Resources & Guides

A guide to creating explainer videos

A guide to creating explainer videos

A huge shift in content has taken place over the past 5 years, with large amounts of creators and companies adding short and snappy video content on anything from recipes to fixing a car. These ‘explainer videos’ are forming the backbone for social offerings and digital exposure strategies.

An essential value add for any business, explainer videos can help market your product and service more effectively and help save you time, effort, and energy when it matters most. While they are a powerful engagement tool and godsend for brands of all sizes, it can be hard to know where to start.

So, here’s our guide to making explainer videos that are perfect for your business, current customers, attracting future clients, and more.

What is an explainer video?

Designed to be a short introduction to your service or product, an explainer is commonly embedded on the home page of your website and provides an easy-to-digest look at your value proposition.

This can outline your service, company, or any key information that you think helps you stand out. These can then be easily shared through social media, YouTube, and other sites to help potential customers get a better look at your work and what makes you tick.

A well-designed explainer video can be a massive drive to pursue further engagement across your site and choosing a well-produced and structured video can impart a wealth of information in a fraction of the time it would take a visitor to sift through your site pages.

These can come in a variety of options from no-frills clips that detail your commercial ability, a potted history of your work, or detailing key projects and products that you are proud of. This can help drive conversions, engagement, and help focus visitor attention on areas you want them to see.

Overlooked by many, a quality explainer video is worth its weight in gold and opens up your space to build trust with clients and help consolidate your brand – providing a cost-effective path to marketing and building strategic plans that can have a significant payoff in the short and long-term.

Why are they used?

Because visual imagery is one of the most important ways to relay information and help retain control over your branding and products.

One explanation we always use is to think of the last time that you were looking for information about a future purchase or had brought a product whose instructions you simply didn’t understand. Did you sift through pages of text, PDF’s, and product pages to find your answer? Or did you move to YouTube and look for videos, reviews, or walkthroughs? And which was the most effective for the time and level of need you had?

Choosing to deploy a visual medium helps you establish who you are, what you offer, why clients should care, when it needs to be used, and where you can secure it from – all within a minute or less. Cheap to create and with almost unlimited scope, explainers are rapidly becoming a valuable tool for many businesses and with the right technical and creative guidance, can bring in returns well beyond the resource required to create them in the first place.

So if you’re struggling with conversions or succinctly articulating why your business is a great choice, an explainer can be the perfect low-risk tool to help leverage your position with clients today.

What makes a good explainer video?

While there are a range of options available for businesses looking to make a solid explainer video, there are a range of components shared elements that they share. These include-

Being Animated: Though pursuing live-action video is an option, the best explainer videos are animated in a way that maximises cost-effectiveness and quality. This helps communicate what your video is trying to achieve in a compelling way and helps keep viewers on the hook. This can dovetail with your existing branding, help spearhead a rebranding move, or anything in-between.

Being Organised: While explainers are fun to create and even more fun to watch, there is no point commissioning one unless there is a clear goal behind its creation. Ideally every video should aim to increase the viewer’s knowledge about your work, articulate your value proposition and ensure that all materials are delivered in a way that is succinct and respectful of a viewer’s time. If you haven’t grabbed an individual within the first ten seconds of a video, there’s a good chance you’ll have lost them. And with such a competitive and crowded online marketplace, it’s essential to listen to your in house teams and providers to agree a purpose behind the video, a detailed structure and script, and a high-quality approach to producing the best material possible to showcase your work.

Being Clear: Simplicity may be a solid objective, but the greatest goal that every busines should attempt to reach is clarity. This allows for your message to be condensed into its most digestible form without adding fluff, unnecessary extras, or ‘nice to have’ extras. Any solid explainer video will use clear language and aim to deploy neat and simple graphics to help craft your message. While storytelling may be nice, an explainer should aim to impart information and encourage the viewer to engage further.

Being Engaging: You can have a concise, effective, and perfectly crafted video. But if it’s not engaging, no-one will care. As well as getting your key points across, explainers are a fantastic way to represent your company culture and embed your unique identity. This can come with your tone, existing branding, approach and more. Once you’ve grabbed their attention on the home page, links can direct them to any pathway in your existing conversion funnel, allowing you to control their engagement and ensure that no matter what they need, they are able to access it through your site with ease.

