How to create a great interactive product demo

An in-depth guide to creating an awesome self-guided, click-through tour of your SaaS app.
Published on
November 22, 2023
Author
Tom Bruining
Founder, BSc of Computer Science & BComm
Who this article is for:
This is an in-depth guide to creating an awesome self-guided, click-through tour of your SaaS app. It’s designed to explain the ins and outs of interactive product demos rather than just giving you a short explainer.

If you need help with your demos, we love to help people achieve their marketing goals, so please get in touch with us via chat or email.

Before launching straight into creating an interactive product demo, we recommend answering these three questions:

  1. Which part of your marketing funnel are you trying to improve?
  2. Who is the intended audience for your demo?
  3. How will you distribute the demo?

The reason you should answer these questions first is so that you have a framework to revisit as you go through the stages of creating your demo and then iterating on it.

Improving conversion at different stages of the marketing funnel

We’re going to address this from a marketing perspective, so we’ll focus on conversion and customer activation.
What stage of the funnel you want to improve with your demo will influence how you create and distribute it - so start here

Deciding the stage in the customer lifecycle that you most want to improve with an interactive demo is important.

The way that you explain your value proposition is very different between people at the top of your funnel and those who are either already converted or are in the middle/bottom of your marketing funnel. 

Let’s explore this a bit more.

Top-of-funnel demos

Flagsmith uses their platform overview demo to great effect as a Top of Funnel tool for pipeline generation
Our customers have seen an embedded self-guided walkthrough increase signups to their apps by 40-50% compared to people who hadn’t seen the demo.

The demos you design to improve top-of-funnel conversion should be aimed at the high-level education of your prospects. Something like a platform overview is ideal at this stage and will give you the best bang for your buck in terms of distribution options - but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Example:
If you had a customer support tool, you might start out with a short overview of the most important aspects of your application. Like, the ticket view, how agents respond to tickets and a summary metrics dashboard. This can be short and punchy, but it clearly demonstrates what your app is capable of. 

Middle-of-funnel demos

The interactive product demo hierarchy is a great tool for understanding the style of demo you want ot create
The interactive product demo hierarchy is a helpful tool to understand the style of demo you want to create

As your prospects continue through to the middle of the funnel and enter your nurturing campaigns, you’re looking to provide a more specific level of detail, which makes feature overviews a great option for this stage. Allowing them to see how your product solves their specific problem.

And while a platform overview is best for the top of the funnel it may still be relevant at this stage of the customer lifecycle. 

Example:
Continuing the “customer support” example, you might want to create a feature overview demo that specifically focuses on the analytics dashboard, because that feature typically motivates people to upgrade their plans.

Leading with this sort of demo wouldn’t make a huge amount of sense, but it’s perfect for prospects who are further along in the purchasing process.

Bottom of funnel demos

Depending on your product, “bottom of funnel” might have different meanings. 

Product Led:

If your view of conversion is getting freemium or trial signups and then trying to get those customers to become paying customers (aka: Product Led) you will most likely be interested in User Activation (People using features of the app that eventually leads them to purchase).

Sales Led:
If conversion to you is Sales team driven, that is, people contact you or you contact them and then the sales team works to get those people to convert (aka: Sales Led) you will most likely have a more traditional “nurture” style of marketing at the bottom of your funnel.

Regardless of what conversion looks like to you, you are almost certainly going to want to personalize your outreach at this point and doing that with an interactive product demo can be achieved using templated values like company name, logo and the specific prospect’s email or name.

Figure out your audience

So you know which part of the funnel you are looking to improve. The next step is to figure out who your audience is.

Still not sure where you want to focus?

No worries. Our suggestion is to start with a demo that’s intended for the top of funnel.

That’s because it’s easier to wrap your head around, and it will give you an introduction to using the tool with almost immediate usefulness on your website, or even just shared on social media.

Your ideal customer profile

The reason you should know your ICP in order to build a great demo is probably best explained with an example.

Example:

Continuing with our customer support SaaS app example from above. 

  • If your target audience is specifically Series B-funded startups with a customer success team of 10-20 people. Your demos can focus on parts of your software that solve problems that those types of companies have - like the ability to track CSAT and NPS across their user base, so you might demonstrate your analytics dashboards.
  • If your ICP was a company with a team size of 3 people, it’s unlikely they care about the analytics dashboard, so you can skip it.
  • Equally, if your ICP was an enterprise buyer with teams of 50+ people, you would need to focus on enterprise offerings like a community knowledge base, single sign-on, etc.

By knowing who the intended audience is for your demo, you’ll be able to map out a self-guided demo that makes sense to that specific audience, and importantly, performs well for that audience (See "What a good product demo looks like" below).

How to handle multiple audiences

In the annotation of this demo, you can see how small adjustments (e.g. {{regulator|APRA}}) can be made automatically in your demos using templated values.

Having multiple audiences makes for a fun situation, and as a marketer, I’m sure you appreciate this can be tricky from a content marketing perspective - so you won't be surprised to learn that it's also tricky for demos!

There are two scenarios here, one where there are only small differences in your audiences and another where there are significant differences.

If you have multiple audiences and the differences are small, you might be able to get away with a single demo and some carefully placed templated values - see an example above.

If your customer groups have significant differences, there are a couple of approaches:

  • Craft your top-of-funnel demonstrations to make them broadly applicable.
  • Duplicate your existing demo, regardless of the type of demo you have, and either insert or remove steps as needed.
    This means your collateral is still reusable but you can ensure you’re touching on the most important elements of the app for each different audience.

How will you distribute your demo?

One of the awesome things about these click-through demos of your product is how they can be used as go-to-market collateral across your entire marketing and sales organization.

Deciding one channel you’re going to focus on to distribute your demo before you start is helpful because it will help you ensure the content makes sense in that context.

Let’s go full circle on this article. Remember how we talked about deciding on what stage of the funnel you cared about most? This should help guide you to a specific distribution channel.

Here’s a collection of distribution channels that our customers have implemented successfully in the past:

Inbound

  1. Homepage embedded demo / Link out to demo
  2. Demonstrations of specific features on the “feature” / “solutions” page of a website

Paid Marketing 

  1. Pay-per-click landing page demo for a specific problem/solution campaign

Outbound Marketing & Sales

  1. Personalized demos in cold outbound emails

Content Marketing

  1. Demonstration of a new feature in a “feature release” blog

Customer Activation

  1. Incorporated into an automated product onboarding sequence

If all of these sound awesome, we agree!

But it’s not helpful to try to do all of them at once, focus on getting started with a single distribution channel and then expand your use of them as you start to see success.

Which brings us to…

What does a good interactive product demo look like?

We’ve made a lot of interactive product demos, and to be honest, it’s not that hard to capture your app, whip together a few annotations (or generate them with AI) and get a share link or an embed code for your website. We built the recorder to make this as easy as possible!

However, in our experience, if you want to create a demo that’s educational, engaging and increases conversion or customer activation rates you will want to optimize for these metrics:

  • Initial engagement rate: Do people click on the first annotation
  • Average number of annotations seen: Do people continue to click through, and do they revisit some sections of the demo at the end?
  • Completion rate: Do people reach the end of the demo?
  • Call-to-action clicked rate: Do people continue on to the next stage of the funnel?

There’s a clear flow to this, which is diagramed here:

Interactive Product Demo Metrics can be helpful for answering these questions

About the Author
Tom Bruining
Founder, BSc of Computer Science & BComm

Tom Bruining is the co-founder of HowdyGo. In the past he was Head of Growth & Marketing at a B2B SaaS and Head of Data & Business Intelligence at HelloFresh, UK.

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