There are lots of things your videos don’t need in order to be engaging.

They don’t need to be funny…

They don’t need to be short…

They don’t even need to be well-produced!

So what gives? How do you really create an engaging viewing experience?

Engagement doesn’t come from a bag of tricks. Rather, it happens when you understand what your target market cares about, and how to use video to appeal to that.

This week, we’ll examine how to make an explainer video that will attract and hold your viewers’ interest… without resorting to flashy tricks and tactics.

Instead, we’ll discuss how to construct your video from the ground up to be appealing to your target customers – so they will want to engage with it deeply and meaningfully.

Let’s go!


Choose a distinctive visual style that fits your brand

If you’re wondering how to make an explainer video engaging, the first place you want to start is visuals.

Namely, your chosen visual style. If it’s eye-catching and memorable enough, this alone can do wonders for your audience’s level of interest and engagement.

But don’t worry – you don’t need to make the quirkiest, most peacocky explainer video of all time!

Any style will do – as long as it comes across as distinctive to your viewership.

Different demographics respond to different kinds of visuals. For example, some people just don’t empathize with cartoons at all – something Hollywood has known forever! Consider the tastes of your audience and engage them with something they will actually want to watch.

And of course you will want to consider which visual style would align with your brand the most. Kinetic typography? Motion graphics? Stop motion animation? Good old live action? As long as you go by what fits your brand and what your target market wants, there’s no wrong answer!

Tip: Hiring an artist, or several artists, with a signature style can be an easy way to make your explainer video more distinctive – and therefore more engaging.

Use evocative language to create vivid imagery

To make an explainer video that grabs people by the brain and doesn’t let go, you need more than a cool style. Your imagery has to be distinctive and eye-catching, too.

But even the most talented artists need fodder for creativity. Have you ever tried to draw something off the top of your head? It’s a nightmare!

This holds true for anyone working on your explainer video – whether they are a top-notch animator or just a temp with a graphics tablet and a desire to prove themselves.

Luckily, there’s a stupidly easy way to ensure your video is naturally rich with evocative visual details…

Just insert them into the narration! Don’t be afraid to use visual words, metaphors, and analogies in your script – they will help you get your point across clearer and give your artists plenty of material to work with!

Here’s an example: this whiteboard and cartoon animation video explains how fast mosquitos breed.

Normally, nothing would be less engaging than listening to a bunch of numbers being rattled off… But by framing the video as a love story and using appropriate lovey-dovey visuals, the video succeeds!

Encourage active participation, not passive consumption

Unlike text, where you have to make continuous effort to keep consuming the content, video is a largely passive medium. This is at once a strength – because less effort means higher retention, and a weakness – because disinterested viewing doesn’t lead to action.

So if you want to know how to make an explainer video that’s properly engaging, here’s the single biggest thing you can do: turn your viewers into active participants, not passive onlookers.

You can achieve this in many ways, big and small. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Ask questions, even if they are purely rhetorical. They cause viewers to stop and think, breaking the monotony.
  • Encourage viewers to remember details about their own lives that relate to the topic of your explainer video.
  • Create a proper story, with a main character and an arc. Human beings are wired to engage with stories – use this to your advantage.
  • Raise a point and leave it unanswered. Then, resolve it later in the video. This is known as a curiosity gap and the most addictive TV shows use it to great effect.
  • Deliver surprising information to viewers. Tell them things they never considered and leave them stunned. Just make sure they are true first!

Give your viewers something worth retaining

Here’s how to make an explainer video that influences people even after they’ve stopped watching: make sure that its impact extends beyond the video itself.

One way to do this is with calls to action. You want to give your viewers something to do at the end of the video: to buy, to contact you, to leave a comment, to opt in, and so on.

But by now you’ve heard this piece of advice from us a billion times, so we won’t rehash it here. Instead, let’s talk about something else…

When you create your video content, you can – and should – use it to people something they can apply in the real world. Doing that is a hallmark of a truly engaging explainer video.

It could be a new point of view towards something in their life.

Or a tiny exercise they can do to make their day a bit easier.

Or a question, a thought, an idea that will stay with them for days and weeks afterwards.

Sure, it’s hard (but not impossible) to pull off in, say, a video ad – but it’s more than doable with other types of explainer videos. How-to’s, recruitment videos, training videos, announcements – all of these can benefit from this strategy.

Here’s an example: this video explores the company culture at Google. It introduces new ideas about the workplace: why culture is paramount, how people need to interact within teams, and what makes a productive team. Even though it’s not a straight-up recruiting ad (it was part of a book launch), it’s pretty effective at making viewers want to go and work at Google!

How to make an explainer video that converts – a free checklist

When it comes to video marketing, engagement is not the be-all, end-all – but it’s pretty darn close!

Making an engaging video will massively improve your odds of converting more viewers into paying customers. Now, here’s what else you can do to increase those conversion rates even further…

Download “10 Things Every Marketing Video Must Have to Convert”

We created this free checklist to help you make the most effective marketing videos possible. And those ten things can improve any video – not just explainers! You can use this checklist for making engagement videos, onboarding videos, social videos, you name it.

So go ahead and click the link above to download it free of charge – and your marketing videos will never be the same again (in a good way)!