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9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation

Stanislav Boiko
Stanislav Boiko
28 Apr 2022
9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation Cieden

Intro 

You may wonder why video content marketing is not only mentioned among the key UX strategies in this guide but even takes a separate article. But if you have read the main article, it should not be a surprise: you saw the statistics showing the skyrocketing popularity of this type of content both among customers and business owners. The trend will only grow in the next few years.

Video marketing already proved its enormous potential and efficiency as an instrument for increasing SaaS revenues. The sociological data shows that videos help 90% of users to make a purchase decision, while 64% get ready to subscribe after watching a video about the product. If your brand targets a high-priced B2B sector, the stakes rise even further, as 59% of senior executives confirmed their preference for watching video over reading a text.

9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation Cieden

So, what exactly makes video so irresistibly attractive and appealing even to the pickiest customer? Delving deep into this matter would require several thousand-page volumes of research which is not the plan for this article. 

But in short, the reasons are rooted in:

a) psychological pursuit of
users to save cognitive resources when getting in touch with new information. The video fits best this purpose because since the origination of TV broadcasting it is strongly identified with fun and entertainment (unlike its more sober senior, reading). Therefore it mitigates the boring effect of even the most technical data;

b) striving of the product designers and marketers to find the most multi-purpose and creative ways for conveying their messages to the target audience. In this respect, video is an extremely dynamic and flexible format allowing practically limitless options for experimenting in the search of representation, persuasion, suggestion, promotion, - i.e. finding keys to the heart of a particular client.

Obviously, such an opportunity to engage a customer should never be missed if your focus is to increase your SaaS revenues. This article will lead you through the most effective and time-tested ways to do so.

The groundwork for applying a video marketing strategy

Before proceeding to the practical tips of using video to make your SaaS unbeatable, let us follow our old good tradition of recollecting the key factors to be considered prior to publish content on your platform. 

1. Specifics of your product/brand/company

If you approach video marketing indiscriminately, the great variety of options and frameworks can do poor service to your project. This may end with a complete mismatch with the business goals. 

9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation Cieden

For example, if your technology is innovative or too sophisticated, it hence requires a fairly big effort to learn how to use it. Then you would obviously need more educational and explainer videos in the first place.

But for SaaS positioned in a highly competitive environment with many similar offers such content is not a priority. Its target audience is mature enough to understand what this product is about and how to use it. In such a case, you rather need high-quality promotional videos that will distinguish the company from its competitors.

In the case of a little-known brand that is just starting out, it would be wiser to take care of videos with case studies and live customer reviews, - the challenge that is not so relevant for a world-famous corporate player.

2. Your target audience

It is critical that you study the mindset of your user before even touching video recording devices.

Such things as understanding the pain points and needs of a potential customer go without saying, hopefully, such things are already self-evident for you. 

But it is more than that. Producing relevant and noticeable video content also necessitates establishing an empathic connection with your prospective clients: 

  • Do they prefer fun and entertainment? 
  • Is it a serious-aged audience who would rather get irritated with a frivolous tone? 
  • What type of speaker/moderator would they trust? 
  • How long are they capable to watch videos uninterruptedly? 
  • What clues should be used to engage with their subconscious hopes, expectations, and heuristics subtly but effectively? 

These and similar questions are to be answered before you put your video concepts into production. 

3. Video recording quality

In fact, modern technologies allow recording a high-quality video even with a smartphone camera.

But in this way, you will not seize all opportunities of video marketing available today for promoting your SaaS. As a multidimensional process, it is much more than recording technology. The overall strategy and relevant scenario for your content, along with the proper arrangement of perspectives, lighting, motion design, and sound effects often play a more decisive role than the recording process itself. 

Such SaaS giants as Amazon or Apple would not spend billions of dollars on digital video advertising without a good reason. So, in case your budget allows, it can be a good idea to address a professional video marketing agency capable to take care of both strategic issues based on user/product research, and high-quality editing, postproduction, and marketing of your content.

Video Marketing Formats and Strategies

It is virtually impossible to name every type of video content applicable for advancing your SaaS. Due to the exceptional flexibility and multitasking capacity of this format, human imagination is the only limit in the filmmaking area. New approaches and formats constantly emerge and get piloted on the market, and – who knows – maybe it is you who will invent the next hit.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, the following strategies are most popular and commonplace, with their efficiency already experientially proven by the leading SaaS players.

