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The 5 Best Explainer Videos & How to Make Your Own

Today we'll be covering everything there is to know about explainer videos. They're fun to make, will jumpstart conversion rates, and are overall great to have for any startup business. Let's get started!

What is an Explainer Video?

Explainer videos are short online marketing videos used to explain your company’s product or service. Explainer videos, often placed on a landing page, your website’s home page, or a prominent product page, have become extremely popular – some sites boast of conversion rates increasing by as much as 144% after including an explainer video on their website.

startup explainer video

An explainer video for Crazy Egg

There’s no arguing that online videos are fantastic assets for a business. The question is – how do you get your own explainer video?

Today we’ll be looking at some of the best explainer videos on the web and why they work. We’ll also be discussing why explainer videos are good for business, the different types of explainer videos you can make, and how to go about creating explainer videos for your website.

Types of Explainer Videos

Live Action Explainer Videos: A non-animated promotional video explaining your business’s product or service. Examples of this include the Dollar Shave Club and PooPourri videos (see below). Live action explainer videos are usually best for companies selling a physical product or people-oriented service, such as a restaurant, or consulting group. Having flesh and blood people in your explainer video can create an emotional connection for viewers, as we are naturally drawn to other human faces. However, live action means you’re stuck to the confines of the real world – no magical unicorns whose enchanted horns can back up your data.

Animated Explainer Videos: The most popular type of explainer video, animation is often the preferred format for explaining services or intangible tech products like software. Some services involve few, if any, physical objects, making live action an unrealistic option. Animated explainer videos allow for more creativity, and are easier to edit or update when you want to make future adjustments.

Whiteboard Explainer Videos: A whiteboard video is an explainer video in which animation is hand drawn and erased on a whiteboard. This format of video has become popular due to its ease of operation and low cost, making it one of the cheapest types of explainer video to create.

Kickstarter Explainer Videos:  You’ll notice that nearly all Kickstarter projects involve an explainer video of some kind. Really, Kickstarter explainer videos aren’t so different from a regular product or service explainer video, although they do tend to be longer. Browsing Kickstarter can be a fun way to see many examples of explainer videos.

The 5 Best Explainer Videos

With these types of promo videos becoming ever more popular, there are plenty of top explainer video examples to choose from. We’ve got a few favorites to show you.

1. Dollar Shave Club

With their video title, “DollarShaveClub.com - Our Blades Are F***ing Great,” you know Dollar Shave Club is going for something edgy. They follow through and go all-in with this wacky video, which we also featured in our blog post about funny advertisments. What makes this explainer video work so well? Dollar Shave Club knows their audience really well, down to a tee. Their market is 20-30-something year old men who would be open to the idea of ordering a steady supply of razors online. The video’s language and humor matches their ideal audience perfectly.

Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a well-structured explainer video. They start with a brief overview of the service (get great razors delivered to your door for $1/month), they introduce the problem (most blades are too expensive, have un-necessary features that jack up prices, and it’s easy to forget about buying new razors), and re-iterate the solution their service offers (cheap blades delivered monthly to your door).

2. PooPourri

PooPourri is successful for many of the same reasons Dollar Shave Club is, and it’s no surprise that their styles are quite similar. You’ll notice that PooPourri’s explainer video is largely live action, but switches to some animation to show the intricacies of how PooPourri works (no one wants to see a live action load dropped into a toilet). Also, check out that big green button at the end of the video – it’s begging to be clicked, ending with a strong call to action.

It’s worth noting that matching this tone of humor for your own explainer video would be quite difficult – most businesses will be better off more subtle humor. PooPourri is an outrageous product, so their humor can be outrageous as well.

3. Mint

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Mint is a perfect example of why some businesses are much better off with animation rather than live action. Mint takes advantage of animation to illustrate how it draws financial info from different parts of a user’s life and curates it all into one setup. Mint’s animated explainer video also uses screenshots of the actual product, familiarizing viewers with the product’s design and arrangement.

4. Air BnB

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Air BnB uses a cool combination of live action and animation to show the unique (and reasonably priced) experiences obtained by using Air Bnb. This explainer video does a great job of showing the perks of Air BnB while explaining them verbally, such as having the the Air BnB messaging system appears on a nearby wall while talking about how it easy it is to contact a host. Air BnB uses live action to showcase some of its incredible host homes, while taking advantage of animation aspects in order to emphasize certain points.

