Releasing a new product? Need your first product explaining? Want to reach a wider audience through animated video? This guidebook was written for you (so long as you’re a fintech). Product animations can be some of the most lucrative video investments as they help at multiple stages of the funnel from sales right through to support. Anyway, this guide isn’t to sell, it’s here to help you through product animations for fintechs and everything you need to know if you’re thinking about working on one, or you are. The what, where, why and how are all here.👇
Sometimes simply referred to as “explainer animations”, product animations are a form of content that explains your product with a voiceover and 2D or 3D visuals. They can be a literal explanation of your product or be more abstract. This flexibility makes animations a perfect way to explain tricky financial concepts or visualise tech, or a use-case scenario.
There are multiple ways you could frame a product animation, you could use them to:
There are variations from this list too. You can create the environment of your choice with animation so the potential is quite limitless. This ability to create visuals to your desire makes animation brilliant for brand explainers too - but that’s for another guide.
Here’s an example of a product explainer we animated for MotoMoney:
Back to the guidebook…
We’ve structured the guidebook to go through the basics and then into the nitty gritty of how to make this content format work. By the end of this, you should have the bare bones of a solid brief or actionable thing that will help you take the next step. You can skip to the section you care most about here or get ready for about 22 minutes of reading.
We’ll summarise each section too, you’ll notice these in the colour boxes - so feel free to skim until you’ve got the info you need. Here’s what’s to come:
01 - Why do fintechs use product animations?
02 - What do you need to create a strong product animation?
03 - How should you use and distribute product animations?
04 - How to measure and incrementally improve product animations
We’re sure you’re quite aware of this, as it’s likely why you’re here! But fintech is a space crowded with complex APIs, applications and beyond that can make understanding how products or features work more difficult for the person who might be responsible for sourcing your tech.
Product animations don’t just help better explain and demo products, they also tick another box - video content.
According to HubSpot, "73% more visitors who watch product videos will make a purchase."
In other words: a landing page without a product video might get 3 in every 50 visitors converting. That same landing page, with a product video (on average), would have 5 in every 50 visitors convert. If that page generated around 700 visits a month, adding a product video would take it from 42 conversions to 70; not an increase to sniff at.
While you might not be at the size to have product owners or product marketers in an isolated role, it doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of strengthening your product marketing.
The goals of product marketing include:
Showcasing your product benefits and features is only going to smoothen the buyer’s journey and with 55% of purchase journeys now including some form of a review video, it’s tried and tested.
Video content is the most engaged-with content right now. So much so that every social media channel is scrambling to compete with one another over it. But that’s not important. What’s important is that your clients are more likely to expect or want video content. And when there’s a motivation for something, matching that motivation equals much higher engagement.
We’ll talk about repurposing a little later in this guide, but cutting up and redistributing your content through video has plenty of benefits. You can quickly showcase elements of your product across multiple channels effectively, and can begin to quickly segment your audience into “passive” and “active” with the first set getting introduction explainers, and the latter getting more specific use cases.
One of the best ways to increase your market share is to expand your customer base to include similar people who aren’t yet your customers. Sounds obvious right? But there’s very likely a segment of people who know you exist but don’t understand or value your product so haven’t pulled the trigger on working with you yet.
Similar to the above point, there could be instances where those people who weren’t yet your customers could have been married to legacy products from their vendors. They might have been looking for more insight before they pulled the trigger, or maybe just needed a little more connection to the brand behind the product before they reached out. Or they could have just been looking for a slick and condensed way to sell your product to a stakeholder.
Aside from the team and the skillset, some foundational things come together to create a strong product animation.
Start by having a strong brand and product
Great foundations pave the way to awesome animations.
Because explainer animations are an extension of your brand and product - those things are going to need to be well-defined. That means positioning.
When we’re talking brand, you’ll get the best results by knowing:
When we’re talking product, you’ll get the best results by knowing:
We’re not going to go into the specifics of the above points in this guide, but we have put together separate guides for both branding and animation and product positioning.
