Product demos are essential to showcasing your brand and products to potential customers. They allow prospects to explore your offerings without actually seeing the real product. There are two main product demos types: video and interactive. Both have pros and cons regarding efficacy, cost, and user experience.
This article compares and contrasts these two types of demos to help businesses determine which option is best suited for their needs.
Video demos involve creating a short video highlighting the product’s key features and functions. Businesses have traditionally used them to overview how a product works. In contrast, straightforward and inexpensive to produce, static video demos lack interactivity and leave little room for customization. Prospective buyers cannot manipulate the product or test specific features independently.
On the other hand, interactive product demos allow users to explore the product through a simulated online environment. They provide a more immersive and engaging experience for potential buyers through trial, simulation, and hands-on interaction with the product’s interface. Although more complex and costly, interactive demos typically result in higher conversion rates and more qualified business leads.
Now let’s dive into the details.
The main advantage of creating a video demo is that it is a simple and cost-effective way to demonstrate how a product works. Some of the major pros of using video demos include:
Video demos are relatively inexpensive to produce. Businesses only need a product sample, a video camera, and basic editing software. No complex interactive elements are required.
Video demos are easy to create and distribute. Businesses do not need sophisticated technical expertise to shoot and edit demonstration videos.
Video demos provide a high-level overview of the full range of a product’s features and functionalities. They give prospects a general idea of what the product can do.
Videos are a familiar and convenient medium for most customers. They can be accessed and viewed on demand through a company website or social media channels.
However, video demos also have some limitations compared to interactive alternatives:
Prospects cannot manipulate or test the product for themselves within the demo. They are only shown how it works. This passive format limits a user’s ability to visualize real-world usage.
The viewer is constrained to the single viewpoint and path demonstrated in the video. They cannot zoom in, rotate or explore from different angles alone.
The viewer has no control over the pace and flow of the demo. They must watch the entire video from start to finish at the recorded speed.
A video demo of a product does not provide the same sense of realism as interacting with it directly. It lacks the tactile and audio feedback of an actual product experience.
Those are some of the major pros and cons businesses should consider when determining whether to create a simple video demo or a more advanced interactive product demo.
While more complex and expensive to produce, interactive product demos offer a more immersive experience for potential customers. Here are the main pros and cons associated with interactive demos:
Prospects can freely manipulate and test features of the simulated product. This hands-on experience closely mimics how the real product would be used.
Users can customize the demo experience based on their specific needs and interests. They can focus only on relevant features and functionalities.
The interactive format keeps users engaged for longer periods within the demo environment. This typically leads to higher conversion rates.
Prospects can explore the demo at their own pace and from different viewpoints. They have full control over the pace and flow of the experience.
Interactive demos provide a more realistic sense of how the product works through simulation and feedback. This improves visualization for the user.
Interactive demos require complex software, expertise, and resources to develop. This makes them significantly more expensive to produce compared to video demos.
Developing sophisticated interactive experiences can be technically challenging. Businesses require specialized expertise and tools to create high-quality interactive demos.
Interactive demos take longer to develop and update. Any changes require reprogramming the entire interactive environment.
While interactive, the demo remains a simulation of the real product. It cannot perfectly mimic all aspects of the actual user experience.
In summary, while video demos are cheaper and simpler to produce, interactive demos generally provide a superior user experience that translates to better marketing results. Businesses must evaluate their needs, budgets, and technical capabilities to determine which type of demo is most appropriate.
There are a few key situations where video demos may be a better choice for businesses:
If you simply want to provide prospects with a high-level look at your product’s main features and functionalities, a basic video demo showing those features in action is likely sufficient.
If your marketing budget is limited, a video demo is a more affordable initial option to showcase your product or service to potential customers.
For products with extremely complex features and functionalities, a video demo may do a more effective job of walking prospects through each aspect in a structured manner.
If your prospects only require a passive look at your product and do not need hands-on interaction, a simple video demo will meet their needs at a lower cost.
Interactive demos are recommended in the following situations:
If prospects need to closely examine and test specific features to fully understand your product, an interactive demo allows them to customize their experience to meet those needs.
For expensive or mission-critical products, interactive demos typically result in higher conversion rates by giving prospects a more realistic sense of how the product meets their specific requirements.
If visualization of how your product works is important for prospects, an interactive demo provides a level of realism and hands-on feedback that video alone cannot match.
The interactive format is naturally more engaging for users, which can lead to higher qualification rates and more leads for your sales team.
