How to Craft the Ultimate Explainer Video: A Complete Guide

Learn how to create effective explainer videos for your company.

Zight | June 19, 2019 | 10 min read time

How to Craft the Ultimate Explainer Video: A Complete Guide

It’s 2019 and video rules the internet. If you’ve ever considered crafting custom explainer videos for your company, you aren’t alone. These content pieces can serve a variety or purposes and, when made correctly, engage and entertain viewers in ways other content types can’t.

In this article, we’ll outline what an explainer video is and how to create your own, from scratch, without having to hire an expensive video production company. Let’s get started!


What’s an Explainer Video?‍

To make sure that we’re on the same page, for this article, we’ll define and explainer video as any video (live action or animated) that engages viewers and effectively explains a topic in a quick, compelling way.

Admittedly, that’s a broad definition. But that’s the beauty of explainer videos! They are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways and for a variety of different purposes. But all good explainer videos share these traits in common:

  • Short: While there are exceptions to this rule, short explainer videos generally perform best. The attention spans of online audiences are not long. Effective explainer videos get their points across quickly.
  • Focused: In order to keep an explainer video short and sweet, they should be focused on just one topic that viewers care about. For example, rather than creating one massive interactive product tour video, you could create multiple short videos for each feature.
  • Engaging: Lastly, a quality explainer video should be engaging. If it’s not, what’s the point? There are plenty of ways to increase engagement. We’ll talk about them later in this article. For now, just know that engagement is key.

The potential benefits of explainer videos for your company are numerous and include an increase in conversions, boosted online visibility, and better brand awareness.


Types of Explainer Videos

There are four main types of explainer videos that you need to be aware of: how to videos, benefits videos, demo videos, and FAQ videos. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

  1. How To Videos: This is the classic explainer video type. It’s created and used to explain complex topics or show how to accomplish a specific task.
  2. Benefits Videos: Benefits videos are great for selling purposes. They go beyond what the product does and describe what the audience will gain by purchasing it.
  3. Demo Videos: This kind of explainer video gives viewers a quick, detailed look at a product, process, or service, and explains how they’re used or done.
  4. FAQ Videos: And FAQ explainer videos address common questions and answer them in a quick, engaging way.

In all likelihood, the explainer videos you create will fall into one of these categories. If you do happen to create custom explainer videos of a different nature, the above rules still apply. Do your best to keep them short, focused, and engaging.

5 Steps to Create an Amazing Explainer Video‍

No matter which of the above four explainer videos you decide to create, the following five steps will help ensure that the final product is professional and effective.

1. Define Your Video’s Purpose

Just about every great explainer video starts with this question: what am I trying to achieve? Do you plan to embed it on a landing page in the hopes that it boosts conversions? Will you distribute it internally as a way to train new hires? Maybe you plan to post it on social media.

Explainer videos work for all of these purposes. You just have to determine what your goals are at the very beginning so that you can properly craft your video script. Speaking of scripts…

2. Write Your Video Script

This is arguably the most important part of your explainer video. Without a quality script, you don’t really have anything. If you’ve ever gone to the theater and seen a big budget Hollywood blockbuster, full of top acting talent and special effects, only to leave disappointed afterwards, you know this to be true.

Special effects and quality voiceovers won’t be able to hide a subpar explainer video script. Fortunately, if you apply these tips to your videos, you won’t have to hide anything! Here are two bulletproof script templates you can use:

To Sell a Product or Service

  1. The Overview: Give your viewers a quick overview of your product. Briefly describe what it does and how it works.
  2. The Problem: Next, introduce the problem that your product solves. For example, if you were creating an explainer video in order to sell an affordable gym membership, you might start this section off by asking, “Are you tired of paying $100 a month to work out?”
  3. The Solution: It’s time to position your product as the solution to the problem you just mentioned in the previous section. “Well now you don’t have to! Our gym memberships only cost $20 a month an include 24/7 access, free group classes, and a sauna.”
  4. The Call to Action: At this point in the video, it’s time to ask your viewer to do something — purchase a product, sign up for a free trial, etc.
  5. Credibility Boosters: Finally, you’ll want to include some credibility boosters to let viewers know that your product can be trusted. Well-known clients you have, awards you’ve won, or sparkling reviews all work.

But what if you goal isn’t to sell but to educate? This script can be modified for in-house training videos as well that explain company processes:

To Explain a Process

  1. The Overview: Quickly explain what you’ll be teaching viewers. Is it a company process? Are you sharing code of conduct principles? Let viewers know at the start.
  2. The Problem: Next, briefly explain why the viewer needs to know this information. For example, “We developed this workflow because too many errors were being made on the warehouse floor. These errors resulted in thousands of lost dollars.”
  3. The Solution: It’s time to explain the process, workflow, code of conduct principles, etc. that you need to share with viewers. “First, unpack new shipments and place the contents of the boxes in the loading bay. Second…”
  4. Credibility Boosters: At this point in the video, you can share any results or successes that your company has achieved because of the new process, workflow, etc. that your explainer video is educating viewers on. “Since we began implementing this workflow, mistakes have decreased by 85%.”
  5. The Call to Action: What do you want viewers to do next? Should they watch another video? Fill out a form? Something else? If you have any further directions for viewers, state them at this point in your explainer video.

These scripts can probably be adapted for other purposes as well. The key is to get creative and structure your video is a way that makes sense. As long as your explainer videos are short, focused, and engaging (like we mentioned earlier) you should be just fine.

3. Choose the Right Explainer Video Software

At this point, you should know what the purpose of your explainer video is and have written a quality script for it. Now it’s time to actually starting shooting your video!

