How important is a professional demo video for a startup?
I can’t exaggerate the importance of having a software demo video, whether you're a beginner startup, or a B2B marketer with an established software brand.
Potential B2B customers expect to see a product demo video, simple as that. They don't want a personal sales demo without seeing at least one video first. Same for a SaaS product. They want to see a video before subscribing.
Yet when I look around the web, maybe 50% of B2B video I see insult the customer with naivety or plain lack of appeal
- which means the developer’s credibility goes right out of the window
- at the very time when credibility means everything.
I also believe there’s a new video marketing approach available for software developers & marketers, a data-driven approach that will reduce or eliminate the video mistakes that commonly abound.
A data-driven, or evidence-based, approach will guide you through the most important creative video decisions you’ll be obliged to make during the course of video production
- particularly at the start of your video project, the planning stage.
A data-driven, evidence-based approach is now the difference between genius and mediocrity.
This doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune either, although the better your video production, the more credibility you’ll gain in the B2B tech customer’s eyes.
So let’s start at the beginning.
What’s the overall objective for producing a software demo video?
The answer is to sell more whether
- you're technology platform vendor who needs to increase lead generation
- or a SaaS company wanting more subscriptions.
Increasing brand awareness might be part of your content marketing strategy, and a good secondary goal, but it can also be a sort of soft consolation prize for selling less than you could have done.
Winning new customers should always be the goal of a software demo video, no matter how big or small your company, or specialised your marketplace.
B2B sales is the lifeblood of a developer, so while you mightn't be able to convert every visit (we all wish), your video marketing strategy should include a method or incentive for getting them into your sales funnel.
What type of demo video are you looking for?
It’s good to keep an open mind here, and let the data guide your decisions, rather than simply take an educated guess.
To instantly get some valuable data, follow these three simple steps:
1: Google your normal keywords and draw up a list of your top 10 competitors, or legacy alternatives if your application is a game-changing, disruptive new concept.
2: Visit each competitor site and look at their video. What type of videos are they showing, especially their top-of-landing page promotional videos? (While you're there also look at what kind of marketing automation they're using. It all helps to know, and adds value to your research visit)
3: Take screen captures of the videos you see on each competitor site, and copy these into a table or list. These will be useful memory jogs.
You’ll now have a bucketload of visual data on competitors.
Now ask the big question:
“How am I going to look different?”
Your customers will need to see something different otherwise you’ll get forgotten in the “generality of things” they encounter in their research to find a suitable supplier, which needs to be you..
For example, you may start with one type of video in mind
- but on examining the evidence of the marketplace, you may discover your initial video idea isn't very original
- and therefore definitely non-genius.
Or you may discover that competitors all have rather classy, well-produced, original-looking videos (the kind we all hate our competitors to have)
- in which case you’ll need to dig deeper into your own pockets to make a video impact.
Or maybe competitors are full of cheap looking videos that may be up to a professional standard, but lack the killer edge
- in which case you’ll be looking for help to find that killer edge for yourself.
This is the process I personally adopt when trying to discover what type of video I need for our own promotional video.
I look hard at competitors to find out “what not to do”. This differentiation is as much a part of B2B marketing as the things you actually do.
How can a low cost video work for a software demo presentation?
If you can’t afford something as good as you’d really like, then you’ll have to settle for a cheaper production, maybe:
- an inhouse DIY production using a cloud-based, animated video-making package
- or maybe pull in a bit of low cost freelancer help, like a video editor or designer, who'll improve quality without costing too much more.
Since a low cost video will usually be less visually impressive than an expensive one
- you have to compensate with your written video content, ie, writing the perfect script.
For many developers this often means stepping outside themselves, of thinking out of the box.
It’s certainly more than hitching up to a “proven script-writing template” though this can help get you started.
To get a clear edge on the market, you need to examine the data, and compile the evidence.
Here are 4 steps you can do to give your best-selling demo video script a real edge:
1: Analyse your customer segments again
Who’s already buying from you? Why are they buying from you? Ask them. Ask 10 of them.
What type of persona are your b2b buyers?
Their management role matters in this persona development
- but more important is knowing the KPIs your target audience have to reach to keep their own jobs.
You need to know each potential customer profile's personal targets & goals to understand what drives them.
If you don’t know this, then ask the customers you already have.
If you’re happy enough asking for help, most customers will oblige and tell you what you need to know.
Most people enjoy talking about their world with someone who’ll attentively listen.
2: Analyse your vertical markets
It’s better to produce the perfect script for a hot vertical market,
- than write a catch-all script that attempts to please all website visitors.
Geoffrey Moore discusses this issue of vertical markets brilliantly in his epoch-making, software developers’ marketing bible, Crossing the Chasm.
So ask yourself: Which vertical market is generating most of our income?
Then write your script exactly to suit this vertical, using their language, situations & examples, solving their specific vertical market problems for them. They’ll love you for it.