5. Spotify

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Spotify relies exclusively on fun animation and a rockin’ soundtrack to explain their digital music service. The video matches the lively music with fast paced cutting, and the video’s color scheme fits perfectly with the Spotify design, so we already feel familiar with it. Not much needs to be said; Spotify doesn’t over complicate, instead relying on a tune and a few lines of text to show that they’re all about the music. 

Do you have any favorite explainer video examples you recommend? What do you like about them? Let us know in the comments!

How to Make an Explainer Video

We're going to take you through the steps of how to make your own explainer video! It's no easy task, requiring a ton of focus and effort, but we can guarantee it's worth the work.

Step 1: Script

The script is the most important element in creating a good explainer video. Your explainer video could have the coolest graphics and most Morgan Freeman-esque voiceover in the world, and it wouldn’t mean a thing without a solid script to get behind.

explainer videos best

The script is where you’ll need to spend the majority of your focus. It’s best if you write your explainer video script yourself (even if you choose to hire a production company). You know your target customer’s concerns and pain points better than anyone else, and the video is where those concerns need to be addressed. What freaks out your potential customers? What confuses them about your product or offering? If you haven’t already done some research to answer these questions, now is the time to consider surveying your audience and figuring this out.

It is recommended that your explainer video script follow this general outline…

Order of Script

1.       Quick overview of your product and what it does

2.       Introduce the problem

3.       Answer the problem with your solution (via product or service)

4.       Call to action (e.g. sign up for our free trial by clicking here!)

5.       Broadcast your trust signals (such as well-known clients, awards, write-ups, etc.)

Script Best Practices

  • Keep it short – 90 seconds or less is ideal.
  • Your key message and value proposition should be in the first 30 seconds. Don’t keep folks wondering.
  • Speak in 2nd person, using words like “You” and “Your.”
  • Use simple language – don’t alienate viewers with technical terms they won’t understand.
  • Keep in mind the tone you want for your explainer video. Most videos opt for a casual, conversational tone.
  • Try a touch of humor – videos with some subtle laughs tend to be more enjoyable.

Step 2: Voiceovers

Once you have a script, you’ll need a voiceover. Some options are:

Voices.com: This site has a large network of professional voice actors to choose from.

Craigslist: Ah yes, old reliable. You can find just about anything on crazy Craigslist, including voiceovers.

Fiverr: Yup, you can get a decent voiceover for your explainer video for just $5 on Fiverr! You’ll probably have to pay a bit more than that ($5 is usually the starting price – some charge by the second, others by the word. Chances are you won’t be in the lowest price bracket). Still, you aren’t likely to find a voiceover anywhere for cheaper.

explainer video DIY

Step 3: Explainer Video Production

There are a number of different paths you can take when it comes down to the actual creation and production of your explainer video. Options include…

Bring Out the Pros: There are some very talented professional video production companies out there that can help you make a killer promotional video. You’ll have some high explainer video costs if you go this route – be prepared to shell out anywhere from $5,000 - $20,000 for a service like this. The advantage is that you’ll have video experts helping you every step of the way, and you’re video is guaranteed to look great. Demo Duck, Wyzowl, and Studio Pigeon are a few explainer video companies to consider.

Pow Toon: if you’re making animated explainer videos, have no animation experience, but want to do it yourself on a budget, Pow Toon is the way to go. Anyone with some basic computer skills can use this animated explainer video software. It likely won’t be a masterpiece, but it’s easy to create and free (to start at least). They even have a tutorial series to walk you through building your creation.

explainer video templates

DIY Explainer Video with iPhone: That’s right, you can film your own explainer video on your iPhone! This awesome post from Wistia will show you how. DIY filming is a great way to create cheap explainer videos. For the editing, iMovie or Camtasia are good choices. If you want to take on a DIY animated explainer video, this animation toolkit from Salsify can provide you with a ton of great animation tools and resources.

Hire a Freelancer: Experienced freelancers can provide high-quality explainer video production assistance at a much lower cost than a large production company. You should be able to find one easily enough on craigslist or other freelance sites. 

Crowd Sourcing: One option you might give a go is the video crowd-sourcing company Video Brewery. Submit a general project overview and receive a bunch of proposals from Video Brewery’s network of trusted freelancers. Choose one you like and you’re on your way! Video Brewery notes that these explainer video costs usually run somewhere between $3,000 - $5,000.

