Are you looking for a proven way to engage more people with your product or service?
Then whiteboard animation is the answer for you.
Just look at the results of this study by award-winning professor of psychology Dr Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire.
That’s right, whiteboard animation is scientifically proven to boost viewer retention on average by 15% and increase their willingness to share by 66% when compared with traditional ‘talking head’ videos!
So there is no wonder more and more companies are beginning to employ it as an important tool in their marketing strategies.
Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘What’s the catch?’
Well, the simple fact is: there is none. Whiteboard animation is surprisingly straightforward and it costs much less than you might expect. Giving you an exceptional return on investment.
Still not convinced? Or perhaps you are completely new to the concept of whiteboard animation and would like to learn more?
That’s why I’ve put this comprehensive guide together. Not only will it teach you everything you need to know about whiteboard animation, it will also outline a few easy-to-follow steps for creating your very own successful video, ensuring your voice is heard in the digital landscape.
What is Whiteboard Animation and what are its Uses?
Whiteboard animation is a style of video accompanied by narration that walks the viewer through a story by showing the illustrator’s hand physically drawing it onto a white background.
Here is a whiteboard video example that we put together for the Natural History Museum in London.
Developed as recently as 2007, whiteboard animation is a new and exciting way of communicating to the viewer in a personal way.
It utilises effects such as time-lapse and stop-motion to bring stories to life.
Its uses range from television and internet advertisements, software and product demonstrations both internal and external, whiteboard animation tutorial and educational videos for all ages, and an array of artistic possibilities such as fictional storytelling.
Traditional Whiteboard Videos
Whiteboard videos are traditionally made by simply recording the artist live as he or she draws the content for the video, while simultaneously narrating the story. An effective technique in these visually-oriented times, but a tricky balancing act for even the best illustrators and speakers.
Check out this example to see one of the earliest versions of whiteboard video:
Digital Whiteboard Animations
Nowadays you will find most whiteboard video companies combining digital effects and post-production software with the traditional whiteboard format. You can still see the illustrator’s hand, but it never gets in the way of the continuous, flowing storyline.
When in the capable hands of professionals, modern technology can improve upon traditional techniques and turn whiteboard videos into a whole new experience, creating dynamic characters and an even more engaging story.
Here is an example of a more recent digital whiteboard animation:
Case Studies: An Effective Communication Tool
‘When we look at photo-realistic objects like a TV advertisement using real footage,’ explains Carla Clark, PhD, ‘our brain interoperates that by matching what we see in photo realism to more simplistic 2D and 3D forms in the brain. So, the simpler the object is, the less effort the brain needs to process and relate to the image, freeing it up for other processing tasks. Therefore, we’re wired to pay greater attention to the dimensional rendering of whiteboard animation.’
“We’re wired to pay greater attention to the dimensional rendering of whiteboard animation.”
Here are some further reasons why whiteboard animation is such an effective communication tool:
- It doesn’t discriminate between age or gender, skimmers and in-depth readers, or the well-informed and those who are new to the topic.
- The artist’s hand acts as a visual cue, guiding the viewer’s attention so that they consume the information in an easily-digestible sequence.
- They are short and target a specific audience for a specific purpose – getting to the point is vital for viewer engagement.
- Good whiteboard animations tell a compelling story that the viewer can relate to. And, if the subject allows, humour is always a great captivator.
- Videos are the most shared content on social media. They are easy to link to and can be posted on a website or on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo.
- They are fun! People love animated characters and you can place them in all sorts of situations that would be impossible for real humans.
Now that you know why whiteboard animation works, let’s look at a couple of real-life examples to see how it has helped companies grow their business.
RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), a British organisation committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges, have been producing a series of whiteboard animations since 2008 entitled RSA Animates.
Results: This whiteboard video has had over 100 million views on YouTube and, in little over a year, RSA Animates was the number one non-profit YouTube channel.
Dropbox, a major online file holding service, added an early whiteboard animation to their homepage in 2009 when they were a just a small start-up.
Results: For several years, this whiteboard video was viewed roughly 30,000 times per day and people quickly realised how useful cloud storage could be, generating thousands of new signups every month and kick-starting a software revolution.