3: Review your competitor data
Look at the competitor video data you picked up earlier in this article.
But this time, look at competitor scripts rather than just their visuals. Examine their spoken video content.
What are they saying? What sort of messages are they putting out?
Is it just the typical three mantra-like benefits of time-saving, reduced costs and a better way of working?
Or are they so insecure about their own credibility & position in the market that they end up sounding pompous, ie, do they brag a lot?
Break down their video messages until you completely understand what they’re all saying.
This is part of the path to a genius software demo video.
4: Bring it all together
You’ll now have a much clearer picture of
- your customer issues
- and your paying-customer segments,
- as well as know which vertical market to focus on,
- and also what your competitors are saying.
Any video content you write has to satisfy all the above evidence you’ve gathered.
So make sure every line of script satisfies all of the above.
If you can do this you’ll have a potentially genius script on your hands
- a script you can use to fight back
- while still using low cost video production technology or people.
Of course you can still outsource the whole video project to a top video producer, and get an even better job than otherwise
- as you’ll be able to guide your producer more clearly
- by using the data you’ve already captured, analysed and assessed.
You'll notice I haven't discussed storyboard or visual issues? I'm assuming your low cost video-making package will have all the features you need for visualising your script.
How long should your software demo video be?
It’s very fashionable to say a software video must have immediate impact and be as short as possible, as video viewers are impatient types who’ll readily abandon if you make the video even slightly too long.
I disagree. All the data that went into compiling this myth of “the ultra short video” was mainly gleaned from analysing B2C customer behaviour, and all the fickleness that goes with it.
Very little of the abandonment data available is about B2B company viewing behaviour, let alone software buyer behaviour.
I should know, as I’ve searched often enough, and the only useful data I’ve found actually comes from Google themselves in Spring 2020.
Let me paraphrase it for you:
Google say (more or less) that if a viewer is passionate about a topic they’ll stay watching. And that this applies worldwide, everywhere.
And that “video message relevance” counts more than “video looks”, even if looks do matter.
My own experience of many customers, including many software developers, supports this.
B2B researching-buyers are mad passionate about transforming their businesses to run more efficiently, effectively and profitably.
If you’re showing them how to achieve this, they’ll watch.
This doesn’t automatically mean you should always make a long video.
It means make the video the length it ought to be to satisfy a potential client
- so they perceive your application as the market leader they need to solve their problems.
Of course you can always make two shorter videos rather than a single long one
eg, a higher cost teaser overview video, and a lower cost in-depth explainer video.
Weigh it up and decide for yourself.
Just don’t believe that anything over 60 seconds runtime will kill software sales, because it isn’t true.
That’s a B2C video marketing story, not a B2B story.
How much does a product demo video cost?
Should you spend $50, $500 or $5,000?
Everybody wants to understand software demo video cost so they know what they should pay.
There are arguments for and against high or low cost. Look at some software video samples online and figure which ones you like, and what they might have cost.
I prefer to look at the return on a video when I’m formulating a video budget.
Many times I’ve walked away from a higher cost production route because the incremental value of the video to my company was only small.
By comparison, when I know the gains are potentially large, I’ve invested more, confident that if the video is genius enough, I’ll make a handsome profit.
In short, consider the return you expect.
In fact set a minimum level of return as part of your video goal.
ie, check your video analytics after launch, such as goal-path to your subscription page or your enquiry page,
- which you can use to estimate whether your product demo video achieved its monetary target, its goal.
Yes, there will always be other factors besides the video that govern your success rate.
But measuring goal-paths is better than measuring video views or abandonments.
Personally I wouldn’t care if my video was abandoned many times
- so long as the goal path analysis showed a clear connection between the video viewing and the increased sales results
- and better still, that a conversion rate can be calculated.
Who cares if a pile of viewers find your video irrelevant, so long as real target customers still buy!
If you want to take this to the next level (and you should) you should segment your video data.
If you need a quick money-spend number for setting a video budget
- I’d suggest paying at least £1,000 per runtime minute, and quite possibly more than £2,000 per minute to get something really good that will hit your target.
But a genius may be able to do it for $50 if the data supports their case every step of the way.
A quick word on social media
This blog isn't about producing a facebook ad or youtube video.
Your B2B video marketing plan may include these, and your product demo video will probably contain most of the visual content you'll need, but it'll probably need repurposing specifically for social media marketing or blog post.
Software demo videos are worth it for lead generation or boosting SaaS subscriptions, because they win opportunities that you'll almost certainly miss otherwise.
They can win you a lot of credibility, especially if you’re a startup.
But without the initial research and data-gathering you’re loading the dice against you.
Large budgets always help, but even a dirt cheap product demo video can win with genius script content.
60 seconds is the standard length but don’t be fixated by this. Consider your audience’s needs & passions first.
Measure your video marketing success using goal path analysis from video to contact form or subscription page. Better still, segment it for greater accuracy.