Buyer , For Scaleups , For Startups — 09.28.2020

How to Use an Explainer Video in Your Product Marketing

Yhareli Chamboneth, Senior Motion Designer

Imagine trying to persuade your friends in 2008 about a new social platform that only allowed you to share your thoughts in less than 140 characters. Or explaining to your coworkers in 2013 why switching to Slack was better for communication than email. 

Explaining value was critical for these two companies because of how different their products were in the marketplace. One way they addressed this challenge was through a visual narrative known as explainer videos. 

As the name suggests, an explainer video is a short animation between 30 and 90 seconds that uses a combination of graphics, texts and sounds to explain a concept. It can be executed in a variety of styles, as depicted in Slack’s explainer video. 

The best explainer videos educate their audience and generate curiosity to learn more. Specifically, explainer videos are best suited to reveal a new brand identity, showcase a new digital product or highlight a new feature within an existing product. 

Reveal a New Brand Identity 

Whether it’s an up-and-coming startup introducing itself to the market, or an established company making an identity shift, brand reveals are significant. They’re the culmination of different teams, ideas and concepts coming together to create a unified identity. 

An explainer video can capture that process and excitement of a reveal in a way words alone can’t. With video, you show your customers how you’ve matured to better serve them or the fresh approach you will take to solve your industry’s problem. 

In the world of product marketing, a brand update often carries over into the actual product. Our work with the international scheduling tool, Doodle, is one outstanding example of this. When Doodle revealed its new brand in 2022, the company did more than introduce a new set of colors, fonts and messaging. The team carried over the new brand attributes into the product. Doodle’s product launch video does a wonderful job of promoting the new brand while showing how it’s being activated in the product. 

Preview a New Product or Concept 

Speaking of product, one of the best ways to build momentum before a product launch is to use an explainer video that hints at its features or benefits. 

Videos allow you to focus on specific features while giving the audience a broader explanation of how the app works. Another advantage is that you can incorporate elements like visuals, sounds and a storyline. Take our accounting and HR partner Milestone’s explainer video for example. This video gives their customers an idea of what to expect, and it creates an emotional experience with the product before users experience it. 

Highlight New Features and Integrations  

Even if your company is not launching a new product, your existing product is constantly evolving to better serve your customers. Explainer videos can introduce a new significant feature or new product integrations as you create them. 

Similar to product reveals, this creates excitement and anticipation by helping customers visualize how this feature or integration can improve their existing workflow. 

While explainer videos can benefit your customers, they also help your internal team. It’s a great way to celebrate the different teams that work on your product. It can also help teams realign internally when they see the product’s new direction. Further, explainer videos can be repurposed for social media and other marketing initiatives. 

When Not to Use an Explainer Video 

Sometimes video is a great option, but an explainer video may not be the right approach. For instance, your audience might need a detailed walkthrough of the product in its current state. In that case, a product demo would be more appropriate. Explainer videos focus more on storytelling in a short amount of time than elaborating on technical details. 

Similarly, an explainer video can limit your ability to show people actually interacting with the product. When it’s time to show technical details about your product, a product demo is a better fit. Dropbox, for example, uses product demos to introduce new products and show users how to navigate new features. The user learns what to expect from a walkthrough of actual screens. 

Both explainer videos and product demos are valuable, but the circumstances in which they are most useful are different. 

Although cliche, it holds true: A picture is worth a thousand words. Explainer videos are a way to give context to your audience by showing your brand and product in a new dimension. When leveraged properly, motion can bring your product marketing efforts to life and connect with your audience in new ways.  

Learn how creating an explainer video can benefit your scaleup