So, why not drop everything you are doing right now and start creating your very own whiteboard animation?
Not so fast!
The success or failure of any whiteboard animation depends entirely on the correct approach and the QUALITY of your content.
Here is how you can create a whiteboard animation that will give you the results you desire:
Decide Whether to Hire an External Whiteboard Animation Agency or Make the Video Yourself
In order to make this decision easier, we have listed out all of the pros and cons in both cases:
Pros of Hiring an External Agency
- A professional whiteboard animation company would allow for total customisation of your whiteboard animation, guaranteeing you are represented precisely how you would like.
- A good creative team will be able to take a list of your product’s features and benefits and translate them into a compelling, impactful narrative, as well as offer tips on how to choose the perfect voiceover.
- There is less risk involved when choosing an external company. If you pick one with a proven track record, they are far more likely to satisfy your needs.
- Hiring professionals guarantees a high-quality end product. And when it comes to whiteboard animation, high-quality always equates to more engagement – people trust you when you look the part.
- A good agency will not stop once your whiteboard animation is complete. They will also help you with the video marketing strategy and measure its effectiveness through the appropriate engagement metrics.
- It saves time! The more time you have to focus on your business, the more successful it will be.
Cons of Hiring an External Agency
- It can be more expensive than buying whiteboard software and learning to create videos yourself.
- Some agencies are unable to provide face-to-face communication. So there is a chance that you may be in constant communication with people you will never meet in person – miscommunication can lead to mistakes and time wasted.
However, always make sure to ask first. At our video marketing agency, Spiel, we ensure our clients can communicate directly with both the project manager and the creative director as well as meet them face-to-face.
Pros of Doing the Whiteboard Video Yourself
- It can be cost effective if you have a creative streak in you and if you purchase the right software.
- You have full creative control.
- There is no chance for miscommunication with external people.
- You can make it easier for yourself by using software with prebuilt templates.
Cons of Doing the Whiteboard Video Yourself
- It can take months or even years to fully master whiteboard animation software, so you may lose money in the long run.
- If it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can have frustratingly unprofessional results. And low-quality equates to less engagement, less trust and a big waste of time.
- You may have to compromise on creativity if you decide to use software with prebuilt templates. Your original vision could be lost.
- You might end up with a less impactful script than one which a good creative team could provide.
How to Source the RIGHT External Whiteboard Animation Agency?
So, you have decided to hire an external whiteboard animation production company.
Firstly, you should review their website and portfolio to find examples of work they have produced in the past; it will give you the best idea if they are capable of creating the whiteboard video you have in mind.
If you discover they have dozens of videos under their belt, or have collaborated with some major organisations and brand names, it’s always a good sign.
Take the Full Collaborative Approach
Good agencies are not only willing to provide you with a creative treatment, but also offer some more conceptual ideas and suggestions. Those that only give quotes based on basic features, such as the duration of the animation, are shying away from taking the full collaborative approach.
Talk to the Creatives
Always trust the creatives! It is important to talk to the business development team, but it is vital to talk to the creatives (for example, the creative director). This will tell you if the agency is the right one for you.
Salespeople take calls all day listing out features and benefits of products and services, but, as mentioned already, it is the creatives who know how to translate them into compelling, impactful stories. And no one wants to watch a video with just features and benefits.
Learn About the Team
Does the team have a broad-ranging skill set: a project manager, a creative director, an art director, a marketing expert, etc.?
Do they seem enthusiastic about your project and are they responding promptly to your queries? Are you comfortable with how they propose approaching your project?
Do you feel they sufficiently understand your message and business needs? Do they take a transactional approach to your project or a more collaborative/consultative approach to deliver real business results? Do they have a physical office and are they willing to meet with you?
Get Help Promoting the Video
A good agency should not only be able to produce the whiteboard video you want, but also promote it and measure its impact and effectiveness after it has gone public. Check to see if this is a service they provide.
How Much Does a Whiteboard Animation Cost?
Whiteboard animation production costs anything from £1,500 to £7,500 per minute. Exactly how much depends on factors such as the quality of the animation, its duration, and the calibre of the whiteboard animation company itself.
