Animation: The Future of Digital Marketing
Animation: The Future of Digital Marketing
That’s a bold title, I know.
And while animated video may not encompass all that the future of Digital Marketing will hold for us, I am sure now after more than a decade in the creative industries, that animation will play a very big role. So sure in fact, that after years running digital agency Sugar Rush Creative, I have recently launched our new business; Animate Studios.
It will specialise in, you guessed it, animation services.
The Power of Animated Marketing
If Marketing is part-Science and part-Art, then animation is the perfect fusion of the two.
Currently animation is a drop-down option under the umbrella of video marketing. Considering 90% of the processed information in our brains is visual, then those are the options we want to be choosing for biggest impact.
When we look broadly at what makes a successful marketing campaign, we know it needs to work on three levels – technical, psychological and emotional. Animation ticks all these boxes.
While people might imagine that hiring a team like ours of graphic designers, motion picture and sound specialists will cost the Earth, the truth is we can now technically produce high quality animation at a faction of the price of making live action video look high-end. We can achieve greater effects than we can in the real world too, because our 2D animated characters can go beyond the realms of science fact. They can fly, they can die and be reborn, they can do pretty much anything needed to tell a story. 3D animation too is becoming more financially accessible and is the perfect tool to create lifelike prototypes and explain complex business concepts.
And that’s where the psychology comes in: visual storytelling. Animation makes it easier to tell an engaging story. Illustrations have a deeper affect on us than live action. Through use of symbolism, colour and filter, angle and expression, and sheer simplicity, animation can portray emotion, context and story very quickly. It taps into a sort of universal form of communication that humans have been using since the dawn of time. Animation crosses cultures and mentalities to deliver messages effectively.
Finally, there’s emotion. Animation touches us in ways no other medium does. Maybe it goes back to the days before kids’ Netflix and the euphoria of a Saturday morning spent watching our favourite cartoons. Maybe it’s the science behind colour and sound and how it affects even the youngest newborns as they learn to make sense of the world. Whatever it is, there was no doubt before the Pixar age – and there is no doubt now after – that animation can take us on an immersive journey.
Animation in Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland film industry is the obvious choice for plaudits when it comes to global recognition of our creative sectors. But look to the field of animation and you’ll find the unsung work quietly building momentum. And it’s a very exciting place to be just now.
Northern Irish animation studios are receiving award nominations at the highest level from EMMY to BAFTA and the demand for these services is mounting outside the entertainment sector too. The rise in digital and social platforms as a vital marketing channel for businesses in every sector is pushing them to find new and engaging ways to communicate online.
Animation is a great tool for businesses to use because it has reached a level of public acceptance where we understand it, we’re used to seeing it, and we respect it as a skilled production. But it also brings benefits beyond live action videos and advertisements, not least the ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple, quick way. That is really important for catching those first few seconds of consumer attention online before they scroll.
More and more businesses in Northern Ireland are now asking to take their online messaging to the next level. Social media imagery isn’t enough, they want their own Snapchat geofilters. Display advertisements aren’t converting, they need moving illustrations to attract attention. Website service pages aren’t engaging enough, they want animated explainer videos.
The Effectiveness of Video Marketing
In terms of business benefits, the numbers would suggest that animation is a worthwhile investment from marketing budgets, with animated explainer videos on landing pages increasing conversion rates by up to 80% according to Unbounce.
Studies like Kissmetrics’ also regularly show figures of consumers who feel more likely to purchase after watching a video, often as high as between 64-85%.
Short animations like explainers have become a trendy marketing tool but they take effort and knowledge to work well. They include elements like script writing, storyboard drafting, designing original illustrations, delivering a voice over and creating animation ready for web.
On social media, video is ruling the roost. Facebook has now overtaken YouTube in terms of both video uploads and viewers, claiming more than 8 billion average daily views from it’s 500 million strong user-base.
Some of the most famous viral video successes just happen to be animated, too. Like the city of Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die” train safety campaign which has now been viewed over 146 million times. A potentially life-saving message told powerfully without statistics, fake blood or voiceovers.
Likewise in email marketing, video is boosting campaign interactions. According to Hubspot, video content in email marketing can yield click-through rates 200-300% higher than traditional emails.
Of course while all of this engagement is powerful, we keep in mind the goal of most marketers in bringing people back to the website, to convert interest to sales. Animation makes a huge difference here for SEO, too.
When videos are hosted on your website, then each embedding elsewhere is a signal back to Google. And Google tends to rank video content higher anyway. Because people enjoy it, they share it, they stay longer on websites to watch it. That makes them more likely to show it high in search results.
According to ComScore a visitors’ average attention span on a website is about 8 seconds, while, with an explainer video, visit time increases to 2 minutes on average. That’s a 1,500% increase.
All of this isn’t new, of course. Some of the most successful startups have been utilising video marketing communications for years. Popular online file storage/sharing company Dropbox were one of the first to experiment with animated marketing videos. Their “What is Dropbox?” video has been viewed over 7million times on YouTube and saw a 10% conversion increase equating to $50 million in additional revenue in 2012 alone.
But visual storytelling will be where we see the biggest innovations in Digital Marketing this year and beyond. YouTube Live, Google Cardboard, VR headsets, interactive infographics, they are all pushing the boundaries of how we entertain and educate modern audiences online.
For businesses big and small, the impact and efficiency of animation make it one of the most obvious choices currently in that Digital Marketing video drop-down menu.
Try it and see for yourself.
Find out more about how animation is shaping Digital Marketing practices at Digital DNA 2017 coming this June 6-7 to St George’s Market Belfast. Get your pass now!
Alistair MacFarlane is Creative Director at Sugar Rush Creative. With 19 years of commercial experience Alistair’s latest venture – Animate Studios – is a production company creating animated explainer videos, demo videos, and corporate marketing videos.