Best length for an explainer video

Every year I evaluate how we create explainer videos and how they have performed over the past year. I have been tracking the engagement levels of some of our client videos to ensure that my decisions are supported by good data. We use a video hosting company called Wistia and this allows me access to all the engagement, play rate and conversion data that I need. The primary trend in 2017 was a reduction of attention spans. From less than 90 seconds to now less than 75 seconds. This is quite a drop in 12 months.

100% explainer engagement

The graph above is for a 122 second video

What can we do about this? It would make sense to re-evaluate any existing video that is over 75 seconds to see if this trend is affecting them. This may mean spending a few weeks tracking the data from that video and decide if it’s worth cutting down to suit.

For new explainers, that is down to us writing them with this new trend in mind. There are many tricks of the trade to ensure engagement levels are as high as possible but we must also respect the attention span of new viewers.

100% explainer engagement

The graph above is for a 62 second video

Although the graphs above are from random snippets throughout the year, they are consistent across all of our explainers and this has to be taken into account when writing any new videos.

There are certain times when this rule can be broken. For instance, when creating an explainer for internal use or having a 2nd explainer for when a user signs up to a product or service but generally, it’s best to stick to 75 seconds or less.

The industry average engagement rate is around 50-60% which is pretty respectable but our average (of our tracked videos) is 74% which we are immensely proud of. This has been achieved because we have been watching the trend and adapting, year in-year out.

There are many advantages of having a shorter explainer; it costs less, higher engagement rate, higher conversion rate, faster to make etc but ultimately it’s for you to decide. Sometimes there is a need for a longer video in which case, you can apply some re-engagement techniques at common drop off points.

Above is a film we made as part of a longer 45 minute guide to getting married on the Isle of Skye. This chapter on the weather is a freebie we’re giving away to encourage viewers interested in buying the full guide.
However, when we launched this, I uploaded the weather chapter direct from the main edit. The engagement data told us that most viewers dropped off after 60 seconds, or more importantly, before I began speaking on the video. Because of this, I re-edited the video to ensure that it could sit on it’s own. By bringing myself in earlier it boosted the engagement rate by 26% because the viewers were getting the main benefit of the video, faster.

We realised from this lesson that there is no shame in constantly learning and improving. You’re never going to get it perfect first time and any company that says otherwise is lying or are too caught up in their own greatness and will eventually be left behind along with all of their videos.

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