“Visual marketing is an easy, effective and versatile tool for driving growth and engagement. It can boost ROI in every aspect of business communication and digital marketing,” says Helm member Christine MacKay. MacKay is founder of business animation studio salamandra.uk. As well as running Salamandra, MacKay recently published a book, Destination Animation, on how and when to use business animation.
Helm is the UK's favourite peer-to-peer network for business founders and MacKay recently ran a session for members outlining the advantages of using all forms of visual marketing.
What is business animation?
Animation for business is a powerful marketing tool that helps businesses and marketers share stories and complicated ideas to their target audience in an easy-to-comprehend, memorable and engaging manner, says MacKay.
As she explains, visual marketing covers a wide range of content types, “It can be used for anything from social media posts, to full-length animated corporate explainer and training videos to TV ads or animated presentations.”
And she is confident that animation can help founders meet some of the most pressing marketing challenges, such as how to achieve cut through in a noisy, hyper-competitive world, how to target the right audience and how to generate high-quality leads and boost sales.
Visual marketing, in its simplest form is the use of images, videos and other pieces of multimedia content to strengthen your brand and communicate with the target audience. It should always be part of an established marketing strategy and not separate from it. Visual marketing allows you to explain complex subjects and concepts in an engaging, easily digestible way.
Key benefits of incorporating visual into your marketing
Visual marketing assets, and animation in particular, are perfect tools for today’s marketers, says MacKay. "Animation breaks down language barriers, can be created remotely, which helps in the current circumstances and is hugely advantageous for people who want to market internationally, or to a wider audience. Plus, the assets created are editable and can be cost-effectively re-used and updated to maintain the right look and feel as your campaign or messages change."
Best of all it doesn't take a Hollywood budget to create breathtaking scenes for ads or explainers. In fact it can reduce costs considerably, says MacKay. "With animation and digital design there's no need to fly out to expensive locations. Everything from grass to hairstyles can be recreated by animators."
Visual marketing boosts brand personality by making your business and message more memorable.
MacKay points to studies showing that viewers retain 65% of information three days later when its paired to a video image, compared to 10% when reading text alone. "Just imagine reading a script for a TV series versus watching the episodes. There’s a big difference. These visual assets are also extremely shareable on social media platforms and can be incorporated into important conversion drivers such as websites, email campaigns, presentations and pitches.
"You typically have four seconds to convert a visitor once they land on your website before they move on. An explainer video on your homepage increases that to 10 seconds. It’s still not much, but it’s more than doubling brand exposure and stickiness. Including a video on your landing page can boost your conversion rate by up to 80%."
MacKay adds that video also increases organic search traffic on a website by 157%, with 64% of people more likely to complete an action, whether that's to fill out a contact form or complete a purchase, once they've watched a video.
Forrester Research found that video increases the chances of a front page Google result by 53 times. So using animation to explain the benefits of your product or service makes viewers more likely to watch than they are to read the same content on your website. It allows your message to get across in an engaging way while the user learns more about your business.
How to incorporate visual marketing into your business communication and digital marketing
MacKay says business animation falls into six categories that cover every aspect of internal and external business communication. The most successful brands are the ones you recognise. And that's because they use these six pillars by condensing content into something visually gripping and engaging, that's easily processed and memorable.
1. Corporate videos: This includes anything from TV ads and explainer videos to filmed interviews, bumpers, stings, education and onboarding videos. Research suggests global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by the end of 2022. Videos are becoming more accessible and can be used to communicate complex messages with a human touch. A 60-second video is worth 1.8 million words. Try fitting that much text onto your website's homepage. And spare a thought for TV ads. Many people don't know TV advertising is no longer prohibitively expensive. It's become much easier for businesses, even very small ones to reach a desired audience with TV ads that are cost-effective and highly targeted. There are affordable TV advertising solutions that target households with Sky TV and Virgin Media subscriptions tailored to a region or specific demographic. It can cost as little as £3k, which makes it something to consider.
2. Product visualisations: This covers everything from 3D product rendering and product explosions to architectural visualisations and fly throughs. Do you want to show off your product from all angles, will it bring a concept to life for an advertising campaign? Such visualisations are fantastic when pitching for investment to show how a product will function and look. Products with the addition of 360 degree animation on product pages have seen a 20% increase in conversion rates and have lower product returns.
3. Visual campaigns: This includes branding, online content and print. Animated social media posts are some of the most shared content and can be a cost-effective way to make your brand recognisable. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and identify a visual symbol like a logo in just 250 milliseconds. This is useful in a competitive market, it's important to ensure your brand looks trustworthy, legitimate and is positively representing your product and values.
4. Presentations: When you're doing a pitch, whether it’s for funding or to close a big client sale, your mission is to stand out and make the presentation do the lifting. Animated presentations can increase audience attention, while getting your message across. Many marketers are now opting for hybrid events, allowing attendees to join virtually and in person. Virtual experiences allow you to recreate a keynote animated presentation on a virtual stage. You can control slides within your virtual staging and present virtually. You can even have a hologram or avatar of yourself.
5. Design and illustration. When your business has lots of information to convey, you need it to be compact, easily digestible and shareable. This is where illustrated content like GIFs or infographics and illustrations come in. Infographics and gifs are ideal for presenting stats and instructional content. They can represent data or a user journey. Infographics and gifs can be based in typography, icons or illustration. And remember, 65% of buyers are visual learners, meaning they absorb most information when they look at an image. Research has proven that implementing visuals like infographics increases website traffic by up to 12%.
6. Immersive experiences. Consumers are spoiled. In the candy shop of visual marketing, immersive experiences would be the salted caramel chocolate bar. Bespoke AR and VR experiences have become more prevalent, even before the metaverse. IKEA’s “try it in your home” feature, where users are able to place furniture pieces created with photorealistic CGI into their home via AR using their phones is just one example. AR and VR are both great for placing customers in any environment you want them to be both physically and emotionally.