9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation Cieden

I. Landing page video

Purpose/function:

  • to attract the continued attention of a user at the first contact with the platform. If the video is interesting and captivating enough, it can perform a miracle, and turn these statistical 3-8 seconds into a minute or more;
  • to establish an emotional connection with users and give them a piece of inspiration at the beginning of their customer journey;
  • provide the first-time visitors with a minimum of the necessary information to further proceed with the onboarding process.
  • to increase chances for successful conversion. 

Recommended duration: 30-90 seconds.

Implementation tips:

1. Choose the type of video you are going to place on the landing page. Unlike other strategies, this one actually encompasses all other options, because you can place any sort of video content on the landing page, from a demo to a testimonial. This depends on the specifics and needs of your business and user already discussed above.

2. Think of the structure and scenario. Include aspects of demonstration, promotion, social proof, and/or explanation, keeping in mind the main purpose of conveying a more integral message about the product’s value.

3. Don’t forget about elements of introduction, value statements, and welcoming appeals distinguishing exactly this type of video. Keep in mind that this may be the first thing a customer will see when getting into your sales funnel. Therefore they have to feel at home and at the same time experience a sense of adventure, rising a desire to proceed with the product’s discovery.

You may see how in this example of one of SaaS leaders SAP, a value proposition is conveyed with elements of demonstration, promotion, and customer recognition, thus effectively introducing the product to a user.  

Landing page video example by SAP

Source: ​​https://www.sap.com/ 

Strategic value

As such, landing page video is a really magic technique that comprises the most important dimensions of a sales funnel usually dispersed among several design elements. This includes the value proposition statement, explanatory assistance on the onboarding process, demonstration of the product’s efficiency, and showing credentials of the company.

II. Demo video

Purpose/function:

  • to briefly showcase how your technology works and what problem/task it resolves;
  • to demonstrate why a customer should choose your product among all the offers available on the market.

Recommended duration: 30 seconds -3 minutes.

Implementation tips:

1. Focus on those technical and functional details that most directly refer to the key need and address the pain points of your customer. Don’t go into too much detail: you will have a chance to do it in educational videos.

2. Use subtle verbal devices to promote the product. Focus mainly on its efficiency, exclusive benefits, competitive edges, and utmost convenience to the target audience.

3. Implicitly restate/remind the value proposition. For instance, it can be concealed in-between the speaker narrative or an actor remarks, or as textual inscriptions on objects demonstrated in the frame.

4. Never set sights exclusively on the intellect and cognition of a user. Emotional engagement is no less, or even more important with this video format. When carefully crafted, a demo encourages a user to make a purchasing decision even before they watch the whole thing.

5. Take care of visual aesthetics. If you use animation, make your color palette and motion design impeccable. If it is live action, choose good-looking people, beautiful locations, and pleasant yet unobtrusive soundtrack(s). 

In the following example, the product team perfectly incorporated all these aspects. Pay attention to the representation of features in the context of real-life situations and people.

Demo video by Zoom

Source: https://explore.zoom.us/docs/en-us/livedemo.html 

Strategic value

The secret power of tangible demonstration consists in its “being there” effect. It makes people feel familiar and hence comfortable with the product even though they never touched it yet. In addition, virtual simulation of operational use instills an unfulfilled desire to acquire an object. A user gets interested to get a product that they already got their hands on, - but only in their imagination. 

The commercial efficiency of using demos in SaaS is factually proven. According to the statistics, this technique may nearly double the number of users subscribed to your product in the long run. Therefore the production of the demo video is a matter of great expertise and effort if you want to imbue it with the magic of influence. 

III. Instructional / Educational Video

Purpose/function:

  • to explain how to use a product in detail (in contrast to the demo); 
  • to help with the onboarding process and reduce friction points caused by unfamiliarity with the product’s features and workflow. 

Recommended duration: 3-10 minutes.

Implementation tips:

1. Apply a step-by-step approach and don’t be afraid to go into detail. In this case, the main task is to make sure a customer understands the technology and acquires practical skills in their implementation. Therefore meticulousness here is a plus rather than a drawback.

2. Be illustrative, inventive, and resourceful. Introduce a detailed description/explanation in simple language, with visual aids, examples, and action flows that a user will be able to reproduce in your application.

