What are the different types of explainer videos?

You know what explainer videos are. Now let’s see the types!

Talking about explainer videos, even a television commercial is an explainer.

However, we are not going to review TV commercials. This post is all about explainer videos on the internet, web, online. I swear.

Essentially, these are the types (even if you want to give any fancy name).

Product Promos

This one is the most widely used type of explainer video.

In fact, everyone thinks an explainer video is always a product promo.

Talking about explainer promos, isn’t it very similar to a TV commercial, an advertisement, el Anuncio? Or similar to a movie trailer?

I think so!

99% similar. The 1% difference is a strong call to action. And that 1% can sell your product.

A promo explainer warms up and nudges the audience to take action. A strong direct call-to-action is built-in right in the explainer video (typically at the end).

Product promos can have these flavors.

Product Debut

This is a favorite in the world of explainer videos. The #1 category of explainer videos.

Quite simply put, presenting your brand-new baby (your product) in front of the world.

This is your chance to grab your audience and turn them into customers.

If done right, you can make a big impression like this debut promo of Groupon. This animated explainer video was a viral sensation.  It was a perfect launchpad for Groupon to become a billion-dollar company.

And to make an animated explainer, you have a wide variety of explainer video software available.

Promo launch series

This is a series of follow-up videos after your product debut video.

After you launch your debut promo, your audience and customers have got a very good glimpse of your product. They know what it does.

Why not capitalize on that and release video after video to tickle their ‘spending’ buds?

Keep them warm and move them inch-by-inch towards a purchase?

This great launch series from Headspace meditation did a great job of keeping the audience engaged and interested!

(Though they had soft-launched the product earlier, this was a true promo launch series).


New Product or upgrades

You typically start with one product. And then as your product grows, you keep on introducing new ones.

The old ones aren’t left behind either. They are given an upgrade!

Product upgrades or new product line videos are a great way to retain existing customers.

And to grab new ones as well!

This series of explainer videos excellently showcased the new Spotify on XBOX feature.

Season or event-based

Whether it’s Christmas, Diwali or Eid, seasonal explainer videos always work!

And what about events like elections, recession or big breaking news? There is room for an explainer video that ties with the mood.

This beautifully animated video titled ‘What would Christmas be without love’ perfectly captures the Christmas spirit!

The ideal length for a promo explainer – 30 secs to under 2 minutes (anything above 2 mins really has to be legendary to demand any attention, avoid that anyway).

The ideal explainer style for a promo explainer – The sky is your limit.  Any style will work. As long as it ties with your niche. Actually, not even that. Choose anything you want!

‘How to’ explainers

So what’s a ‘How to’ explainer? I know you are smart, so let’s ignore this dumb question and move on to some of the variants.

‘How to’ appetizers

Why do you have appetizers? To stimulate your appetite, so you can gorge on the main course. (I am not talking about those gigantic grilled starters; those are not appetizers anyway!)

Talking about a ‘How to video appetizer’, it is not the same as a promo.

If a promo is like window-shopping, a ‘How to’ appetizer lets the audience in your shop. It lets them have a feel of the product.

You also get to show some really cool stuff that the audience is dying to get their hands on.

With these types of videos, you take your audience a step closer to the product. Video by video, you show 1 great feature.

This nice little under 2 minutes, ‘How to Storyboard’ by Crazy Egg is a perfect example/

Though this video may have been created by a studio, there are options available for DIY animated explainer videos.

The ideal length of a ‘How-to’ explainer – Under 2 minutes

The ideal style of a ‘How-to’ explainer – No limits, choose a style you like.

Warning: Your ‘How to’ video can mutate! Longer videos are no more ‘How tos’, they become step by step guides or Demos. Make these long and your audience might be bloated like the guy who had pounds of starters!

How-to Step by step video guides

This is a mutated ‘How to – appetizer’ video. A bigger cousin.

Use it for complex topics where you have no choice but to dig into details! Where you want to handhold the customers and walk them through your store.

