Landing Page Video Best Practices – Is Animated or Live Action Better?

by Today's Eggspert

Last updated on July 6th, 2018

landing page video 2018

Just because landing page videos have been seen to increase conversions doesn’t mean you can throw up any shoddy video and expect results.

There are a few landing page video best practices that you’ll want to review first, such as whether to use live-action style or animation.

The answer to this question depends on your industry, competition and several other factors to be discussed in this piece. As a general rule, taking the road less traveled to differentiate yourself from your competition is a good start.

But I don’t want you making important decisions without knowing the pros and cons of both video styles.

So let’s get started!

When to Use Landing Page Videos

Not everyone can afford to invest in video production. Video may be rapidly growing into the most consumed digital medium, but it still comes with a high production cost. Here are just a few potential costs to consider:

  • personnel (a professional videographer, possibly actors)
  • time (shooting can take hours, days, even weeks)
  • equipment (iPhone videos won’t cut it — sorry)
  • editing software (color correction, animation, etc.)

Assuming that you can afford these resources, there are still a few questions you should ask yourself before investing in video such as “Why do I want to use videos on my landing page?”

While videos can be a great way to increase landing page conversions, they aren’t a cure all for CRO (conversion rate optimization) problems. To see the real effects of landing page videos, you need to consider the different instances where they provide legitimate value to your users.

Product/Explanatory Videos

Explaining the finer details of your product/service can get complicated if you’re relying solely on blog posts and landing page copy.

Even if you’re a master of landing page copy, that doesn’t mean your user will read it. And if they do read it, their likelihood of remembering it is actually quite low.

landing page video 1

With the average consumer remembering 80% of what they see and do, video seems like your best bet. So, leveraging product explainer videos to make sure your users understand (and remember) the value of converting is worth it.

Explainer videos, for the most part, fall under one of two categories: those that explain your product/service features, and those that explain the benefits.

Feature Focused Videos — landing page videos that focus on the features of your product/service and explain what that product is or does. For example, a feature of a classic iPod is 1 GB of MP3 storage space.

Benefit Focused Videos — landing page videos that advertise the benefits of your product/service and speak in terms of value to the user. Using the same example, the benefits of an iPod with the above features would be the ability to hold 1000 songs in your pocket.

In most CRO circles, benefit-driven content and copy are considered the real conversion boosters. Marketers can often forget that, even though we understand how our product/service can help users, others often don’t care.

It’s our job as marketers to make them understand the benefits of our service and the value of converting. That’s where feature-benefit matrices come in.

landing page video benefits

You can consider the “sales message” a brainstorming session on what to base your landing page videos on.

Demo Videos

Explanatory videos aren’t the only time you may want to leverage video on your website landing pages. Replacing certain offers with videos can also help lower landing page friction. An easier and more convenient offer should always help boost conversions.

Let’s take a look at an example for a better idea of when to use demo videos (the bottom landing page is the original):

landing page video demo

“Schedule a Demo Today!” is a great actionable CTA. However, it fails to take into account that some users may not have time in their schedule for a full demo.

Instead, with a demo video, you can provide all the same helpful information, but at your user’s convenience.

The results of this approach speak for themselves:

landing page video demo results

Landing page videos aren’t add-on or superfluous experiences. They’re assets that you should use to improve the actual user experience of your landing page by providing legitimate value.

And there’s few things customers value more than their own opinions.

Customer Testimonial Videos

When users are researching your brand online, they can be hesitant to trust what you have to say about yourself. A great alternative is having your happy customers speak for themselves.

Testimonials can be a great way to communicate the real world user value to your potential customers and provide a sense of authenticity. Sharing testimonials in video form is a great way to engage users on their own terms in a delightful and valuable way. But keep in mind:

Effective testimonials go beyond a simple quote that proclaims your greatness. They need to resonate with […] the people who could also benefit from the work you do in the future.

The best testimonials are specific and aligned to your target audience as well as specific use cases and advantages. Make sure your reviews are a bit more robust than “[YOUR BRAND] is awesome! We love their work!”

