6 min read

What Is an Explainer Video?

What Is an Explainer Video?

Making an explainer video may sound pretty straightforward, but too many companies waste time and money because they don’t understand basic explainer video fundamentals. From the true goal of explainer videos to key elements and common mistakes, here’s what you need to know before you get started.  

The idea behind making an explainer video may sound simple enough: make a short video that explains to customers how you can solve their problems. How hard can it be, right? Not so fast. 

If you’re going to invest your hard-earned money into making an explainer video, why not make sure you have the information you need to make it a good one?  

The internet is full of unfortunate proof that not every explainer video is worth exchanging 2 minutes of your life to watch. Why? Because the true importance and potential of explainer videos are often overlooked.  

Yes, an explainer video is a short video that shows viewers how your product or service can solve their problems. But it should do so in a way that will inspire them to want to learn more.

What Is the Goal of An Explainer Video?  

Take a minute to really think about how you would answer that question. The answer may seem obvious: to make a sale, right? Not exactly. I’ll let you in on a little secret.  

The goal of an explainer video is actually to generate more sales calls and leads, not to make the sale itself. Don’t get me wrong, if you do end up making sales on the strength of your explainer video alone, then more power to you. But it’s best not to approach the making of your video with that goal in mind.  

Turning your explainer video into a sales pitch is likely to have several unintended consequences and none of them are flattering.  

The first is that you’ll come on too strong and sound like a salesman who is more interested in making a sale than whether his product or service will actually help his customers. You know the type of guy I’m talking about. We've all ducked into a random store at some point in a desperate attempt to avoid so much as making eye contact with him. 

The second is that if you set out to do nothing but make a sale, the temptation to oversell will likely prove strong. Explainer videos are short, so it’s vital to resist the urge to explain everything about your product or service in just a few minutes.   

Imagine an explainer video as a first date.  How well do you think you’d fare if you spent the evening regaling your date with your entire life story before proposing marriage over the desert? I shudder to think. 

I can’t say it enough: an explainer video is not a sales pitch.    

Instead, it should pique the interest of potential customers and motivate them to take action, like signing up for your email list or clicking on an information link. 

Rather than present every single detail about your product, you’ll want to focus on one or two benefits that will help you stand out from the competition. Remember, we’ve all got places to be. Keep it very simple and easy to understand so that your viewers aren’t launched into information overload. 

What Explainer Videos Must Have to Actually Work

The best explainer videos share a variety of common traits, but there are a few that are absolutely essential. While there are endless ways to infuse your explainer video with your unique style and branding, those will come later. It’s kind of like building a new house. Focus on the foundation before you start worrying about the décor.  

  • Let the viewer know if they’re in the right place 

Don’t make a secret out of whether or not your viewer is a good fit for your offer. Instead, let them know upfront and then engage with those who are interested. I know, I know. I can almost hear your protests from here. “But isn’t every viewer a potential customer?” No. Sorry, but it’s just not the case.  

I’m guessing that if you've read up to this point, you have at least the slightest interest in explainer videos. Can you imagine if you didn’t and I’d waited until just now to tell you that that’s what this article is about? I’d have done nothing but waste your time, and to what end? To attempt to lure you into learning about something you have no interest in? 

Giving clues about who your product or service is for early on will earn your appreciation from those who are not a good fit by allowing them to get on with their day. It will also encourage those who are a good fit to contact you even faster.  

  • Earn trust by showing empathy and authority 

Notice I say “earn” trust, not “demand” it. Why do people watch explainer videos in the first place? Because they need something explained. They’re looking for an answer and you’ve only got a few seconds to prove to them that they can trust you to provide it.  

Rather than simply assuring them that you empathise with their problem, use that valuable time to prove it. One of the best ways to do this is to show them that you understand their pain points and how frustrating it is to deal with them.  

You can show characters dealing with a similar situation, use testimonials, or one of a number of other techniques. The important thing is that you remember that this is the part where you say “I get it” and then prove that you actually do.  

  • Communicate the value of your product or service   

Now that your viewer is celebrating having found someone that finally understands their problem, it’s time to present them with your solution. Remember, it’s important not to go all “sales guy” here.  

If they’re still with you, that means they really do hope you have the perfect solution. Present a few, straightforward reasons why your product or service is just what they’ve been looking for.  

Then, tell them what to do about it. Whether that’s contacting you for more information or visiting your website, explain what you want them to do next.  

Typical Mistakes That Ruin Explainer Videos 

Just as with any other goal you set out to achieve, sometimes it’s just as important to know what not to do. Unfortunately, you don’t have to look far in order to find explainer videos that just don’t work. You’ve likely bailed out of a few of them yourself at some point. While you may not have even realised why a video was such a turn-off, it probably came down to one of these common explainer video fails.  

  • Misunderstanding the focus 

Great explainer videos are about one thing and one thing only – your customer’s problem. While this may sound obvious,  many unfortunate explainer video creators have mistakenly made it all about themselves or even their product. While you obviously have to mention your product at some point, it should only be in relation to how it can solve (you guessed it) your customer’s problem.  

  • Focusing on features instead of benefits 

This goes back to what I mean by it not being all about the product. You can have the coolest, most innovative product in the world. But unless you can explain how it will actually help change your viewer’s life for the better, you’re going to lose out on a large number of customers. While people may enjoy having fancy gadgets, they need products and services that will actually make life easier.    

  • Using examples that don’t resonate with your ideal customer 

There’s a reason most hardware stores don't have a perfume counter. Before you can earn your customer’s trust, you have to understand who they are and what they're looking for. This goes back to knowing your customer base and speaking to people who would fit right in with them in a way that makes them feel welcome. 

  • Saying too much too quickly 

Even so much as sounding overly salesy is enough to turn off a potential lead. Rushing in like a late-night infomercial right out of the gate will get you nowhere. Take your time. Woo your audience by proving you understand their problems rather than shoving the solution in their face and hoping for the best.  

Why Explainer Video Should Be On Your B2B Marketing Strategy 

If you’re new to the world of explainer videos, you may still be on the fence about whether you should make one at all. Why you should make an explainer video is certainly a valid question and one I’ll give you a few good reasons to consider.  

Given that explainer videos are one of the most popular new B2B marketing strategies of late, plenty of research has been done on their effectiveness. Two of the strongest arguments that this research has uncovered are that: 

  • 66% of people would rather watch a short video about a product or service than read a text.  

  • 83% of video marketers said that videos help to generate leads.  

There are plenty of other great statistics out there that make the case for explainer videos even stronger. But for me, it’s all about what customers want and what works. These numbers clearly demonstrate that explainer videos do a solid job of achieving both goals.  

Additionally, explainer videos come with a few other nice perks, including: 

  • They educate prospects and build trust, which is key in the B2B space.   

  • They save you time and money by better qualifying leads — this means fewer useless sales calls and more of the right type of people who book a sales call.  

  • They increase website engagement, meaning people spend more time on your site, increasing page views (and Google ranking). 

I hope this has helped give you better insight into explainer videos, why they are important, and what makes them work. By taking the time to understand these simple explainer video basics, you’ve already taken the first step towards putting yourself ahead of the curve.  

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