If you want an in-depth guide to work through prepping and writing your animation script - we’ve got you covered there.
Personally, we like to take ownership of the script for the projects we work on. Writing for animation and scripts, in general, is a skill, and although anyone can apply themselves to it, we think that a specialist's eye will help creatively. However, if you’re looking to contribute, or are confident in your ability to write a script, we’ll give you an abridged version of the considerations we take:
Know who you’re talking to
With your brand defined, you’ll have a hero audience segment defined. Assuming you’re looking to talk to those people, it would be good to think about:
Consider the goal of the video in your script
In some instances, this will be very straightforward. You’ll want the viewer to hit the “book demo” button. Or you’ll want them to have a better understanding of your product.
Sounds obvious right? But a number of scripts come to us including heavy jargon or absolutely no inclusion (even subtly) of the next steps. It’s worth reviewing the goals as you draft the script.
Product explainers should tell your audience exactly how a product works and shares the story behind your brand using a combo of audio and text. Often, explainer videos are what convince a human to purchase.
Think about the narrator
We’ve all listened to something where we’ve struggled with the narration, and we’ve all listened to David Attenborough narrate his way to our hearts. Just us? Oh.
Still, think about who’s going to read your script specifically their:
Get stakeholder sign-off or buy-in for your approach
Once the initial script is locked in, it’s much more difficult to change direction. Everything the designers and animators do will rotate around your script from storyboarding to animation. So, avoiding u-turns or dramatic changes will avoid adding a time delay to your project.
After the initial brainstorming sessions (the above points), we normally get stuck into the script for our clients. But if you’re looking to have a go at the first draft, or have an in-house team looking for some advice, here’s what we’d suggest:
Outline your script thinking of the big things first
Your animators are going to be looking for imagery and verbs (doing words) in your script to build a series of stills from. Those stills (the storyboard) will turn into your animated video. So try to paint a picture in your script; help your animators pick our key language and focus points to work on.
Write drunk, edit sober.
Ernst Hemingway said it best. Try and get your first draft out all at once instead of trying to perfect it in one go.
You can come back later to edit it. And we’d recommend you do that after a time away from looking at it. A sleep, maybe two. If you sit and obsess over it for the whole day, you’re far less likely to see little mistakes and sentences that don’t read right.
When you come to your edit, read it out loud. You’ll find you naturally trip over clunky sentences and will hear when something doesn’t work. Amend as you see fit! Of course, leaning on a specialist or another team member is an option too, but we’d suggest making sure a draft you’re happy with is in place first. Edit intentionally for the voice you’re trying to achieve.
There aren’t many instances where your animators or creative wouldn’t be taking care of storyboarding, but in case you’d like a crack at it or want to learn the process here’s our advice:
Think about your key messages or scenes first
The storyboard is a series of thumbnails that should flow like a comic - painting the picture of your animation to come. They’re generally rough sketches that pull the story of your script together:
Animation is built around key messages or images. Once your script is finalised, you’ll have an idea of where and what these sections are. By splitting your script into sections of imagery you can begin putting together your ideas.
Focus on sentences with a clear image, or verbs (actions) that can be brought into motion. For instance, you might talk about “flipping reality on its head” or “building a strong community”, both of which have strong animation potential.
Make sure each thumbnail flows into the next
As we mentioned above, you want to think of the storyboard as if it’s a comic. With one action flowing into the next. So make sure that your ideas aren’t completely contradictory, or form stills that look unnatural next to one another; a series of disconnected thumbnails might lead to your animation feeling a little stilted.
Remember, you don’t need to capture everything
See the first point! You need to think about key moments of messaging and imagery. Any transitions or in-between narration can be handled by your animation team; if they’re not already handling the entire process!
