What is an Explainer Video? Explain It Like I’m Five

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated January 13, 2024

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

What is explainer video?

An explainer video is a short and easy-to-understand clip that teaches people about a topic or idea. Think of it as a helpful guide who explains things in an entertaining way, making learning enjoyable and quick.

Explainer video fast facts

  • Explainer videos are short, dynamic tools for businesses and organizations to communicate complex ideas effectively.

  • Most people (95%) have watched an explainer video to learn about a product or service.

  • A professional 2-minute explainer video can cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000+, depending on various factors.

  • Creating an explainer video involves understanding your audience, writing a concise script, and considering your branding and visual style.

  • Top agencies for explainer videos include Vidico, Jumbla, and Motionlab.

A person holding a tablet showing a man speaking, a typical setup for an explainer video where someone demonstrates or discusses a topic. Photograph: Creative Faze.

What is an explainer video?

An explainer video is a short, engaging video often used by businesses to quickly introduce themselves, explain what they do, and tell how they can solve their customer's problems. Typically ranging from 60 seconds to two minutes in length, these videos can take various forms, including animated characters, whiteboard drawings, and live-action. 

They're not just about dry facts — they aim to create an emotional connection through compelling, human-scale stories, often using dynamic motion graphics, a limited color palette to match company colors, and sometimes phunky music to keep the viewer interested.

In the bustling digital world, explainer videos stand out as powerful tools in a marketing video strategy due to their ability to present complex topics in a digestible and engaging manner. Animated explainer videos are particularly popular for their versatility and cost-effectiveness.

Creating an awesome explainer video involves a well-thought-out production process, starting from a concise and persuasive script to selecting the right type of explainer video — be it animation, live-action, or whiteboard. Businesses also need to consider the video's color scheme, motion graphics, and music tracks to ensure they resonate with their target audience. Despite the variety of explainer video software and templates available, many companies opt for professional explainer video services to get the best quality available in the market.

What is the impact of explainer videos?

Explainer videos are a powerful tool, striking a balance between entertainment and education. They're particularly effective because they condense complex ideas into short, engaging narratives. Research shows that people are more likely to buy a product after watching an explainer video, highlighting their impact on understanding and decision-making. The visual and auditory elements of these videos help to embed the message in viewers' memories, making the information stick.

For businesses, explainer videos are more than just a marketing tool — they're a way to clearly articulate what they offer and how they stand out. Featuring one on a website can significantly increase the time visitors spend on the page, which in turn, boosts the site's visibility on search engines. The shareability of these videos across various platforms extends a brand's reach and reinforces its identity, making it more recognizable.

In educational and professional settings, explainer videos simplify learning. They break down intricate subjects into digestible pieces, using visual aids and narrative to maintain engagement. This method proves especially effective in a world where attention is fleeting.

Are explainer videos still effective?

Yes, explainer videos continue to be highly effective in today's digital landscape. Their ability to simplify complex information and present it in an engaging and memorable format makes them a valuable tool for businesses and educators who want to get the message across. A remarkable 95% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service, making them an essential element in the marketing and educational toolkit.

One of the key reasons for their sustained effectiveness is their ability to capture and hold attention. By combining entertaining visuals and sound, explainer videos engage viewers on multiple levels, increasing brand recognition. They're particularly adept at introducing new products, explaining services, or highlighting unique features in a way that resonates with the audience. This leads to not only increased understanding but also a stronger connection with the brand.

Additionally, explainer videos contribute positively to SEO and website traffic. Google favors content that keeps users engaged for longer periods, and explainer videos do exactly that. By embedding these videos on a website, businesses are more likely to keep visitors on their websites and ultimately make a good impression on Google’s algo.

A stylized illustration showing two individuals collaborating on an explainer video project, depicting the creative process behind such content. Photograph: Upwork.

How long should an explainer video last?

The ideal length for an explainer video is generally around 60 to 90 seconds. This is long enough to cover the essentials without losing the viewer's attention. For more complex topics, you might stretch it to two minutes, but remember, the longer it gets, the harder it is to keep viewers hooked.

However, it's not just about time — it's about content quality. Every second should serve a purpose, whether it's explaining a concept, showcasing a benefit, or calling viewers to action. A tightly scripted video can deliver a powerful message in a short time.

In the end, consider your audience and message. If you're explaining something simple or well-known, keep it short and sweet. For more complex or new ideas, take the time you need but stay focused and engaging.