Do it however you wish, but DO NOT bore your audience.

This awesome, fun guide on ‘Hacking’ is a crowd puller! A simple combination of static slides and screen recording.

Laced with humor, anecdotes, examples, stories, it ticks all the boxes.

The ideal length of a step by step video explainer guide – 10 to 20 mins.

The ideal style of a step by step video explainer guide – Any style.

How-to Tips or hacks

The moment you think about hacks, you get images of a lady doing unbelievable stuff to make life easy! Yeah, those ‘5-minute crafts’ videos.

After seeing even 1 video, I always get an ‘inferiority complex’ brain wave that lasts for hours.

How can someone be so talented? Out of the box thinker? Why can’t I be one?

It’s not just me. It’s even you. It’s all the 61 million+ subscribers of the channel that feels the same.

Like this video on survival hacks. Watching it makes you feel secure and safe from this ugly world.

Particularly the one at 1:47 in the video. If you are ever kidnapped and tied, remember 5-minute crafts!

Every audience loves tips and hacks. Find some for your product and feed your viewer’s souls.

The Ideal Length of a tips or hacks explainer – 10 to 20 mins.

The Ideal style of tips or hacks explainer – Any style.

Product Demos

Not needing any explanation, even a child sees many product demos while growing up.

A salesman at the toyshop shows that remote-controlled monster truck. It turns right, left, speeds up, brakes, topples and gets back.

The kid watching it is speechless. Though the kid is a monster himself, he is spellbound and looks like an angel.

His parents have never seen this side of his. Talk about the power of a demo!

This video shows ‘How NOT to do a demo’. It’s a rogue self-parking car ruthlessly knocking down people (no blood and gore)!

Before you see the video, let’s break it down, shot by shot.

Screenshots taken from the video ‘10 Biggest Fails of the Most Famous Companies’

And here is the bone-chilling, nut-cracking video. Move to 2:51 into the video to see the action.

Learn from this debacle and prepare for your demos!

If done right, product demos can bring your customers on their toes. Hypnotize them. Nudge them to hit that BUY button. Or award you a contract!

You have 2 options for a demo:

Show a small 1 feature demo (something like our ‘How to’ appetizer)

This small demo by Mint.com is an excellent way to engage.


Go full length with a bunch of features. There are quite a few who record webinars and host them as demo videos.

Unless it turns out a faultless webinar, always shoot a pre-recorded one. Showing things on the fly is like a death warrant.

This demo video from Buzzsumo seems like a pre-recorded full-length demo.

The Ideal Length of a demo explainer – 2 mins to 15 mins

The Ideal style of a demo explainer – For physical products live-action is a better choice. For software or service, you can choose any of these styles.

Customer Reviews or Testimonials

Be honest. Don’t fake your brother, sister or friend as a customer! You don’t want your audience to see you on Facebook hanging out with your ‘customer’ in every damn photo!

Talking about customers, if they love your product, they will happily give a testimonial.

PRO HACK – Find an employee of your customer who likes to be on camera!

See this one from Airbnb. An awesome way to get testimonials.

Ideal length – Not more than 3-4 minutes.

Ideal style – This is quite obvious. It has to be a live-action. Or try caricatures, it would be fun!

FAQ or Q&A

This is the most evolved form of the ‘How to’ videos.

You can have 1 short and crisp video each for an FAQ. Or club a bunch of them. But make sure each FAQ seamlessly flows into the other. Like a well-blended luscious chocolate mousse.

Mint.com runs a series called ask-the-expert bringing in financial experts answering questions raised by customers.

Ideal length – Make it short under 3-4 minutes, if it’s just 1 FAQ. If it’s a bunch of them, do the math.

Ideal style – We can get into a debate on this. Though live action is the best, you can choose animation with your voiceover.

Whatever the type you wish, you can make them using affordable software (monthly plans).

Featured image credit-
Original Image by MoteOo from Pixabay 


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