How to Move Beyond SaaS Product Demo Videos [Plus Product Video Alternatives]
Product demo videos have become commonplace in recent years.
According to a report from video marketing firm Wyzowl, the number of businesses using video as part of their marketing strategy rose from 61% in 2016 to 86% in 2021.
More and more, prospects want to see a product in action on their own time — they don’t want to wait for your sales team to get back to them with a traditional demo.
As demand has grown, so have the options available for making a product demo video, whether you choose to hire an external agency or decide to make your own using tools such as Loom or Vidyard.
But creating a compelling SaaS product demo video can be time-consuming and expensive. Is investing time and money to create a product demo worth the hassle?
In this article, we’ll explain the rise of product demo videos and why you might want to consider an alternative for your business.
What is a typical product demo video?
A product demo video showcases a particular set of product features in action. Usually, product demo videos start by acknowledging common customer pain points and then show how the product resolves them.
Because they can cater to multiple audiences, product demo videos are used on company websites, in social media posts, and as demo follow-ups.
Downsides of SaaS demo videos
With the rise of product-led growth, videos have become an increasingly popular marketing tool for SaaS companies.
But there are some distinct ways SaaS demo videos fall short of other go-to-market activities. So below, we’ll explore several reasons why you might want to reconsider product demo videos.
Product demo videos don’t enable leads to interact with your product — a key element of a product-led sales process.
So while prospects gain some information about the product and how it works, they often watch videos passively or barely at all.
In fact, Peep Laja, founder of Wynter, a B2B message testing platform, found that on an average site, only 10 to 15% of visitors watch the product video.
When asked how he arrived at the 10 - 15% figure, Peep shared,
“My source of data is seeing the analytics of hundreds of companies through our consulting business Speero. Video play rate is measured, and it’s consistently within the 10-15% range. I’m sure outliers exist too.”
Part of the reason why product videos get so little engagement is that they aren’t customized to prospective customers’ needs.
It takes time and money to create even one product demo video, so, unfortunately, many are “one size fits all.” And if a prospect doesn’t see features that are interesting to them, they’ll probably stop watching.
High-quality videos require skilled in-house creative teams — who are often pressed for time — or an external agency that specializes in video production and editing.
The average cost to produce a product demo video is between $1,000 and $3,000 per finished minute. Costs include filming, editing, and rendering.
If you want cream-of-the-crop narrators or instructors, videos can cost closer to $5,000 per minute. Adding animations can hike the total costs to $10,000.
Just one video can be a significant drain on multiple team members.
It takes time to get your thoughts down on paper and turn them into a more formal script. People on the sales, product, and customer success teams may want to weigh in, and more technical videos may require an additional time commitment from product SMEs.
That doesn’t even include finding a talented voiceover artist, deciding on music and sound effects, or even the actual recording or editing.
Even for expert agencies, it takes a minimum of one month to produce a top-notch video.
Product features can quickly become out of date.
Larger companies, for example Salesforce, typically change their UI 3 times per year, but if you work at a startup, you know things can evolve much faster. Small companies may deploy software updates as frequently as every month.
Redoing your product demo videos every time there is an adjustment is an overly expensive and time-consuming process. But not refreshing your videos means you risk people not knowing about features that may have prompted a conversion.
Alternative to Product Demo Video: Interactive Product Demo
An interactive product demo is a walkthrough of your product that allows prospects to get hands-on experience with your product when it’s convenient for them.
No code product demos help you guide prospects through key features of your product and customize them in a way that highlights features that will be of particular interest to particular personas.
Take a look at this product demo from Mixpanel. Prospects are immediately made aware of what Mixpanel is and what it does.
Then the demo explains how Mixpanel customers can visualize and break down engagement trends, build ad-hoc funnels, and determine retention drivers — all within the platform itself.
If users take the time to go through several steps, Mixpanel knows they are at least a little interested. So at that point, they invite the visitor to sign up for a free account or continue with the rest of the demo.
Presenting prospects with different options and showing them how modules work rather than telling them gives customers confidence that the product will actually suit their needs.
Why switch to an interactive product demo
Interactive product demos come with the potential to boost engagement, brand awareness, conversion rates, and more.
At Navattic, we’ve found that the best-performing demos have a 30% - 40% - engagement rate on average. But we’re not the only ones who’ve observed this pattern.
In a recent webinar, G2 cofounder, Tim Handorf, explained that prospects are 2 - 3 times more likely to click on an interactive demo than on a screenshot or video. And TrustRadius finds that buyers spend an average of 40 more minutes reading reviews after interacting with an interactive demo.
Why? Because interactive product demos allow you to give people options. Demos can include a checklist throughout that lets prospects skip directly to the parts they care most about.
That helps the sales lifecycle run much faster. Reps don’t have to waste time at the beginning of calls with level-setting questions, they can jump straight to what they do best — discovery and tailoring the demo to that prospects specific needs.
In contrast to videos, demos encourage users to get their feet wet, experiencing the product themselves.
Jason Oakley, former Senior Director of Product Marketing at Klue, says, “We just launched a number of new product pages, each with its own embedded Navattic tour. In a market where buyers want to self-educate and get behind the wheel, it's given us a way to make each page more informative and interactive.”
Interactive demos take far less prep time than videos. On average, it only takes 2 weeks from the time customers purchase Navattic to their tour go live on their website. And it takes around 30 minutes to an hour to create the demo, depending on how long the demo is.
Our customer, Accord, a customer-facing collaboration platform experienced this first-hand:
“Navattic tours have been much faster to update and launch than a full product demo video. When compared to planning and building a product video, a Navattic tour is significantly easier because we can operate at a much faster speed and iterate and update sections as the product UI changes rather than re-record and re-edit video content.”
And, according to TrustRadius, interactive demos also speed up the sales cycle — cutting the average time to close by 2 weeks.
Easy to update
One of the best parts about interactive product demos is that updating them to match your recent releases is quick and easy. Rather than starting from scratch, you simply insert new screen captures.
The team at Traackr, the leading intelligence platform for data-driven influencer marketing, explains that:
“Overall [interactive demos] are a better experience for us and our audience compared to video content because Navattic interactive demos are easier to create, update, and click through for end users.”
And the easy updates have paid off. Over the past few months, Traackr had, “Thousands of prospects visit our Navattic walkthroughs to experience product functionality firsthand.”
The best part is that Traakr has heard from prospects that their tours are engaging and a great preview of the product, making for a much more effective sales process.
Jason agrees — in his G2 review, he applauded Navattic’s ease of use:
“Navattic has made it so easy to create interactive product tours. Instead of relying on product videos that are quickly outdated and time-consuming to change, Navattic gives us a way to create an engaging product experience and make changes on the fly.”
Observing prospects’ behavior can tell you a lot about what might convince them to make a purchase and what new features might be worth incorporating into your product in the future.
Directly funneling the most engaged prospects to sales along with a description of their demo behavior helps reps better tailor their demos to what people actually want to see.
Ultimately, built-in tracking streamlines the sales process and gets prospects to convert faster.
Product demo videos are a popular tool because they’re engaging, informative, and give your customers a real sense of how your product works. But they come with drawbacks around cost and implementation time.
Interactive product demos can create similar outputs in half the time, providing all the same benefits as product videos and more. To start your interactive product demo journey, consider reading:
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