But, when deciding how much to spend, always consider the return on investment that a high-quality video will deliver. Think in the long term, not in the short!
How Long Should My Whiteboard Animation Be?
It wouldn’t surprise me if you have read or heard it said that the average person’s attention span is decreasing. While there is a lot of data supporting this theory, I believe it has more to do with the amount of content now vying for our attention.
In one comprehensive study, Wistia examined 564,710 videos and more than 1.3 billion plays to draw conclusions about video length versus engagement. The results were graphed in this chart:
Here are some of its main conclusions.
- Engagement doesn’t wane for the first 2 minutes. So, if you are trying to squeeze 2 minutes of information into a forty second video because you are worried your viewers will move on, don’t, just make sure that it is under that 2-minute mark.
- After 2 minutes, there is a notable drop-off. Only go beyond this time if your product or service is complex and absolutely requires a more in-depth video.
- If a viewer lasts to the 6-minute mark, they are likely to stay for 12 minutes. So, no matter where you lie within this range, it shouldn’t have much of an effect on engagement.
- The drop-off after 12 minutes is not as significant as it is after 2, but do keep it in mind that you are losing viewers at this stage. Weigh up the benefits of making your video longer than this, i.e. is this extra information worth the extra time and money required to make it?
While this is a helpful study, it is only really valid for whiteboard animations on your website landing pages. This is because it doesn’t factor in social media and video hosting platform algorithms, which tend to reward longer videos.
But before I get on to optimising your video length for external platforms, I have 1 more tip for your landing page whiteboard animations: From experience, I would strongly recommend making them longer than 30 seconds. You want your whiteboard animation to effectively tell a story about your business, which, in most cases, is impossible in such a short time.
As a rule of thumb, between 90 and 120 seconds is ideal.
“Avoid making whiteboard animations less than 30 seconds. You want them to effectively tell a story about your business, which, in most cases, is impossible in such a short time. As a rule of thumb, between 90 and 120 seconds is ideal.”
Whiteboard Animation Video Length for External Platforms
Each platform has a their own unique algorithms that favour different things. For instance, if you are making a whiteboard animation for your YouTube channel, the factors that will make it successful will differ from the factors that will make one on your landing page or LinkedIn successful.
So, before devising the content of your video, always familiarise yourself with your target platform’s best practices. Given 3 of the most popular, here are examples of how they can differ:
YouTube rewards ‘Youtube watch time’ more than anything else. Meaning, the longer you can get people to stay on their site, watching your videos, the better.
For example, if viewers watch 25% of your 10-minute video, you will have gained 2.5 minutes’ watch time. And if they watch 100% of your 2-minute video, you will have only gained 2 minutes’ watch time. So, although the latter has engaged people far better, YouTube will reward you more for the former.
This all means that, on YouTube, longer videos are better. I recommend keeping them to a minimum of 5 minutes.
Understandably, Facebook also want to keep people on their site as long as possible, so watch time also plays a major role. Here I also suggest keeping them to a minimum of 5 minutes. However, to encourage better engagement, I wouldn’t go longer than 10.
LinkedIn are not so fussy about watch time as the others. They themselves recommend keeping your brand videos under 30 seconds and more complex clips, such as the majority of whiteboard animations, between 30 seconds and five minutes depending on necessity.
For more information on the different types of LinkedIn video and best practices on the platform, you can also check out our detailed guide here.
The Best Whiteboard Animation Software To Do It Yourself
Before we go into detail on all of the steps involved in making a whiteboard animation, here are 3 of the best whiteboard animation maker tools currently available online if you are planing to make your video yourself. To help you get started on them, you can find helpful whiteboard animation tutorials online for each.
- mysimpleshow is one of the easiest video makers for creating simple whiteboard animations and animated explainer videos anywhere online.
- Multiple built-in storyline templates
- Helpful scriptwriting advice
- Automatically generated storyboards with built-in images
- Record your own voiceover or use their text-to-speech tool
- Export straight to YouTube or download as MP4
- $129 per month business package / $499 per month pro package
Videoscribe from Sparkol
- Sparkol provide the option to choose from thousands of automatically drawn images.
- Convert your own images to SGVs.
