Last week in our Conversion Optimization challenge I asked, how would you improve this Quick Tour demo video found on the homepage of I won’t tell you any more about them. If you don’t know them it’s because the video should do a better  job of “selling” you.

Watch the explainer video below and let me know in the comments if a) did this make you want to use on your website  b) what would you do to improve this video c) are there any question you have about the service that were not mentioned here?


Step 1- How you open with your first mental image: Any product demo video or explainer video has to tell a great story in a relatively short amount of time. What proves to be true is that just like in every other media, you have to capture people in the first 8-12 seconds if you want them to stick around for a minute or longer. Does the beginning of your presentation video having them nodding in agreement, understanding what the problem is and anxiously anticipating what is coming next?

Step 2: How you end with your final mental image: You should then plan out what you want your viewer to do at the end. What action would you want them to take? What thoughts do you want them to leave with?

Step 3: What you choose to ignore: Lastly, you need to figure out what to leave out from the middle of your story. This is where too many demo and explainer videos go wrong. They try to cram in too much information, leaving the information density so high that people can’t really grasp what you are trying to share with them. Only leave in the most important parts to the personas viewing your presentation.

How would we improve the quick tour video?

Jim F. Kukral, who has lots of experience creating explainer videos points out that the all the elements of a great story are there but…
It’s a great video. My only critique is they didn’t really state the problem clearly right at the front. They showed us people having problems, but didn’t tell me, their potential customer, what benefit I get from them. What the solution to my biggest problem was. They do, just not fast enough?
Bobby Hewitt thinks the story structure is all off:

Jim is right, the problem / benefit has not been clearly defined or explained up front.

…no call to action at the end…

Also, the sequence of the video seems to be out of alignment with the thought sequence of the classic AIDA or other models of selling. The video presented the solution too soon without really framing it by showing some test examples up front. A good test would be to reorder the existing video so that the solution comes in later in the video. more like this. Problem 0:00 – 0:02 > Solution Explanation stating at the 0:56 sec mark, leaving the actual user test to appear much later in the video almost at the end, but before the missing call to action.

Ophir Prusak wants there story to be more concrete by using specifics and setting expectations:

The existing comments. My 2 cents:
* The video is too long. You have 60 of my attention. no more.
* The sequence should be:
– This is your problem
– Here are some other solutions which are worse than what we are going to offer
– We offer X which will solve your problem
– Mention some specific uses (Is your checkout process intuitive? etc)
– Set expectations (most companies discover real issues with just 2-3 feedbacks)
– Here are actual example recordings.

For a guide on making your stories and marketing more effective and more concrete, pick up the must read Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick.
Laura Grimes Alter, a UserTesting power user shares:

Ah, one of my favorite tools and one of the most engaged teams I have worked with as a customer! Love them!

As much as I love THEM, I think this video isn’t thrilling. I think y’all covered the main points well – I just think as a passionate customer, this didn’t have me nodding my head in excitement.

And the echoing voiceover was distracting…

What’s the goal of this video? If it’s to explain the functionality of the service, you win. I know the stuff you can do because I watched it all. But, if you want people forwarding this to their boss saying, “WE NEED THIS!” I don’t think that’s happening.

Like others said, I just don’t know what problems you solved for me. I know that I can test the functionality and experience of my site, but I don’t know, for example, that the functionality updates I have been asking for at work for months can suddenly jump to the head of the dev queue because with your help I can now “prove” the urgency of the problems to my team. (You can’t argue with a video of a customer…)

The audience here is a specific crowd – marketing and optimization folks. And most often, marketing folks who are also responsible for optimization. It’s not clear to me that you know *me* – it’s like you are talking to anyone. Tell me that you know what I am already doing and the tools I am using to make sure I know what’s happening on my website, and then tell me why I need you, too.

What’s unfortunate is that I think this video puts UserTesting,com in a nice-to-have category when I think it’s a must-have. What problem do I have without you, You didn’t say…

But I still love this company… they rock. :)

Jeff Sexton who is a master storyteller through copywriting, who enjoys deconstructing explanatory videos breaks down this video:

The first 55 seconds are golden. Great wide ranging selection of Websites and problems. I especially like the use of a mobile site, and think the use of Amazon gave added credibility around the kinds of companies using their services.

