The interactive demo hierarchy separates demos into one of three categories and helps marketers prioritise the creation of their demos.
October 24, 2023
When people start considering interactive product demos, one of the challenges they face is that they have so many potential uses.
On the surface this is great, but it can lead to a bit of analysis paralysis or spending time building demos that don’t always have the greatest impact.
When we onboard new customers to HowdyGo, it's easy to get overwhelmed by where to begin.
To make it easier to succeed, we've come up with an "Interactive Demo Hierarchy" (pictured above) which separates demos into one of three categories. This way you can identify what you’re trying to achieve in your go-to-market setup and which type of demo(s) you should prioritise.
The Interactive Product Demo hierarchy
The three categories are:
Use Case Deep-dives
They can be assessed based on:
Marketing Stage (Funnel Position)
Delivery/Distribution Medium or Use-case
KPIs to measure
Let's dig into each of these categories in the hierarchy and explain the assessment criteria.
Platform Overviews are the most common and natural use-case our users aim to produce.
They are designed to provide an entry point to your SaaS platform, giving the viewer a high-level understanding of what your product does and the central value proposition you solve for.
These demos are not typically “story-driven” demonstrations, where you try to put the viewer into the shoes of a user and walk them through a scenario. They could be, but usually, we find a story-driven demo more appropriate for Feature Overviews or Use Cases Deep Dives.
Economic Buyers: The people who hold the budget.
Technical Buyers: The people who assess the viability of your product to solve the problem.
Buying committees: Groups of economic and technical buyers who assess your product and make the decision to purchase.
Platform overviews are fantastic at the early stages of the funnel when a lead/prospect is looking to educate themselves more about your solution.
Demo centre: HowdyGo offers a demo centre, which provides a top-level platform overview and a series of “Feature Overviews” (discussed below) that you can use as a sort of Product-Led Growth “brochure” of your product.
Home page: You can embed this entry-point interactive demo directly into your home page. Giving people a way to understand your product quickly and easily - without needing to commit themselves to signing up.
PPC landing pages: If you have a “general” PPC campaign, getting people who have engaged with the campaign to interact with your product as part of that process is a fantastic way to improve the qualification of your visitors.
Feature overview demos can be appropriate for PPC too, more on that below.
Early sales collateral: Either before or after a sales call, having the ability to give attendees something tangible, trackable and controllable is a great opportunity for a platform overview demo.
One of the big wins of using an interactive product demo is analytics. These are the types of metrics we suggest you focus on when using a platform overview demo.
Unique views: A raw number to assess how and where you’re getting engagement from and whether your distribution channels are working.
Complete Viewers: How many viewers are reaching the end of the tour? This will help you craft an engaging demo that people want to step through in its entirety.
Attributable Conversions: Depending on whether you gate your demo (Include a form that needs to be completed in order to view the demo) or not, you may or may not have direct attribution.
You can, however, customize the button on your call-to-action steps in your demos to include a UTM parameter to track these things.
A common mistake when creating platform overviews
Creating a platform overview can be trickier than it first appears. Capturing the essence of your product in 16 steps isn’t a walk in the park.
If you want to really “nail it” when you create this type of interactive product demo, it can be helpful to start the recording process with a plan in mind. Just a simple bullet-list that lists the parts of your product that really convey the core value proposition. Then use our chapter navigator to “bite-size” your platform overview and offer viewers a way to hone in on areas they find interesting.
Of viewers that have seen over 75% of the steps in a platform overview demo, we see 90+% of those viewers revisit at least some of the steps in the demo again.
The issue is that occasionally, you start out with good intentions to create a short, approachable teaser of the platform. But quickly end up with a 64-step deep-dive into every single feature.
This isn’t a big deal though. It can just take a bit of time and effort to cut the demo down to size. You can easily duplicate this long demo multiple times and reuse the same capture for many different purposes. Most likely, one of those purposes will include feature overviews.
Feature overviews are the next layer in the hierarchy.
It’s fairly typical for a SaaS platform to have a few stand-out features that are where your differentiation lies. Using feature overviews, you can drill down into these specific areas and use them to prove that your product delivers on the sales and marketing promises your team makes.
This builds prospect and lead confidence and helps you to achieve two things:
Leads: Your MQLs are significantly more qualified when they’ve viewed an interactive product demo.
Prospects: Are more confident in your product’s capability and may be able to self-educate, reducing reliance on sales support and unblocking opportunities that may otherwise have stalled due to a lack of prospect understanding.