3. Make educational video a top priority if you develop a B2B solution. For B2B clients, subscribing to a SaaS platform means connecting dozens to thousands of their employees as new users of its services. In such cases, the management needs tools for making all the personnel proficient with a new tool in the short term.

4. Use video tutorials each time when releasing new features, updates, and modifications of your SaaS. This is the most optimal way to inform your clients about new opportunities and benefits of technology, thus encouraging them to continue their subscription. 

5. Don’t forget about promotional value. While explaining an option or a feature, add reminders of the value they would bring to the user. These reminders have to be articulated precisely, in the form of concrete benefits and/or responses to specific needs. 

6. Humanize and personalize the video sequence. Introduce an attractive moderator/tutor or, in the case of a fully animated video, add some human/animal figures and interactions, emojis, and playful scenes. This shows that your content is about your customer and his/her needs and not just about technology.

Perhaps one of the brightest examples of brilliant implementation of this format for SaaS is Figma. Actually, the lion’s share of content on their Youtube channel is educational and informational. Every tiniest detail of the technology, every tool, feature, or update has a separate video done with care, love, and fun. 

Instructional / Educational Video in Figma's Youtube channel

Source: https://www.youtube.com/c/Figmadesign/videos 

Strategic value

While this format is an indispensable onboarding aid for any SaaS platform, it is particularly valuable for users of the most sophisticated technologies with a variety of options/services/tools, as well as new products emerging within “blue ocean” markets where they do not yet have experience and intuitive usability patterns to rely on.

In addition, it is a good hook to catch the attention even of users that may not currently be interested in purchasing your product. The desire for self-improvement and learning new skills may keep them watching your educational content anyway. The good thing is that in such a way these people retain ties with your product with a chance to change their minds at any moment. 

IV. Promotional Video / Advertising

Purpose/function:

  • convincing a potential customer to become an actual one;
  • sending a direct message to users why they should buy this product.

Recommended duration: 15-60 seconds.

Implementation tips:

1. Prepare a script comprising elements of introduction, the message of value, references to the user pains/needs, most essential product details, and a call to action.

2. Ensure flawless recording quality. The propagandist rationale behind promo video puts particularly high demands on visual effects. While other formats may afford some imperfections, for a promotional video that will be subconsciously considered offensive by the audience. Video sequence should be so aesthetically beautiful and hypnotically fascinating that a viewer would completely forget that you want to influence their mind.

3. Focus your effort on selling an idea and a value rather than a material asset. This means speaking less about the technical side of the product and more of unique advantages, benefits, competitive edges, price privileges, and other “whys” presenting it in the best possible light.

4. Make it short, aesthetically enigmatic, meaningful but at the same time slightly ambiguous, leaving a space for a user to adjust the symbols and messages to their individuality. 

Just look at this charming lady gracefully trading on the pain points of her audience, and almost imperceptibly introducing features of a travel management platform in the following example.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5sGYI2i_dw 

Strategic value

A promo video is in fact not so much about advertising tangible features of a product (demo and educational content will take care of that), but more about establishing a long-lasting emotional connection with a user, rooted deeply in their affections and pains.

V. Testimonial

Purpose/function: 

  • instill more confidence among potential customers in the credibility and trustworthiness of a company/brand/product;
  • encourage hesitant users to make a purchasing decision. 

Recommended duration: 1-2 minutes.

Implementation tips:

1. Find your “ideal” customer in the client base. Along with positive experience and loyalty, it is advisable for the speaker to match the buyer persona type envisaged for your product. Then his/her pain points, interests, needs, and objectives should correlate with those of the target audience.

2. Make some preparatory work and create a scenario. Prepare a list of questions and key points to be highlighted. Send them to the customer in advance and elaborate on their feedback. If it is possible to invite a speaker to the shoot, choose the best location, lighting, and angle.

3. Negotiate with the customer. Explain the significance of their testimonial, ask them about availability, convenience, and the required help. Suggest using a scenario with special verbal clues and messages that would keep in line with the truth but strike the right chords of users' hearts more effectively. A scenario-based narration allows to focus properly on priorities and place needed emphases, - an almost impossible task under circumstances of amateur, unrehearsed or spontaneous speech.

4. Try to go beyond the purposes of showcasing the credibility and trustworthiness of the product. While these objectives remain, you may additionally create a powerful rhetorical effect appealing to the pains, needs, and potential gains of your intended customer. 