But as other commenters have mentioned, there was no clear definition of the problem and certainly no “agitation” of that problem in terms of the Problem-Agitation-Solution. Nothing along the lines of “what analytics won’t show you…”

And maybe it’s just me, but the next 10 seconds or so of this employs what I call the dreaded Over-Obvious Rhetorical Question. “What if you could…” Hell, why not just make the darn offer in specific terms rather than coyly “building up” to the offer with more vague rhetorical “what if” questions.

Also not so sure the “And just two people in a garage” line is necessary. Are you trying to convince start-ups that they can afford you? Then I think plainly telling people your service starts at $30 would do a better job of that.

Then there’s the 5 step portion of the video, wherein I felt that the video sped past really important persuasive stuff, while also dwelling too long on examples and details that really didn’t deserve the time. For example, the video takes 10 seconds to run through all sorts of scenarios in explaining “Step 1: Select what you want to test.” Frankly, I think the video could streamline that section to save time for “Step 2: choose the tasks.” On Step 2, the video blows right past the idea of task banks and templates, taking less than 4 seconds to barely mention these features, even though those features are HUGELY important for prospective customers new to user testing. Why not spend more time on THAT?

Similarly, the video adds no credibility to the claim, made in Step 3, that one could choose a “samurai warrior from LA.” MORE INFO HERE PLEASE. Tell us how successfully you are able to fullfill these kinds of specific requests and how big your user tester database is. Make me beleive that I really could get a Samurai for a user tester.

Additional areas I would add more emphasis to include: the ability to navigate videos by task and to cut clips of videos out for sharing and inclusion in presentations. These are really attractive features that are just glossed over.

I also think that the last 12-14 seconds of the film are just animated showing off. Cute, but not persuasive. Why not use that time for expanded demonstration of the previously mentioned features.

And if you are going to close strong, why not do so with an Call To Action instead of a tagline?

5 things to test in your demo/explainer video checklist:

  • Opens. What is the first mental image you give your viewers in your video? What is the still image that appears before they click play? How will you capture their interest in the first five to seven seconds? By the way, 80 percent of the people that watch the first 12 seconds of your video will watch till about 70 seconds worth of the video.
  • Closes/calls to action. What is your final mental image? Have you created enough desire to get your viewer to take the next call to action? Not every product video will lead visitors to a sale, so plan that some may only be good to get people to see the next demo or learn more. Sometimes it may be more effective to not include any call to action in your video if you’ve designed your product page’s call to action effectively. This will make a bigger difference if the video is embedded on your page or on a third-party website.
  • Information density. Too frequently marketers try to say too much in too little time. I’m often guilty of this. You also must balance not saying too little that the video becomes slow and boring. You don’t need to answer every question in the video but you must create desire. Remember, oftentimes less equals more. So for example, instead of saying your product even works on an iPhone, you can show the interface working on an iPhone. Often times, you should think of breaking your video down into several videos just like Monetate does on their homepage with one service overview and one product demo video.
  • Specifics/screenshots (when people see actual interfaces screens, even mocked-up ones, they tend to increase conversions). This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m a marketing tool junkie and I built out a website to store my favorite tools at I have over 170 tools there and I can’t begin to tell you why many of them don’t have any actual screenshots of the application/software/tool anywhere on their site. At a minimum, if you can’t get video produced, at least put up some great screenshots and show how they will benefit users.For best results, try to make a demonstration – a matter-of-fact informative thing, not a sales performance. A set of good still images or slides will outperform an overly-produced video.
  • Voices matter. Should you use a male voice or a female voice for the voiceover? What accent should the voiceover have? This is especially important if you have international sales. Try to use doubt in the voiceover’s voice.

Examples of effective demo or explainer videos:

Hat tip to Rand Fishkin for the Mosaic video.

This was for an earlier version of Scribe SEO, they have since released Scribe SEO 4.0.

This is for one of Monetate’s latest product releases Merchandiser.

This one is from Jim Kukral’s Funnervids.

*Lastly, let me share a Video Buyer’s Guide from my friends at Simplifilm.


Boy With Movie Clapper Board image from BigStockPhoto.