Video content engages and converts - it’s as simple as that. 73% of consumers say they’d rather watch a short video over reading an article, looking at an infographic or downloading a PDF. 87% of marketers have reported that video generates good ROI and 93% say video content has improved brand awareness in their audience. If you need more convincing, there are loads more stats on how effective video content is for marketing.
Video content can be divided into two broad categories - live action and animation. Live action is real people, in the world, filmed on a camera. Animation is generated digitally, using computer software. Today we’re talking primarily about the effectiveness of animation, but live action can be equally valuable. The primary benefits of animation over video is that animation is generally faster and cheaper to produce (depending on the type of animation), and you have more control over the final content because you’re not reliant on people doing a good job on camera (which is harder than you might think).
Incorporating animation into your online marketing strategy is a great way to improve ROI, grow your audience and get more engagement. But how do you do it, and how does it work?
Set up goals and success criteria
The best way to start any online marketing strategy is to define your goals and determine how you will measure your success. One good goal might look like this: “We want to sell one widget worth £50,000 per quarter.” Ultimately, it’s easy to measure whether or not this goal succeeds - did you sell the widget before the deadline, or not?
But you may also want to measure other little things along the way, like how many people showed an interest in buying the widget, how many people shared an ad about the widget, how many people visited your site to look at the widget, how many people put the widget in their basket but never checked out, and so on.
Measuring all this will help you tweak different touchpoints along the customer journey to get you closer to your ultimate goal of selling the widget. If you met your goal, you’ll have more information telling you why, and if you didn’t meet your goal you have a list of things to improve for next quarter.
Figure out what content your audience wants to see
Your audience is the most important factor in this, because if your content isn’t tailored for them you’re not going to get results. First it’s worth asking if animation is the best content for your audience. Although, generally speaking, it is super popular with most audiences, perhaps you have a really niche audience who prefers reading long articles on the train. So do some research on your audience to find out if animation is the right choice.
Assuming it is, the next thing to think about is the style and content of your animations. Your animations (and all your marketing content) should sit comfortably within your brand. If you have an established brand and brand guidelines, this should be fairly easy to do. Just hand your brand guidelines to your animation agency and let them run with it.
If you don’t have brand guidelines, we recommend doing at least a mini branding project first. The reason for this is if you have no brand guidelines, your animator won’t have anywhere to start. They will at least need an idea of colour palette, image style, typography and tone of voice.
Hopefully, if you have a good brand, you’ve already determined an identity and style that appeals to your audience. If your animation fits your brand, it should automatically suit your audience too.
Decide how to use animation in your campaign
There are lots of ways you could use animation to reach this goal. We’re going to discuss some ideas, but this isn’t exhaustive. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume your widget is a tangible product, but you can apply most of this logic, with some tweaks, to a service.
Animations for social media (with or without paid advertising)
Explainer video on YouTube
Product deep-dive video on a landing page (with optional web animation)
360° interactive 3D animation on your website
Top level brand video for your website or a show
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Animations for social media
Social media is a super place for animation because it enables you to put your animated content in front of really specific audiences, and it gives your audience the opportunity to share and discuss on the platform. Animation is a great way to stop people scrolling and pay attention to your post because it’s more dynamic and eye-catching than other content. Another benefit is that it’s relatively cheap to make this kind of content, because it’s short-form. You can even use simple GIFs.
Determine which social channel(s) to use. If you’re B2B, LinkedIn is probably going to give you the best results. If your audience is Millennials, Instagram will probably perform best. If they are Gen Z, TikTok is going to be your friend.
Sponsor your post. Putting some money behind your posts can allow you to create very specific audiences and ensure they see your content, even if they don’t yet follow you on the channel.
Add a CTA. A good social media ad should have a call to action (CTA). This is an art in itself. You want to give people something they want to click on, and then land them on a webpage that makes sense. So you probably don’t want people to land on your homepage, because it’s not going to be specific enough. A product page is good, because it allows people to check out straight away. Or you may want to build a specific landing page that gives people more information on the product. You can see the difference here: here’s a product page; and here’s a landing page. Your decision here should be driven by your audience. Are they the type of people who want to learn more before they buy, or are they keen to check out as fast as possible? The decision may also depend on where they are in the customer journey. If this is the first time they’ve seen you and the product, they will probably want more hand-holding. If they’re familiar with you and the product, they may be ready to buy.