Many brands have testimonials and case studies as their own section within their website. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to use the power of user testimonials on your landing pages as well.

For example, if you visit the testimonial page of mHelpDesk, they have video testimonials and quotes targeting specific, varying industries.

landing-page-video-testimonials-1

These testimonial videos, don’t have to be super high quality. What’s more important is that you tell a story that viewers value with customers they can relate to.

landing-page-video-testimonials-1

These are only the three biggest instances to use videos on your landing pages. But with each campaign comes a unique opportunity to engage with a unique audience.

During video production it can get sticky in regards to live-action versus animated video. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Live-Action Landing Page Videos Best Practices

Live-action videos are the more human side of landing page videos. Let’s review a few key pieces of advice if you want to incorporate these into your website marketing tactics.

It shows when you don’t have a script.

landing-page-video-best-practices

You can be a master of a topic being discussed, but not explain the concept clearly, simply, and efficiently to viewers.

Einstein said:

If you can’t explain it to a 7 year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

If you want a reference of what a video can look like with and without a script, you can watch the examples below. In the first video, I was explaining the topic off the cuff. In the second, I took the time to write out an actual script to lean on.

landing-page-video-example-2

landing-page-video-example-2

After you’ve written your script, you can get started on your set. For live-action videos, this is incredibly important. As a general rule, natural lighting is considered the best choice.

But we can’t always control the weather, so make sure you have a few beauty key lights on hand. You should always have at least one beauty key light pointing straight onto your subject, regardless.

Having a light meter to correct white balance before you shoot will also help you control the lighting on your set.

landing-page-video-wista

Where you place your subject(s) within the frame will depend on what kind of video you’re shooting. For explainer videos or vlogs, you’ll want your narrator/anchor front and center. For interviews, you’ll want to rely on the rule of thirds to keep your shot balanced.

landing-page-video-examples

When it comes to editing, some videographers prefer jump cuts in between different parts of the video. Others believe that a good pause lets the viewer relax. They tend to differ on the topic of background music and directional animations as well.

In the end, your editorial choices come down to emphasizing whatever experience you’re optimizing towards.

However, one editorial best practice everyone will agree on is the addition of animation or design elements to help explain complex points.

Certain topics aren’t easily conveyed through just words. A quick animation or even a screenshot to the side of your speaker can do wonders for making your video more understandable and easily digested.

You should also make sure you’re using captions, so anyone who’s viewing your video doesn’t need sound or headphones to appreciate it.

Lastly, before we get into the pros and cons of live-action videos, make sure that you keep the CTA to the side of the video.

landing-page-video-cta

They’re meant to boost conversions by communicating value to your users. So you want to make sure you’re still stressing the conversion as your goal action.

Pros of Live-Action Video

Let’s start with the obvious: live-action landing page videos put a human face to your marketing efforts.

PPC advertising deals with the same issues that ordinary advertising does:  users don’t tend to immediately trust what they see or hear, because they fear they’re “being sold to” by some large brand.

Putting a real human on screen to explain your services can help familiarize your brand. It also gives you a sense of authority and expertise on the subject.

landing-page-video-live-action

Live-action landing page videos also allow you to communicate directly with your user. Or, to be more accurate, they give your user the sense that they’re interacting with you directly.

This is a great way to make your landing page experience more familiar and personalized. And marketing personalization has been a strong conversion booster lately.

Lastly, if your video is product based instead of explanatory based, live-action provides a great opportunity for IRL (in-real-life) uses.

Or, as in the example below, the video can allude to what you may get with a purchase while playing to the humorous side of the brand.

landing-page-video-live-action-2

On the whole, live-action landing page videos are best for explaining the “human element” of any product or service you’re advertising.

Cons of Live-Action Video

If we’re talking about the pros of live-action being based on the “human element,” the leading con to consider is that not all humans are meant to be on screen.

Sorry, but just because you’re a CEO or startup founder doesn’t automatically qualify you to make awesome video content.

Carli Lloyd Cringe GIF by Houston Dash - Find & Share on GIPHY

Live-action has more drawbacks than simply awkward on-screen performances. The sad truth is that most of the pros of live-action video can be double-edged swords. Here are the biggest double-edged drawbacks of live-action video:

  • While putting a face to the product/service humanizes your brand, not all humans are good on screen.
  • Live-action video is either perceived as high quality or very low quality, which means investing in production quality is a must.
  • Investing in production quality such as sets, lighting, editing, etc. can get quite expensive quite fast.

Lastly, as opposed to other forms of content, live-action video is the only type that is dependent on filming.

This means that you end up relying on the weather and shooting conditions to create content. It may not seem like much, but this is you giving up one more level of control over your content calendar.

Animated Landing Page Videos

Now let’s take a look at their animated counterparts.

If you’re looking to explain abstract concepts that aren’t easily communicated with simple graphs and dialogue, animation may be for you. Animated videos are also great for setting a delightful and entertaining mood.

Animated Video Best Practices

Animated videos are rarely as straightforward and simple as their live-action counterparts. It’s important to give your animated video a clear timeline, so you can keep your story in check.

Providing context and telling a story with your animation will help guide your viewers through the video. And, because this is where you’ll be explaining the actual value of converting, be sure to make your story attention-drawing.

landing-page-video-best-practices

The Crazy Egg landing page video example above is used in countless video blog posts for good reason:

  • It does a great job of providing context.
  • It clearly explains how the product looks, works, behaves, etc.
  • The animation provides an entertaining use-case.
  • The little breaks from reality do a great job of keeping the user engaged in the video.

These little “breaks from reality” are exactly why animated videos provide such creative freedom. They allow you to not only communicate the abstract concept you’re explaining, but also allow you to set the tone around your explanation.

Animation gives you the ability to create an entire world within your video (so a set of general rules may simply not be applicable depending on how aggressive your animation).

For starters, you want to keep your video as design element #1 on your landing page. Don’t make your video fit into some templated landing page that you’ve been using for other campaigns.

These videos should be the primary action on your page to encourage views and conversions, so you should design your page to match, not vice versa.

landing-page-video-best-practices-2

Your CTA should also align with your video’s call-to-action, to ensure a streamlined user experience.

As best as you can, try not to overwhelm users with too much animation that may distract away from your goal conversion. Animated videos aren’t opportunities for you to show off your animation chops. They’re there to boost legitimate performance.

Lastly, keep in mind that there isn’t going to be a “human element” on screen for animated videos. So, the voice-over and/or music you use will have a larger impact on users than normal.

In the Crazy Egg example I referenced above, the voice over is a great example of a confident but familiar tone that guides the viewer through the story. That’s the kind of narrator you’re looking for.

Pros of Animated Video

Let’s start with the most obvious pro of animated video: you have complete control over world creation and the “reality” of your video.

You don’t have to worry about what your actor is capable of or what type of props/graphics you can add into your video. You can create an abstract world from scratch that is solely dedicated to explaining your topic symbolically, metaphorically, or explicitly.

Animated videos also allow you to control the entire customized, branded experience.

landing-page-video-pros

And when videos are the most memorable of digital content, a strong brand experience can stick in your user’s mind for some time.

Another big animated video win is that it costs much less than live-action production. This is due to the lack of actual production costs (set design, lighting, actors, camera equipment, etc).

All you have to pay for here is your animated designer and their software.

For the last pro of animated videos, all you need to do is look at your favorite Disney movie and compare it to a recent live-action remake.

Animation just brings a certain sense of delight and entertainment that live-action tends to turn serious. If you’re looking to capitalize on a familiar and delightful mood, animation is probably the way to go.

Cons of Animated Video

The biggest issue digital marketers often grapple with is that animated video tends to come off as “too playful.” Often times, enterprise level marketers feel that animated videos are too childish for their C-level executive targets.

I can nip this in the bud really quick:

Regardless of who your video is targeting, you’re advertising to a human — so making them laugh and smile will never hurt.

There are two legitimate cons to animated video that can be serious barriers to entry, however. The first is that you will need to find a competent animation designer.

