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How to Create an Explainer Video: Tips, Examples, Steps

Jul, 07, 2021
Tim Aleksandronets
CEO at Blue Carrot

Introduction

When thinking about the video production process, many companies picture illustrators and designers who create stunning visuals and animation, voiceover actors who record eloquent speeches, talented copywriters who juggle words on paper, etc.

The truth is that the production process starts long before the designer puts pen in hand or the voiceover actor turns on the mic to record their voice.

While each of these individuals hold extremely important jobs in the video industry — no doubts about that — we want to shed some light on another side of the story that often gets overlooked.

This article won’t be about hiring the best talent on the market, or utilizing sophisticated animation techniques. Instead, we’ll demonstrate insightful tips on creating an explainer video, and show business owners exactly what needs to be taken into account in this process of making explainer videos.

Summary:

  1. What Is an Explainer Video and Why Do Businesses Use It?
  2. Tips On Creating an Explainer Video
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Consider Bluecarrot.io As Your Trusted Partner

 

What Is an Explainer Video and Why Do Businesses Use It?

Before we proceed with the actual explanation of how to make an effective explainer video, let’s briefly go over the definition of the explainer video, itself.

An explainer video is a short form of animation video that is commonly used in the first three stages of the Sales Funnel to introduce a company or its products to the general public 🌍

The main difference between explainer videos and top-funnel animation ads is that the former are often used to describe complex concepts and ideas, while the latter are a better fit for showcasing fast action scenes and memorable stories. 

Explainer videos are longer than top-funnel types of business videos (90-120 sec. on average) which give video producers more room to present information and allows script writers to further develop their stories.

Oddly enough, the listed benefits may evolve into actual problems at times — especially once you start to overdo things. So, let’s show you how to avoid any possible bottlenecks during the explainer video production process. 

EXPLORE OUR ARTICLES:

🥕 How much does a video cost – the most comprehensive article on pricing 

🥕 Choosing a suitable video style 

🥕 Typical mistakes when ordering the first video 

Tips On Creating an Explainer Video

1️⃣ Know Your Goals

As obvious as it may sound, having your goals outlined beforehand — when creating an explainer video — is an absolute MUST. Way too often, the simplest and most obvious ideas get overlooked. The main trick is that, here, the most obvious things are also the most important.

👉 Why is that?

Sometimes, when running marketing campaigns, startups mistake tools for final goals. In 9 out of 10 cases, this results in complete campaign failure.

The explainer video is not your ultimate goal but, rather, only a way of achieving it. This means that you always want to focus on the actual results that you want your video to produce. Only by understanding the marketing goals of the video will you be able to create an effective marketing asset.

Answering the question ‘What is my final goal with this video?’ before proceeding to create an explainer video will save you a ton of time and (a ton) of money 💸

Luckily, in the case of business video production, the goal setting process is not rocket science, and businesses can formulate their expectations quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at an example:

The general goal of your explainer video will always stay the same: an increase in one (or a few) metrics across one (or a few) stages of your sales funnel.

You may want to raise brand awareness (at the top of the sales funnel) among those users who haven’t heard about your product before, or want to educate new customers about the product and its features (sales funnel bottom). For all these purposes, explainer videos work really well. What’s more, they can effectively work across all stages of the sales funnel.

More information on this topic can be found here.

You can also review our full free guide to get even more insights on how to make an explainer video:

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

The specific goal — which is also your ultimate goal — will always derive from a general one:

I want my explainer video to reach an audience of at least 100,000 people, 5,000 of which will click on the attached button/link and visit my website.

or: I want to see my current conversion rates increase from 10% to 14%.

or: I’m rolling out a major product update and want to retarget 10,000 potential clients (viewers) from last year’s marketing campaign.

The performance of an explainer video should, therefore, be measured by actual numbers, as well.

The explainer video is good because of an advanced animation and complex illustrations

The explainer video did well because it kept the ad’s engagement rate at 86%, and the conversion rate for the call-to-action button at 8.5%. These are the results we were aiming for

Actually, these are the results that we were able to deliver to Scratchpay with our explainer video: 

More information on this case study can be found here.

