So the question isn’t ‘do I use video for digital marketing?’ but ‘what kind of video shall I use?’ Most people are naturally going to gravitate towards live video. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The thing is, is have you considered animated videos? Done well they can really shine. But can they compete? That’s what we’re going to look at today.
First, let’s explore some of the companies out there:
Six of the best ones out there
Goanimate: This cartoon maker doesn’t require learning any code, which lowers the barrier to entry and has been at the top of the market segment for quite some time. They’re good for small businesses and freelancers who make a lot of videos. They aren’t exactly cheap, though, at $79 a month.
Wideo: Here you can make 45 seconds videos for free. If you want to make more you’re going to have to pay. It’s the same for downloading your video. That’s $49 a pop, or you take a monthly subscription for $19 a month.
Animaker: With this software package it’s very easy to make quick videos. The simpler ones you can even make for free. If you want to download the video you have to sign up for a plan again, which costs you $9 a month.
Powtoon: Admittedly this is more a slideshow platform than an animation studio, but that might make it more accessible to you. And the slideshows are pretty good. Again, you can’t download the package without paying.
Moovly: This platform can largely be used completely for free, which makes it quite interesting for the budget strapped, or for those who want to give it a try before deciding if it’s really for them. More options can be bought with credits, which can be earned via actions.
Animatron: This is an easy-to-use animation maker allows you to create animated explainer videos, HTML5 banners, GIFs and other video content. You can create up to five projects with the free plan; if you need more projects, it's $15 a month.
Okay, next let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using animation services like these.
It’s a lot cheaper
Even the most expensive of these isn’t going to cost you close to as much as a professional video. That means you can take advantage of the video craze without forking over a serious dough. This will allow you to experiment and try out combinations.
You could even consider using one of these videos as a placeholder while you’re working on getting something better produced without it putting a big hole in your pocket.
It isn’t for every brand
At the same time, an animation will not work for every brand. Though it will probably work for more than we give it credit for if well done, some brands are and will always be too serious for something like this.
Want to know if your brand is too serious for animation? Then consider going online and searching around among companies similar to your own and seeing if any of them have gone the animation route. If they have, you can then see if it actually works for them or if it didn’t at all. In this way, you’ll have an insight without having to invest all the time necessary in learning how to use one of these software packages.
Because let’s be clear about it, they might claim to be easy, but to get a decent video out of any of these animation studies is still going to be an investment of time.
A joke falling flat, an explanation drawing more question marks than nods, or a word choice having some unexpected undertone that you’d rather not have? Then change the video! That’s something that you can do much easier with an animation than with a normal video. After all, with a normal video you have to get back the same actors, dress than in the same way, return to the same location and hope for the same light, with an animation you have none of those problems.
All you do is jump back into the animation, open your file and shuffle around the bits until they are how they’re supposed to be. And hey presto! You’re done.
The advantage of that is obvious. It allows you to test run videos, see how they work out and then tinker with them based on what people think. If you haven’t done that much in this business yet, that can be a real boon.
If poorly done it can harm your brand
At the same time, if it doesn’t look good, then it can do more harm to your brand than not having a video at all. And with animation, there is always a risk it doesn’t look good, particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you’re using one of the basic platforms.
Now that obviously isn’t and can never be the goal. It might therefore, be a good idea to sit down with a group of people and really analyze if the animation you’ve created is actually good enough to appear online.
Just a warning, do not rely on your own judgment if you were intimately involved. Your own judgments of projects you’ve been involved with are always suspected as it’s hard to disentangle the process of creating the video from how good the video actually is.
You can be creative without needing a massive budget
Another advantage of an animation is that it costs you the same no matter how left field you decide to be. That’s obviously not true of a live action video. After all, with them, you need to find the right locations and pay for the special effects.
That means that if your goal is producing creative video content you’re going to be in a much better position to do so with animation. Just want to create two people sitting at a desk and talking? Then live action is probably the way to go.
Somebody will have to learn to animate
Yes, the new animation platforms make things a lot easier. You don’t have to learn any complicated code, or understand the difficult jargon. That said, if you want it to look good, somebody is going to have to spend some serious time getting used to the platform, learning the principles of animation and everything else that’s involved in getting the video to work well.
And time is money, particularly in a company where employees actually get paid for what they’re supposed to do.
What’s more, just because somebody says they’ll be able to do something good with an animation doesn’t mean they actually will be able to. There’s always a risk that they overestimate their own creativity or their capacity to learn the ins and outs of the platform and that the end product won’t live up to anybody’s expectations. That can be a real drag.
So should you or shouldn’t you?
It obviously depends on what business you’re in. For some businesses, the answer will almost always be ‘you shouldn’t’, while other businesses are in a much better position to try this kind of thing. Even if you’re in a sector that does allow it, there are some other things to consider.
Is the person who is going to do the work creative enough and do they understand what they’re doing? Because if they’re not, chances are the end product is going to be derivative and uninteresting. And that can do more harm than good.
Do they have the time and the support to make it work? If they’re supposed to squeeze the animation in between 20 other tasks that need to get done today, then they’re going to struggle to give the project the attention it needs. And especially on the first video, where the learning curve is going to be the steepest, that will show.
Do you have a supportive culture? Because if whoever is making the video is more afraid of getting chewed out than inspired to do something brilliant, then animation simply isn’t the way to go. In that case, consider doing something more traditional.
Elaina Meiser is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about everything worth reading in the digital marketing sphere. She also strives to share her own perspective about personal and professional development. You can follow her on Twitter @ElainaMeiser