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The Complete Guide to Animated Videos in Digital Marketing

Julia RichardsDecember 2020
The Complete Guide to Animated Videos in Digital Marketing

It seems that everywhere you look these days, there’s an animated video.

The big brands are doing it. The little brands are doing it. Even the birds and bees are doing it.

But, the question is: Should you do it? And, if you do, can you afford it?

Well, the answer to both those questions is: It depends.

Either way, if you’re not seriously considering using animated videos as part of your strategy, know that your competitors are doing it. Because it’s hot at the moment.

Shooting real-footage videos can be expensive, and hiring pros to create animated videos can also reach high figures.

But, like everything else in digital marketing, there’s a smart way to do it so that it’s both affordable as

well as professional.

Are animated videos right for your business?

Before even beginning to look at how to make animated videos on your computer, you have to answer the crucial question:

Are animated videos right for your brand?

Our gut-feel here at Start My Business has always been, “Of course they are!” but that’s because we’re experts at creating animated videos for businesses and so can think with all the potentials of the medium.

Too often, when people think of animated videos, they think of “cute” videos or “playful videos”.

Animated videos can also cover serious topics such as this classic video from Shelter, produced in 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBucKP87k2s

The video, albeit somewhat lighthearted in the way it is presented, covers a serious topic — that of an impending rent crisis for the UK’s millions of renters as a result of “rogue landlords” (to quote the video) and the lack of an equitable system.

Animated video was used, there, to convey an important message, and to convey that message in an easy-to-understand format.

Too many fusty companies think of animated videos as “cartoon”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hey, if the bank of England can put together an informative, well-executed animated video, so can your company!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI0MVV5UjKc

What can animated videos do for your business?

Increase Brand Awareness

When people say “Brand Awareness” they immediately think of Nike or Coca-Cola or some other massive corporation.

Brand Awareness can be international or regional. It can even be just a postal code!

Imagine if you handed out some flyers in your business’s neighbourhood and included a scannable code to an animated video for your business, as well as a screenshot of that video on your flyer.

If people watched that video, would it make your brand stick in their minds?

That’s brand awareness! And it can work on a small scale or large scale.

Video is an excellent way to make it happen.

Increase sales

The sales process is a series of give-and-take actions.

It begins with a prospect standing outside your (virtual) store, looking in, scared to take a step too close lest some hungry salesman comes and pounces on them!

Sales begin with making a prospect less nervous and more willing to approach. This is done by conveying a message of safety and friendliness.

Nothing gets that message across like a light-hearted, easy-to-digest animated video.

And, with prospects more amenable to being spoken to, you can get your sales message across more effectively.

The way people buy, today, is completely different from the way they used to buy. Traditional salesmen are becoming an antique of the past. People research their products online now and, by the time they get to a store (whether virtual or brick-and-mortar) they likely already know what they want to buy.

Animated videos can get people from “interested” to “ready-to-buy” much faster.

Get more leads

A well-executed animated video can turn bland copy into the exciting copy. If an animated video is done in such a way that it makes the person feel welcome and improves the perception of your brand, that person is far more likely to interact with your brand after watching the video.

The best-animated videos will contain a call-to-action at the end. But not, if you please, a blunt and overly salesy call-to-action! The video itself should convince people to purchase simply because it is informative and entertaining.

What are animated videos used for?

What are animated videos used for

The explainer video

A common use of the animated video is to create explainer videos. These are videos which quickly explain a service or concept in a way that people can understand.

An explainer video establishes the problem and then provides a solution using appropriate music in the background, excellent voiceover and, of course, top-of-the-line animations.

A perfect example of this is the following video from Freighty, a shipping insurance app for eCommerce store owners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bknuFCQn4Y

Animated video commercials

Animating a commercial makes it fun and turns it into something memorable. Animated commercials tend to engage the audience better than traditional video. It also gets your brand out there without shoving it down people’s throats.