In summary, businesses must consider their marketing objectives, prospects’ needs, and budget constraints to determine whether a video or interactive demo is better for their product or service. In some cases, a combination of the two may be most effective.
For some products, a hybrid approach using both video and interactive demos can be highly effective:
Businesses can provide an initial high-level video walkthrough of the full product capabilities and functionalities. An interactive section then allows prospects to dive deeper into specific areas of interest.
An interactive demo environment gives prospects free rein to manipulate and explore the product independently. Contextual videos then play automatically to explain certain features as the user encounters them.
Interactive simulations allow prospects to complete sample tasks or scenarios with the product. Short “tips and tricks” videos then play to provide optimization strategies for that particular use case.
A short introductory video provides important product context and sets the stage for the interactive portion, which forms the bulk of the demo experience.
An initial broad, interactive demo experience is supplemented with niche videos that dive deeper into specific topics or areas of interest identified by prospects during the interactive portion.
The video provides the necessary product context and a broad overview of features.
Users can then dive deeper into areas that matter most through hands-on interaction.
The interactive portions provide a realistic sense of the product’s use.
Video walkthroughs offer a structured, guided explanation of complex features or scenarios.
By combining the strengths of video and interactive demos, businesses can provide prospects with a more comprehensive and effective demonstration experience - ultimately improving marketing results.
The costs and resources required to produce interactive and video product demos differ significantly:
Varies - The main expenses are a product sample, a video camera, lighting equipment, and basic video recording editing software.
Minimal - Businesses need someone to record and edit the demonstration video. No complex programming or web development is required.
Varies - Expenses include development platforms, interactive product demo software licenses, custom programming, and graphics.
Substantial - Businesses need web development, graphic design, programming, and software engineering capabilities to build interactive simulations. Efforts from product designers and writers may also be needed.
More complex interactivity, features, and customization drive costs higher.
The degree of real-time feedback and dynamic elements affects expenses.
Higher visual fidelity through graphics, animations, and effects requires more resources.
Costs vary based on the number of platforms (web, iOS, Android, etc) supported.
Businesses requiring outside help from agencies incur additional consulting and design fees.
In summary, while video demos have a relatively low cost of entry, creating fully interactive product demonstrations requires significant budgets and dedicated technical resources. However, interactive demos also typically provide the highest return on investment through more qualified leads and higher conversion rates. Businesses must weigh the benefits against the higher production costs and resource requirements.
While creating fully custom interactive demos requires substantial budgets and technical expertise, there are now tools that make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses of all sizes.
One such option is Folio, an interactive software demo tool that empowers marketers and product teams to create engaging product simulations and explainer videos without coding or design skills.
Some key benefits Folio offers businesses include:
Folio aims to “democratize product simulations” by making interactive demo creation accessible, affordable, and fast for all businesses. Its simple drag-and-drop interface and array of pre-built elements and animations allow marketers and non-technical teams to simulate even complex product interactions.
For businesses seeking an alternative to either expensive custom development or basic video demos, Folio provides an accessible middle ground that strikes a good balance between cost, capabilities, and user experience.
In conclusion, both video and interactive demos have their place in helping businesses effectively showcase products to potential customers.
The choice between the two ultimately depends on an organization’s unique goals, budget, technical capabilities, and target prospects’ needs.
A basic video demo is likely the most feasible initial option for businesses starting out or with limited budgets. It allows an organization to demonstrate its product relatively cheaply while laying the foundation for a marketing campaign.
However, an interactive product demo tailored to prospects’ specific tasks and workflows is often a better choice for businesses seeking to generate the highest possible return on their demonstration efforts. The high engagement, customization, and interactive realism demos generally translate to better marketing metrics.
The ideal strategy for many organizations is a phased approach that begins with a high-level video demo before progressing to interactive features and simulations. This hybrid model leverages the benefits of both video - for structured explanations and broad overviews - and interactivity - for customization, hands-on testing, and visualization.
While video demos remain a cost-effective staple for product demonstrations, interactive experiences are poised to become increasingly important as prospects demand more immersive and custom solutions. Organizations must assess their resource constraints and target audience needs to determine the best balance of video and interactivity within their product demo strategies.
With these considerations, businesses can create demonstration experiences that maximize engagement, generate qualified leads, and help convert more prospects into customers.
Business Growth with
Subscribe to actionable wisdom for result-driven teams.