’s imperative that a musician can either record their own instruments in a studio or can create music with professional software. You need music that sounds clean and crisp. Anything less will take away from the success of your video.

#5. Familiarity with explainer videos: Make sure the musician you are considering has experience with explainer videos. If they do, they might also have the capacity of creating custom sound effects for your animations and motion graphics.

Step 12. Produce your explainer video

The foundation for your explainer video is ready, and now it’s time to start putting it all together into an actual video. 

Video production doesn’t need to be a daunting task. We recommend you put together a team of professionals that will help you produce the best explainer video to help your business grow fast. To keep costs low and build a team that can produce exactly what you have in mind, you can hire freelancers that either offer explainer video production from start to finish or that specialize in different steps of the process.

Here are your options when choosing a production strategy:

Option 1: Hire a full-scale production team through Fiverr Studios.

When you hire a full-scale production team, they can take care of every part of the process while you only have to select and communicate with the team lead. While some production teams can be rather costly, Fiverr Studios is a simple and cost-effective way to get all the services you need for an explainer video managed by one studio lead or full-scale producer. To hire a studio, search Fiverr Studios to find a Studio gig. Then, get in touch with the studio lead and ask if they specialize in explainer videos—while many studios offer video production services, you’ll want to be sure they have experience and expertise in explainer videos specifically. 

Option 2: Put together a team yourself.

Putting the team yourself ensures that you have handpicked every single person involved. You can find all the people you need in the Fiverr directory, but you will still need a head producer to be in charge. This can be yourself, your product manager, or someone you hire on a freelance basis. In some cases, a one-person production freelancer will be willing to work with other people you choose and just take care of the organization and video editing.

In the case that you’re putting the group together, you can’t forget the audio and video editor. The editor is in charge of putting all the bits and pieces together to create the final product. They will take the footage, the audio, the illustrations, and the motion graphics and put them on a timeline. Their composition will follow your script and storyboard to help take the video to its ultimate goal.

Look for these qualities when hiring a video editor.

#1. Good previous work: Look at as many videos as you can in their portfolio. Get a good sense of what they can do before choosing. Take note of how the scenes transition between each other and how the frames flow from one to the other.

#2. A professional demeanor: Assess their professionalism by how they present themselves and their work. A good audiovisual professional will know how to sell themselves and their work.

#3. Positive communication skills: You need to be able to communicate with this person from the get-go. The editing step is the culmination of all the hard work you’ve already put in, so you need an editor that will understand your vision well and can take feedback and revisions in stride.

#4. Access to a tool for revisions and feedback: Reviewing video edits is time-consuming and can get messy when there are lots of things to communicate with each other. Ask what their process is and what tools they use to make this easier for everyone.

These are the things your video and audio editor will need to put your explainer video together:

  • A document with an overview of the foundation work
  • The script
  • The storyboard and style frames
  • All the footage (animations, live-action footage)
  • Your logo and brand assets
  • The music
  • The voice-over clips
  • Visual inspiration for mood and speed

Step 13. Plan for launch

As your video is being finalized, it’s time to prepare for the launch. It’s best to be prepared beforehand so when the video is ready, it can be launched successfully. 

These are the things you need to take care of:

#1. Choose a video hosting platformIf you don’t already have a video hosting service, it’s time to choose one. Some options are Vimeo, YouTube, or Wistia. Choose the one with a plan that is in tune with what you need in terms of hosting. Their pricing plans will differ according to how much storage you get and the levels of privacy they offer for your videos. The perfect hosting for you is the one that has a good amount of storage at a price you can afford for the long term.

#2. Create a marketing strategy. Set up a strategy for the launch of your video. On which social media channels will you share it? Will you send it out in a newsletter? Maybe you want to create some hype online before the video is out and then broadcast it live for the first time.

#3. Make space on your website. Your new video will have to be added to your website. Do you want to add it to a new landing page? Maybe to a blog post? Create whatever you need to have on your website so when the video is ready all you need to do is add it in.

Step 14. Measure the performance of your explainer video

Once your video launches it’s time to start measuring its performance on all the channels where you’ve shared it. This step is essential to see if your explainer video was worth the investment. There a few key performance indicators you should look at when analyzing your video’s performance. 

Your video host should have an analytics feature that can help measure the following things:

#1. Views: How many views are your video getting? Are these views on your site where you’ve embedded the video or are they from the video host directly? 

#2. Conversions: How many of the viewers are following the call to action? Calculate the performance from your site and from the host as it might be a different set of steps for them to follow. 

#3. ROI: By assessing views and conversions you can start to calculate the return on investment for your video. ROI is the ratio of how much you spent to make the video versus how much revenue is generated for your business

#4. Referrals: Are people sharing your video on social media? Are blogs and websites adding your video to their content? 

#5. Feedback: Read all the comments left on your video or social posts that shared the video. Ask your customers what they think and use this to inform your strategy for future explainer videos. 

#6. Demographics: Look at where in the world your viewers are from. How can you tap into that information to share your video at different times on social media? Or even consider translating the voiceover or adding subtitles.

The positive things an explainer video can do for your business

The benefits of an explainer video are numerous. Video is one of the most important marketing strategies and explainer videos fit right in. Let’s take a look at all the positive things an explainer video can do for your business.

  • An elevator pitch, but better: An explainer video can be a great introduction to everything that your business offers, serving as a sort of elevator pitch—but one that is perfect, every time. 
  • Short and to the point: With a well-written script, an explainer video can explain clearly what a product is for, how to use it, or how it will benefit the customer, in under two minutes.
  • Higher reach and engagement: Video is a prominent and growing marketing strategy, meaning that the reach and engagement of an explainer video will likely be higher than a simple flyer, brochure, or digital newsletter. Explainer videos are also easily shared on social media, further broadening their impact. 
  • More leads, conversions, and sales: Increased engagement and reach leads to more leads which in turn converts to more sales. Explainer videos are great to use as a word-of-mouth recommendation. 
  • Memorable messaging: An explainer video can be crafted in a unique way that makes it memorable for the audience. The script narrated by a pleasant voice and accompanied by powerful visuals will stay in the viewers’ memory and make an impact. This will inspire them to take action and connect to your business in a positive way. 
  • SEO boost: Having an explainer video up on YouTube, social media, and your website can help boost your SEO and search page rankings. You still have to make sure that the headings, metadata, and any related copy is optimized for SEO, but video can improve your website’s dwell time and other SEO ranking factors.

Make sure you reach your ultimate explainer video goals by hiring the right people to help. Professional freelance producers, illustrators, animators, voice-over actors, and other experts have the experience to lead you in the right direction. Always hire a freelancer that has a good backlog of work and has demonstrated that they can achieve your desired results. 

We hope this guide convinced you to consider adding explainer videos to your visual strategies. You’ll be surprised at the outcomes.

Join the discussion on connect.samcx.com



Contributor @samcx.com. Passionate about everything Sales, Marketing and Account Management.

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