Alconost is an explainer video agency with 10 years of experience producing amazing videos to promote businesses and their products. Today we would like to talk a little about a specific type of video that helps boost brand awareness and introduce your service to users: an explanatory, or explainer, video. Whether you want to pitch your idea, tell a compelling story, or present a product in a way that resonates with potential customers, an animated explainer video is the perfect choice.
What is an animated explainer video all about?
Explainer videos clarify to potential consumers, in simple terms, why your product deserves their attention and how they can benefit from using it.
Explainer videos have been trending for more than a decade. Once YouTube launched, people discovered that it’s more fun to watch a one-minute video than read a document.
Generally, businesses need explainer videos to:
Demonstrate clear, sufficient information about a product in a short timeframe, one to two minutes.
Effectively demonstrate the benefits of the product and how it works, and motivate viewers to purchase it.
Increase the conversion rate, and save customer’s time on their way to your product.
Help them stand out from competitors, especially if they don’t use video as a marketing asset, or if their video presentations are difficult to grasp.
Save sales managers time and effort when they negotiate with customers.
In short, an explainer video is a marketing tool that contains vital information about the product or service in relation to the potential customer’s needs, and this information is presented in a way that’s easy to understand and pleasant to watch.
The focus on the customer’s needs is what distinguishes explainer videos from video presentations that are more focused on the product itself. An animated explainer video starts selling your product or service immediately, in the first few seconds, with no long preamble. Good stuff, right?
Types of explainers most commonly used for business needs
Explainer videos can be produced using animation, live footage, or a combination. The animation can be 2-D or 3-D, and various methods help to present the information and ideas vividly, from infographics and typography to character animation.
1. 2-D and 3-D Animated Explainer Videos
Animation allows you to bring literally any creative idea to life and convey even complex things in a simple form. Using animation as a method doesn’t necessarily make a video cartoonish, unless you want it that way, of course. So, if your concern is whether animated videos are suitable for business needs, our answer is: Definitely!
In terms of production time, usually it’s faster to come up with 2-D animation than 3-D, as the latter may require the modeling and rendering of 3-D objects, which doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. 3-D is still worth the investment, however, if your explanatory video is about a tangible product, such as a device.
If you want your explainer video to feature a custom, detailed environment or characters, allow time for these assets to be developed and animated.
You can combine 2-D and 3-D as techniques in a single video without skimping on consistency. Watch the example below to get an idea of how this can look.
The video for SecureData combines a 3-D model and flat objects (screenshots, icons) in the animation.
2. Live-Action Explainer Videos
Explainer videos with live footage are usually best for companies selling a physical product or non-digital service. However, nothing prevents app and web-services developers from opting for live videos; real people and their real emotions can help build trust for a digital product, too.
If you’d like to showcase your product using live action, filming on-site especially for the explainer video isn’t the only option. As an asset for your future explainer, you can either use footage produced for your company in the past, or buy royalty-free videos with live footage and embed them into your explanatory video.
A combination of live action and animation can also look neat and consistent. For proof, check the example below.
In the WhoHub for Vendors video, live footage scenes go well with animated graphics.
Seven steps to making the perfect, eye-catching explainer video
A great explainer video will briefly explain how a specific product or service can help the viewer solve their problems, simplify their routine, or make their everyday life more delightful.
Here at the animated explainer video production company Alconost, we have a well-oiled production process, and now we’ll share its details and intricacies with you!
Step 1. Setting the task
At the initial preparation stage, it’s crucial to understand:
to whom you want to sell your product,
what features of your product are most likely to resonate with your target audience,
what objective requirements your video should meet, such as language, duration, aspect ratio, and even budget.
If your product has assets like a brand book or style guidelines, share this knowledge with your video production team, and they’ll make the explainer video fit your product’s image and tone of voice.
When planning the length of your explainer video, remember that the longer the video is, the fewer people will make it to the final call to action. In our experience, the best explainer video duration is about two minutes or less.
The Bitrix24 explainer video describes the platform's benefits in 60 seconds flat.
Our advice is to keep this rule about duration in mind, especially when you approve the voice-over text in the script (see Step 2). It might not be obvious, but it's the voice-over text that is mainly responsible for your video’s length. Thus, the more concise the text, the better.
Step 2. Writing the video script
The script is like a foundation; a well-written script is the key to your explainer video's success. The structure of narration in the script should be logical and have no conceptual gaps. The visual sequence should echo the voice-over in terms of meaning. And make sure the way you present the product's features is customer-oriented. A good explainer video not only presents the product itself; it makes it evident for potential customers how this product could be helpful in their exact situation.
Below, you can see the pattern we usually follow when working on explainer video scripts. Try following a similar method for presenting your product in your explainer video:
Highlight a problem your target audience is struggling with — or a situation your target audience easily recognizes
Announce your product as a solution to this problem — or as an improvement to the situation
Demonstrate how the problem is solved with your product in use: make this part very clear, focusing only on the product features that are relevant to the context
Show the positive outcome of the actions taken, i.e. what happens once the problem is solved, or what opportunities viewers gain by using the product
Optionally, highlight an extra feature that is capable of making your product even more valuable to the viewers
Announce the action you expect from the viewers — this is the good old call to action, such as visiting a website or registering for your service — and give them reasons to do so.
Does this sound like rocket science? Definitely not! Watch the explanatory video below. It follows the exact pattern described above. Try to identify the parts of the structure as you watch!
The Interacty explainer video has a clear, internal narrative logic.