In this scenario, taking a story-driven approach can be appropriate. This is particularly powerful if you’re demonstrating an analytics product because it helps to show how the data your platform produces can be linked to taking action and solving a problem or completing a job.
The typical audience for feature overviews is the same as those of a platform overview:
There is a slight lean toward technical buyers who are usually more interested in the intricacies of the product.
Equally, the marketing stages where a collection of feature overviews make sense are the same as those for a platform overview:
Feature overviews are typically more helpful during that Consideration stage of the marketing funnel. But there’s nothing to say that during awareness a well-tailored feature walkthrough won’t be useful even during awareness.
The medium and use cases for feature overviews are similar to those of platform overviews, but there are a couple of areas where they differ.
When you should carefully consider using a feature overview:
The first is that we don’t recommend using feature overviews in a home page situation unless you’re linking out to the overview in the context of a “Product” page, or a really targeted “Feature” page.
These are areas where you’ll get the most success for feature overviews:
Demo centre deep-dives: As a follow on to a platform overview, giving leads a “choose your own adventure” collection in a demo centre will offer them a pathway to further self-education.
Feature-specific PPC landing pages: Where you’ve got digital marketing in place for specific features, it can help to follow those pages up with something very tangible to convince leads that what they’ve clicked through to is not only real but get them to the “Aha” moment almost immediately.
In-app upsell: In most PLG SaaS products, using an interactive product demo for a feature overview can give you an upsell opportunity by providing existing users a way to assess the feature before they upsell themselves.
Early sales collateral: If a prospect has shown interest in specific areas of your application, you can use feature overviews to provide a guided explanation of those areas without needing to jump on another call - helping to increase sales velocity.
All of the previously mentioned KPIs are still relevant (Unique views, complete viewers, attributable conversions).
However, given the more specific nature of these feature overviews, and the distribution channels you share them through (e.g. sharing with a specific target account), it’s typically helpful to link a specific demo share to a target account.
Tracking prospect specific views is, therefore, a useful metric, as your sales team is then able to see which prospects are most engaged in the product and start working with them to close the opportunity.
Use Case Deep-dives
The last level in the hierarchy is use case specific deep dives. These are scenarios where you want to specifically explain how a certain function is performed or outcome is achieved in a very specific set of circumstances. (e.g. when the app has certain data in it, or when a user is trying to achieve a certain outcome.)
Notably, though, these are typically most appropriate when you have an in-depth understanding of the viewer. They are usually targeted at a specific account or person and can be a useful alternative to a Loom video - just easier to produce, more reusable and easier to follow.
Technical buyers with a specific query in mind: These can be helpful for answering those questions interactively.
Existing users/accounts who are looking to solve a problem: Potentially upselling them by showing how the product will help them solve that problem.
Training and customer onboarding material
These demos are more appropriate when you know what the viewer’s is specifically looking to understand.
So they are better used in the later stages of the marketing process:
Consideration/MOFU: Following up on a sales call or conversation.
Conversion/BOFU: Using them to unblock an opportunity by removing purchasing barriers using a tangible example of the product in action, solving their specific issue.
We typically see these types of demos shared directly with users using our share page, or in some circumstances, you may want to embed this type of demo in a digital sales room.
Conversion time: It is helpful to assess whether the demo(s) you’ve shared with this specific prospect have reduced the time to conversion. This will help you assess whether your specific type of buyer persona sees value from this type of marketing and sales collateral.
Prospect specific views: Again, prospect specific viewing metrics are helpful here to understand whether the demos you’ve shared have been viewed, and if so, how much engagement they saw.
Hopefully this has given you a bit more understanding of how you can use interactive product demos in different scenarios, how you should use the analytics they produce and at what stages of the marketing process they are most effective.
Interactive product demos are helpful tools in sales and marketing for most SaaS companies. Depending on your buyer persona and at what stage of the funnel you are looking to see improvements based on your strategy.
Tom is one of the three co-founders of HowdyGo, and is passionate about giving marketing and sales professionals a pathway to delivering amazing interactive product demos. He was Head of Growth & Marketing at a B2B startup with >$20m ARR where he saw the value that a zero-friction demonstration experience created.
He was also Head of Data & BI at the largest mealkit provider in the UK feeding ~4% of the population. There, he was responsible for customer demand forecasting, working closely with the growth and marketing functions to fit operational constraints on a 24 hour cycle.
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