How to Make a Great Demo Video for Your App
Helpful tips for shooting your
first demo video about your new app
Many developers often are challenged in creating their demo video for their app. If this sounds like you, this tip will be useful so you can create a powerful video that results in more customer acquisitions. If not, then you’ll have a quick checklist that you have it right.
Recorded videos and even audio can be a bit intimidating — I get it. We all want to put our best foot forward and leave a great first impression to viewers. I have good news for you — the video doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, most video viewers are okay with casual, simple videos versus a high-dollar professional production. Substance matters in a video, so here are some solid tips to improve your demonstration video.
HAVE A PLAN FOR WHAT CONTENT
YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN
Like a good film, a demo video should have an underlying story that you want to tell. Some people might dwell on the word “story,” so replace it with “narrative” if it makes you more comfortable. Your video should tightly connect a series of events (actual or imaginary) into a brief over that compels people to take action. This is your chance to write the story that others will know and tell others.
While your app is probably very useful and interesting, you might want to mention a few points about its beginnings, its founders and even some of your first customers. It doesn’t have to be very specific, just a little bit of the background on why you created your app. Even if you don’t think it’s a flashy (or grungy) start in a garage, people are interested in humble or scrappy starts behind apps. Don’t forget to emphasize the problem that you’re solving!
The length of the video shouldn’t be more than a few minutes. You can always do shorter, but no longer than four minutes. In that four minutes, you need to be conscientious that you have limited time and should put the most important takeaways first. It’s not that people don’t have time for long videos; rather, if you can communicate its benefits clearly and succinctly, you don’t know your app or its intended audience well enough.
In that video, show, not tell. The more you can demonstrate your points visually, the less you have to explain verbally. And for what can’t be demonstrated, make it snappy and simple for people to understand. You can do professional animations, but I don’t recommend spending big bucks on this just yet. This is your opportunity to test various messages and figure out what works to excite and inspire your audience.
CREATE A SHORT
PRESENTATION OR SCREENCAST
If you’re camera-shy, no problem. Even if you love the camera, with three minutes or less to spare, you need to get to the good stuff right away. A good way to tell a story and show your app off is to use a simple PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. Avoid using boring/cliché clip art. Don’t load up your slides with more than a few sentences of text or more than six bullet points. You do have a lot of flexibility to get your points across, but be realistic that you’re not Steven Spielberg.
I recommend splitting your video into two parts. The first two minutes should use slides and the last minute for a screencast demo. Feel alive and energetic when delivering your presentation. If you have a spectacular design for your app, it may be preferable can lead with that and narrate over the top of it. If you have doubts, do both and test your audience’s response.
It’s okay to take some reasonable liberties about your audience. For instance, if you created a social media monitoring app, you don’t need to explain the merits of Twitter or Facebook. Keep it focused as if you have a captive audience in front of you.
USE HIGH-QUALITY AUDIO
You don’t need to go to a music studio to get great sound for your video. Avoid using the internal laptop microphone since the sound appears thin and tinny. A Blue Snowball or other condenser mic (via USB, even), will work perfectly for narrating a video. Have a cup of room-temperature water nearby so you can take sips without changing the pitch of your voice. (When you drink cold water, your voice changes a bit and you often have to compensate to normalize your voice.)
If you don’t have access to a condenser mic, don’t laugh, but try recording the audio in a walk-in closet or another small room. Avoid echos or other noises like air conditioners, fans or people. With less cubic footage in the room, the sound will be tighter and not pick up other outside noises. Avoid recording near a window in case ambulances, trains or even planes interrupt your demo.
If you have difficulty (like I do) narrating your demo while doing a screencast, no problem. Do the demo out loud to yourself a couple times and get the pace and the substance. Then afterward, you can use an audio recorder like Audacity or GarageBand to lay down your narrator track. Then use a program like iMovie or Camtasia to put your narrator track with the video. Plan to do several takes to get the right one. Don’t beat yourself up for a few “Uh’s and Um’s” — you’re human. Be patient and you’ll get the right cut. If you mess up, pause give yourself a couple seconds of silence and resume. This will help you when you edit the breaks and cuts later so you’re not mincing words in the video editor.
If you want to add a bit of music to set the tone for the video, don’t just find any music from your iTunes library. That music is unlicensed for reproduction! Instead, use royalty-free music for use in commercial videos. Not finding what you want? You can skip it.
GET TO THE MEAT,
SAVE THE DETAILS FOR LATER
As far as content goes, here’s what I recommend for a format:
- Your Name, Name of App — Hi, I’m Jane with AcmeApp.”
- What the app does — “It generates leads from your blog.”
- Parallel example of existing known apps — “We’re the Uber for Realtors” (But please don’t use Uber; it’s all too common and annoys people.)
- Who the app benefits — “Realtors, landlords and property managers love what we do because ...”
- Qualify the audience — “It’s ideal for those with more than 10 properties and they need ...”
- Key Benefits — “This app tracks changes to your listings on your blog, Zillow, and MLS services. It increases your leads and sales while keeping costs low. It helps you save time in manually pulling stats for reports.”
- Proprietary Features — “We developed a unique method of tracking property listings from over 35 different sources. Unlike Google Analytics, we track the entire marketing funnel and offer proven recommendations.”
- Show the App — “It’s easy to get started. Simply log into AcmeApp, click here, choose that, drag this, drag that … and you’re done. Just follow the recommendations so you can [restate your benefits, support them].”
- Conclude with a Call to Action — “ Get started today by visiting acmeapp.com and create your free account. Since we’re just launching, our service is half-price for a limited time. Visit acmeapp.com for more information!”
I know that looks like a lot. Truthfully, it is. It’s up to you to cut it down and make it fit without being too rushed. It will force your key points to come across in the shortest amount of time possible. Leave the details, feature lists and other non-critical information for the website. The goal is to build intrigue, quick understanding and desire for your app. Much like a car commercial on TV, you don’t need to list all the features the car has, just enough to build interest and get people to the website or the dealership.
When you apply these tips in your video, you will have a more qualified buyer, a more educated customer and help your audience quickly decide whether or not they want to learn more.
Good luck and don’t sweat the small stuff! ☺
Main image photo credit.