Outlining your marketing expectations in advance also helps you identify some other important aspects regarding your future video — for example, the length:

  • Do you want to present your product to potential customers (awareness stage)? If yes, then a 1-2 minute long clip will work well. 
  • Do you want users to receive an informative step-by-step tutorial? If yes, then a 2+ minute long ‘how to’ video would be a better option for you.

2️⃣ Avoid Skipping the Briefing Stage

If the explainer video is to be used as a tool for achieving desired marketing results, then the brief fill-up — and briefing stage itself — is the way to correctly configure your tool. 

An animation brief is a document created by a production team in close cooperation with the client. This deliverable contains all the key points about the client’s business, their target audience, marketing expectations, and more.

Normally, this comes in the form of a questionnaire that a video agency asks their clients to complete in order to better understand their marketing needs regarding their future explainer video.

👉 To summarize, the goal of the briefing stage is to get you answers on a few main questions:

  • What do you need a video for?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who will the video be shown to?
  • What messages or ideas do you want to convey?
  • How exactly are you going to do that?

Basically, the results of the marketing campaign will depend on how well the briefing process is carried out.

The Briefing Stage is the fundamental one as it lays the foundation for all succeeding stages in the production process 🏆

We strongly recommend that you don’t drop the briefing process from your video production plan. 

More information on how to write an Animation Brief or Technical Task document can be found here

We also suggest that you prepare before starting a Brief or Technical Task. Here is what you can do:

  • Research your target audience to understand who your ideal client is; highlight target audience segments and the characteristics of each segment. The ideal scenario would include interviewing prospective clients from each of these groups regarding their needs and expectations for the product.

  • Define what messages your video needs to convey to potential users in order to get them to perform a desired action. You can also test your core messages on those ‘potential’ users who you actually know (colleagues, friends, partners, etc.) to test their reactions and readiness to ‘move down’ through your sales funnel.
  • Define your distribution channels in advance. This goes for all paid and free options: social media, YouTube, listing websites, paid promotion campaigns on social media, YouTube, contextual advertising, physical billboards, etc. 

Here are also a few pro-tips from our own experience:

  • Shorter Animation Briefs and Technical Task documents work better than long White Papers or 350-page documents that include extensive information about the company. This is because 1) you won’t be able to fit in more than 140 words of text in an explainer video (so any other information in addition to the subject matter won’t be used), and 2) to develop a strong video concept, it would be enough for video agency to get a brief information about the company (a few paragraphs, at most), and 5-6 properly outlined core messages. 
  • Professional production teams never skip the briefing process. Instead, they will always ask you leading questions that will help you to understand your product better and, thus, come up with more relevant messages for your video. 
  • The overall appearance of the Animation Brief paper doesn’t matter that much, if the document manages to fulfill its function — provide solid ground for the further development of the video concept. If you are looking for a Brief template, however, take a look at this document that was developed by our team.

EXPLORE OUR CASE STUDIES:

🥕 Boosting sales for AUKA app with our minimalistic video 

🥕 Stylish video for promoting DreamCo agency 

🥕 Increasing landing page conversions with our video for Scrathpay startup

 

3️⃣ Take a Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes

When developing various marketing assets, businesses unwittingly make one critical mistake — they start to look at the assets from their perspective, without thinking about how video, visuals, or text copy will benefit the target audience in the first place.

It’s perfectly normal to want a video to be pleasing to the company; however, when it comes to marketing, such an approach won’t guarantee you success. Here, you want to produce a video that will appeal to your prospective clients first.

YOU ARE NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE 🛑

In order to achieve this, think about what visuals would be relevant to your audience, what styles may excite them, what voiceover tone and story will trigger their interests or emotions, etc. 

For example, if the audience you’re aiming for is made up of younger people, then it would make sense to include contemporary graphics, trending animation styles, and out-of-the-box-ideas. This is the same way we approached our explainer video for Onfo:

If your audience is a bit older, you might want to focus more on calming colors and a steady, moderately paced narrative. In this case, the style we implemented for the Kalgera video would be your best bet:

 

👉 What if your requirements don’t really fit into either of these styles?

