The Ultimate Guide To Making An Explainer Video

Kevin Alster
September 6, 2023
Table of contents

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In this blog post, we'll do a deep-dive into explainer videos: we'll discuss what they are, how many types there are, what are they used for, but most importantly, we'll show you how to make your own explainer video.

More specifically, how to make explainer videos from scratch, on-demand, and in your browser. 🤯

As a cherry on top, we'll finish off with a few examples of the best explainer videos out there. Oh, and we'll sprinkle in a few tips and tricks along the way for extra flavor. 🧁

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's get on the same page about definitions, types, and use cases for explainer videos.

If you want to skip the theoretical part and jump straight into the practical stage, click here.

Otherwise, we encourage you to keep reading. 📖

What is an explainer video?

Explainer videos are short-form videos used to explain a product or service to potential customers. An explainer video can sometimes be referred to as a 'how-to video', but their meanings differ slightly based on context.

Explainer videos are an essential marketing strategy part of most companies and are mainly featured on relevant landing pages throughout the website. However, it is also common to feature explainer videos on social media, crowdfunding pages, and even for online/offline events and conferences.

Think of your explainer video as a quick overview of the product you're trying to sell.

What is the purpose of an explainer video? Explained with data.

The purpose of an explainer video is simple - introduce the company's product or service in the best possible light to the target audience. To show how the product or service works, what it does, and why it is useful to the target customer. To interest the viewer in the product and push them closer towards becoming a customer.

Let's solidify those points with data:

  • 97% of marketers say explainer videos helped users better understand their product or service
  • 95% of people watched an explainer video when learning about a product or service
  • 73% of people would rather watch a short explainer video than read a text article or even get a demo/sales call
  • 39% of consumers want to see more explainer videos

As you can see, the points above are backed by data: video is simply a more preferred and engaging method of communication than text.

To summarize, a great explainer video is almost a certain way of increasing conversion rates.

Tip: add captions to your video 💡

study of US consumers found that 69% watch videos with sound off in public places, and 80% of consumers are more likely to watch the whole video if captions are included.

The 5 types of explainer videos (+ explainer video examples)

#1 Animated explainer videos

Arguably the most well-known and recognizable type, animated explainer videos use creative 2D or 3D animations to illustrate a concept and promote a product or service.

Best used for more abstract ideas and intangible software or services, an animated explainer video allows for a lot of flexibility and fun.

Animation can be quite tricky, though, as it's a labor-intensive (and quite expensive) process, but the results can be breathtaking:

Say hello to Headspace

#2 Whiteboard explainer videos

Whiteboard videos are a subset of animated explainer videos, where instead of being created in a video program, the animation is hand-drawn with markers on a whiteboard.

While popular among educational YouTube channels, making a whiteboard video can be a gamble. The importance of the story flowing beautifully and the animation looking flawless and flowing together with the story cannot be understated.

In your research, you will likely stumble across a video platform or two that creates whiteboard-like videos, where the drawing part is simulated with video software. We strongly recommend staying away from those. They tend to look cheap, and very obviously not hand-drawn, which defeats the whole purpose.

If you can't afford to cash out on a brilliant whiteboard animator, there are plenty of other good explainer video types to choose from (see #4 and #5)!

#3 Live action explainer videos

Think of a live-action explainer video as the complete opposite of animated ones. These videos are made using real actors and filmed with (hopefully) professional cameras, lights, and microphones.

Live-action videos are perfect for connecting with viewers on a deeper level. If done right, you can tap into people's emotions and create a connection people can relate to, just like in this example: - Our Blades Are F***ing Great

As you can imagine, creating live-action explainers is a lot more labor-intensive than other types. To create just one video requires a lot of steps, like:

  • Crafting a compelling storyline and writing the script
  • Sourcing actors, location, props
  • Possibly renting out extra filming equipment and studio
  • Dedicating at least one day for filming
  • Post-production, like video and audio editing
  • Recording voice-overs
  • A lot of back-and-forth for feedback

The list can go on and on. If we add up all the above steps, the price boils down to $1000 minimum per minute of finished video. So if you got the big bucks - go for it. If you'd rather spend your money on something else - read about the other explainer video types below. 👇

#4 Screencast explainer videos

Screencast (otherwise known as screen capture or screen recording) isn't the most popular type, but definitely one of the more affordable ones.

Screencasts are perfect for product demo videos, or if you're on a tight budget and want to demonstrate the looks and workings of your product (especially if you're a software/app company).

Combine that with your own voice-over or a text-to-speech voice, and you have a quick and budget-friendly explainer video.

How to Create a Screen Recording Video
Quick tip 💡

We recommend combining screen recording with other video types, as it can be quite dry on its own.

#5 Talking head explainer videos

Typically a subtype of live-action, talking head videos feature the main character, usually a Subject Matter Expert (SME), talking directly into the camera to the viewer.

This explainer video type is more commonly used for microlearning/educational videos, but, crafted correctly, they add an unexpected element to your explainer.

All you need to create this video is a speaker (yourself or another person), a camera, a microphone, and editing software.

The process is fairly straightforward, but without prior experience, it can be quite daunting and lengthy.

Luckily, with new software like Synthesia, you can make your own explainer video in this format without any equipment or actors, by simply typing in text.