There are A LOT of ways to do this. For instance, you could grab your smartphone and shoot a quick video of yourself in your backyard explaining the benefits of your company’s product. You could then upload the footage to YouTube and hope for the best.

Or you could take a more professional approach (recommended!) and use a software program to help you craft a beautiful explainer video. You worked hard on the script right? You might as well get the rest of your video right as well.

The explainer video software you use will depend on whether you want to craft an animated or live action video. Let’s look at software for each.

Animated Explainer Videos

Animated explainer videos are fun and can help a company stand out from competitors. They’re also a great option if you and your team aren’t comfortable being on camera. Here are the best software apps for making animated explainer videos:‍

  • Animaker: When it comes to strictly animated explainer video makers, Animaker is hard to beat. The platform’s drag and drop editor is very easy to use and it comes with plenty of characters, graphics, and effects to create with. When users are done creating, they have the option to upload their masterpieces directly to Facebook and YouTube.
  • PowToon: PowToon, like Animaker, gives users all the tools to make engaging animated videos. But PowToon doesn’t stop there. Users can also make live-action videos by uploading footage of real human beings. Once the visuals are right, creators can dig into PowToon’s media library to add royalty-free music.
  • Biteable: Biteable is similar to PowToon in the sense that users can create fully animated, fully live-action, or combination videos. What sets Biteable apart is it’s professionally designed templates. Not an artist? No problem! Simply choose a template for Biteable’s library, add your own text, and voila, you have an explainer video that’s ready for the spotlight.

Live-Action Explainer Videos

If animated videos don’t suit your brand, or you’re looking to create explainer videos that demo a product, a live-action video is your best bet. These two software tools will help you get the job done.

  • Zight (formerly CloudApp): The Zight (formerly CloudApp) platform allows users to easily record their screens or themselves (via a webcam) and turn the recordings into top-notch explainer videos. Give potential customers a quick walk-through of your company’s software. Or record yourself explaining proper procedures for business training materials.

When the footage has been shot, you can then edit it with annotations to quickly make your points clear to viewers and share it internally or online. For live-action explainer videos, consider using what major companies like Uber, Salesforce and Adobe use.

  • Video Editors: Another option is to shoot your explainer video on your smartphone or camera and then upload the footage to a video editing software. There are plenty on the market including both professional and expensive applications like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, and free tools like Movie Maker Online.

These apps generally require advanced video editing knowledge and may not be the best option for complete beginners. But, if you do decide to invest your time and money into one of these tools, you can definitely produce amazing results!

4. Make Your Video Engaging

Once the main footage for your explainer video has been shot (or animated) it’s time to add a few engagement elements to help your final product stand out.

Record a Quality Voice Over

This is especially important if you’re working on an animated explainer video. Without a quality voiceover, your video will just be a collection of graphics, text, and background music — which can work really well and is generally cost effective.

But a great voice over will help engage your viewers. There are a couple of ways you can get one:

  • Record it Yourself: Do you or one of your team members have a radio-ready voice? Record it and sync it to your video. Try to get as clear a signal as you can and ensure that there isn’t any background noise.
  • Hire Someone Else: Not confident in your voiceover abilities? There are plenty of people online who would be happy to record themselves speaking your script. You can find them on Fiverr or Voices.

Add Music and Sound Effects

Without music and the right sound effects, you’ll have a hard time getting anyone to watch your explainer video. Fortunately, adding these elements to your creations is pretty simple. There are plenty of sites that offer access to cheap and/or free royalty-free music.

Checkout: Free Sound, Audio Jungle, and YouTube. If none of these sites have what you’re looking for, take to Google. Just remember to read the fine print before using any audio in your explainer videos.

Pro Tip: Tools like Biteable (mentioned earlier) usually have a library of royalty-free music available to use.

5. Distribute Your Explainer Video‍

Congratulations, your explainer video is done! Now it’s time to market and distribute your masterpiece to the world. So upload it to your company’s website, share it on YouTube and Facebook, or add it to your internal training library. Use the video for its intended use.

But don’t forget to measure its performance! If your explainer video was created for the public, measure engagement (views, watch time, click throughs, etc.) and assess what’s working well and what isn’t. You can use this information to either improve your current video or to help you create more effective videos in the future.

If your explainer video was created for internal use (i.e. it’s a training video, for example) get feedback from your viewers. Does it convey information in a clear way? Is there anything you can do to improve the video? Again, use this information to make any necessary changes.

3 Excellent Explainer Video Examples

The following three explainer videos are some of the best we’ve seen. Watch them, study them, and use them as inspiration for your own creations.

1. Dollar Shave Club

YouTube video

This explainer video is hilarious and perfectly crafted for the Dollar Shave Club target audience. The video creators also did a great job structuring their script. It starts with a product overview, addresses the problem their product solves, and then positions their offering as the ideal solution.

2. Crazy Egg

This animated explainer video from Crazy Egg does a great job of showing the company’s product in action and hammering home its benefits. While it’s longer that we would normally recommend, it’s engaging and keeps the viewers interest. It also does a great job of including a call to action.

3. Unroll.Me

YouTube video

This last explainer video from Unroll.Me is short and sweet. It does a great job of exacerbating the problem Unroll.Me solves and because it features actual users (at least that’s what the viewer is led to believe), it seems very credible.

Craft a Winning Explainer Video Today‍

You now know everything you need to craft exceptional explainer videos that move your company forward! Just remember, every explainer video you create should be short, focused, and engaging. Follow these three “golden” rules and you can’t go wrong. Good luck!

Ready to make engaging live-action explainer videos? Sign up for a free trial of Zight (formerly CloudApp) and get access to amazing features like screen recording, GIF creation, and image annotation — everything you need to make business boosting explainer videos!

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