The Origins of Explainer Videos

Have you ever read a narrative and been left with the distinct impression you were missing something, that if you could put your finger on exactly what that was, you’d have a far better understanding and appreciation of the topic?

You’re not alone. That feeling is the reason why narrative and descriptive writers have been taught to use the “show don’t tell” technique for more than 100 years. The concept for the technique derives from the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov who is reputed to have said (paraphrased) “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

What is an Explainer Video |

For Example

Amanda has exclusive distribution rights for a new kitchen product she thinks every professional and in-home chef is going to want to own. It is a device that accelerates potato peeling – a job no one likes to do.

Amanda primarily markets her product on a website she launched over a year ago. She has been successful in attracting the right audience to her website, but sales have been slow. The product is low-cost but unintuitive; it needs to be explained before you can master it. Amanda published a blog post with step-by-step instructions and illustrations for how to use the product but, from what she can tell, no one reads it.

The holiday season is fast approaching and Amanda is concerned sales won’t live up to expectations. She is looking for a different way to get the word out about the benefits of her product. Her mentor recently suggested using an explainer video. Amanda is curious to learn more.

What is an Explainer Video?

An explainer video is a short, compelling video that communicates the value of your company’s product or service. Its main purpose is to convince viewers to do business with you. And it works! In 2013, Animoto surveyed 1,014 US adults to learn about consumer perceptions and experiences with video marketing. They concluded 73% of US consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching an explainer video


What Makes a Good Explainer Video?

The best explainer videos have a few things in common.

  1. They’re short. They get the point across quickly and easily. They’re snack-sized explanations of how to do something, why it will make your life better, and what to do next.
  2. They’re attention-grabbing, easy to listen to, and entertaining. No one likes to be bored or irritated. It’s the quickest way to lose your audience.
  3. They solve a problem. People are watching your video for a reason. If you help them solve a problem and quickly get on with the rest of their life, they will feel empowered, rewarded, and grateful.
  4. They’re convincing. A good explainer video persuades viewers they have found the single one best solution to their problem. It incents them to take action that benefits both them AND you.

Is There More Than One Type of Explainer Video?


There are a variety, for example, some are live and some are pre-recorded. They can be created with actors or using animations and drawings. Many have text and/or audio overlays to narrate the story and drive home its main points. All conclude with a strong call-to-action – a call for a website visitor to do something next.

What is a Good Example of an Explainer Video?

This video by Spotify ticks all the right boxes. It’s short, attention-grabbing, entertaining, and has excellent visual effects and audio. It explains how the product works, how your life will improve when you use it, and has a clear call to action at the end that encourages viewers to “Check Out Spotify Today” with the address of a website where you can sign up and learn more.

You can view additional examples of really good explainer videos in this post by Wordstream. They also provide step-by-step instructions for how to create one.

Are You Ready To Create One?

Explainer videos can really help jump-start or boost your campaign or business. There is good evidence to show they boost your rankings in organic search results and increase website conversions.

Amanda created a short video explaining how to use her potato peeler. Her sales increased dramatically as a result.

If you’d like professional help creating an explainer video, please let us know. We’ve been doing this for a long time and can produce a video that will please both you and your customers for a very reasonable cost!