Keep it short. Animated content for social media should be short and sweet. 15-30 seconds is a good ballpark. Remember you want to grab people’s attention immediately, so don’t include any fluff. Get straight to the good stuff. As most people use social media on their phones, always include subtitles (if you have a voice over) so they can read without having to turn on sound.
Explainer video on YouTube
YouTube is essentially a search engine that features video content. How-to / explainer videos are hugely popular because people prefer to watch something being demonstrated rather than read a manual. It’s easier and faster.
So an animation that demonstrates how to use your product - or how your product solves a common problem - could be a great marketing tool on this channel.
Do some keyword analysis. This will help you figure out what people are searching for, which will determine the title of your video and the text content you include in the description.
Add a CTA. Again, CTA is massively important here because you want to get them off YouTube and into your domain. Give them something to click and a meaningful landing page to go to.
Give value, but be brief. In terms of length, it depends on the complexity of the product. But anything longer than 5 minutes will test most people’s patience. 2-3 minutes is ideal.
Product deep-dive on landing page
Remember that landing page we keep going on about? Use animation here too! This is where you can really go to town and give people loads of information and detail. Blow their socks off. They’ve already bought into the concept and want to know more. You can either put a hero animation at the top of the page, or you can use web technology to animate the whole thing (like Apple). The more immersive, informative and engaging you can make this page, the better.
Don’t get so carried away with your animation that you forget to include a CTA. Yes, another one. Ultimately you want people to buy your product, so give them an easy way to do that here. If your website is ecommerce, link straight to the product page and make the button sing. If you’re not ecommerce, give them clear instructions on how to order, whether that’s with a form or a phone number (btw forms make it easier to track enquiries in your CRM).
360° interactive 3D animation
An interactive 3D animation can give your customers a unique insight into the details of your product. Maybe you can even take the product apart and show them how it works inside. In a digital 3D environment, you can create a realistic and immersive render of a product even if it’s still in the workshop.
Using web technology, you can host this animation on your site and allow users to click and drag around the object as if it were real. This tactile experience can work really well for highly technical products, and highly technical audiences. For example, if you’re selling kit cars to kit car enthusiasts.
This type of animation can be time-consuming and expensive to create, so only go down this route if you think it will be valuable. The good news is that once a product has been rendered in the 3D environment, you can use that render over and over to create new assets.
Top level brand video
Most consumers are seeking validation when they purchase something, especially when it’s a big purchase. Having trust in the brand is one way they will get that validation. Whether your audience is at first exposure or ready to buy, putting a top level brand video in front of them will encourage that trust and give them confidence to make the purchase.
A video like this can be a longer piece, and should talk about your values and mission as an organisation. It shouldn’t focus on your product - it may not even mention it at all - because you want to connect here on a deeper level. You’re looking for people who believe what you believe, because people don’t buy what you do - they buy why you do it (Simon Sinek).
This video can feature on your website, and you may also want to play it at an expo or show. If you don’t attend shows, why not put on a show of your own and invite your audience to attend? Advertise it on social; free food and drinks is always a nice sweetener.
A soft CTA (“Like what you see? You’re going to love our latest product.”) accompanying the video will give people somewhere to go next. Send them to that amazing landing page.
What to do next
There's a lot to digest here, and this is just a summary. If you’d like support with your animation content and online marketing strategy, we can help with both. Just drop us a line and we’ll arrange a free 1-hour chat to hash it all out.
Who wrote this?
She / her; red / blue. Mel is a writer, editor and designer. Equally happy hiking a muddy trail as playing tabletop roleplay games by candlelight. Will seize any opportunity for a party, as long as said party features copious food, prosecco and hits from the 1980s. Her true passion lies in words. A student of literature, she is fascinated by enduring myths, etymology and science fiction. Kurt Vonnegut is her hero. “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”