(PHOTO CREDIT: People illustrations by Storyset)
Explainer videos are highly effective marketing content that can skyrocket a brand into customer awareness and increase website conversions. In a survey with 600 people, 89% said watching an explainer video convinced them to buy a product or service.
You can share an explainer video across marketing channels; it is the most valuable content asset for the top of your sales funnel.
Whether creating an explainer video in-house or writing a creative brief for a production company, brainstorming video ideas can be challenging. That’s why we put together a list of the 10 best explainer video examples — some of which you may even remember.
This complete guide will also cover the types of explainer videos and how to make one (step-by-step). Here’s everything you need to create a stellar explainer video.
Table of Contents
What Is an Explainer Video?
Explainer videos showcase a product or brand and the problem it solves, generally in less than 90 seconds.
They build brand awareness, explain how the product works, and include a call to action.
Businesses use explainer videos for their homepage, landing pages, email campaigns, paid advertisements, sales outreach, and on social media.
Think of the explainer video as your company’s elevator pitch. What experience does your product or service create for your customers? How are their lives transformed?
An explainer video succinctly illustrates the value proposition of your product. It answers ‘why?’ — instead of focusing on features (the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of your product).
For this reason, explainer videos more easily persuade consumers by presenting the ‘before’ and ‘after’ transformation they will experience with your product or service.
The Benefits of Explainer Videos
Video is one of the most powerful marketing strategies a company can use to build awareness and sell products or services. Explainer videos inherit and amplify these benefits.
- Landing pages with embedded video get 86% more conversions than text-only pages.
- In a survey of nearly 600, 96% of people said they have watched an explainer video to learn about a product or service.
- 66% of people prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a short video.
- Adding video to a campaign increases conversions by 34%.
- 52% of marketers cite that video produces the highest ROI for content.
- Viewers retain 95% of a message when conveyed by video, compared to 10% when read in text.
Types of Explainer Videos
There are three major types of explainer videos: live-action, animation, and screencast. When choosing the type of video to create for your brand, consider which type will showcase your product best.
Note: Alternatively, you can combine animation and live-action for the best of both worlds. We did this at SproutVideo to introduce our hosted video websites!
1. Live-Action Explainer Videos
Live-action videos use actual footage and are generally more expensive to create. Producing a live-action explainer video can require hiring actors and crew, choosing a location, shooting the footage, editing, and more. Some businesses choose to hire a video production company because of this complexity.
These types of videos tend to encourage more engagement than animated explainer videos. If brand awareness is a primary goal, producing a more significant return may be worth the added expense. Every company’s product or service is different, and live-action video may not be the most effective way to tell every story.
2. Screencast Explainer Videos
Screencast explainer videos highlight the user experience and how a product (like software) works. The screencast demonstration may incorporate animation or live-action footage to add versatility and personality to the video.
While this may be the most accessible type of explainer video to produce, it’s still important to focus on creating a high-quality result.
3. Animated Explainer Videos
There are many types of animations an explainer video might utilize: motion graphics, 3D, 2D, and even whiteboard animation. Depending on the animation style, this can be a professional yet low-cost option for creating an explainer video.
For some brands (like the Grammarly video featured below), combining live-action with on-screen animation helps tell the whole story.
10 Best Explainer Video Examples
Writing a winning script and knowing your audience are the elements that matter most when creating a successful explainer video. To help spark inspiration for your brainstorm, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best explainer video examples.
Creating a wordless explainer video is a challenge. But wordless videos can produce a genuinely interesting and versatile result for the right product. This Slack video, for example, relies on animation and music to tell its story.
From the moment our main character wakes up, the speed of modern communication overwhelms them, and the music reflects this frantic pace. Yet when they open the Slack app, everything changes.
The video illustrates how it feels to use Slack for communication. Slack recognizes that overwhelming communication is a common pain point for its users. Without a word of dialogue, this video promises viewers an emotional transformation if they use Slack.
9. Amazon Go
The first Amazon Go store opened in Seattle in 2018. But a year prior, the concept of a cashierless store was unheard-of. Amazon needed to explain the idea to future potential customers. And they did a great job with this video by showcasing what it would be like to shop in an Amazon Go store.
The video also generated a lot of conversation, both about the technology and societal implications. While the success of these stores is still to be determined, this explainer video perfectly illustrates the vision Amazon has for cashierless shopping.
8. Crazy Egg
Now 10 years old, this Crazy Egg explainer video introduced a lot of businesses to the idea of heat maps for increased conversions. It’s rare for a B2B marketing video to go viral, but this one did because it solves a major pain point. Businesses of all sizes can quickly relate to the frustrations outlined, and the video thoroughly showcases its solution.
