Skip to content
what is a explainer video

6 Killer Explainer Videos and Tips to Make Your Own

Article by Amanda Gaid

Do you have a business model, product, or service that needs extra context for your customer to fully understand it?

Are you in a highly competitive niche and looking for a way to differentiate your brand?

Do you need a faster, more effective way to showcase your value to potential customers?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, an explainer video might be just what you’re looking for.

These videos pack a powerful punch for businesses. Just look at a few of the stats from Wyzowl’s research, The State of Video Marketing in 2019:

  • 96 percent of respondents said they’ve watched an explainer video to learn about a company’s offerings.
  • 79 percent said that a brand video convinced them to buy a software tool or app.
  • 68 percent said that they prefer watching a video to learn about a new offering, versus 15 percent who prefer reading text; four percent who prefer infographics, presentations, or pitches, and three percent who prefer ebooks and manuals.

Shall we dive in?

What Is an Explainer Video?

Like the name suggests, explainer videos give your viewers a broad explanation of your company, products, or services.

These marketing tools help your audience foster a stronger understanding of what you have to offer in a quick and efficient way.

→ Click Here to Launch Your Online Business with Shopify

They can come in all shapes and sizes, from a quick and fun 30-second animation to a three-minute live-action demonstration of real people using your product.

An explainer video can be an incredible sales tool, especially if your company sells complex, innovative, or hands-on products or services.

They present an opportunity to submerse your audience into your pitch, showing that you understand their pain points – and you have just the thing to help solve those pain points.

Just keep in mind that explainer videos are usually an introduction to your brand, so save the in-depth details for a later stage of your sales funnel.

Now, let’s look at the most popular types of explainer videos and examples of each.

6 Best Explainer Video Examples

1. Screencast: Basecamp

Basecamp proves that you can make a simple explainer video that’s still helpful without sinking hundreds or thousands of dollars into buying fancy software or hiring a production company.

Basecamp is a product management platform, which is the kind of offering that users need to see in action before they’ll make the purchase.

To show their audience just what they’re getting and how the tool works, Basecamp created a series of product explainer videos that show a screencast of Basecamp in action.

Many companies use screencast videos with an audio voiceover. But Basecamp decided to make the software more accessible and make the brand more personable by including on-screen video of Shaun Hildner, dubbed the company’s “video guy.”

Basecamp even has a full page dedicated to learning about the tool, and it’s chock full of Shaun’s videos.

2. Cartoon Animation: Tommy John

Tommy John offers another example of a product explainer video, showcasing its patented men’s undershirt.

This video is quite clever in that it explains pain points that the target customer may not even know he has.

It targets men who hate wearing undershirts – and flips this narrative to insist that they only hate undershirts because they’re wearing plain white t-shirts instead of a specially-developed product.

The video reminds them that their t-shirts are causing excess bagginess, constant untucking, sweat stains, stretching, and a need to replace them every couple of months.

It goes on to discuss the undershirt’s design, technology, and materials that solve each of the aforementioned problems.

All of this is wrapped into a clean, high-quality animation that clearly explains the product while giving the brand extra credibility and brand alignment.

3. Stop Motion: Orgo

Orgo mastered the art of the super-short explainer video. In just six seconds, the company made a simple and effective video that shows how to use its toiletry bag.

It uses stop motion animation, which can be a great option if you’re working on a budget.

To make a product explainer video like this for your ecommerce store, it only takes a few items: a camera or high-quality smartphone, a lightbox or ring light, and a simple video editing app.

For more tips on videos for your store, see our ebook chapter on How to Create a Product Video That Boosts Sales.

4. Live Action: Dollar Shave Club

This one is a personal favorite of our team. And we’re not the only fans – this wildly entertaining business explainer video went viral, boasting tens of millions of views on YouTube.

Dollar Shave Club is a subscription box that sends their customers new razors and other personal hygiene items every month. When it launched, there was nothing like it on the market.

That’s why it was a prime opportunity to strike gold with an explainer video. And the company did so by using absurdist humor to target their audience of younger men.

It’s extra impressive that the star of the video is Dollar Shave Club’s founder, adding an extra element of connection to the brand.

5. Whiteboard Animation: HomeSquare

While whiteboard animations are less popular than they used to be, they’re still a go-to explainer video style for many companies.

Home maintenance company HomeSquare uses the whiteboard style to explain how its service model is different than what most customers would expect.

It starts off by directly quoting some of the most relevant questions that its target market is asking, like whether they chose the right maintenance person and if they’re paying the right price.

The business explainer video goes on to explain the unique service model of proactively managing home maintenance items, as well as how the company keeps a comprehensive, real-time digital profile of each customer’s home so that nothing falls between the cracks.