Well, what about a video with more intense action to target viewers who are constantly in a rush and, thus, can relate themselves with a character on-screen? Watching the PleaseSave video, you can clearly recognize the target audience, understand what bothers them, and how they feel about a particular problem:

TALK TO YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS IN THEIR LANGUAGE, NOT YOURS 📣

4️⃣ Don’t Try to Fit Everything Into One Video

Even if you have a limited budget and cannot afford to create a long explainer video, the attempt to fit ‘everything and anything into a single clip is not a good idea. For one, it would be hard for a viewer to concentrate on any core messages when the video is overloaded with excessive information and details. In such cases, it is also almost impossible to clearly communicate a story.

👉 Another common mistake in that regard is mixing different audiences within a single video. Sometimes companies think that it will be effective to communicate with all of their target audience groups at once. But it won’t. 

In practice, such a decision causes a completely opposite effect, reducing engagement of all groups together: listing of product characteristics won’t appeal to potential investors, nor will the information about stock market perspectives pique the interest of regular users.

Don’t overburden the explainer video script. Focus only on the most important messages you want to deliver and work with them alone. In order to develop an engaging story, get rid of the excessive noise 🔇

5️⃣ Focus On the Desired Results, Not the Style, Type or Length

This point is similar to one already discussed — the ‘chicken vs egg’ problem in the first part of this blog. The style, animation type and length of the video are all secondary factors that should not influence your decisions when thinking about how to make an animated explainer video.

Visual style, animation type, and length of the explainer videos are means of achieving your goals and not the overall goals by themselves 📍

Visual style and animation type

Here, the decision to select a particular style or type is based on the initial idea. For example, if we want to present massive drilling rigs or describe different systems in the human body, then 3D animation is likely the approach we want to take.

If we want to showcase mobile app functionality and specific features, then a mix of motion graphics and animated screencasts would work well.

If it’s a simple story, then producing an explainer video with Cut-Out animation would be the preferred option.

Animation style and type are conceptualized based on brand requirements, budget, niche trends, and target audience characteristics 📊

For those who want to dive a bit deeper into this subject, check out this article where we discuss the intricacies when it comes to selecting video style and type.

Length

The business goals determine future components of the explainer video concept — ideas, messages, visual and audio references, etc. Only after all of these aspects have been outlined can the production team make a decision regarding video length.

In terms of storytelling, short videos may work as effectively as long ones. 30-second dynamic animation clips like Pexip Promo can be enough to tell a full story, like this:

In fact, a 2 minute video like Route4Gas that describes complex processes in an understandable way can be enough to do the same:

Both videos do the job perfectly. The difference here is the methods used to achieve the desired goal.

The only requirement when it comes to explainer video length is that it has to be long enough to fully tell your story ⌛️

In regards to length limitations, we can only think of two cases where this would apply — when you’re creating video for social media (the standard being 15-45 seconds), and when your budget is tight. 

To get more details on this subject, download our full explainer video guide.
It’s free 😊

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

6️⃣ Allocate Your Budget Wisely

Whenever a new client reaches out to us with the question “How should I budget my explainer video?,” the first thing we recommend is to assess the project ROI. In general, running a marketing campaign that includes an explainer video is no different from doing SEO, email campaigns, or SMM — with each of these activities you invest a particular amount of resources with the goal of benefitting from the return.

To understand what budget to allocate for your explainer video production, calculate the ROI you expect to get. Once that’s done, we advise that you break the budget into sections, each of which will cover a particular aspect of the production process:

  1. Video length
  2. Visual style and animation type complexity
  3. Intensity of on-screen actions
  4. Extra options (short clips for social media, source file buyouts, etc.)
  5. Distribution channels

Assessing each of these points individually will help to improve budget performance and get a bigger picture understanding of what makes a good explainer video

More information about video production budgeting can be found here.

👉 Here’re are a few pro-tips on budget management for your project:

  • We don’t recommend DIY-ing explainer videos as, in most cases, such an approach will lead to poor results and you’ll end up requiring professional help, anyway.
  • If you want to reduce production costs, turn to a production team from Eastern Europe, as such companies charge two and even three times less for the same (or even better) results as their Canadian and American colleagues.
  • Don’t try to figure out how to ‘cut corners’ yourself. Instead, ask your production team directly if there’s any way to cut your expenses without negatively impacting the end result.