Step 4: Music & Sound Effects

Chances are your animated explainer video or even your live action explainer video needs some sweet sound effects and music. Some places to score tracks include…

  • MusOpen: Offering free music resources such as recordings, sheet music, etc.
  • Free Sound: A database of Creative Commons licensed audio samples and recordings.
  • YouTube: The king of video itself offers some free background music to use in video creations.
  • Audio Jungle: Royalty free audio files including loops, sound effects, and more.
  • Audacity: This free tool isn’t a source of audio files, but instead helps you create your own.

Remember to read the fine print carefully on these sites with regards to what is or is not permitted under the sound file’s licensing agreement. Some are a cheap one-time purchase and royalty free, others require attribution, etc.

Step 5: Measure the Performance of Your Explainer Video

Measure video engagement and be ready to tweak the heck out of your video. You’ll be able to see some solid data with YouTube Insight, but Google Analytics can take you even deeper down the rabbit hole, so long as you’re game for setting up nifty custom event tracking.

startup explainer videos

Imagine seeing plays, pauses, how many viewers hit the 30 sec. mark vs. 60 sec. mark, etc. Wistia has some nice analytic tracking options too, and also makes it easy to sync up Wistia and Google Analytics.

Step 6: Enjoy the Advantages of Your New Explainer Video!

Explainer videos have a ton of benefits, such as:

Now go forth and create some killer explainer videos! Let us know how it goes.

Comments

Columbia Jones
Mar 13, 2014

Great article, Megan! I loved your amusing examples of the explainer videos as well as the clearly statedstep by step info on how to make them. Those were some excellet tips. This willdefinitely go in my rsource file.  

Megan Marrs
Jun 11, 2014

Thank you, glad you could make use of it!

Jodi30
Oct 24, 2014

Awesome to see your site. Keep up the great work. Thanks for all you could do. Lets stay in touch. yxjanaaeh

Kasra Design
Mar 14, 2014

In almost all the explainer video examples above, you can see the undeniable entertaining factor as well as great creativity. What most brands mostly ignore is the script. It's the foundation of a good explainer video. Hard selling and self promotional scripts must be avoided at all cost. People don't like to watch a promotional video, in contrary, they would love to see an entertaining video that makes them smile or teach them something new. So why not give them what they want and get rewarded?

Megan Marrs
Jun 11, 2014

For sure - entertain viewers and they won't even realize they are watching an ad! 

Klemen
Mar 26, 2014

Great intro to Explainer Videos.  The next step would be probably to explain what makes those videos to make a sale, ie. turn your viewers into an action takers and that is story.  Good story with symbiology/iconography which is talking to the level of understandment of6th grade kid performs best as this is this is the only way for the most people to understand your message.(same way as our world leaders are using myths and symbols to successfully communicate their messages to the crowds) 

Lyuboslav
Apr 05, 2014

Awesome article.  

Luis
Apr 06, 2014

Well, the guide is comprehensive enough as well as simple. Thanks a lot, Megan.

Megan Marrs
Jun 11, 2014

You're welcome Luis!

Larry Mutenda
May 03, 2014

Hey Megan, thats a well written and detailed article on explainer videos. I believe that before you decide on making a video to promote your business, you need to have clear-cut goals on what you want to achieve. Don't make a video because everyone has one.If you're serious about creating a message that's effective, it's best to find a professional who can tell your story better. You're better off with no video at all, than a bad video that destroys your image. To connect with your audience, tell a story that resonates with them, catches their attention, and gets them listening.At CreamyAnimation.com we help people turn their ideas into compelling stories.Larry Mutenda

Joseph
May 08, 2014

Really enjoy reading this article...it was very educational and interesting. thank you

Nick Piscitello
May 20, 2014

I’ve read your blog and found it really helpful steps for how to create an explainer video. Thanks for your time to write us a helpful post!! 

Michael Lieberman
May 20, 2014

We created our explainer video in-house. While we had internal resources to do much of the creative, we used outside voice talent. There are many ways to find cost effective talent and the result is really worth the investment. 

Megan Marrs
Jun 11, 2014

Glad it worked out for you Michael. Sounds like it was a success.

