Following on from our example of effective software video tutorials, let’s discuss how to get this kind of video right.
Creating software video tutorials
Video tutorials are a really great way to explain the details of your software functionality while also providing value to existing customers. It’s also a good investment on your time because each tutorial serves two purposes, to show off the top features to potential customers (who may look into how easy it is to pick up, especially if they are planning on training a team) and upgrading customers, and to help out existing customers who are struggling to get to grips with something and so are at risk of going elsewhere.
Video tutorials are also a good idea when trying to explain all the detailed functionality of your product is just too much detail to go into for a typical short form marketing video – which should be under 2 minutes and focus on only explaining the key features and benefits (USP). By slowly exposing the product’s specific functionality over a series of tutorials, you can ease in new customers and induct more advanced users that would like to see all the features in action.
Evernote have done this to show how you can easily create batch links to notes within a notebook that ease the sharing of notebooks with others (as everyone likes to organise their notes differently). They provide overview videos of several of their products while also providing tutorial style videos to depict deeper functionality. Here are some pointers:
1. Branding and labelling
Don’t forget to describe succinctly what is getting done in the video, and remember to include a clear branding like a logo and brand/product name to assert that this is the official and authoritative source of information.
Keep it simple, pace it for amateurs and focus on results. You don’t want the video to be so fast and detailed that no-one but the developer can keep up with it, or so slow and repetitive that it becomes too boring. Only use the language required to refer to specific functional features such as context menus in the application, but where this is unnecessary explain what is happening in plain language – often simple functionality is self-explanatory, depending on what conventions you inherit. Remember to include an introduction and a recap.
3. Keep the audio message clear
We are all used to taking verbal instruction, so it’s frustrating when you can’t hear or understand someone speaking. Speak clearly and loudly into the mic (without causing it to overload) and use someone who has proven charisma and presentation skills (provide them with a script if necessary). Good pronunciation along with consistent diction and a clear terminology are also important. Again, use minimal technical language.
Use a high quality microphone – many USB headsets are available with good quality mics (e.g. Logitech, Sennheiser), auto-gain settings and even USB-powered studio-quality large diaphragm condenser mics – such as the Samson C03U – that you can just plug in and go. There’s no excuse for irritating, noisy and distorted audio in your voiceover, this will really put off viewers, especially when the cost of production can be minimal. Even your own customers or 3rd party tutorial sites could be offering home-made tutorials of a superior quality, and as such you should consider these to be competitors!
4. Good video quality is a must
Always record the video in HD (1080p) – many modern displays can be set to 1920×1080 and then you can record your tutorial using a screen-casting (or “screen recording”) app – we recommend Camtasia Studio (Windows and Mac). Alternatively film the screencast at your native (maximum) resolution and then output to 1080p HD (any option for “YouTube HD” “Web HD” and the like is fine – technically you’re looking at H.264-encoded MP4, square pixels, with a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels). Nothing is more frustrating than watching a tutorial that tells you exactly what you want to know but you have to watch it through a veil of pixelated, overly-compressed mess. To ensure clarity in the casting, download a good screen-casting app that will highlight clicks and keyboard shortcuts in the video to avoid over-explanation of simple commands. They can also magnify certain areas of the screen.
It’s a good idea to test the tutorials out on somebody that fits your demographic but has never used the software before – this way you will know if you have glazed over any important details. Oh, and don’t forget to include URLs at the end of the video to your software’s landing page and more tutorials.
Don’t give these advantages away to the competition. Good quality video tutorials help reduce the gap between (potential) new customers and expert loyal ones. Remember – your software is only useful if it is accessible to your target audience.
Video tutorials are just one way a software company can capitalise on the power of video to engage customers and generate leads. For more take a look at [How to get the most out of video for software companies], subscribe to RSS and follow us on Twitter for updates. Need help with your video content or simply don’t have the time? Get in touch.