This Grammarly explainer video targets a specific segment of its audience: students. The video combines on-screen software previews with real-life student situations to show how the program helps students present their ideas professionally.
It also showcases that schools support students using Grammarly to help with their workload. In this way, the ad uniquely advertises Grammarly to both students and universities that might offer discounts on or free use of premium accounts for students.
Another B2B example is Dissolve’s award-winning explainer video, which went viral in 2014. The ad features various stock footage examples with a tongue-in-cheek voice-over originally published as a poem by Kendra Eash on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. As the video concludes, we learn that all the footage is from Dissolve’s stock library.
It’s arguably risky to poke fun at the people (i.e. marketers) who will buy your product, but Dissolve’s video pulls it off with flying colors. The video worked so well that the company launched a follow-up ‘Generic Millenial Ad’ a few years later, which also garnered significant success.
Nest’s video showcases an understanding of its audience’s pain points and highlights the product’s features as a solution. The video is a 2D animation that includes real images of Nest’s products. The juxtaposition of these elements creates a viewing experience that is novel and more engaging than illustrations alone. The video is slightly longer than the average B2C explainer, but Nest uses that time to showcase the in-depth automation of a Nest-connected home.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a confusing topic. Furthermore, it can be difficult to showcase the value of SEO in a way that business leaders will appreciate. The way Ahrefs’ explainer video tackles this challenge is exactly what makes it so impeccable.
Within the first 15 seconds, the video showcases the power of SEO: increased traffic to your website equals more sales. The video continues by highlighting some of the specific aspects of SEO and how simple it is to improve the SEO of your company’s website with the software.
3. Dollar Shave Club
Personality is everything in this video. The production setup is minimal; filming occurs in the Dollar Shave Club offices and warehouse. Mike, the founder, moves through the building describing the product’s benefits while silliness ensues all around him.
The video concludes with Mike, a bear (well, a person in a bear costume), and one of the warehouse employees having a dance party in front of the American flag. Ultimately, it’s a great example of combining entertainment (specifically, humor) and information to sell a product. Seven years after Dollar Shave Club released this video, it sold for $1 billion.
Sometimes, the non-traditional approach wins. This video highlights the importance of explaining a product’s existence rather than showing off its features. Lyft ran its seven-minute short film of an explainer video as an advertisement, and thousands of people in the video’s comment section said it made them stop and watch instead of pressing ‘Skip Now’.
We’d be remiss not to include the best explainer video ever made. Poo-Pourii was already a successful product when this advertisement launched its brand awareness into the stratosphere.
The video received tens of millions of views (currently 44 million). To capitalize on this success, the brand released multiple other ads with the same actor over the next few years. Poo-Pourii went from being a best-kept secret to one of the most popular air fresheners on the market.
How to Make an Explainer Video (Step-by-Step)
Let’s walk through each step of making an explainer video. There is no correct way; remember who you’re communicating with and why your product or service is important. The best explainer video is sincere and effective at presenting your company’s solution to a problem.
1. Determine Production Budget
Before you even brainstorm explainer video ideas, it’s essential to determine the budget. We broke down how we spent $4,000 creating our explainer video. But there are various options depending on what type of video you want to make and the money you can spend.
How Long Should an Explainer Video Be?
Video production costs are estimated per minute. The typical explainer video will be 60-90 seconds long, while B2B explainer videos tend to run a little longer at 2-3 minutes. Therefore, it’s essential to consider this aspect of creating your video when writing the script or getting quotes from production companies.
How Much Do Explainer Videos Cost?
Companies with larger budgets may hire a production company to create the video. A production company works with you on the best way to highlight the most critical information about your product and make it stand out engagingly.
Alternatively, a company may hire a professional animator or use its in-house video production team. While these alternatives present some lower-budget options, a company should expect to invest in its video to produce a return on that investment.
2. Write the Script (or Creative Brief)
The script sets the tone for the entire video. In the explainer video examples above, we saw many approaches. Some brands, like Match.com and Poo-Pourii, use shock value and humor to delight and surprise while selling their product or service.
Lyft takes a different, emotional approach by catching viewers’ attention with music and good vibes, leading to a heart-warming and engaging story that keeps viewers watching for seven minutes.
Other companies recognize the need to convey a pain point or problem directly. Ahrefs, for example, immediately starts the video with, “Here’s the problem…,” and quickly outlines its solution. On the opposite end, Dissolve showed off its product rather than discussing it. In this case, the product reveal at the end feels like another punchline within the funny video.
The script is a vital piece of the project to get right. Even if your company plans to produce the video in-house, consider hiring a professional copywriter to write the video script.
What Should an Explainer Video Include?
Four main elements are needed to successfully convey your message when writing your explainer video script or outlining the creative brief.
- Illustrate the problem or pain point.