Adam Hudson
Jun 10, 2014

Great article and excellent examples of good work.

J Monique
Jun 26, 2014

Awesome article I'm going to put these steps into some use over the weekend and see how far this takes me. Thank you for the time and effort you put into your blog.

Explainer Video
Jun 30, 2014

We really do need to communicate quickly, because web users have become more and more impatient. They're not going to read through paragraph and paragraph and paragraph of text. Therefore, many, many websites have found it valuable to use visual-centric homepages to help communicate and to quickly convey the primary value proposition to those visitors. Sometimes, that's a video. Sometimes, it's just an image or graphic that explains things really clearly. That can work out great." 

this site
Jul 04, 2014

Great article and excellent examples of good work.   

Luke Ziegenhardt
Jul 24, 2014

Hello MeganThank you very much for your informative and interesting article! It is NOT often that I say outloud : Wow! That was really interesting! I've just made my first Powtoon and am very excited to make more.CheerioLuke

Joyce Woodson
Aug 07, 2014

THANK YOU!  This was so well done and so simple - even I may be able to do an explainer video. Now, its on to understanding crowd funding.Thanks! Joyce

Ranjit
Sep 04, 2014

Very nicely explained. Great to read it.  As im a professional Video producer,this seems to be a great new way of looking at video content. You rightly said that script is the mostimportant element. The trend in the last few years was to just edit a video with attractive visuals on fast music.But that cannot sustain for long and the message is incomplete.Thanks

WordsmithX
Sep 19, 2014

As a scriptwriter (with 400+ scripts under the belt), I completely agree with all the points you've raised, but not completely with the script part. Although a client knows about his buisness better than anybody else, writing a script that carries the whole video isn't so easy, you'd still need a professional writer. 

SCV
Sep 25, 2014

Thank you for this great article. I own a company that does animated explainer videos and I can tell you it really does boost conversions.

Greg Koralewski
Oct 21, 2014

Great article. Thanks!

Johan Hedin
Nov 14, 2014

Nice article. However, from having 15 years of experience I can say that if you do it yourself or hire freelancers, you willget exactly what you pay for. Many companies use the video to engage and increase sales and I have seen manylousy videos on many sites which they would be better off not having one at all. It comes down to experience and knowledgeccreating winning videos with a clear strategy, creativity and goal.  

Tal Ferriera
Nov 24, 2014

There is simply something about sound and images that can really bring an entire concept together for viewers. As you can see from this article video really does set the tone for the product or service and creates an emotional reaction but it has be produced correctly for it to create a desire to make a purchase..the output seen above is by teams who really understand this. thanks for the article Megan ..its really useful to both producer and end user alike!  ..Tal

Vimal
Feb 20, 2015

A great article. We are a firm that focuses on creating explainer and promo videos. We have experienced many a times that it is actually about the understanding of how graphics works and the power to visualize that helps create great animations. For instance, there are small things which are easier to do that create 10x more impact that things which take 10x more time and effort to do. As a explainer video producer it is important you have the power to visualize and provide tiny details to the work.

Juan
Mar 30, 2015

Awesome how this article managed to stick around! It's a great video selection!

I believe that these videos prove that any startup with a fun idea and a good video company on their side can make a good explainer video. If anyone's interested in explainer videos, we deliver some cool resources on explainer video production, SEO strategies and video marketing campaigns.

Thanks for the great article, Megan!

VideoAgora
May 05, 2015

A well written piece on the explainer marketing videos. Keep up the good work on making online marketing easy to understand for everybody.

Brandy Kendrick
May 14, 2015

Such a good article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece of information. You gave a very good description regarding explainer videos. One thing I would like to say that you can add more types of explainer videos as you have mentioned few of them. Rest is great!

Anthony Nelson
May 19, 2015

Simply amazing PooPourri video explainer!
Thanks for such great article!

pixelting
Jul 15, 2015

Informative article. Script is the most important part of an explainer video. Making the right script might not be easy but the steps provided by you is good. I think you missed one very important point. One should also check competition explainer video. So say if you are in financial services space, check your competition's script and video and take some inspiration from it. Also check the best players in the same space like check mint.com video, as it is in the financial services space though it might not be exactly what you are doing. Understand the flow and make your own. Its good if you have really thought about your script before giving it to a professional video maker as then its easy for him to understand too. Best Wishes.

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