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How Long Should Your Explainer Video Be?


It’s getting harder and harder to focus on a single thing these days.

Most audiences are comprised of multi-device users with short attention spans, constantly being bombarded by a neverending flood of notifications. It’s a reality that now plays a huge role in how we approach video marketing; since keeping an audience engaged has become one of the biggest challenges to overcome.

Luckily, we have explainer videos. Attention-grabbing pieces that can help brands convey a clear message about their products, services or business ideas, and do so in a short amount of time.

However, “short” is still a broad, rather relative term; and figuring out your optimal explainer video length is crucial to its effectiveness. Depending on your business needs, it can be anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes (and even a bit longer in some special cases!)

So, we’ve gathered all the important information in this piece to help you make an educated decision when determining the perfect video length for your particular project!

A Few Initial Considerations

There’s hardly a better tool out there to convey your message to an audience than a well-made explainer. One driven by a powerful script and combining storytelling with meaningful visuals to tackle specific pain points before introducing your solution.

But all of that needs to happen under the clear premise that you only have a limited amount of time to do so! And that’s when things get tricky: Your explainer has to be long enough to include all the information relevant to your message, but short enough so that your viewers don’t get bored and go away.

So, your first stop should always be to decide exactly what must be included, and what to leave out!

  • Don’t try to include everything. Your product or service probably has a long list of awesome features and benefits, but you shouldn’t overwhelm your audience with too much information upfront. Focus on one or two key points, and build your story around them to create a memorable message. 
  • When in doubt, shorter is better. Let’s put to a side the fact that shorter pieces will save you production time and money for a moment; it’s proven that the longer the video, the percentage of full views decreases. Just like the graph below shows, every second matters!

Explainer video length

  • Get to the point from the get-go. Leave suspense to Hollywood! Internet audiences are all about instant gratification, and if they feel for a second you are wasting their time, they’ll leave never to return! Besides, few viewers stay all the way to the end, so frontloading your message immediately boosts its reach.

Defining Your Explainer Video Length

Before we start, let’s clear something up: there’s no scientific written rule or formulaic way to figure out your optimal explainer video length.  Each company and each message is unique, and the same goes for their respective explainer videos. 

Having said all that, suitable lengths tend to conform to a number of essential questions surrounding your piece: What is your core message? What type of product are you trying to promote?  What channels are you going to use for distribution? However, for the purposes of this piece, we are going to focus on your explainer video’s purpose.

Are you trying to introduce a product or service? Do you want to give your audience a detailed look at it? Are you trying to convince them to take a particular action? Are you trying to bring awareness to a cause? Conveying a complicated message in a way your audience can relate to?

Figuring out the core purpose of your video through questions like this is a great way to zero into your explainers’ ideal length. So, let’s go over the most popular length benchmarks and see where they tend to perform best.

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30 Second Mark

30 second explainer videos are perfect for catching and keeping your viewers’ attention, especially if you use them on social media. Even though there’s not much depth and detail in them, they can easily engage your audience and get a short point across very fast. 

In essence, these short bits of entertaining content are a great, effective marketing tool that can help you increase your brand awareness and attract potential new customers. Videos this short are often seen in content aimed at the first stage of the marketing funnel, the awareness stage, when prospects are educating themselves and looking to resolve a pain point.

Working within this timeframe, focus on creating content that gives viewers quick glimpses of topics they are interested in, and show them that your brand is a reliable source of information about it. Like this Spring animated explainer video that gives the viewer a quick sense of what the app does while being super entertaining as well.

60 Second Mark

With a one-minute explainer video, you have a bit more time to build a story and give the viewer some more context. You can introduce a single pain point and describe how you are going to address it with a brief look at your solution. Scripts at this length need to be tight and extremely concise because you have just about 150 words to work with – and that’s not much. 

Prioritize your core message and front-load your piece with all the important information early on. Focus on the key feature (or benefit) that makes your product unique and you want to stick into your audience’s memory. 

That being said, a 60-second explainer video is perfect for businesses with simple and easy-to-understand products that don’t require overly complicated explanations. Such as this Spotify animated video, used to launch the app – it’s fun, very informative, and clear. 

90-120 Second Mark

A classic explainer video is usually 90 to 120 seconds long. 2 minutes is proven to be what we call “the sweet spot” for the format, as engagement usually remains steady until that point. Here’s why.  

When you want to spread the word about what you do – especially if you are the new kid in town –  you should focus on doing more than just selling a product. Online, people need to trust you first. A fully fleshed-out explainer is fantastic at engaging a person and resonating emotionally with them, and that’s often enough to start a lasting relationship with a customer.

In a 90 second piece, you have a script that’s around 240 words long (and 320 in 120 seconds). With this amount of “information real estate”, you have time to build your case. That is, state a problem that your audience can identify with, tell them how you are going to make their lives better, and close with a strong CTA to expand upon the connection. 

It’s like you are telling them: “I know you are dealing with this, and it’s a bummer. Here’s something that can help.”

This is the explainer video length most often used to introduce new products or innovative ideas, especially in the IT field.

120 Second + Mark

After the 2-minute mark, there’s a significant drop off of viewer attention, so every second matters

You might feel tempted to increase your explainer video length to describe in more detail aspects of your product or service. It may even happen that what you sell is super complex and requires a longer explanation. While we’d normally argue with doing so – as a talented video company can make due within the two-minute restriction – sometimes it’s unavoidable. And there’s still some breathing room even at these lengths.

So, if you can’t squeeze your content within 2 minutes, at least make sure that the more important pieces of your content are showcased at the start, and tackle additional aspects as the video progresses. This way, you at least make sure your audience gets the gist of your message, even if they don’t watch the entire piece. 

A whiteboard animated video is a type of explainer that’s usually a bit longer than a classic explainer since it’s often used to describe complex technical products and cover a lot of information.

What We Learned

Based on some of what we’ve talked about here, one could draw the mistaken conclusion that, the shorter the explainer, the better. However, the point is not to cut a video short just ‘cuz!

A 15-second explainer that doesn’t work will always underperform an effective, well-made, optimized 3-minute one. Just cutting length for the sake of it can even end up hurting your piece (and brand) by creating useless content.

Each project has its own needs, and finding the perfect explainer video length for your piece requires more than just a timer and good intentions. It involves a lot of analysis, planning, and questions that need answering even before you start brainstorming content ideas. More often than not, your marketing goals are the key factor to determine the ideal duration for your video!

In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance between the information you want to share with your audience and making it engaging enough so they pay attention and stay the whole way through.

So, go and start trimming (or expanding!) those fledgling videos into their most optimal length! And if you need a bit of expert help with it, don’t be shy and get in touch! We’ll be more than happy to help you bring your vision to life.

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