How much does an explainer video cost?

The cost of producing an explainer video from scratch can vary widely, typically between $1,000 and $10,000 and beyond. The price depends on several factors, including the length of the video, the complexity of the subject matter, and the type of animation or live-action content you choose. A simple, self-made video using online tools might be at the lower end, while a professional, custom-made video with advanced animations and graphics will cost significantly more.

For businesses on a tighter budget, there are more affordable options with pre-made templates and animations that can still deliver a clear message. However, for those looking for a unique, high-quality video, investing in a professional production company is often worth the cost. These companies bring expertise in scriptwriting, animation, and post-production that can make your video stand out.

Ultimately, the cost of an explainer video is an investment in your brand's communication and marketing strategy. A well-made video can explain complex ideas quickly, increase customer understanding and engagement, and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates. So, while the upfront cost might be considerable, the potential return on investment through increased engagement and sales can make it a worthwhile expense.

A filmmaker setting up a professional camera to shoot an explainer video, showcasing the necessary effort and gear that goes into creating pro explainer videos. Photograph: Alex Turnbull via Groove HQ.

How much does a professional 2-minute video cost?

Creating a professional two-minute explainer video can vary widely in cost, influenced by factors like production quality, animation style, and the complexity of the project. 

For high-quality production with a specialized company, you might be looking at around $2,000 per minute, totaling approximately $4,000 for a two-minute video. However, if you opt for a remote video production company, the cost might range between $250-$500 per minute, which could bring the total to $500-$1,000 for two minutes. 

Generally, explainer videos could cost anywhere between $500 - $2000+ per minute, meaning a two-minute video could range from $1,000 to $4,000+, depending on various production elements.

How do you make an explainer video?

Making an explainer video starts with understanding your audience and the message you want to convey. Before diving into scriptwriting, ask what the purpose of your video is and who it's for. This step is crucial as it guides the content, ensuring it resonates with viewers and doesn't alienate them. Social media and surveys can help identify your target market and their preferences.

The script is the backbone of your video, guiding everything from character creation to storyboarding and animation. It's essential to keep it concise, especially for explainer videos, which are typically short. For a 60-second video, aim for 160-180 words. This focus helps maintain clarity and ensures your message is understandable.

Finally, consider your branding and visual style in the early stages. Your brand's color palette, font, and logo should be integrated into the video to ensure consistency with your other content. Choosing the right visual style, be it 3D, whiteboard, or graphic animation, is also crucial. This phase sets the tone and personality of your video, making it relatable and memorable to your audience.

An infographic mind map about creating explainer videos, highlighting the essential components like interesting titles and search engine optimization. Photograph: GROW.

How do you write content for an explainer video?

Writing content for an explainer video starts with a clear understanding of your audience and the message you want to convey. Begin with a solid script, keeping the language simple and direct. It should address the problem, present the solution your product or service offers, and explain how it works in an engaging way.

Next, focus on storytelling. A good story connects emotionally with viewers, making the message more memorable. Use relatable scenarios or characters your audience can identify with. Keep the tone friendly and conversational to maintain engagement.

Lastly, end with a strong call-to-action. Guide your viewers on what to do next, whether it's visiting a website, signing up for a service, or making a purchase. The call-to-action should be clear and compelling, motivating the audience to take the desired next step and make a purchase.

How do you make a creative explainer video?

Crafting a creative explainer video requires the right tools. Powtoon is a hit, especially for newbies, with its simple drag-and-drop setup to create animated 2D videos. It's flexible enough for various projects, from marketing to education, and you can start for free or opt for paid plans from $19 monthly.

For those into whiteboard animations, VideoScribe is the go-to with its easy-to-use platform. It's friendly for all skill levels and starts at $29 monthly. Then there's Animaker, perfect for marketers and small businesses, offering a plethora of pre-animated goodies and robust AI tools — starting at just $15 monthly.

Who makes the best explainer videos?

When you're looking for superb explainer videos, Vidico stands out. They're celebrated for their work with renowned clients like Spotify, Airtable, and Square. Their projects start at $5,000, and they serve a broad spectrum of industries.

Jumbla is another top-tier agency, specializing in animation and motion graphics. They've worked with giants like Netflix and Toyota and are globally acknowledged for their leading animated explainer videos. Their reputation is built on innovative and compelling visual storytelling.

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