Do I really need to make one?

As with many things in life, no. But you will be missing out on a massive opportunity if you fail to embed one in your site.

A well-crafted explainer video carries a wealth of significant benefits for businesses of any size – allowing the smallest company to get their message out with ease.

Some key benefits include-

Clarity: Creating a clean, concise visual explainer can help cut the fat from your product or service and help crystallise your message. This can be targeted at key segments in your market, address specific questions, or take advantage of valuable trends and patterns with a quick production turnround. This helps make the most complex topics easy to digest and ensures that you can hold your viewers’ attention with a little creativity and expert guidance from your provider or in-house team.

Freedom: Do you want live action? Animation? Audio? All three? The modern creative industry provides almost unlimited score to be as innovative with your approach as you want while still sticking to a structure that helps get your message across. Whether it’s hiring compelling actors, gorgeous animation, or stunning soundscapes – all tools are at your fingertips.

Content: No matter the topic you want to cover, it can be brought to life through a creative explainer video. Using a professional team can help you take advantage of extensive professional experience and help you deploy analytics to better understand your audience. This allows for wholesale improvement, allowing you to commit to an effective cycle of engagement that improves and adheres to your key business goals.

Cost Effectiveness: If you’re worried about the cost of producing a video, even the most budget conscious of clients can secure something that summarises their business and works at an affordable price point. This also allows you to make good on any marketing and engagement plans and ensure that all resources go further – whether it’s creating something punchy and compelling, neat and informative, or whatever potential clients need to make a decision about your business.

What structure should I use?

While no two explainers are the same, a general rule of thumb for producing a video is to keep it under a minute and start with a solid framework. If you’re struggling to know where to start, a solid standard template for many videos involves-

Demonstrating your problem: This should directly highlight the issue or challenge your customers are dealing with.

Proposing a solution: Then you should put forward the specific product or service that directly addresses it.

Showing how you help: Once your brand is established, detail – or ideally show – how it tackles the issue and how easy it is to deploy.

Bringing in the CTA: Now you have their attention, tell them where to go next for a trial or to sign up – ideally sending them into your dedicated conversion funnel.

This can then be broken down into 15 second increments or adjusted as needed.

What do I need to make one?

While creating a well-crafted video may seem daunting, taking some time to understand the elements involved can help ensure that the end-product is the best it can possibly be. If you are creating an explainer video for your site, following the eight-step process below can help ensure that you end up with something truly special for your brand: 

1. Assign your project manager: If you want your explainer to ever see the light of day, it is essential to recruit a project manager to oversee the work. This will help ensure that budgets are managed correctly, key targets are hit, and that there is a single point of communication for feedback and input. It is also vital to fully spec out who is empowered to make decisions throughout the process and what individual(s) have final cut on the material.

Remember that working with visual materials is a creative task and there will be lots of conflicting opinions when it comes to your execution. Determining who will be able to contribute and the degree of say they have over the end product is vital and saves a lot of arguments down the line.

2. Conduct your planning: With your manager assigned, it is time to execute a detailed plan for your project. This will involve looking at all the detailed tasks and working out the key interdependencies between each one, along with factoring in issues around risk and affording time for final review. At a minimum, this should include:

- Your scoping document

- A validated project timeline and delivery window

- An outline for the goals of the project

These should ideally be shared through the cloud platform of your choice and allow members of your team to work together or provide the degree of oversight that you require. And once you have a full signed-off project and a concrete, validated set of tasks. It’s time to-

3. Craft your script: This will define the overall shape and structure of the video, detailing key shots, voiceover, and the overall structure of the piece. If you are using an external provider, they will supply a template for you to use. If you are working internally, it will be helpful to talk amongst your teams and dedicate one individual as the script writer.

This will allow the project to enjoy a unified voice and make it easier to pull together the feedback or input from the rest of the group. It is also worth remembering that scripting can be very difficult and that an explainer is primarily a visual piece of content. Aim to think about your visuals and voiceover together and, wherever possible, try to show the viewer instead of telling them about something.