You may see how the team of Slack turned their video testimonials into the-high caliber art. As in this example, they produced short stories with characters speaking in their natural environments and visually connecting their positive experience with specific situations and actions.

Great example of testimonial video used by Slack

Source: https://slack.com/customer-stories 

Strategic value

Demonstration of social proof is an important element of a sales funnel, no questions asked. As much as 92% of users consider positive customer reviews and testimonials an essential factor in their decision-making concerning a purchase. But presenting a testimonial in video format further reinforces its power several times because, in contrast to a textual review, it is virtually impossible to falsify a video testimonial. Especially, when a speaker introduces themselves and gives valid personal information that can be verified. 

VI. Case Study

Purpose/function:

  • to showcase evidence of their product’s credibility, efficiency, and practical value through real-world experiences and examples; 
  • to show how a product or service solves a specific problem in a step-by-step and transparent manner, starting with the challenge and ending with successful outcomes.

Recommended duration: 5-10 minutes.

Implementation tips:

1. Prepare it first in a classical format “on a page” with descriptions of milestones and achievements supplemented with graphical elements. This will save your time and resources at the shooting stage because the revision process may reveal new aspects and potential concerns about the case under review.

2. Use a method(s) to give a more integral and insightful impression of the entire story. This can be a host, a soundtrack, and/or a voiceover commenting on every stage of a product/service implementation.

3. Use appealing colors and motion design to better show dynamic changes in the process. with, creates an incomparable atmosphere of direct involvement and empathic “living through” the problem-solving process all the way.

4. Provide casting, by selecting teammates that were directly engaged in the product development, and the most satisfied customers capable to give sincere positive feedback. Notably, this solution is very convenient as it allows you to make cuts of some scenes and then use them separately as video testimonials.

5. Consider your budget. A “fuel-efficient” version of a case study video is quite easy and almost cost-free to produce. You just need to prepare the script for a voiceover and graphical elements to show in sequence, and then process them with editing software. Yet a more high-priced version may include movie elements with action scenes, stakeholder interviews, and advanced sound effects. 

The latter alternative is successfully implemented in this example of a case study for Nike by a promotional agency Nurture Digital. You may notice how every step of the workflow is supplemented with references to the user's needs and the company’s strengths.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyVcfUYdGro 

Strategic value

In contrast to a case study with rigid textual blocks and charts, the video gives an impression of continuity thus leaving a more holistic and continuous aftereffect in the customer's consciousness. As a result, it has more remarkable marketing and conversion implications. 

VII. FAQ Video

Purpose/function:

  • answering FAQ questions in a more entertaining, exhaustive, and comprehensible form; 
  • responding to some challenging questions that engage technical and/or quantitative data, as it can be better exposed and explicated with charts, graphs, animated sequences, and voice prompts. 

Recommended duration: 10 seconds - 10 minutes.

Implementation options:

1. A combined approach, with some questions addressed in a traditional textual manner and others, requiring “special” treatment, recorded as a video. It is justified when most of the questions can be responded to in a textual format.

For example, you may take a look at how this works with one of the featured “Linkedin top startups - 2021”:

FAQ Video example

Source: https://better.com/ 


2. Applying the video format to the entire FAQ section.
This approach has such advantages as 1) making this dimension more noticeable (people are more likely to get past one more text than a catchy video); 2) keeping a user more engaged and thus capable to recognize and remember more details in your answers, and 3) an opportunity to familiarize a customer with the whole bunch of their potential inquiries at once if you record one video for all questions. 

For example, this is how a popular marketing platform Zeropark did. Instead of making a FAQ section on their website, they recorded a one-stream video on Youtube where a moderator answers all the questions in one pack. 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8JnjTSdSus 


3. Paralleling video and textual formats.
It is often reasonable to use video along with – and not instead of – a textual version. This is because, first, a user should retain an opportunity to look through a particular answer or even a part of an answer, instead of watching the entire thing, and, second, you should not neglect a considerable minority of customers who still prefer reading over watching despite all newfangled trends. 


Strategic value

FAQ video is a go-to solution for questions that virtually cannot have a one-paragraph answer and require a longer detailed explanation. With text, there is always a risk that a modern fussy user would find it too hard or boring to read it to the end. Some may even prefer to skip the entire onboarding process instead. But an interesting engaging video, with graphics, nice voiceover, and vivid animation, is a completely different thing capable to keep a viewer’s attention as long as needed. 

