In very late 2013, The Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media published the findings from their “2013 Online Video Marketing Survey and Business Video Trends Report." [Note: they have since changed the year of this report to 2014.]
The findings were overwhelmingly positive.
- 93% of marketers were using video in their campaigns
- 84% were using video for website marketing
- 70% would increase their spend on video in the year to come
And yet, as old man 2014 handed the baton to baby 2015 – there were a slew of articles on marketing blogs anointing 2015 as the year of video marketing.
That’s great and all – but did we skip a year? Is video marketing not as popular and ubiquitous as it seemed to be? If so, why not?
Are the use cases not clear? Are the plethora of new, inexpensive, simple and powerful cloud-based tools not as well known as they should be? As an industry, have we not made the case that video isn’t so hard?
These are the questions we seek to answer within this post.
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The Big Easy – Using Animated Video in the CloudIt’s easy to produce video now.
Video used to be cutting edge. It used to be the preserve of the big-budgeted, big-teamed consumer-marketing behemoths.
It used to be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to produce.
That was before Obama’s hair turned grey.
Since then, the wheels of technological innovation have turned to the point where any marketer with any budget can create, publish, distribute and measure the performance of videos.
>> Apologize to President Obama <<
Keep it simple with animated video
The first decision you can make to simplify your video workflow is to produce an animated video instead of a live action video.
Animation is a lot easier to manage, since you’re not at the mercy of elements beyond your control -- such as weather, cast, crew, shooting locations, equipment malfunctions or even dropping your iPhone into a glass of water.
Further simplifying animated video production is the rise of cloud-based, DIY tools like GoAnimate. Not only do these tools reduce complexity through their use of simple drag and drop capabilities, they also slash the cost to the bone and reduce the time required to a couple of hours.
Furthermore, auto-save routines, revision histories and built-in collaboration features mean that other stakeholders are never out of the loop. Video is not only easy, it has emerged from the dreaded “black box.”
Let your creative side run wild
There are also creative reasons you might prefer animated video to live action. You can tell bigger, bolder stories with animation, freed from the constraints of day-to-day reality.
Need to zoom in from the Moon to your car? No problem. Need to bring technology to life with dancing bits or electrons? No problem. You are limited by neither the need to assemble everything in front of a camera nor the laws of physics. The sky is no longer the limit.
Animated videos also have benefits with regards to on-camera narrators or dialogue-based scenes between characters. It’s human nature to evaluate new people.
Trot a real-life host or actor into a video and the audience is going to spend a bit of time deciding if they like him/her. Is she sincere? Is he weird? What’s with that awkward hand gesture? The viewer may ultimately invest in the on-camera talent. Viewer engagement will be achieved slowly, if at all.
With animated characters, this evaluation process is bypassed. Sure, our fond memories of Saturday morning cartoons play a role. But it’s more than that.
The abstraction from detail inherent in animation (especially 2D animation) somehow changes the host or character from an “other” into an accessible “everyman” or “everywoman” in whom we can easily invest. Viewer engagement is achieved quickly and effectively.
>> Shout out to Go Animate <<
Try it -- you'll like it!
Now that you’re feeling enabled, what can and should you do with animated videos?
Here are a 4 suggestions to get you started:
- Put an explainer video on your home page. Use a short (less than 2 min) video that quickly describes your value proposition. Make it too short and there might not be enough information to convince viewers to learn more. Make it too long and they might not stay until the end. You want them to reach the end of the video and see your call-to-action while they are still enthused and motivated to learn more.
- Put customized videos on paid campaign landing pages. This traffic will be, on average, less brand-aware and a bit more jumpy than your home page traffic. So your videos should be shorter. More importantly, they should be customized to match the creative in your ads. If you’ve just promised the world’s first could-based doohickey, the video better mention “The world’s first cloud-based doohickey” in the first ten seconds. According to Unbounce, using videos on landing pages can boost conversion up to 80%.
- Videos in your emails. Quick! Picture an email newsletter. What’s in your mind’s eye? I bet it’s a lot of text. So you know where I’m going with this... IF your email gets opened, pictures will certainly help with engagement and click through. What will help more? Pictures with "Play" buttons on them. Research by Brainshark shows the use of video increases open rates by 20% and CTRs by 2-3x.
- Spice up your content marketing. Content marketing has gone mainstream. Audiences are overwhelmed with company missives softly promising a bit of learning or an interesting read. How can your voice be heard? Don’t promise a “read”. Promise a “watch”. It’s not that we’re all tv-watching morons. Quite the opposite.
Your audience is most likely filled with hard-working professionals trying to squeeze in a bit of professional development on the train, over a coffee or late at night.
A productive 2-minute “lean back” experience will stand out... and be very welcome.
Get back to leaning back with video graphics
Infographics used to be the content marketing spice – the enjoyable (yet productive) 'lean back' experience. They were a pleasant jaunt through some interesting data. They looked nice and guided your eye.
Then infographics became a victim of their own success.The volume skyrocketed. The quality plummeted. Design principles found themselves trumped by the glam of data cram. As a result, readers put up defenses. Their behavior changed.
Instead of following the viewing path implied by the designer, they rushed to “pan and scan." If nothing looked cool in the first glance, they were gone. If it did, they completed the rushed viewing, perhaps retaining a quick stat out of context.
Engagement is down. Retention is down. Clicks are down. Sharing is down.
As marketers, how can we turn back the clock and convince our audiences to can the “pan and scan” and again feel comfortable “leaning back”?
How strong is the pull of the video player? Diode Digital (as reported by Single Grain) found that 60% of site visitors will watch a video before reading any text.
This pull is due to the promise of an immersive, rich media experience. Video can provide the high-quality guided tour through data that quality design used to provide.
Data visualization is still a big part of the aesthetic -- but the linear nature of video allows you to control the pace of data visualization by varying the speed of the chart builds, duration of the scene transitions, pace of the narration, tempo of the music and even the sprinkling of sound effects to accentuate key points.
The possibility of using narration provides an added benefit, as well – reduced clutter. As a video infographics producer you have the option to employ words using voiceover narration, text on screen or a combination of both.
Each has implications for both design and pace. Both are valuable tools.
The Big Easy – Using Animated Video in the Cloud
There’s no time like the present.
- If you're not yet convinced of video’s power as a marketing medium, take a look at this very recent content marketing trends report produced by CMI and MarketingProfs
- If you're not yet convinced that video is no longer difficult, time-consuming and expensive, please visit sites like GoAnimate, Vidyard and Wistia.
- And if you're not a believer in the power of animation, please wake up! Take your kid to a movi-E or stay up late and re-watch this classic.
Are you a believer or not?
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