Animations are a great way to grab interest, and so this makes animated video commercials the perfect choice for advertising a brand.

Also, keep in mind that many video platforms will autoplay a video without the sound. Having a lighthearted animation playing is more likely to have that user click the unmute button to listen to what’s being said.

Mastercard nailed it with this animated video commercial which doesn’t come across as salesy at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUO3rhPK6GE

Animated product demos

Product demos can be done using animated videos.

Here’s a product demo for the Zmart remote. It was created in 2014 and could probably be done better using more current technology and tools.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7PnM0oLNqg

Animated onboarding videos

Introducing customers and new employees to new systems and technology can be a daunting task.

Animated videos are an excellent way to get a succinct message across to new employees or customers, onboarding them smoothly to your product, service, or their new role.

The animations used in these types of videos are virtually guaranteed to keep people’s attention and to give them as much information as possible in a short amount of time.

Here’s an onboarding animation video about…an onboarding system!

https://youtu.be/EiGejnB_puU

Other animated videos

There are literally as many possible choices for animated videos as there are for traditional videos.

What makes a great animated video?

The story

Small Business Insurance

First and foremost is the story.

Every great brand has a story, or should have one. And every great product should also have one.

It’s difficult to talk to anyone about Apple’s history without having them also talk about what a legend Steve Jobs was, or how Apple’s 1984 ad caused such a stir for decades to come, and put Apple on the map.

Great stories don’t just happen by themselves. And part of creating an awesome animated video for your business is to have an absolutely phenomenal script.

Work the script over until it’s perfect. If you’re unable to do that, then hire a professional script writer to do it for you.

This Microsoft and SHI explainer video has an excellent story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0f8fiHPeQc
  • Protagonist: IT Professional
  • Antagonist: Hackers
  • Problem: Being hacked
  • Rising story: Threats growing
  • Solution: The product being explained

It’s a great plot. It’s a great story. Hence, it’s a great animated video script.

The animations

Duh. Of course, the animations have to be great!

But they don’t just need to be great; they need to be stellar.

As competition in the animated video sector increases, so does the quality of animations.

There are even DIY animation companies popping up with millions of stock animations ready for you to use. These animations look fantastic.

And this makes competing with them even more difficult.

It’s the first rule of marketing: Be different. Stand out.

If you want to compete effectively in this field which is becoming more and more glutted, you need to have exquisite animations that really express the full arc of your video’s story.

The music

We searched for an animated video without music and couldn’t find a single one.

The music in an animated video has become so important that doing an animated video without excellent (and appropriate) music could be likened to stepping outside your door without trousers.

Animated videos tend to use quirky, upbeat music, even when describing a serious subject.

It might even be one of the reasons that people gravitate so much towards animated videos: Because they know they will get some reprieve in the video from the dreary and heavy drudgery they feel in day-to-day life.

Check out this Christie’s animated video. Don’t be fooled. There’s music in there; it just starts a few seconds into the video.

https://vimeo.com/181597583

And doesn’t it feel weird to watch those first few seconds without music?

Music is an absolute must in animated videos.

The length

Animated videos are not long. It’s rare to find a video that is longer than 90 seconds. Most are around the 75 seconds range.

The point of an animated video is to condense as much information as possible using multiple visual and audio cues. Animations can convey far more information per second than real footage can.

They don’t need to belong. And, if they’re starting to get too long, you should trim the script.

How to plan out an animated video

1. Script

Your animated video should tell a story. All successful marketing tells a story.

Remember that a story has a climax and a resolution. It must also contain conflict.

The best marketing videos include all of this. Be sure to incorporate all of these things when writing the script for your animated video.

2. Adding voice-over

It’s best to add the voice-over right at the beginning so you can build the animated video along with the voice-over content.

3. Storyboard and selecting animations

Usually, one does a storyboard to figure out what shots one is going to take out in the real world, with a video camera.