If any piece of dialogue can be conveyed as a visual, remove it and rely on the animation instead. Once the script has been through multiple drafts and reviewed, it is time to pursue a signoff. And once achieved, the next step should be to-

4. Record your voiceover: While some teams prefer to lock down visuals first, recording the animation for your project will allow you greater freedom to craft your video as needed. Securing a quality voice over will allow you to capture your commentary and help direct the shape of the final product. We would recommend aiming to segment your voiceover script in a way that helps make editing the dialogue easier. This allows for additional options when it comes to review and helps make the final edit easier to lock down or improve.

It is also worth spending a little extra money to secure a voice actor that is right for your product and has a compelling voice. Remember that while humans are visually led, we respond strongly to voices and failing to secure one that is right for your brand can derail the project, no matter how good your animation, product, or writing is. Once the dialogue is fully recorded, it’s time to-

5. Craft your content: Arguably one of the most involved steps in the process, properly creating the right visual imagery can be extremely challenging. With rare exception, few businesses will have the resource or expertise to internally animate a video, which makes finding the right external provider a key priority.

When it comes to choosing one that is right for you, be sure to review their previous work and discuss the project in full. Ideally, several companies will have been shortlisted at the planning stage and will allow you to move ahead with the design and animation of your project with ease. Their team will work with your script and pre-existing audio to animate your materials correctly and use a guide track or piece of backing music that you selected.

While their team will be handling the grunt work for this stage of the project, this is the point at which the video will experience the greatest amount of internal scrutiny with your business. In order to make this easier, animators will provide you with detailed storyboards and an initial animatic to help get a sense of what the final product will look like.

Remember that the more engagement and direct feedback they receive at this point, the better the end product will be. This means that the project manager will have to act as a conduit between the individuals providing their thoughts and responses. Also remember that any animation studio worth their salt will have a wealth of professional experience to draw from. This can allow them to help solve problems with your feedback, help recommend cost-effective solutions for problems, or just provide assistance tackling issues unique to your business. And once the video has been finally locked down, it’s time to-

6. Add your finalised audio: Once the visuals have been resolved, it’s time to get in touch with your preferred sound engineers and add the soundtrack voiceover, and any effects that are required to the project. Hiring a dedicated sound designer can help tie all the elements of your project together and ensure that your audio timings match correctly – letting you produce a quality final product that is fit for production.

7. Upload your content: Once the video is finally packaged together, you can decide how you would like to use it throughout your site and across your various social accounts. A standard approach is to embed the materials on your home page with accompanying explainer text. This can help give a positive first impression and ensure that your explainer is front and centre when visitors click through your pages.

This can also easily be shared through your social platforms or as a pinned tweet – letting you get maximum exposure and get the most of your material. If you choose to use YouTube, this can allow you to track analytics and engagement with the video and capture details about shares, clicks, or drop off rates. This hard evidence and subjective feedback can then be gathered and allow you to properly-

8. Review and reflect: Once the project is complete, it is essential to spend time reviewing the video and gathering lessons learned for future projects. Creating any explainer is a highly involved process and the first time your teams work to complete a video can be a massive learning experience for any project manager or support team. Ensuring that you fully reflect will allow you to adjust your approach for future videos and ensure that issues are avoided, opportunities optimised, and you have the insight you need to make the right decisions for the weeks, months, and years ahead for your business.

How can the right provider help?

While it may be difficult to do everything in-house, it is far from impossible.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s advisable.

While an explainer video carries a range of benefits, it does come with potential disadvantages as well. A poorly designed or shoddy video can reflect poorly on your company and actively dissuade companies from using your services. And even the most professional video can be a significant drain on resources with your internal teams. Individuals can be pulled from projects, work extra hours, or burn out from the stress of management – potentially doubling or tripling the budget for any project.

Choosing the right provider can help ensure that your project remains stress free and fit-for-purpose. This can help you add that special sauce that helps your video stand out, craft an ongoing partnership that continues to add value, or just help ensure that your message is as good as it can be – helping you save time, stress, and effort.

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