Short vs. Long Explainer Video: Which Works Best?

Why create an explainer video? The primary objective is to foster engagement. At times, a short, entertaining explainer hits the mark, while on other occasions, an in-depth educational video might be the answer.

If you’re a newcomer to video marketing, discerning which type is the perfect fit for your goals can be a tad perplexing. Trust us, you’re not alone in this.

To simplify your choice, we’ll delve into the distinctions between short and long explainers (animated or not), their advantages, drawbacks and strategies to leverage them. By the article’s conclusion, you’ll have clarity on the exact format to supercharge your marketing endeavors.

So, let’s jump right in!

How Explainer Video Duration Influences Engagement

The average human attention span has dwindled from 12 to 8 seconds. That’s shorter than a goldfish! Projections suggest it’s bound to diminish even further in the coming years.

Soon or later holding an audience’s attention throughout a video will be an uphill battle with video length becoming a key factor in determining its success. Honestly, this sentiment holds weight even today.

While there isn’t a universally optimal duration guaranteeing full audience engagement, a myriad of case studies indicate that concise videos (around 1-2 minutes) tend to outperform lengthier ones.

Sure, there are standout explainers surpassing the 2-minute mark. However, such videos are tailored for specific scenarios and might not serve as a blueprint for the standard explainer. Indeed, once crossing that limit, they’re often categorized as tutorials where the viewer anticipates the content.

Statistical data shows a 60-second video retains roughly 60% of viewers, whereas a 30-second video holds onto 80%. Stretch it to 2 minutes, and the retention dips to 56%. However, these figures can vary based on the platform of distribution.

What typical durations are used for explainer videos?

When it comes to explainer videos, the duration often depends on the complexity of the topic and the intended audience. However, there are some common timeframes that many businesses and organizations adhere to:

  1. Short-Form Explainer Videos (30 seconds to 1 minute): These are perfect for a high-level overview or a promotional teaser. They get straight to the point, capturing the essence of a product or service. Ideal for social media or advertising spots where attention spans are typically shorter.
  2. Long Explainer Videos (1 to 3 minutes): This length allows for a deeper dive into the subject. It’s beneficial for more complex ideas or products that need additional context or explanation. These videos can delve into the nuances, showcase testimonials, or provide more comprehensive tutorials.
  3. Very Long Explainers (4 minutes and above): While less common, longer explainer videos are used when the topic demands comprehensive coverage. For instance, in-depth software tutorials, technical breakdowns, or educational content might need this extended timeframe.

What defines a short explainer video?

Clocking in at under 1 minute (60-sec), a short explainer video is typically reserved for straightforward topics or products. The content tends to be narrative-driven, seeking to evoke emotions in viewers and entice them towards your product via emotional appeals.

This is an example of a short explainer video we made for Stonk:

One of the prime perks of these brief explainers is their adaptability. Falling within the 30-60 second bracket, they seamlessly fit the preferred length for various video-sharing platforms. They’re apt for any viewer, whether they’re acquainted with your product or not.

Short explainer videos also hold value for SEO. With a commendable retention rate, search engines favor them. For instance, if a visitor lingers on your site to watch a video, it signals engaging content. Given that Google employs this metric for page ranking, it could enhance your visibility in search results.

Nevertheless, while short explainer videos shine in captivating and narrating, they possess limitations. As versatile as they might be, they occasionally struggle to thoroughly educate viewers. They might not be apt for intricate subjects. If they do tackle such topics, storytelling often takes a backseat, yet it’s pivotal for a memorable video impact.

For a deeper dive, you’d turn to a longer explainer video!

What defines a long explainer video?

Spanning from 60-90 seconds, sometimes even touching the 3-minute mark, long explainer videos cater to a specific subset of viewers. They seamlessly merge educational content with narrative elements.

Here is an example of a long explainer video we made for one of our clients, Genivi:

While short explainer videos have broader adaptability, long explainer videos are more channel-specific. They’re predominantly featured on landing pages and dedicated video platforms, like YouTube. Though some brands venture to showcase these on Facebook, their efficacy there is somewhat muted.

Short explainer videos are designed to pique the interest of a broad audience. In contrast, long explainers cater to individuals already intrigued by the product, aiming for a deeper understanding. This positions long explainers as potent tools for driving conversions.

example of explainer video graphics

However, there’s a caveat with long explainer videos. Once you surpass the 2-minute mark, viewer engagement tends to wane. While YouTube might tolerate extended durations, on platforms like Facebook, it’s a rarity and demands impeccable video craftsmanship and marketing strategy.

In essence, when the goal is elucidating a multifaceted concept with a touch of storytelling, long explainers emerge as the go-to choice. Executed adeptly, they meld instruction and story, yielding substantial returns on investment.

Final Thoughts

Understanding short vs. long videos is crucial. Which suits your business? It’s simpler than it seems. Consider:

  • Audience: A busy executive or a YouTube-browsing teen?
  • Content: Emotion-driven or product explanation?
  • Channel: YouTube, Facebook, or your landing page?
  • Context: Is your audience familiar with your brand?

Knowing the answers determines video length. For a busy audience and simple topics, opt for short videos.

Ready to bring your organization’s story to life with an explainer video?

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