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7 Things to Consider Before Hiring an Animated Explainer Video Agency

If you’re using video to market your product or service, you’re not alone. 85% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool in 2018, up from 63% in 2017. That number will only grow as brands continue to explore how video can be used as a promotional, marketing and sales tool.

Just one way marketers are using video is to educate new users. In fact, 97% of marketers have done just that. Video is a great medium for educating users because you can deliver a lot of information in a short amount of time. These types of product education videos are called explainer videos, and they’re a creative and effective way to share what you do with the world. As an added bonus, the best ones are also pretty fun to watch.

If you’re interested in enhancing your marketing efforts with an explainer video, finding the right agency partner is a critical first step in the process. Partnering with a company that has the right balance of experience, creative chops and industry know-how can make or break your video. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide to finding the explainer video agency that’s right for you.

What Are Animated Explainer Videos?

Before you venture out to find an explainer video agency, you should first understand exactly what an explainer video is, and how it can help your business.

Many businesses with complex products – like SaaS, healthcare and service businesses – find it challenging to educate potential buyers on their product, unique value proposition and benefits. For example, a shoe company can very easily show photos of their sneakers in an advertisement, and quickly consumers “get it.” But with more complex companies, like a marketing automation platform, it’s challenging to explain the product quickly and in a compelling way that inspires the audiences to take action.

Enter: animated explainer videos. Unbound by the limitations of live video footage, animated explainer videos help brands quickly and simply explain what makes their product unique. What’s best is these videos are often entertaining to watch. Unique and branded illustration styles, energizing music selections and amusing movement add delight to the customer experience, keeping them engaged while you share your story.

An example of a great animated explainer video that does all these things is Spotify’s explainer video. When the company launched in the U.S., they didn’t need to explain what the platform actually did, which was stream music on demand. Instead, they wanted to promote key benefits – use Spotify from any device, listen to any song, and listen to it anytime. This simple, short and sweet animated explainer video hit the spot, allowing them to drive home their message without using traditional video footage.  

Another example of a great explainer video is Groupon’s. Sure, we all know what Groupon is now, but when the company was just starting out, they had to quickly tell their story in order to win customers. Their animated explainer video uses simple language and visuals to explain the product and describe how easy it is to use.

Explainer videos are more than fun marketing tools. They deliver serious results for companies. These videos can be used in the sales process, on social media and on your website to educate new users and drive conversions. 72% of businesses who use video believe that it has improved the conversion rate of their website, and 64% of businesses believe that video has directly increased sales, so you’re likely to see meaningful results fast.

Animated vs. Live Action Explainer Videos

There are good reasons to choose both animated and live action explainer videos, but many businesses opt for animated versions for several reasons.

Clarity

When you’re making an explainer video, the goal is for viewers to quickly and easily understand your message. Often times, that can be a challenge with live action videos. For example, showing video of a person using a computer with your software on the screen doesn’t help tell your story. Using animation, however, you can show the benefits of using your product – for example, sales increases, higher retention or increased profitability – through infographic style illustrations.

One company that leverages the power of clarity in animation is Mint. Their explainer video walks viewers through the product’s capabilities and hits home on key benefits like financial security and retirement planning – things you can’t show as easily with live action video. They feature images of the interface to give viewers an idea of what it looks like, but don’t rely solely on visuals of their own product to tell the story.

Cost

Cost savings is another reason many companies opt for animated explainer videos. Live video production shoots come with lots of costs – talent, equipment, location fees and more can rack up a hefty bill. Meanwhile, 95% of businesses spend less than $5,000 on a one minute explainer video.

An animated video can often be completed on a smaller budget because the scope is more constrained. Instead of having an on-location video shoot with a crew and actors, an animated video is created by a motion graphics designer using digital tools. It’s often a simpler and faster approach, which leads to a smaller overall budget.

Customization

The potential outcomes for an explainer video are nearly limitless. Motion graphics professionals can tailor the illustration style, colours, music and voice over to fit your brand exactly. An animated video can feel highly technical and sophisticated, fun and playful, or serious and somber. Any and all are easily achieved with the power of animation.

A great example of customised animation styling is IT-MAN’s explainer video. Their video uses a unique and nostalgic 16-bit video game illustration style. It stars an IT professional who battles obstacles throughout his workday, losing energy along the way – until he discovers Panorama 9, the company’s platform that solves all the hero’s woes. Its humorous tone and unique illustration style make the video not only memorable and fun to watch, but effective at conveying a meaningful message.