- Add music from their library or import your own.
- Download your video locally as an mp4, wmv, mov, avi or share it directly on social media.
- Supports MAC and PC and can be used with Android, iPhone, iPad or Kindle Fire.
- Comes with cloud storage so it can be used with multiple devices from multiple locations.
- 7-day free trial available.
- £18 per month / £96 per year / £398 one off payment.
- GoAnimate comes with an extensive collection of backgrounds, props and character actions.
- Comes with customisable themes that relate to different occupations, industries and environments.
- Can create MP4s or animated GIFs in a click.
- Can add your own music and voiceover.
- Provide resources, training options and an active customer community to help you along.
- 14-day free trial available.
- Prices from $39 per month or $299 per year.
Is There Any Free Whiteboard Animation Software?
The short answer is yes. If you are on a very tight budget, the 2 best free whiteboard animation softwares are Biteable and Powtoon. With them, you can create simple whiteboards using their intuitive built-in templates.
Now, start to finish, here is the process for creating your own whiteboard animation:
How to Make a SUCCESSFUL Whiteboard Video STEP by STEP
Step 1: Define Your Mission
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with a whiteboard animation.
An example could be: ‘I want to increase the customer conversion rate of my homepage by 20%.’
Step 2: Understand your Audience and Sales Funnels
You won’t know how to achieve your mission if you don’t understanding why you are not already achieving it. So, rather than making a video based on preconceived notions, first gather customer data that will help shape the content of the whiteboard video.
With heatmap tools like CrazyEgg, you can gather vital info about your website. Things like webpage bounce rates, how long visitors spend of each webpage, your landing page conversion rates and how well specific features engage your website visitors.
With survey tools like Qualaroo and Survey Monkey, you can gather more subjective data like key objections and audience demographics.
With tools like Google Analytics, you can track all of the sources that bring traffic to your website and create a traffic source map. This is to see what sources are most fruitful, perhaps your Facebook page, and which are ineffective, maybe Google search, for example.
Now, you can utilise all of this data to confidently create a whiteboard animation that:
- Speaks directly to your target audience
- Quells ay objections they might have about your product or service
- Can be published in the locations where it will have the greatest impact
Step 3: Compose a Script
If you don’t have a great script, your whiteboard animation will not convert potential customers. It is that simple. Getting your message across wholly depends on it, so take your time and write out multiple drafts in order to find the one that works best.
Be aware that sensory words (‘he is having a rough day’) are more effective than ordinary words (‘he is having a difficult day’). When matched up to the visuals they create a longer-lasting hold with the viewer.
The script is a story: build a compelling narrative that your customers can relate to and would want to go along with.
Remember: 150 words equates to roughly one minute of video. Cut out any pointless information and keep the script as concise as possible. Preferably no longer than 2 minutes.
- State what you do.
- Pose a problem.
- Explain how your product or service can solve that problem.
- Show off features that make your product or service desirable.
- Create a call to action, i.e. instruct people to buy it and how: ‘Call now on…,’ ‘Find out more at www…,’ ‘Visit us in store at…’
- Answer any frequently asked questions and objections that came up in your customer feedback.
- Prove your legitimacy by showing companies you have already worked with.
Step 4: Record the Voiceover
Hiring a professional voiceover artist can cost a few hundred pounds depending on experience. A good one will edit out any breaths and background noise as part of their service.
If you are on a very strict budget, you could potentially find an amateur voiceover artist on websites such as Gumtree that will do it for as little as £50, but I would generally recommend avoiding this option if possible.
When choosing the artist, make sure that they have a voice that will resonate with your audience (for example, if you are a teenage streetwear brand, probably best not to use an elderly woman’s voice – unless you have a very good reason).
As a rule of thumb, though, the voiceover should always be upbeat and lively in order to hold the viewers’ attention.
Step 5: Create Initial Sketches
Visualise your script and draw multiple sketches for each sentence. At this stage, they can be rough. Don’t worry about creating works of art, just make sure you get all of your ideas down on paper.
Remember the benefits of matching your visuals with any sensory words.
If it is too difficult to interoperate something from your script literally, don’t fret, just do your best to supplement it in a creative way.
