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The top 5 challenges that threaten the success of your demo

According to YouTube, viewers watch more than 6 billion hours of video each month on the site. That’s almost an hour for every person on Earth. And that is 50% more1 than last year.

These stats are proof that video has become integral to online marketing. This comes as no surprise. We work with many clients who are interested in leveraging video to enhance their marketing communications.

The most popular video request we get is for product demos. When executed well, demos can be an incredibly effective tool. Read on to discover the top five challenges that threaten the success of your demo video, and tips on how to avoid falling victim to these pitfalls.

Challenge #1: You have too many objectives.

Like any successful marketing tactic, a demo needs a clear and measurable goal. If you have too many goals for your video, it can water down the content and lessen its effectiveness.

Define your objective by answering the following questions: What is the business goal you want to accomplish? Who is your target audience? What action should your audience take after viewing the video?

Your objective may be to drive more product adoption by targeting prospects and encouraging enrollment. Or you may decide that you want to increase current customers’ product engagement and usage. Once you define your objective, determine the type of demo that will be your best fit. We typically break demos into two categories.

1. Overview demo: communicates high-level features and benefits to drive product adoption

2. Instructional demo: gives step-by-step guidance to help drive product usage

Challenge #2: You know everything about your product.

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Knowing your product inside and out is definitely important. But it’s even more important to know your audience. To connect with them, you have to address their concerns, needs and questions in language they understand. Leverage frontline reps who have direct and frequent conversations with prospects and customers that give them valuable insights, frequently asked questions and confusing or misinterpreted product terminology.

Address common issues or questions in your demo to give your viewers the answers they are looking for. Remember that internal terminology is not always customer-friendly. It’s important to define unfamiliar terms and use universal, straightforward language.

Challenge #3: You will lose your viewers’ interest in 2.7 minutes.

It can be tempting to include every product benefit, detailed feature and positive customer testimonial in your demo. But too much of a good thing can be bad. Why? You have less than three minutes of your viewers’ attention.

The average length of a watched Internet video is 2.7 minutes.2 That means you have 162 seconds to communicate your most important and compelling content.

If your objective is to convert prospects into customers, your demo should be a high-level overview of product benefits. Communicate how your product can make life better for your audience. Don’t get bogged down with detailed product features.

Conversely, if your objective is to foster active customers, then you need to provide instructional, detailed content. But remember, you’ve only got 162 seconds. That may not be enough time to cover all the important details your customers need to know.

What to do? The best solution is to create multiple, highly focused videos. Start by compartmentalizing your product into topics or features that can be covered in a few minutes. Do this exercise with your audience in mind. Look at the product from their perspective and make sure you are clearly addressing their recurring issues and questions.

Challenge #4: The average attention span of a human is eight seconds.2

I know what’s going through your mind: I thought I had 162 seconds…now you’re telling me I only have eight?!

Don’t panic. You can keep your audience engaged longer if you constantly draw their attention. This sounds overwhelming, but it can actually be accomplished in a number of subtle ways.

1. Create dialogue. Monologue = monotonous. Listening to the same voice drone on and on can be mind-numbing. Instead, we suggest developing dialogue. One character questions, the other character answers and teaches. Viewers connect with the character asking questions, which encourages more interest in the answers.

2. Use complementary music. Music can add an upbeat tempo and aural interest to your video. However, beware of overpowering your viewer with music that is too loud or distracting.

3. Keep visuals dynamic. More than a few seconds of static images on-screen can cause viewers to lose interest. One way to add visual interest is by displaying brief text on-screen. This technique also helps reinforce important or complex information and is helpful for visual learners.

Challenge #5: More browsers, more problems.

 People are viewing online video in a variety of ways. The market share of browsers and devices is extremely fractured and vast. People are using everything from the newest tablets and mobile phones to outdated desktop browsers.

Why does this matter? Because browsers can be very finicky. Each one has video file preferences and tends to interpret code slightly differently.

HTML5, the latest and greatest version of HTML, makes matters more complicated. Although HTML5 features significant enhancements that make video playback more user-friendly by avoiding the use of plug-ins, 27% of browsers are not compatible with HTML5.3 These browsers still require a plug-in, such as Flash, to play video.

But these complications don’t change the fact that, regardless of how your audience is accessing video, they expect it to play!

Don’t despair. There is a solution! We recommend using a video player, such as SublimeVideo, to ensure consistent playback of your video across browsers and devices. Sublime serves up the correct video file for each browser and provides a Flash fallback for those browsers that don’t recognize HTML5. The result: consistent and user-friendly video viewing in this complex technological world.

Developing a successful online demo is not an easy task. But if you put these best practices to work, you’ll be on your way to creating one that enhances your marketing campaign and supports your business objectives.

  1. Source: YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html
  2. Source: The Associated Press, Research Date: April 28, 2013.
  3. Source: The State of HTML5 Video, http://www.longtailvideo.com/html5/

Driving Response and Action: Marketing Communications Best Practices

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