Changeability

Your business and the way you explain your value is going to continue to grow and change. You may add new products or features in the next 12 months, and revisit your messaging. With an animated explainer video, your video content can grow with your brand.

Live action videos require a lot of planning – props, settings, actors and lighting must all be carefully planned to get the right shot. And after you collect your footage, it’s difficult and expensive to recreate the shoot. This means your live action explainer video won’t be flexible over time, because you can’t easily shoot and add new footage.

With an animated video, however, you can quickly change the voiceover and graphics to reflect a change in your product. Adding a new feature to your software platform? No problem. A motion graphics designer can go into the original file and add new content.

What to Consider When Selecting the Right Partner

Once you’ve decided an animated explainer video is right for your business, you can set out to find an agency partner. But how do you know what partner is right for you? There are hundreds of options, so it can be hard to find the right fit for your company and needs. As you search for your explainer video agency, take these factors into consideration.

1. They have a great portfolio

As an initial step when scoping out a potential video agency, you should ask to see examples of their work. Many companies will host their portfolio on their website, but you may need to ask if you want to see a video tailored for a specific industry. This will help you get a sense for the quality of their work, the variety of their animation styling and how they tailor each video to meet the needs of the brand they’re representing.

While you’re watching, keep an eye out for the nuances that make quality animated videos truly great – seamless transitions, thoughtful sound effects, a well-paced voice over and quality scripting are the difference between average and excellence in video.

2. They have a good reputation

Quality work alone doesn’t mean an agency will be great to work with. Before you select your partner, do a little research on your own. Take a look at online review platforms or do a quick Google search to see what people online are saying about them. You can also use LinkedIn to get a little more personal; see if you have any connections who know someone at the firm you’re considering, and ask for their opinion on the agency’s reputation.

3. Your budgets match up

Video agencies come in all shapes and sizes – and so do their price points. An animated video can cost anywhere from $700 to $72,000, so it’s important to align on cost early. While it will be hard for an agency to give you a final price during your initial conversations, you can ask them for a range of what a typical project like yours costs. You should also come to the table with an acceptable budget range in mind. This will give you an idea early on if you’re compatible partners, and save you both time if you’re on different pages.

4. They have a proven process

A great explainer video agency will have an established process that they’ve perfected over time. This should include essential steps in the video production process, like script writing, storyboarding, animation, voiceover and soundtrack selection. While every agency’s process might be a little different, if you talk to an agency who can’t clearly articulate their process, that’s a sign your project won’t be thoughtfully planned – which could lead to missed deadlines or budget overages. The agency should also give you a turnaround time, letting you know how long it will take from inquiry to completion of the video. This could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 12 weeks for a 60 second explainer video.

5. They tell a great story

First and foremost, an explainer video should tell a story. Even with quality graphics, slick motion, powerful voiceover and energetic music, your explainer video won’t work for you unless it sells your story. When you’re looking through a company’s portfolio, don’t just watch the videos – listen for how they craft a story. How do they set up the problem? How do they position the solution? How do they build value?

One great example of how to tell a story through video is Hubspot’s explainer video. As you watch this video, notice how they set up the problem and the customer’s pain points before introducing their product, and then later on make it clear how their product solves those exact pain points. That’s the kind of story you want to tell.

6. You like working with them

It may sound simple, but this point is critical to the success of your project. Just like any business relationship, you want to work with a company that not only does great work, but is fun and easy to work with. Do you enjoy your meetings and phone calls? Do you find it easy to have conversations with the people you’re working with? Trust your gut and ensure you share similar values and working styles before selecting your partner. If you don’t enjoy working with them, odds are you’ll grow to resent the project itself, and the results will show that.

7. The lines of communication are open

Communication is a critical factor in an agency relationship. You should feel comfortable being open and honest with your agency partner, and it should feel easy to communicate. If emails seem like a struggle, meetings drag on or questions don’t seem to be answered, you can anticipate those issues will continue. Save yourself the headache; if it doesn’t feel right early on, find a partner you naturally communicate well with.

Selecting a video agency is important, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There are plenty of resources available to help you select the right partner. If you’re searching for the right animation agency to make your explainer video, revert back to the tips in this article and download How to Choose the Right Animation Company, an e-book with more tips and tricks for you to use during your search.

Sam Parker

Sam Parker

Sam Parker is a digital and brand marketer. She has worked with leading companies across tech, healthcare, manufacturing and retail to bring brands to life through digital media. Her background includes work with some of the most respected brands across a variety of verticals, including L’Oréal, Victoria’s Secret, US Foods and AZEK Building Products.

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