 

7️⃣ Always Aim for Quality

The quality of the end product should always be your top priority. Never sacrifice this, even when your budget is limited. At times, it might be best not to produce a video at all (if you can’t invest the required amount of money) than to produce a mediocre video clip. In addition, it’s important that you don’t chase the lowest price on the market — as this can result in the same issue of getting generic and brandless results, in the end.

LOWEST PRICE = MEDIOCRE RESULTS

 

POOR QUALITY = POORLY PERFORMING VIDEO

👉 If you are aiming to get the most out of your explainer video, look for:

  • A team of professionals with at least two years’ industry experience who are able to carry out the complete video production process — from idea generation and script creation to voiceover recording and video assembly, all under the supervision of an experienced producer and art director.
  • A script proofread by native speakers (for non-native production teams).
  • Professional native voiceovers and studio recordings.
  • Custom graphics, sound effects, and music.
  • Video localization (for different languages and different markets).

Luckily, at Blue Carrot, all of these services come together under one roof, which allows us to provide our clients with a one-stop-shop experience.

To give you an idea of how the professional video production process should look, here’s how we do it. The whole cycle is broken down into seven phases:

  1. Briefing — in this stage, we collect all the necessary client information (core messages, business goals, etc), and identify requirements for their explainer video.
  2. Concept — a phase in which we suggest a client define their particular visual and audio approach based on the information received from a previous stage.
  3. Script & Storyboard — our talented scriptwriters shape all the findings into a complete story that will be able to convey the main messages to the target audience. Narration text, description for visuals, and illustration sketches are also developed during this stage.
  4. Narration — we carefully cast a voiceover actor and carry out the recording process. Thanks to a well-established reputation in the video industry and a wide pool of contacts, we can source a professional with almost any voice type. 
  5. Drawings — here, our designers create all the guidelines for the characters’ appearances, objects and locations according to your requirements and brand identity. Once we receive client approval, we proceed with creating illustrations from storyboard sketches.
  6. Animation & Sound — this is where all illustrations come to life and the video gets its own unique soundtrack and sound effects.
  7. Marketing Assistance — after we finish an explainer video, we are able to provide you with further assistance on how to get the best results out of your video, based on our seven years of experience in the business.

 

Final Thoughts

We have now reviewed all the main aspects of explainer video production. As you see, there is a lot going on and, to make sure that you don’t miss out on any aspect, use the tips from this blog to guide you through the process and avoid many potential pitfalls.

If you want to get more information on how to create an explainer video or are looking for professional advice on how to make an explainer video animation for your project, you can always count on us — contact us through our website, and we will get back to you in no time!

In the meantime, you can get even more information by downloading our full free guide to explainer video production:

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

 

Consider Bluecarrot.io As Your Trusted Partner

🔹 Scratchpay

An explainer video that our team developed for Scratchpay — a platform that allows pet owners to manage unexpected vet bills. Despite the fact that the product is aimed towards vet clients, the video itself was focused at veterinarians as the target audience.

Our goal here was to show them how their clients can benefit from this new platform. The marketing results we got fully satisfied Scratchpay, leaving our agency with a 5-star review from the company!

🔹 KOA

An interesting project that utilizes 3D low-poly animation in a very fashionable way. The goal here was to create a short and engaging video for KOA’s social media that would introduce a new product — ‘Campsite in a Box’ — to be released on April Fools Day.

The fun part of this project was that the product didn’t exist at all. Rather, the point of this initiative was to make a professional explainer video that would go viral… which is exactly what happened. In a short time, the video received more than 17,000 views, which is 3.5x  more than any other company’s posts.

🔹 DreamCo

A classy explainer video done for DreamCo Design — a marketing and web studio that focuses on offering their services to small- and medium sized businesses in the USA. Since the niche is a highly competitive one, our main goal was to create an animated explainer video with unique ideas that would help the company stand out. We developed a cool video that followed a cartoon classic format and took the viewer on an unforgettable journey to the mid 60’s.

Being active in the market for almost a decade, we know how hard it can be to get to the destination point if you don’t know where to start. At Bluecarrot, we are ready to provide you with a full spectrum of video production services on a budget you can afford.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING CREATING A VIDEO?

🥕  Check out what Blue Carrot has to offer. 

 

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