Turning website visitors into customers is more likely if they can get a feel for what your product looks like and offers. Recorded demos are a way of providing attention grabbing product display and demonstration 24/7 without you needing to leave the office.

New development software makes it possible to create DIY product demos relatively easily and inexpensively. These days most of the challenge lies in deciding the storyline, creating interesting graphics and developing navigation links through the demo so as to make it an easy-to-operate and enjoyable experience for the prospect. For the business that doesn’t want to go it alone, an agency can be hired to design and create a recorded product demo.

Recorded product demos can be produced using a variety of software technologies ranging from the humble PPT presentation through to complete video+voice productions. Real estate firms make considerable use of the ‘roving camera’ technique to create virtual walk-throughs of their properties. DEWALT, a manufacturer of power tools, kept production costs down by using existing marketing copy and photos. In conjunction with Flash animations and the use of callouts to point out the exterior and interior features of their products, they developed simple yet informative and attractive recorded demos of 160 of their products. They also allow end-users to interact with the product via 360-degree rotation and zoom capabilities. Destination Lighting displays their range of residential lighting fixtures and home accessories by allowing visitors to take a virtual tour of a home online. Moving through the different rooms in their Open House you can visualise how different types of lighting fixtures provide light and atmosphere and check out their full product range.

Five tips for creating a compelling recorded product demonstration
  1. Keep your audience and purpose in mind: don’t make the mistake of confusing a demo with a training session. Each recorded product demo should be created with one particular purpose and audience in mind. If the intent is to market to customers, then the message will be about how the product works and how it will meet their need. If you serve a diverse range of customers, each of which might be looking for particular features and benefits that would suit them, then create a demo for each by adding customised information to a generic version.

  2. Keep the design flexible: if sufficient thought is put into the development of the script it may be possible to re-purpose the demo for different audiences with only slight modifications to the text or graphics. In this way the basic customer oriented presentation could easily and cheaply be re-purposed to suit sales training, reseller information or a trade show display.

  3. Keep it useable: be aware of the demands your demo is going to make on the technology employed by your target audience. Shockwave and other browser plug-ins can produce powerful multimedia effects, but computer novices are hesitant about downloading and configuring them. Some media are so bandwidth hungry they put hi-tech demos out of reach of Net users with older computers. New browsers or browser versions may not support an older downloadable demo, so it's critical to check how your demos behave by testing them across versions and as upgrades are introduced.

  4. Capture prospect information: people who have taken the time to watch a recorded product demo presumably are in the market for the product. Don’t let the opportunity slip away with the end of the demo. In the demo include an option for them to request further details, have you call them personally, or put them on your mailing list. If they take up any of these offers you have a hot prospect.

  5. Don’t demand too much of the prospect’s time: regardless of how intrinsically interesting a product is or how engaging the demo, there is a definite limit to the demand on a prospect’s time it should make. The demo sets the stage for a purchase — other information that might be of interest can be made available elsewhere on the site as fact sheets, white papers and case studies. For a generic product a presentation of 3 minutes or so is about right. If the product is complex or high cost, 10-15 minutes could be justified so as to adequately explain the product and build confidence in the prospect.
Engaging prospects with rich media and video pays off. Virtual product demos have been successful in improving conversion rates on those sites that use them.