Below are a few additional pointers to take into consideration when creating your artwork:
Having a continuous, interconnecting drawing without many breaks will really hold your audience’s attention. What this basically means is that you should aim to continue adding your visual images to the same screen without too many erases or cuts, so that there is a nice continuous flow to the video.
Consider using colour. Whiteboard animations are traditionally black and white, but the use of colour in order to highlight key points and increase engagement levels should always be taken into consideration. Always consider using colour to emphasise the key Call to Actions in your video.
Step 6: Storyboard
Decide what images you want to use and, alongside the script, put them in the order and the position they will appear on screen. This way you can pre-visualise the video and save time by removing any problems before you begin making it.
An easy way to achieve this is to scan them into Photoshop. This gives you the added benefit of playing around and reshaping them into whatever form you want.
Step 7: Create Illustrations
Once you have finalised your storyboard the next step in the process is to create your illustrations using a software tool such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
If you don’t feel comfortable drawing your own bespoke images or simply don’t have the time, don’t worry. You can use pre-existing images from the stock image galleries available in popular whiteboard animation production software such as VideoScribe and Doodly.
Step 8: Animate
The next step of the process is to animate your video using your preferred software. We at Spiel use the Adobe Creative Suite to create our animations – which is great to create studio level videos, but it is more catered towards experienced professionals.
If you are looking for a simpler software tool which requires having little to almost no animation experience, then check out VideoScribe, Animaker, Explaindio, GoAnimate and Doodly to see which one works best for you.
Step 9: Sync Audio and Video
Using your video software, speed up the video so that it synchronises with your voiceover.
Cut out any mistakes and unnecessary parts.
Apply filters to make the paper look very white and the lines very back.
Ensure the lighting is consistent and add any relevant credits or logos.
Step 10: Add Music
It is not completely necessary, but when utilised effectively it can really liven your video.
You can source inexpensive songs, including commercial licenses to use them, at Audio Jungle.
Step 11: Market and Promote
Publish your video on every platform that can help attain your mission. If you add it to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc., make sure that it is properly optimised for each specific platform so you can track its success with their built-in analytics tools.
For maximum visibility, the whiteboard video should be placed near the top of your website homepage.
The homepage should be simple and without clutter that would distract from the video and its key messages.
To increase video play rates, it should include:
- A catchy page heading along with some copy explaining why the user should watch the video.
- A visual cue such as an arrow or a hand pointing towards it or a person looking at it.
- An eye-catching thumbnail image. This can be achieved by using bright but non-offensive colours, an image of a character’s face, an action shot which conveys motion or with clearly visible text that gives it context. However, be sure to experiment with a few different ones in order to find out what works best.
Finally, add your call to action to the landing page.
Share and Consider A/B Split Testing
At this stage, you should ideally A/B split test the video in order to maximise its conversions. This involves creating different versions of it, or continuously tweaking the same version, to discover what works best.
It is highly beneficial for obtaining concrete, real-time objective data and insights as opposed to relying on subjective opinion. That way you can know for certain what resonates best with your audience and use it to reduce the bounce rate of future videos. Ultimately, lowering your risk and, most importantly, increasing your sales.
If it is suitable, an easy way to measure your video’s effectiveness is to add it to media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and use their analytics tools. If you are not satisfied with its play rate, simply make adjustments until you hit upon a formula that works.
Tip: If you do adopt A/B testing, we recommended not going for very expensive animation styles as editing them can be costlier. This is particularly important for the first few videos (if a series is planned to be produced).
“If you do adopt A/B testing, we recommended not going for very expensive animation styles as editing them can be costlier.”
When measuring the video’s effectiveness on your website, you should consider using a video hosting platform such as Wistia. They provide in-depth engagement metrics. Plus, you can try it free for your first 3 videos!
For the test to be truly conclusive, however, perform a series of separate one-variable tests on your homepage itself – you want to know which variables bring about change. These include everything that we recommended adding to your homepage: the page heading, the visual cue, the thumbnail image and the call to action. Invest time in it and run the tests long enough to rule out any trivial outcomes.
This can be achieved using tools such as Unbounce.