Here's an example of a product explainer video with a talking head created from text in a browser 😱

Example: Product explainer video for BankScout

Bonus: #6 Blended explainer videos

The above explainer video types aren't set in stone. In fact, it's quite common to blend a few of these types together to make your video idea come to life and make it more engaging.

Add animated elements to live-action videos, include a screencast in an animated explainer video, or blend a live-action explainer video with whiteboard examples. Let your imagination run wild (but not too wild).

Want to see even more types of explainer videos? Check out this blog post.

Here are a few things that should definitely be included in your explainer video, no matter the type. ⬇️

What should an explainer video include?

For prospective customers, a good explainer video identifies the pain points, demonstrates how the product/service solves those problems, shows the key features of the product/service, and calls to action.

Armed with this information, the best explainer videos out there include the following features:

  • A straightforward message. Keep it simple. Pinpoint the specific problem your audience is facing, and explain how your company is a solution to that problem. Don't use fluffy language - the clearer the message, the easier it is for your audience to understand.
  • An example or testimonial. Or both, if time allows. Don't explain how your product works, instead use real results and customer testimonials to do the explaining for you. Testimonials are strong social signals to the quality of your product, so take advantage of that.
  • Brand visual identity. Make sure the company's product video is recognizable by featuring brand colors, brand logo, and other visual markers that differentiate it from other businesses.
  • A compelling and clear call to action. Use the final message to persuade viewers to look further into the product or company.
  • Bonus: humor. Customers like a business that shows personality, and humor is a fool-proof way of doing that. However, make sure this informal tone aligns with your brand strategy and tone of voice.

How long should explainer videos be? Answers backed by industry research.

The optimal length for an explainer video is somewhere around the one-minute mark.

According to research, 68% of viewers will watch an explainer video start-to-end if it's under 1 minute long.

If you're making an explainer clip with social media in mind, videos under 15 seconds generate 37% more shares on social channels.

How much does explainer video production cost?

Let's just say, that the prices are steep. The price can range from $1,000 to $45,000 and more.

Of course, the price depends on factors like type, length, resources, location, animation type, and video production company experience. One thing is for certain, creating explainer videos for free is damn-near impossible.

With those figures in mind, it's no wonder more and more people are looking for ways to make good explainer videos by themselves.

Luckily, we're here to show you exactly how to do that. 👇

How to make an explainer video in 6 easy steps

Now that we have a good understanding of what explainer videos are and what flavors, shapes, and sizes they come in, let's address the elephant in the room: how to create explainer videos.

We won't go over the standard video production steps here. It's safe to assume you're here to learn how to do these by yourself, so that's exactly what we'll show you.

Step 1: Identify the video type

Think of the perfect format for your viewers - will they respond better to watching quirky animated videos, or would they prefer a more strict format?

For demonstration purposes, we'll be creating a blended talking head/product demo explainer video with Synthesia, but these tips are universal.

Step 2: Write the script

An engaging script is just as important as the video visuals. If your video doesn't tell a compelling story, you won't get the needed result from your audience.

We have mentioned the essential parts of an explainer video in this section, but here's a quick recap of what to include when you write:

  • pinpoint a problem your audience is facing
  • introduce your product/service as a solution/answer to the problem
  • feature a call to action
  • keep it fun with humor

Step 3: Gather assets

Depending on the video type you choose, you will need a different set of assets.

For live-action, having a physical product is essential, and for most types so is a screen recording and demonstration of your product.

Other elements, like images, business logos, music, should also be sourced at this stage.

Having all assets sorted and in one place will make the production part a whole lot easier.

Tip 💡

Start off with an explainer video template to save yourself some time.

Video templates are perfect for beginner video makers, because they provide a solid informational and visual structure. You can tweak the template however you like, so that it fits in perfectly with your brand.

Step 4: Create the video

This is the time to put your planning into practice by creating your video in the tool of your choice. Film your video or use a video-making tool, the choice is yours.

If you're using an AI video maker like Synthesia, here's what you do:

  1. Choose an AI avatar or create your own
  2. Choose the needed language, accent, and tone
  3. Type in your script
  4. Add any visual elements, images, music, shapes
  5. Review, adjust and generate video

How to generate AI videos in under 5 minutes

You can have your video created in as little as 10 minutes, especially if you start with a pre-made template.

Step 5: Edit

This is the part where you make your idea truly come to life.

If you're using a video maker such as Synthesia, this step is already incorporated into the creation part.

However, if you're filming, this is the time when you export your footage to an editing tool and make the video coherent.

Cut out any bad takes, unnecessary information, add transitions, and any other features like music.

Step 6: Promote

Now it's time to show your audience the fruit of your labor.

Add the video to your website landing page or blog post explaining the product, upload it to your YouTube channel, share it on social media or in your video newsletter.

Use any relevant distribution channels to promote your video and capture the attention of your audience.

Want to see some explainer video examples?

We have a whole blog post showcasing the best examples of explainer videos. 👇

Are you ready to start making your own explainer videos?

We hope this guide has helped you understand the creative process of creating explainer videos and encouraged you to try it out for yourself.

And if the idea of creating videos with human-like AI avatars right in your browser in minutes sounds intriguing, create a free AI video here.


Frequently asked questions