Animated videos aren’t the same as graphic design, illustration design, or production art. So you need to make sure you’re hiring a designer with a specialty in the right niche.

Secondly, because you have so much creative reign in regards to animated storytelling, the video storyboarding can get quite complex. Don’t let this overwhelm you.

Telling an animated story can sometimes be tougher than a simple verbal explanation. But it’s nearly always going to engage better and be more memorable to users.

Animated Versus Live-Action Video

Having taken a good look at each style of video, it’s finally time to see how they stack up against one another.

The B2B Versus B2C Debate

As I mentioned earlier, some think that animated video tends to be too playful and childish. These marketers believe that the distinction between live-action and animated video is the same as B2B and B2C marketing, respectively.

landing-page-video-liv-vs-animation

The debate is generally based on the fact that B2B marketing strategies often target C-level executives (CEOs, CMOs, COOs). For these higher level audiences, B2B marketers often believe that live-action videos provide a more formal, serious tone.

On the other hand, for B2C campaigns where you’re targeting everyday consumers, marketers feel that animation works better.

It all boils down to two basic assumptions: In the B2C space, it’s more important to provide a memorable experience. In the B2B space, it’s more important to provide valuable information.

Now that we’ve established what the debate is, let me show how easily it is debunked by highlighting the false logic.

  1. The first false assumption of this B2B-B2C distinction is that C-level B2B executives are more serious than B2C consumers. Everyone is serious about quality of service/products. And nobody wants to be bored by a landing page video, regardless of what type of marketing campaign they’re a part of.
  2. The second false assumption is that C-level executives don’t enjoy humor in their marketing interactions. Who decided that just because you’re a CEO, you can’t appreciate a funny GIF or animated video? You’re still targeting a human with these landing pages, after all.

Regardless of your vertical or industry, you’re always going to be advertising toward actual people. It’s not about B2B or B2C, but about H2H (human to human) marketing.

Considering Competition

The best landing page tactics are successful because they create a memorable brand experience for your users. And, in today’s digitally saturated market, “memorable” often times means “different.” Don’t be a sheep and hop on landing page trends; be divergent and memorable to your audience.

So, if you’re debating over which landing page video style to use, make sure you take your competition into consideration. It’s fairly simplistic advice, but it’s not a bad approach.

If you comb through your competitors that are using landing page videos and find a majority use live-action, try animation, and vice versa.

Be The Risk Taker

If your goal is to be different and memorable with your landing page video, don’t be afraid to push the envelope. A risque but funny and bold video can do wonders for engagement and viewer retention rates.

You can use risque videos to play off of common cultural tropes and satirize competition. It’s a great way to establish yourself as superior to others in your industry.

The above example is a live-action video for an ED medication, mocking the thin metaphors of common ED commercials. But you can take a serious point with divergent videos as well, like the animated video example below.

In the WildAid Elephant animated infographic below, the video walks you through some horrifying statistics regarding elephant endangerment. And what’s most memorable about it, is that it directly blames humans as the primary cause.

landing-page-video-live

The video has an incredibly personalized and pointed approach that leaves you thinking.

These two examples prove a great point: while one is live-action and funny and the other animated and serious, they both diverge from the common norm. And, more than that, they are memorably divergent.

Conclusion: A Memorable Impression Is What Matters

Across the board, what matters with landing page videos is being memorable. Whether that comes from being divergent from competition, memorably risque, funny, or formal, is truly up to the context of your campaigns.

As this blog post draws to an end and we weigh the actual pros and cons of each, I can say that if you’re 50:50 about your decision, airing on the side of animation will always cost less and give you more control over production.

There are plenty of humorous live-action videos, and just as many (or more) serious animated videos. In the end, just make sure you do your research and are well informed before making your choice.

And ask yourself: What are you doing to stand apart from your competition?

About the Author

video-landing-page
Sean Thomas Martin is the Content Manager at KlientBoost, a premier PPC and CRO agency in Irvine, CA specializing in rapid testing in AdWords and landing page optimization with analysis, landing page video, design optimization, copywriting, and more. If you like what you just read, then you should check out what their custom growth proposal looks like.

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