But how does any of this apply if your video was created by an external company? – Remember, a good agency should not only be able to help you produce a video, but also promote it and measure its impact and effectiveness after it has gone public.
At Spiel, we provide a complete, easy-to-follow and cost-effective strategy for A/B split testing to our clients, both for their video and for the landing pages on which it will appear on.
Great Examples of Whiteboard Animations
Baker Hughes – Whiteboard Animation
This is a great example of a digital whiteboard animation from the team here at Spiel. It is for Baker Hughes, a leading oil and gas field services company.
I like this whiteboard animation because, not only does the script tick all boxes, it also doesn’t confine itself to the traditional white background. Instead it uses both black and white markers to draw on a variety of surfaces. The result is a dynamic, visually captivating animation.
Its use of colour is also worth noting. Besides a flickering yellow flame, only blue (the colour of the brand) is used sparingly in order to highlight key points.
Key Learning Points
Think of creative alternatives to black on white when bringing your own whiteboard animation to life. When it comes to colour, careful placement of your brand’s is usually the way to go.
Purina – Whiteboard Animation
This unconventional whiteboard animation for Nestlé’s pet care brand Purina is worth watching for its artistic style alone.
Here, the marker is replaced by a pencil and the white background with brown paper. The delicate, hand-sketched style compliments the brand’s use of 100% natural ingredients. The stars of the clip, a happy dog and cat duo, wander carefree around the frame.
Key Learning Point
Don’t be afraid to break conventions if you think it will better convey the spirit of your brand.
Toyota Camry – Whiteboard Animation
This short clip from car manufacturer Toyota really demonstrates how to make clever use of illustration and stop motion to convey movement. Portraying the car’s blind spot as a black hole that sucks in everything in its way is a creative and engaging way of advertising their monitor technology.
Key Learning Point
Given seconds to work with, what creative ways could you come up with to get your message across?
Oxfam – Whiteboard Animation
Charitable organisation Oxfam used whiteboard animation as a way to shed light on a very important cause. This 90-second video, which works to support women’s political voice, participation and leadership, is a great example of how the format can be used to tell a powerful story.
Something I also admire about this video is its use of interconnecting drawings. The animations are continuously added to rather than constantly stopping and starting.
Key Learning Point
Allowing your audience to see the animation flow into shape will really engage them.
Royal Society of Chemistry – Whiteboard Animation
In this 2.5-minute clip for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s introduction to scenario planning, the team here at Spiel did a great job at creating some strong metaphorical imagery to communicate the brand’s messages.
To represent different unforeseen events in the future, they used face down playing cards which were subsequently flipped over one at a time. For multiple potential futures, they mapped out every possible move in an ongoing game of chess.
Key Learning Point
Strong visual metaphors can help communicate complicated ideas to the audience.
Khan Academy – Whiteboard (Blackboard) Animation
Non-profit educational organisation the Khan Academy have been producing a series of low-budget, yet highly successful, blackboard animations. In this clip, they use the format to give the viewer an easy-to-digest overview of the differences between hedge funds and mutual funds.
It is a great example of how you can produce a high volume of whiteboard videos at a low cost without sacrificing their effectiveness.
Key Learning Point
If your business could benefit from regular, engaging content (how could it not?), then easily replicable whiteboard (or blackboard) videos are perfect!
With a quality script and eye-catching animation to match, whiteboard animation is a highly effective communication tool. Here are some of our top tips to remember.
- Think of the bigger picture and focus on your return on investment. When it comes to whiteboard animation, choosing the cheapest option can often backfire and lose you potential customers.
- If your budget is very strict, you can purchase software and make the whiteboard video yourself. But you must be willing to learn all of the technical elements involved and follow our instructions carefully.
- As a rule of thumb, the shorter your video the better. Aim to get your message across as succinctly as possible to hold the attention of your audience.
- Remember to include a clear call to action in your video.
- Make sure you have a clear strategy to promote your video. This includes ensuring the landing pages on your website where your video will be added are designed to ensure they generate the best possible play rates.
- When promoting your video, spit test it to measure its engagement. Having objective evidence gives you a great advantage.
- Get creative and have fun!
Have a question about whiteboard animation or helpful suggestion? Then leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer!