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How to increase downloads with a great app demo

Apple’s App Store may have only gone live in 2008, but, incredibly, Steve Jobs was already thinking – and talking about – the idea as early as 1983. 

6 months before the launch of the first Macintosh, he outlined his vision for what this might look like: 

“It would be a little like a record store,” he said, “where software would be downloaded over phone lines.”

Fast forward 37 years, and that vision is very much a reality – indeed, mobile apps account for around 80-90% of all mobile time, according to some studies.

Whether you’re planning a journey, managing your accounts, getting fit, gaming or connecting with friends and family, a new saying generally applies: “There’s an app for that.” 

Brands and entrepreneurs have responded as you’d expect: flooding the market with literally millions of apps – and thousands more every day – to tap into this goldmine of an opportunity.

Naturally, that creates competition.

How does your app capture attention? How do you quickly and effectively explain what your app does? How do you convince would-be users to take the plunge and download?

There are many answers to all of these questions, of course, but one that pops up time and again as a compelling factor is a great app demo.

What is an app demo?

An app demo is a video that demonstrates your mobile app – what it does, and how it works – giving your audience a quick, easy understanding of what’s on offer.

It generally uses either direct screen recordings from your app – or an illustrated recreation of the app interface – to demonstrate the real-world functionality and experience your users can expect if they download it.

There are obviously exceptions, but the majority tend to be short videos, around the 30-60 second mark.

Many of them appear on the actual app pages on Google Play, App Store and other app marketplaces, but – as we’ll cover throughout the article – they can be used in a variety of places, for a variety of purposes.

Benefits of an app demo

  • Help convert ‘maybe’ users. We all know it isn’t easy to drive traffic onto your app page. When people arrive on that page – whatever app marketplace it may be – you want to make the most of the opportunity. Video is a great way to optimise the conversion rate of app pages – it gives your audience the quickest possible route to that ‘eureka’ moment where they understand what you’re offering. Our research suggests that 74% of people have been convinced to buy or download a piece of software or app by watching a video.
  • Build awareness in different channels. Few pieces of content are quite as versatile as an app demo. Not only can you use it on your app store pages – you can also use it on your website, in your email signatures, upload it to YouTube (the web’s second largest search engine!) use it at physical events and expos, incorporate it into sales/investment pitches and so much more.
  • Build realistic expectations. App demos let you get super clear about what your app can do – as well as what it can’t. This sounds slightly counterintuitive, but building realistic expectations and clear understanding about what your app offers to would-be users is important, since it minimises the people who download it expecting something it can’t deliver.
  • Reduce uninstalls and negative reviews. The net result of setting those realistic expectations is that the people who download your app are as likely as possible to get maximum value from it. This is really significant since studies often show that most apps are deleted within a week – often because the app doesn’t do what the user was expecting it to do.
  • Hold attention – Most app marketers are on-board with the idea of using screenshots and text descriptions to explain their app. But video offers so much more – it gives a clear picture of how those different features slot together into an app experience, as well as an easy-to-digest run-through of key features and functionality. The bottom line? People like to learn using video. In fact, when asked how they’d most like to learn about a new product or service – two-thirds of people (66%) said they’d most prefer to watch a short video (comfortably the most common answer.) 
  • Differentiate from the competition. Video is a sensory experience, engaging many different learning styles – every stylistic decision you make says ‘something’ about your app, your brand, your vision. The music you choose, the colours you use, the voiceover style. This gives you a great chance to consciously and subconsciously hit home some significant messages about who you are and what you’re offering, which can bring your ‘brand personality’ to the fore – and help differentiate from others in the market.

Using an app demo to increase downloads 

So, how do you go about creating a great demo video for your app? 

We’ll split the process into two parts: creating your video, and then promoting it. Both are equally important!

Creation

  1. Get some inspiration

Many app marketers don’t necessarily have experience of video marketing, and the risk, therefore, is to come into the process without a clear idea of what you actually want.

This is an important first step: video is simply too broad a medium, with too many choices and variables, to come into this without at least a rough idea of what you’re looking for.

It’s always a good idea to check out your competitors to see what sort of videos they’re using – which are working? Which are not as effective? How would you like to position differently – and what would you like to emulate?

Look beyond your industry, too: we’ve created an awesome resource of over 170 great videos here, and you can filter it using the ‘Video type’ drop down to just show app demo videos.

Check out some of the top performing apps on Google Play and the App Store to check out their videos, too.

Simply by taking a look at what others are doing, you’ll often be able to isolate a rough idea of what you like and dislike. And, as always, if you’re struggling – get in touch with our team and we can walk you through the process to find a style that works.

  1. Create a brief

The next step we recommend is to create a brief. This sounds intimidating, but it’s really just a way to take that messy idea dump you assembled in step 1, and turn it into something coherent and understandable. 

As a minimum we’d recommend creating a document that sets out:

  • Your ideal video length
  • 2-5 key features to get across in the video
  • Call to action – what do you want the viewer to do after watching?
  • Style – list 2-3 examples you like, as well as noting what you like about them. 

It’s important, even at this stage, to be aware that each app store has its own rules and guidelines – the last thing you want is to invest in creating a video that subsequently gets rejected. 

  1. Write a script

Based on all of this, it’s time to write a script. Different people use different script documents and formats but ours is a simple double-column document, where the left-hand side of the document is the voiceover (as it will be read, verbatim) and the right-hand side is a description of what will be happening on screen. Each row in this table is a different scene or section of the video.

Writing the voiceover: Our rule of thumb is that a well-paced, professional voiceover is read at around 130 words per minute, so use the following formula to estimate your video length:

(Voiceover word count ÷ 130) x 60 = Estimated video length (in seconds)

An online tool like Word Counter is useful here, allowing you to sketch out the messaging for your video with the word count displaying prominently above the text window, and updating in real-time as you write.

Writing the action-on-screen: There are two keys here. One is detail – include as much information as necessary to express your vision for how the video will be pieced together. Where do you click, what data do you enter, what happens with the device itself? The other is pacing – and it’s impossible to overstate how important this is.

Try and roughly estimate how long each section of action-on-screen will take to play out to make sure you don’t get any excessive pauses or rushed voiceover sections. You want each section to be smooth, clear to understand – but not overly sluggish. (Script writing is included in our demo video package!)

  1.  Create the video (or hire an expert)

This is where many people start – and it can really undermine them, since they haven’t established a clear idea of what they want to achieve and get across.

If you’re looking to record the video yourself, you can make the recordings on your screen using a tool like Quicktime which comes pre-installed on most Apple devices. 

You might also want to include a voiceover – which you can record yourself if you have the right setup, or find a professional using a freelancer service or hire an expert video agency like Wyzowl (shameless plug).

A DIY video is always appealing because of its low cost, and it’s often a good way to validate the idea of actually having a video – but don’t forget there’s an opportunity cost here, too. It’s often a false economy – as with all marketing material, the quality (or lack thereof) does say a lot about your brand, product or service. A potential user watching your video is an opportunity to really wow them and excite them about your app, and, given how widely a great video can be used, it’s often worth pushing the boat out and getting something really special produced. As the saying often goes – buy cheap, buy twice!

Promotion

One of the most appealing things about a demo video is its versatility – how many ways you can use it. So here are just a few ways…

  • Add it to your app store pages. This should help educate and convert people more effectively than screenshots alone.
  • Add it to your website, so people who end up there can get a flavour for how it works and what it does within seconds.
  • Upload to YouTube. We’ve mentioned it previously, but YouTube is the web’s 2nd largest search engine. Having a presence on there can boost app discovery – particularly if you optimise the video around keywords that people might search for our of interest, e.g. ‘manage projects’ or ‘track my workouts.’ If you can be prominently positioned when people search for these keywords, you stand a great chance of reaching people who’ve never previously heard about your app. Free tools like WhatsmySERP and Answer the Public are a great way to work out what people are searching for, and in what volume!
  • Use it on your social channels – you can use snippets of your video for your profile imagery e.g. Facebook profile video. This means the people who just land on your social channels can immediately get that little bit of ‘extra’ that shows them how your app works.
  • Paid social ads. Social media advertising is great because it lets you target just the right people with just the right message. If you’ve got an app for a very specific type of audience, and you’re struggling with organic reach, advertising is a great (and instant) way to remedy that. Our top tip here? Start small and build up. You don’t want to throw money at advertising when you aren’t sure what the ROI is going to be. Start small, find your groove, validate the idea – then scale.
  • Put a thumbnail in your email signatures. Every email that goes out from your company is an opportunity to educate people about your app and how it works.
  • Show the video at physical events. Have the video playing behind you at events, exhibitions. Take it to sales and investment pitches. Diversifying your message in this way is a slick, professional way to show what your app is and how it works!
  • Track the impact (and be ready to improve). As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t track. Most channels you upload your video to will offer some form of analytics, which will allow you to monitor how many views you’re getting, how that compares to the overall traffic to your page, how much of the video your viewers watch, and what they do after watching. (Check out our article about the most important video metrics for marketers in 2020 here.)  If you identify areas of underperformance – maybe there’s a heavy drop off or people aren’t converting – think about trying again, highlighting different features, changing up your messaging, and trying a fresh approach. As always, it would be amazing if you absolutely nailed it the first time round – but marketing is rarely quite that simple!

Thanks for reading

An app demo is a brilliant way to encapsulate the essence of your app, and get across all the main features and selling points in a beautiful 30-60 second package. 

In this article we’ve shared a few of our top tips in terms of creating and promoting that video to achieve the best possible result. 

If, at any stage, you’re struggling – then feel free to get in touch with our team here at Wyzowl. We’ve made hundreds of demo videos for customers just like you and would be happy to share further info and insight!