6. High Production Value: Apple Watch

If you’re a small business, you won’t have the kind of budget that Apple is working with (but we have faith that you will someday).

Even if you can’t quite walk in Apple’s footsteps, every explainer-video-maker should watch the Apple Watch Series 5’s masterpiece in storytelling.

This video does an excellent job of illustrating all of the watch’s capabilities, and it does so in a poetic and theatrical way that mixes live action with film-quality special effects.

The artistic strategy is clear right off the bat, as the voiceover narrator pauses dramatically in between the first few words, then a quick cut to upbeat music.

The video takes us through all kinds of environments and landscapes to illustrate each point uniquely and vividly. We launch into space to learn about GPS, and zoom inside the human body to learn about heart rate tracking.

Now, you’ve got an idea of the most common types of explainer videos. Next, let’s look at some tips and tools for making your own.

How to Make an Explainer Video

1. Choose Your Production Method and Video Style

Choosing your production method and video style will require you to consider a few things:

  • Which style best suits your brand, message, and target audience
  • Your current skills, tools, and resources, including how much time you have to make a video or learn how
  • Your available budget to spend on buying new tools and hiring a professional explainer video producer

Let’s examine production method options first. You have three choices:

  1. Create an explainer video yourself, using your own tools or purchasing the tools and resources you need as you go.
  2. Hire a freelancer or company to design and produce the complete video for you.
  3. A combination, like writing your own script and record the voiceover, then hiring help to animate it.

To make your decision, consider the costs and time needed. For example, if you’re doing it all from scratch and have limited experience with video production, you’ll likely need lots of time to learn the ropes and explore the right tools.

The style will also make a difference. If you’re doing a simple explainer video with a screencast or screenshots and voiceover, you’ll spend significantly less time than if you want an animated explainer video (not to mention that hiring an animator will be more expensive).

Here are a few full-service companies that can do all the work for you:

2. Write Your Script

As a general rule of thumb, the best explainer videos are somewhere in between 30 and 90 seconds long. To translate this into word count, every 30 seconds is about 60 to 75 words. This means a 90-second script will be about 200 words.

You can go over by a minute or so if you have a particularly complicated business or product, but shorter is better. One study shows that 77 percent of viewers will watch an explainer video for up to two minutes, and then they start dropping off.

Keep in mind that you know your brand best – so if you’re hiring a production artist or company to do the whole project, make sure you’re at least guiding them on the script.

Here are some tips for writing a custom explainer video script:

  • Show your target audience that you understand their main struggles and pain points. What problems does your product or service solve for them?
  • After showing the problems, highlight your offering’s features and details that directly solve them, as well as what makes you stand out.
  • In addition to describing your offering, try to cover some of the common FAQs that potential customers usually have.
  • Show your brand’s personality. If it’s unique or silly, an explainer video is the perfect place to let your flag fly high.

3. Record the Voiceover

If you’re making a screencast or animated explainer video, the next step is to record your script.

Consider investing in an affordable, high-quality microphone like the Tonor PC Microphone, FIFINE USB Microphone, or Blue Yeti USB Microphone.

You can also hire a professional voice actor for this part. Try sites like:

best voiceover software for explainer video

4. Produce the Video

There are plenty of tools that specialize in helping newbies make their own videos with limited or no experience. Many of them have pre-built explainer video templates that you can choose from, as well as drag-and-drop functionality that simplifies the process.

For example, PowToon is a popular tool for animated explainer videos. The base plan costs $19 per month and allows for five premium video exports.

PowToon even has a dedicated template category for explainer videos, including styles for whiteboards, timelines, apps and software, among others.

best explainer video tools

Other explainer video software options include:

If you’re filming a live action video, you can use a video editing tool like Movavi, Blender or Lightworks.

For more options, check out our article on the 24 Best Free Video Editing Software Programs in 2021.

5. Publish it Where it Counts

Once you’ve got a great explainer video that you can be proud of, the next critical step is to make sure your potential customers see it.

We recommend embedding it onto your website, like on the homepage, an “About” or “How it Works” page, or a special landing page for conversions.

You can also use it in your digital marketing materials, like integrating it into your company’s social media strategy.

And as you can see from our examples above, you should absolutely publish it on your company’s YouTube.

Who knows, you might just go viral and become an overnight sensation.

Better Understanding Equals More Sales

While an explainer video isn’t critical for every business, yours can massively benefit if you have the kind of company, product, or service that could use some extra illustration and explanation.

This is especially true if you’re a tech company selling tools like software or apps, as these are arguably the most common industries for explainer videos.

But even other industries and niches can reap the benefits, from service-based businesses to ecommerce stores.

When you strategically balance your audience’s needs and interests with your business goals and resources, an explainer video can help you rack in the sales.

Start selling online now with Shopify

Start your free trial

Want to Learn More?