If you know what jobs your target audience is trying to do, you’ll know exactly how your product or service helps them. Try to make both your script and animation as relatable as possible in that sense:
The above animation we worked on does a few things, it:
It achieves those things by nano-focusing on the customer it’s trying to reach, the problems they might be facing and their jobs to be done.
We’ve put another guide together about the length of video Vs engagement if you want more detail.
But the rule is short and snappy wins the… video? Wistia’s research across YouTube (also backed up by Hootsuite’s research) revealed the sweet spot is 2 minutes. After the 2-minute mark, videos tend to see diminishing returns on engagement.
Of course, this changes across different social media platforms, and if you’re looking to use the same video across channels, we’d encourage you to take a look at the guide we’ve linked above before you do!
Sometimes you can’t get all of the features of your product into one snappy animation. And there’s no use in trying to fit EVERYTHING in when that information would be much better communicated across multiple videos.
Not only will you be able to showcase multiple product benefits, or explain multiple complex features. You could even demonstrate a series of differentiating use cases.
A lot of times we see animations being left on a landing page to die. Yes, have your product video on the best landing page, but not just there. Think about how you can repurpose and redistribute the content over and over.
While there are instances of videos being left on landing pages to die, there are some great examples of how to highlight your video, use it to entice your visitor and increase your on-page engagement and conversions. There are a few different ways to host videos on your landing page including:
A hero video does what it says on the tin. Generally found as an overlay on loading, or right atop the screen as a standalone piece of content, this video instantly grabs and engages the viewer before they see anything else on the page. Great for brand and product videos alike.
Banner or background videos
Videos embedded in the banner, or auto-playing on the banner (or in the background), are a good way of capturing attention. If your video works well with an overlay these can be paired with your value prop or copy.
The most common way videos are embedded on landing pages, is as support. Generally sitting atop the page but totally separate from copy, titles and so forth. Or they can be found further down the page in the information section. They don’t act as the focal point of the page.
Not our favourite form of video embedding, but an option all the same. Your video could pop up when visitors scroll a certain amount through your page or have it pop up via an interaction.
Here are some examples of how other fintech brands have used videos to support their pages:
RobinHood’s hero animation excellently showcases their product and app and is there first thing visitors see once landing on their page. The animation does well to incorporate relevant copy and animated assets that perfectly showcase their product.
Cash App’s background animation is on loop and works to highlight their value prop and call to action (which in itself is a clever QR code).
While Spring’s animation is light-touch, sitting next to the value proposition in the banner, it helps give the visitor context and doesn’t distract them from the hero copy. It perfectly blends with the brand’s colour palette too.
Really like some of the assets within your animation? Well, you can have those designed to keep. You could create an icon set, or take your animated product UI as a separate asset (similar to the RobinHood example above) and have it used across other pages, written content and beyond.
One 2-minute animation could also give you four 30-second video snippets that are usable across multiple social posts, emails or ad creative. Finding the key messages or sections from your video and splitting them up, coupled with some supporting copy, and you have multiple content opportunities.
Take the snippets as an opportunity to extend your explanation of each section, go into more detail or even use the snippet as a pull into a client story, testimonial or similar. The opportunities are wide and varied.
You don’t need to use the script for your snippets either. Just the visual animation could serve as a prompt, or a brand asset for the future.
Your script is likely going to be a creative execution of your product landing page or a reimagining of benefits and features. Therefore, why not make use of it?
Perhaps you could use it in a series of social posts, recycle lines into customer emails or even create some landing page variations for testing with those lines. To have worked on a script to have it remain solely in your video would be a waste.
What we mean here is that you don’t do one round of sharing the full animation. For instance, we’d assume when you get your animation you’ll be doing some (maybe all) of the following:
What you’ll find with content that’s only hyped at launch is that it spikes at the start and then dies out. Its effectiveness may be seen through the solo page it lives on, but it has little impact anywhere else. That’s why we suggest sharing on a cycle.
That means having a series of paid campaigns that use it on an ongoing basis and using it in relevant comms consistently in the future. While the copy that accompanies such comms might change, the animation will always have the desired impact. That’s one of the great things about animation, it has longevity.