Step 3. Recording voice-over
Everything shown in the video should be synchronized with the voice-over. That’s the secret that makes a video watchable and engaging. And that’s why the narration is recorded before any work on the animation begins!
You surely want your voice-over to be read in a pleasant voice, with an appealing tone, and with the emphasis in the right places. For high-quality voice acting, select only professional talents, obviously native speakers.
One curious thing about explainer videos is that they can actually be made without voice-over. For example, you might need an explainer video that will mainly be shown in a venue with the sound muted. In this case, no voice is an option.
Note animated callouts with brief feature descriptions in the HelpDesk for Jira video.
But this is an exceptional case. As a rule, we recommend you go ahead and make a video with a voice. Oddly enough, professional voice-over doesn’t add much to the budget for producing an explainer video, but it makes a big difference in terms of making the video easy to grasp and guiding the viewer through the plot.
Have a look at the video below — or actually, give it a listen.
The voice-over text in the Celly.AI explanatory video tells a coherent story.
The story runs so smoothly that you’ll get what the product is for even if you only listen to the video, without watching it!
Step 4. Storyboarding
You can create a storyboard for the video simultaneously with the voice-over recording. At the storyboarding stage, we create visual assets for future animation, including by capturing screenshots of your service or app, and we develop the visual style of your video.
Don’t be surprised that at the intermediate stage you’ll see static frames instead of a moving picture. This ensures that all visual details actually look as you imagined them at the script writing stage. If an object, character, or their positioning in the frame needs any adjustments, the storyboarding stage is the best time to make those improvements.
And while assets such as the voice-over track and static visuals are in production, don’t forget to select a background music track. The royalty-free markets offer plenty of options. Try to avoid tracks that are too monotonous, and select your music before you reach the animation stage. Keep reading to find out why!
Step 5. Animation
Producing animation is an absorbing process with a lot of intricacies and finer points. Feel like going not too deep? Let’s mention just three pivotal things:
Animate one or two scenes and evaluate the intermediate result
Set up the motion to sync to the beat of the background music
Make it clear for the viewer where the most important action takes place in every scene
If you want to show your product in a video that's as realistic as possible, at this stage we’ll animate screenshots we captured at the storyboarding stage. Yes, instead of screen recording, we use screenshot animation. This method helps us make window scrolls smooth, avoid unnecessary movements, and make the viewing experience truly pleasant.
If the actual look of your product’s interface isn’t final, or if the UI is customizable, consider demonstrating a stylized, stripped-down version of the interface instead of actual screenshots. Incidentally, if your video features a stylized UI, localizing the explainer into any other language will be simpler and faster, and updating it will be, too.
The Debexpert explainer video features a stylized UI demonstration
To make the video not simply nice-looking but also attention-grabbing, think of ways to control the viewer's attention. Start by adding an animated pointer, but don’t limit yourself to that. Zoom in when necessary, make the camera follow moving objects, highlight the areas where you want to focus the viewer’s attention, etc. Watch how the viewer’s attention is managed in the explanatory video below!
The Replyco explanatory video features an animated cursor and other tricks to help viewers stay focused
Step 6. Sound design
Sound design generates the video's overall appeal. Sound effects emphasize the actions in the visual sequence that deserve special attention, making the viewer’s experience more immersive and holistic. And the music track adds a special flavor to the video, enhancing the emotional subtones of the visual sequence and voice.
Although you select the background track before animation, there is one thing you must do with it after the animation is finished. The music has to be cut so that it fits the duration of the video. You can play with the parts of the track that have a different emotional load, matching the specific fragments of the track with specific scenes of your video. That’s far more interesting than simply fading the music at the end! The metronome helps to make the cut seamless.
Step 7. Release & performance tracking
Before uploading the video to your channel on YouTube, Vimeo or another platform, don’t forget to come up with a self-explanatory title and an informative description with a link to your product’s page. Select a good-looking moment from the video and set it as the title picture. Thumbnails are small, so try to avoid frames that contain too many details.
Once your explainer video is live, embed it to your website, show it to your followers on social media — and, last but not least, introduce your marketing & sales team to the final video.
While tracking the performance of your video, pay attention to not only the number of views but the average viewing time. And don’t stop analyzing every activity that features your new explainer video. If you added the video to your main website page, track how the average time spent on the page changes, as well as user behavior.
Now you know how to create an explainer video. Use these tips and increase your profits!
How explainer business videos benefit your company
Animated video explainers help you to increase product awareness, make your product more familiar to the target audience, and motivate them to give it a try.
On top of that, a professionally made explainer video helps potential customers tell your product from similar ones, and conveys the value your product can bring to its users.
An explainer video is a powerful tool for marketers to use. We believe you’ll make the most out of it, too!
Create your own video? Or outsource it?
There are plenty of apps and online services that can help you create videos on your own, independently. Some of them are aimed at professionals; others seem to be easier to use. However, to come up with at least an acceptable result, you’ll need more than specific skills; you’ll need spare time (roughly 100 man-hours), some inspiration, and a lot of patience.
As an explainer video is a business tool, not simply an ornament, its creation might be a matter of some urgency. The production itself can wait, but can your business goals wait? Start your explainer video production today by bringing in the professionals!
This demo reel contains scenes of business videos produced at Alconost in recent years.
Alconost is an animated video agency that has been creating explainer videos for business since 2011. Our explainer videos about IT products feature clear storytelling, simple explanation of technical complexity, and meaningful animation. We closely examine the products we make videos for, listen to our customers, and help them convey the benefits of their product, not simply describe what it is for. Contact us today to order an explainer video for your business!