What’s the Optimal Length for Your Tutorial Video? Shorter Than You Think

What’s the Optimal Length for Your Tutorial Video? Shorter Than You Think

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A question I hear often is “how long should my marketing or branded video be?” In the next few weeks I will discuss the optimal video lengths for different types of videos, and also tap into some guidelines for each type of video. What I write here is based on our experience at Veed.me, where we match businesses that need videos, with videographers. Let’s start with a general overview of video length:

How Long Should My Video Be?

We are always being asked “How long should my video be?” But the truth is, we think that the real answer should “How short should my video be?” Videos can be a very tricky medium to use to get your message across. Yes, they are very accessible, and lend themselves to being shared, but unlike display ads, and images it’s up to our audience whether they will click play and choose to watch them or not.

It makes no difference whether your product or service is awesome, if they have never heard of your brand, there are two things that are going to determine whether they hit the play button:

  • First impression, AKA – The thumbnail (that’s a whole different discussion but, you can imagine what works)
  • The length of the video

Here’s a little test: Imagine that A, B and C are all videos with neutral thumbnails, which one will you click?

When the length shows A) 0:xx (less than a minute)? B) 1:xx? C) 2:xx?

That’s right. “A” is the winner, while over two minutes will be (for the most part) the big loser, in terms of keeping the viewer engaged throughout. In one of Wistia’s video lengths analytics, we are shown that shorter videos have the advantage when it comes to getting more people to watch the whole thing. Shorter videos produce a more engaged audience.


Different types of videos will have different optimal lengths, but a good rule of thumb is to  make them as short as you possibly can without without losing the message.

Tutorials/Explainer Videos (Optimal Length – 45-90 Secs)

Let’s examine the most common type of video formats  - the tutorial, or informational video. The main goal of a tutorial is not to to show how something works in great detail, but just to give an overview of it In today’s fast-paced world, that means the video needs to be short and simple. A video that lasts around 2 minutes is good, over 2 minutes will make the audience feel that the video requires some extra time and concentration. And let’s face it, the audience have better things to do with their time, and it’s too easy for them navigate away from your video, and go and watch, or do, something else.

45-90 seconds is long enough to give your viewers a peak at the product or service, and to entice them into wanting more. Don’t attempt to show all the bells and whistles, just highlight the cool/main points. Keep it short, sweet, and simple.

Main Types of Tutorial Video

There are two main formats for the tutorial video, Classic and With/Without:

The classic video: This type of video usually features background music and screenshots of your app/website features, usually with a voice-over throughout the video. In the last couple of years we’ve seen many 2D animations and infographics for these, but we are also starting to see more and more live motion videos, like this one from Mailbox.

With/Without: Show the world without your app and then without – split screen is a great way to use this concept. Creative approach: Show your app being used in a common use case, in a more story-oriented structure. a very creative with/without type of video:

Tutorials Are Often the First Introduction to Your Brand

There is no “right” structure or format, it all depends on your product and on your budget, of course.
2D animations are very common but are often considered as too similar to each other while live motion videos are usually more distinguished.

Tutorials are often being considered as being good for conversion, and it’s true, you want the viewers to to signup/download/etc. Video content is a great way to introduce your target audience to your product or service, and often people will stumble upon your video before visiting your website, especially if your video is cool, and fun to watch. We at Veed.me, believe that tutorials should have a creative edge so they will be not only helpful in understanding the product, but also fun to watch so people will want to share them.

Please feel free to comment and ask for updates and focus points for the next posts. Also, if you have any insights, or examples of great tutorials then share them below!


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