- Showcase the solution: your product.
- Explain further details and how it works.
- Present a call to action.
Even if your video takes a non-traditional approach, like the 7-minute dialogue-free Lyft video, hit these four beats to create a compelling explainer video.
Combine a well-written script (even if it includes no words) with an insightful understanding of your customers’ pain points and your company’s inventive solution to create a successful video.
3. Produce the Explainer Video
There are multiple options when producing an explainer video. Let’s consider the differences between a business that hires a production company versus one that creates its explainer video in-house.
Working with a Production Company
If you’re working with a production company, part of the pre-production process will include aligning on the creative vision and determining the steps to bring it to life.
Once this process is complete, the production company may take 4-6 weeks to film or animate the video before producing a first draft.
Once the project moves into the editing stage, it will be time to collaborate on music (unless already decided) and record a voice actor if needed.
Live-Action In-House Videos
This stage will be more intensive for companies producing live-action in-house video. You must:
- Hire a director, actors, and film crew.
- Choose a location and ensure proper staging.
- Create a filming schedule and shoot the footage.
- Hire and record a voice actor (if needed).
- Edit the footage and add music.
Animated In-House Videos
Companies producing animated videos must choose the type of animation: 2D, 3D, motion graphics, whiteboard, etc. Whether working with an employee or hiring a freelancer, create a storyboard for the animated video before spending the money to have it animated.
As with a live-action video, you may need to record a voice actor. You will also need to edit or hire a professional editor to add music to the video and ensure a quality final result. Read our guide on producing high-quality animation videos to learn more.
4. Market Your Explainer Video
When your video is complete, it’s time to create and launch a marketing plan. Follow these three easy steps to launch your explainer video.
1. Choose A Video Host
Where will you upload the video?
Many companies upload videos to YouTube for the general public and their video hosting platform. A video host allows a business to embed the video on its marketing website ad-free with customized branding, in-player calls-to-action, and post-play screens. Learn more about the marketing tools included with a SproutVideo account here.
2. Create Your Marketing Plan
Plan to share your new explainer video across marketing channels. Celebrate the launch of this video by debuting it to your audience on your:
- Homepage or landing page
- Email newsletter
- Social media
- Community thread (i.e. Discord, Meta Group)
- Live stream event
- Paid advertisements
Make a list of all the channels your business uses to communicate with both customers and your target audience. Choose a launch date and create marketing materials to celebrate the launch of this new explainer video.
The most important part of this step is determining how you will direct traffic to this video. Using past and current data to estimate views and set conversion goals can be helpful. If your website is capable, consider performing an A/B test with and without the video.
Note: When filming your video, consider whether you will crop the video for social media platforms. Read our article on optimizing videos for social sharing for helpful tips.
3. Launch Your Video Across Channels
When launch day arrives, it’s officially time to integrate the explainer video into your brand and website. Before launch, ensure your team has coordinated marketing materials and publishing times. Once published, it’s time to celebrate.
It’s highly likely that many people worked hard and put a lot of effort and love into creating this video. Don’t be afraid to share that journey with your audience. Consider creating a behind-the-scenes (BTS) video or blog post to bring your audience into the experience.
4. Measure Video Success
An explainer video can provide value to your audience for years. For this reason, consider measuring the initial engagement boost you receive from launching your video across marketing channels. Compile this data within the first couple weeks of launch.
Then, continue to periodically measure the success of the explainer video as part of your ongoing marketing plan. You might use a few different analytics tools to do this:
- Google Analytics: A tried-and-true way to review the success of your content, especially when embedding video on your website.
- YouTube: This social media hosting platform provides basic analytic data for tracking general video engagement.
- Your video hosting platform: Detailed video analytics and data provide a lot of valuable information. Private video hosting platforms often include tools that make measuring the return on your investment easier.
SproutVideo, for example, allows you to view the usual data (i.e. impressions, plays, watch time, engagement, and more). However, we also collect engagement data for every single video play. This data allows us to provide you with a heat map of video engagement to investigate what people watched, re-watched, or skipped.
Quick Tips for Explainer Videos
Looking for some quick advice? Here’s the TL;DR on how to make a great explainer video:
- Get to the point. Present your product’s main value proposition within the video’s first 30-45 seconds.
- Focus on the value proposition. What is the ‘why’ behind your product or service? Showcase the benefits and transformation rather than features (in most cases).
- Invest in the explainer video. This video is the most valuable content asset at the top of your sales funnel. Produce a professional product to see a return on investment.
- Launch across marketing channels. Include an explainer video on your homepage, sales pages, social media, newsletter, paid ads, and more.
- Measure your ROI. A private video hosting platform, like SproutVideo, provides detailed information about video impressions, engagement, and much more.