Here’s Why Your Explainer Video Isn’t Working

When it comes to achieving marketing milestones, there’s simply no more effective type of content than video. And among the many different styles available, explainers rank high among the best performers; consistently delivering the best results. 

A successful explainer video introduces the audience to a brand, helps connect them with it, and delivers a clear and engaging message. And all of this in just a couple of minutes or less!


As awesome as that sounds, the reality is that not every explainer video out there can be regarded as “successful” once the chips are down. Why’s that?

A number of things, really! The good news, however, is that all of them can be fixed – or avoided – if caught in time during the production phase. So, to make sure that your explainer works the way you want it to, we put together the most common mistakes people make when developing them.

Let’s go!

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6 Reasons Why Your Explainer Video Is Not Effective

After years in the business partnering with companies of all shapes and sizes to make videos that always deliver, we’ve learned that explainers have more than a handful of “mission-critical” elements. 

Their absence or mishandling will lead you to a piece that won’t live up to expectations.

#1 Wrong Concept (or Poor Execution!)

This is related to your message and how you go about conveying it.

Explainer videos are a great communication tool because they use an appealing narrative to connect your message with the target audience, subtly fostering interest. That said, they aren’t meant to be overly “salesy.

Instead, explainers revolve around telling a nice, relatable story surrounding a company’s product or service, and how it can help someone to solve a problem.

That doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a well-defined concept idea and a really well-written script that both help your piece immediately captivate audiences and stand out from the crowd. Users online are looking to be wowed by content they can connect with. So, going with old, used up formulaic approaches is the going concept to base your explainer around.

You do that by being creative, original, and always tying your brand’s identity and core values to your piece. Focus on your core concept, but always under the lens of your brand’s voice, and tailoring it through storytelling to help your audience understand and relate to it.

Take this explainer video we made for Blume Beverages. It starts with a clear outline of the benefits cinnamon provides (the main ingredient of their product) and seamlessly moves the story into their company’s origin. Clear concept, effective execution.

#2 It’s Too Long

There’s a reason why explainers – and most marketing videos, really – are short: audiences’ attention spans online sharply drop with each passing second.  Successful explainer videos tend to remain between the 30 second and two-and-a-half minute mark. 

The exact length varies depending on a number of factors, such as the product you sell, how complex your solution is, or even your audience’s demographics. Older people, for example, aren’t in such a hurry as younger viewers and tend to be more patient.

However, even though there isn’t a unified “perfect length” for explainers, a good rule of thumb is they shouldn’t last longer than 120 seconds. Which seems to be the sweet spot to give brands enough time to get their message across without boring most audiences.

Having said all that, you are allowed to be a bit flexible in this regard (within reason!) as long as you make sure that every single second of your piece is worth watching! Don’t be afraid to edit down and get rid of everything that’s not necessary or doesn’t add anything special to the story you want to share.

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#3 It Lacks an Effective Hook

Closely tied to something we mentioned already: if you don’t capture your audience with an original approach from the get-go, you are going to lose them. In fact, you have about the first ten seconds of your video to do so, or risk most of them will move on.

Yes, that’s right – 10 seconds is all you have to hook or lose your audience, and sometimes not even that much! 

As you can see, there aren’t any second chances here. You have to give your audience a reason to keep watching your video right from the start. You can do that by crafting attractive opening scenes with compelling lines. Ask an intriguing question or pose an interesting premise right from the start, and have gorgeous and enticing visuals with a catchy tune to boot! All in tune with your overall message and branding.

Take a look at this Zendesk explainer video. It begins with a simple statement most people can relate to and could be enticed by.

#4 Too Detailed!

Believe it or not, this can be a problem – especially if you aren’t paying attention. Have you ever heard the expression “Less is more”? Ok, that’s the mantra of someone who works on a successful explainer video! 

Hey, we get it. You are eager to tell your audience all about your product’s amazing features and benefits. We’ve been there too! However, it’s better not to overwhelm viewers with too much information. That road only leads to distraction, confusion, or worse, boredom!

Avoid those risks by sticking to a singular message, covering a primary benefit, and building around it as your explainer progresses.

And while we are on the topic of simplicity, do keep in mind that explainers do let you tackle complex topics and make them understandable. However, that’s not the same to say your narration (script) has to do all the heavy lifting! Make your video easier to follow by leveraging meaningful visuals that complement the dialogue, streamlining the information without diluting it.

#5 It’s Not Well-Targeted

As crazy as it may sound, the secret weapon behind every successful explainer video is empathy. They are addressing specific problems that a specific audience struggles with. They tell the audience, in no uncertain terms, “we understand the issue you have. Here’s how we can help.

But you can’t do that if you don’t know, in detail, who you are appealing to.

From basic demographic elements like gender, age, and where they live, to more in-depth information, such as what they like, taste and their preferences, long-term goals, and even the social platforms they favor! 

Remember: Creating content that caters to your niche is going to make your pieces way more effective, and that premise should be felt at every stage of production.

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#6 Poor Quality

Nowadays, it’s not enough to just develop any video. Online audiences expect nothing but top-of-the-shelf quality, and they won’t hesitate to discard your piece if it even seems poorly made. 

Always keep in mind that your video’s quality says a lot about your company and its products. In a way, it’s how you are presenting yourself to the world. Therefore, if you want to be taken seriously and outperform your competition, you can’t afford to skimp on quality.

This goes hand in hand with the team of experts you have by your side, helping you develop your explainer video. Mind you, it’s not just about hiring the most expensive service out there – quality and price aren’t necessarily analogous, even though sometimes that’s the case. 

As you set out to develop your video, take your time and find a skilled video production company with a professional and experienced team. One that can deliver well-executed, effective pieces with top-of-the-industry quality, at a price range that works with your budget.

Bonus Stage: You Should Also Pay Attention to…

Even though we’ve covered the most common mistakes that can affect the performance of an explainer video, here’s a bite-sized shortlist with 3 other aspects that you also should take care of:

  • Visibility: Your audience can’t engage with your content if it’s hidden or if it’s difficult to access! Make sure to embed your explainer video on your landing page, share it to social media, create paid ads with it… in short, put it in front of people’s eyes! 
  • Use a clear CTA: When your video is wrapping up, you should tell your viewers what it is you want them to do next. For example, where to get a demo, how to contact you, where to learn more about your product, and so on. If they watched the entire piece, they are clearly interested in what you are saying, so take advantage of that!
  • Mind the Sound Design: Music, narration voice, and sound effects matter. A LOT. They set the mood for the video and help enhance the message you want to share. Don’t make the mistake of treating these elements as secondary; that can damage an otherwise great piece.


Well-made explainer videos are extremely effective marketing tools your business can leverage if you play your cards right.

Now, no two production processes are ever the same. Each new piece comes with its own peculiarities. However, there are some general aspects, common to every project, that most certainly add up toward your piece’s success. By the same token, their absence can severely hinder what would have otherwise been a successful explainer video!

If your explainer isn’t working as expected, we hope this piece helped you identify where the problem was. But if you need an extra pair of eyes, we sure can help! Contact us and we’ll put our experienced and talented team at your disposal right away! 🙂

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