This is also the way it works when making an animated video, except all the shots one needs are right there in a collection of animations. (Unless, of course, you’re going to have everything hand-drawn — but that’s out of the scope of this article.)

Because the “shots” for your animated video are all right there, you can use those very shots to create your storyboard.

It’s a terribly time-consuming process, which is why we say that, for animated videos, you will either be playing with your money or your time.

4. Adding Music

Great animated videos contain music in the background. The music can be the same throughout the video or it can change. It’s up to you, and up to what message that video is trying to express in that particular scene.

Can you afford animated videos?

Can you afford animated videos

Gone are the days of needing to pay an exorbitantly priced animations studio for your animated videos.

With plenty of DIY Animated Video solutions popping up across the web, the opportunity to create an animated video is no longer only available to companies whose pockets drip with cash.

There is one caveat, however: Nothing of excellent quality is free.

The systems we talk about below are all priced relatively well considering what such a service used to cost a few years ago.

Having said that, even though these services are cheaper than getting an animated video created by professionals, what you don’t pay with money, you will pay with time.

Yes, you need to know that in order to avoid disappointment. The only service listed below where you will not pay with your time in order to get a professional product is our own Animated Videos Creation Service.

All the other services have a learning curve, and it’s crucial to work your way through that learning curve before disappointing yourself and creating substandard videos that actually end up harming your brand rather than helping it.

So, here are all the ways you can create an animated video for your business without having to pay with your arm and leg.

1. Start My Business’s Animated Video Creation Service

This is the only service on this page that is not a DIY service, so there’s no hidden cost of your time.

We offer a first-in-class animated video creation service at a staggeringly affordable price. Our service covers the full range of video creation from story development to animation, voiceover, professional music, you name it.

2. Wideo

Wideo is a DIY animated video-making service with features such as storyboard creation, text-to-speech functionality, a nifty colour-palette tool and, of course, animations.

They have a free tier which lets you create 45-second videos which contain the Wideo brand on it (not so great for business videos, so you’re probably going to need to get the paid version).

Their basic package allows you to export ten HD (not Full HD) videos of 1.5 minutes each month. The basic package only gives you access to twenty templates.

If you’re looking to create a serious amount of videos, you’ll probably need to get their pro package which is almost double the price of the basic package.

You can also upload video footage to include in the animated video.

 

3. Vyond

Vyond is an online tool that specialises in allowing people to make their own animated videos, particularly for marketing, training and eLearning.

They offer a library of templates, sounds and other assets to help you create a video.

They have no free plan but they do offer a trial version.

Their cheapest plan includes their branding on their video, so you’re likely going to be looking at their Premium Plan (next tier up) which will set you back more than twice as much as Wideo’s basic plan.

The Premium Plan lets you export in 1080p although you don’t get access to their “2D characters designed for a more modern look” unless you take the tier above that one…

As you can see, Vyond is a pricier option overall. Check it out and see if it works for what you need.

As mentioned previously, like all other services here (except the Start My Business service), there is also the “payment” of time you will need to make to learn how to use these tools like a pro.

4. Animaker

Animaker makes it easy to create simple videos using their drag-and-drop interface. You can build your own characters using their “Character Maker” tool, and all of it runs in the browser. The characters can even lip-sync!

The number of options in their various packages gets a little confusing, though, with only the most expensive ones including “commercial rights” — but it’s not entirely clear if that means you can use their videos for your business or not…

Anyway! They do give you the option to create animated videos if you’re so inclined.

Summary

Yes, you need to get into animated videos.

Yes, it will probably increase your sales.

No, it doesn’t need to be expensive.

Yes, you will pay with your time if you need to learn it yourself.

But it can be done, and you should definitely be doing it.

So, what are you waiting for? Lights, animations, action!

About author
Julia Richards
Julia Richards

Our head of content, Julia has spent the past 20 years assisting entrepreneurs with all aspects of business launch and growth strategies in various industries around the globe.

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