If you’re interested in the numbers and want to learn how to measure the ROI from your videos, we wrote something for that too.
You can measure your animation’s performance qualitatively and quantitatively. Depending on the goals you originally set, this can be fairly simple or quite complex. For instance, your measurement might include metrics such as:
Or they might be a little more complex and involve some more determiners such as:
While the way you chose to measure or attribute value to your animations is going to differ depending on your goals, there’s always a way to incrementally improve the performance you’re getting from them.
Initially, this doesn’t mean changing the animation! We’re talking about experimenting with the way you’re using it. However, we will get into some instances later where you could look for feedback to help you steer the direction of your next product animation.
There are two different buyer stages these videos work well for: those who are already considering/comparing your product or service and those who already own it and want to use it better.
Depending on which journey stage your audience is on (and hopefully your videos for these two stages will be different too) you’ll want to look at different goals. Here’s what we think:
Let’s go through these in a little more depth:
You’ll want to make sure you can tie lead-gen back to your video in some capacity. So if your conversions are coming via an ad, make sure you’re using UTMs to capture them accurately. If you have social ads make sure you’ve connected them to your analytics etc.
For websites, you could have a different content page per product or service, but that can get pricey quickly, so experiment with a section on your form that has the visitor specify the product or service they’re enquiring about.
You can also make use of a tool like Vidyard to add calls to action directly to your video.
Not the same as lead gen. Or at least they shouldn’t be. Contact forms can also be a place where you can make find prospects who have questions or concerns and aren’t ready to be a lead yet - they’re not sold. By having more contact forms coming through you’ll be able to see a potential increase in demand along the line, but also an uptick in those considering your offering.
Customer satisfaction could be the most highly underrated metric going. But if you’re putting out an explainer video that showcases how to better use your product or get the most out of your service, or troubleshoots common questions, you’ve got an opportunity to see how that positively impacts their lives (or at least use of your stuff).
The only way you’re going to collect this data is qualitative. Surveys, either plopped at the end of the video to gather further feedback, perhaps sent via email or even embedded into the age could give you the insight you need to see whether your explainer is having the impact you desired.
Showing how your video contributes to upsells or referrals can be as simple as asking your client/customer or as complex as a series of events triggered in your analytics. But understanding how your explainer videos contribute here can be very valuable, especially if you’re looking to create more or understand the return on investment you're getting from your animation.
While this might feel like a strange goal to aim for, it will be a positive symptom of creating a video that gives your client or customer what they need. You’ll be making it easier for them to recommend your stuff.
The golden chalice of metrics. Customer lifetime value. How much, on average, is a customer worth to you over their average lifetime using your product or service?
Not measuring this yet - it's certainly a valuable thing to think about. CRMs are brilliant at joining the dots here and giving you some figures. Once you’ve started bookmarking this metric, watching the value increase as you produce more bottom-funnel content is a big win, and something a lot of companies aren’t doing.
Product animations can easily be a piece of staple content for you. They can help sales, spread the good word and increase your conversion rates. So long as the right stuff goes into them, and they're promoted and measured properly. We're hoping this guidebook has helped you pave the path to product animation glory. If not, let us know what it missed.
We're firm believers in the power of video as part of your content marketing mix, but then again at this point, you'd have to not read any marketing material ever to think otherwise. But animation on the other hand.... vastly underutilized. And for fintechs, there's no better medium to explain, engage, retain and convert your customers.
If you’d like help creating a killer animation for your fintech, or you’d like to talk to us about getting started, or even want some help in where your video fits within a wider content strategy, reach out to us.
Authors: Josef James & Gabriel Whitehead
One or two emails from us a month filled with some bite-sized advice that will help you:
- Not be boring.
- Create better animated and video content.
- Help you think about content strategy, creative and more.
- With hints and tips around measurement and testing (if you're into that!).