VIII. Company video

Purpose/function:

  • to create an attractive, memorable, trustworthy, and humane image of a company;
  • to instill the brand identity on the emotional level of potential clients, by making its slogans, colors, and symbols indelibly memorable.

Recommended duration: 1-3 minutes.

Implementation tips:

1. Set high standards on every detail of the production process, from casting of participants to settings and soundtracks. Similar to a promo video, this type of content requires exceptional visual quality for making a profound and long-lasting impact on the audience.

2. Incorporate elements of storytelling and situational drama, keeping a user's attention and emotional engagement high and continuous. 

3. Define the communication channels. Along with publishing on a home page (or About Us page as a more effective and engaging substitute for a traditional copy), this video has to be available on Youtube and other social networks.

4. Focus on the company more than on its products in the content planning. Pay primary attention to explicating the brand, showcasing the history of its rise and success, and, most importantly, introducing real people working within its walls.

In the example, Hubspot producers make an emphasis on the unique identity of their company, expressed in the history of its rise, stories of people, and the corporate culture.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sknnd-pkQ8A&t=155s 

Strategic value

Reputable SaaS companies, as well as ambitious startups firmly determined to claim their “place in the sun” on the market, are often more concerned with the integrity and recognizability of their brand than of a particular product on its own.

Indeed, products and services emerge, change, and vanish in the twinkling of an eye. But if you have managed to establish and enshrine your brand identity in human minds and hearts, it is here to stay.

IX. Visual Narrative / Success Story

Purpose/function:

  • to create an appealing and deeply personal visual story that can be further used for most different purposes, from promoting a company or a brand, and to creating a more engaging educational process. 

Recommended duration: 15 minutes - 1 hour.

Implementation tips:

1. Place a prominent figure at the center of your story. He or she must not be necessarily world-famous (they may even be average people), but need to have some achievements making them a good example to follow for the audience.

2. Select an option that best matches your audience’s tastes and expectations. Some most popular alternatives include: 

  • inviting iconic figures, pop stars, and/or opinion makers that would speak about themselves while subtly promoting your product (e.g. just wearing a t-shirt with a company logo or sitting in your studio);
  • shooting podcasts with reputable business owners, senior executives, and managers that would share their experience with references to your product between the case;
  • a movie about a company owner(s) as a mind-twisting story of success; 
  • a tale of an “ordinary” person that managed to make something outstanding... not without the help of your product, of course.

Strategic value

This format is one of the best to make people more emphatic, friendly, and engaged with the company at the grassroots level. While observing a real person, a viewer will involuntarily start identifying themselves with a speaker, especially if this is a popular person with good fame. This alone would make a good personal story worth a thousand words. But it has a price since the costs of both inviting the needed V.I.P. and production of such content is relatively high. 

This example of the international football gear supplier Unisport interviewing the favorite of millions Cristiano Ronaldo perfectly illustrates the marketing value of this strategy. 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KJFsm8NDyE 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article gave you more than enough arguments in favor of using video as a “must-have” ingredient in the marketing strategy for your SaaS. As an exceptionally dynamic, potent, and technologically flexible form of marketable content, the video makes a powerful and extensive impact on your audience that can be then converted into more conversions and sales.

The options and formats of video highlighted in the article include the landing page video, a demo, a tutorial, a testimonial, a case study, a promo, a FAQ video, a company video, and a visual narrative/story. This list is not exhaustive, but it makes the core of the video marketing strategy of the leading SaaS companies today. If you effectively implement at least half of them, you will surely experience a substantial increase in your sales shortly. 

Recalling the overall importance of video content once again, it makes sense to listen to the word of  Google ideologists having recently asserted that “if you’re ignoring online video, you’re literally missing billions of opportunities to engage with people”. This message is exceptionally promising for those wise founders who took a chance, - and have been reaping a better harvest.

Take your chance.

If you are interested to learn more about the fundamentals and cutting-edge trends of digital video marketing for SaaS, you may contact our team, and we will be glad to satisfy your curiosity.

And, as always, keep in touch: next time we are going to talk about maybe the most sensitive subject for SaaS, the reactivation of churned users. It is certainly not going to be boring!

 

Stanislav Boiko by Stanislav Boiko

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9 Video Marketing Formats and Strategies to Improve Your User Activation Cieden
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