Video is one type of content that many marketers may feel hesitant to consider when promoting their business. Nobody wants to watch a commercial, you might think, and in many cases you’re right. Add to that the barriers of video production expertise, equipment, and money that you just don’t have. Producing marketing videos can suddenly seem like a fool’s errand, especially when you can use social media for free.
However, screencasts offer a nice alternative to the standard production challenges one might face. Being able to produce an informative video entirely within your computer means not having to learn how to operate a video camera, microphone, and other equipment. It also shortens the production cycle, allowing you to generate results quicker.
Potential customers need more than a clever set of bullet points or swanky design to get them to click your “Buy Now” button. Offering a variety of visual content – photos, video, app walkthroughs, mockups and more – can help reach users in search of visual evidence of the greatness your products have to offer. At the same time, they can break down the finer points of your offerings, making it easier for newer customers to identify with your product.
- Rovio produced promotional videos for its latest game, Angry Birds: Star Wars, featuring gameplay recordings to demonstrate what the game looks and sounds like.
Screencasts make for great promotional content, especially for designers and developers with projects they want to show off. Websites, apps, and other design elements can be recorded using screencast software to produce a video you can share on your website and across social networks. If you’re looking for work designing and developing sites and apps, videos of living, breathing projects can make a great impression with potential employers and partners.
Businesses that want to take a proactive approach to supporting their customers should also consider producing screencasts, especially if their site or app includes features that could use detailed explanation. Being able to demonstrate the important selling points of your site shows your devotion to empowering users, and serves as a marketing tool as well.
- Adobe uses screencasts to demo many of their products, and considers the range of experience users have by producing videos for beginners and experts alike.
What better way to turn your power users into true brand evangelists than to support their needs through step-by-step tutorials. In response, be expected to see some of your most invested users reply with their own video content – and embrace it. In some cases, user generated content can be an even stronger selling point than your own videos, as potential customers will see the strength of your user communities and know it’s a place to go for solutions and advice.
There are a number of free and inexpensive tools to consider when preparing screencast content. One program I personally use is Camtasia from TechSmith, which offers a number of recording and editing features that can make the process of producing your video easy to understand. Being able to select a custom recording region, for example, means being able to show your users exactly what they need to see.
Naturally, TechSmith has produced a series of screencasts to help users get started with Camtasia. So, not only do these video tutorials teach you how to use the tool, but you’ll be able to see how effective screencasts can provide step-by-step instruction and break down any barriers to use the tool.
- TechSmith has also produced additional video screencasts to promote Camtasia’s new features and posted them on YouTube, allowing them to reach users as well as potential customers.
Screenflow from Telestream is very comparable to Camtasia, as it also includes an extensive group of video features, a free trial, support platform, and user forum.
One free tool to consider is Screencast-o-matic. SOM is a web-based app that lets you record your browser and/or webcam, and offers free hosting of HD recordings up to 15 minutes long. While the free version has some limitations, paid features include additional publishing options and editing tools.
Remember the Purpose of Your Videos
Regardless of the solution you go with, remember that screencasts should serve multiple purposes, especially in terms of marketing:
- What customer questions do these videos answer?
- Does it make your product or service more attractive? Easier to use?
- Are important details also available in text format (e.g. descriptions, transcripts)?
- Is it clear where users can go for more information? To make a purchase?
Unlike other shorter marketing videos, screencasts should be as long as they need to be to cover the subject in question. However, consider the strategy of producing “bite size” videos, and think in terms of seconds, not minutes, when determining a runtime. Shorter videos are easier to consume and share, especially when you post them to YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.
Keep in mind that, like other forms of outbound marketing, video content needs to bring people back to your website to acclimate them to “close the cycle” – that is, to complete conversions. Ensuring the users that watch your videos can connect, make a purchase, and engage with you should be a central goal of your marketing efforts.