Product video: what is it and why you need them for your business

Summary A product video is a video that demonstrates how a product can be used and shows its advantages in one or more contexts. In…

Product videos
Elisabetta Severoni
Video Marketing Product video: what is it and why you need them for your business


A product video is a video that demonstrates how a product can be used and shows its advantages in one or more contexts. In itself, a product description has little value. Rather, it helps highlight the product’s ability to solve specific customer problems.

Product video: one content, many definitions

What is a product video? A product video is many things at once. Before going into detail about its various forms, however, let’s clarify what it is not, comparing it to other common types of videos.

The following oppositions have a theoretical value. In practice, the distinction between the different categories is sometimes blurred and there are often large areas of proximity and overlap.

Product video vs. branded video

Branded videos are marketing content that are sponsored or commissioned by a brand, which also indirectly follows the production. While sharing and conveying brand values, these videos do not explicitly advertise or promote the brand. Rather than focusing on self-promotion, they are created to monetize the association between one or more distinctive aspects of the brand and specific aspects perceived as positive by its target audience.

Product videos, on the other hand, focus on the benefits of using a product or service, as we mentioned earlier.

Branded videos tend to use a higher and more suggestive tone, while product videos are more realistic.

Product video vs. screencast video

A screencast is a real-time recording of a user’s actions while browsing the web or working on a desktop. In many circumstances, screencasts tend to be dry and unengaging for viewers, but they can prove very useful in certain situations. For example: during a video tutorial–a type of product video–consumers may need to view the product interface in order to rely on detailed instructions, presented in the form of questions or video clips.

A product video does not end in screencast sequences but may contain them. When this happens – and it happens frequently – screencast sequences give even more substance to the story that precedes and follows them, thus acquiring a narrative and emotional tone.

Three types of product video: demo, explainer, tutorial

There are three different types of product videos, which are increasingly relied upon by small businesses and large organizations alike:

  • Demos. A demo video is the driest, most concise type of product video: it shows the product in action while someone is using it.
  • Explainer. An explainer video adds a narrative dimension to the demo. It tells how a product works by dwelling on the different steps while simultaneously sharing the story behind your brand using a combination of audio and text. Often, explainer videos come with an emotional tone that is able to hook your audience on a deeper level.
  • Tutorials. A tutorial video has a stated instructional purpose. In the same way as the other two types, it provides a list of instructions. What sets it apart is a pronounced need for personalized content. In fact, video tutorials often have to be developed while taking into account the user position in the funnel and the different level of expertise of the customers that have already been acquired. In this way, the video varies depending on the viewer it is aimed at, fulfilling different functions: from a marketing tool in the pre-purchase stages to service content for those who have already purchased and need support.

These 3 types of videos are then susceptible to other articulations, depending, for example, on the expressive style chosen – motion graphics, live-action, or a mix of both – or the presence or absence of interactivity.

Product videos within the 3H strategy

Today’s consumers are no longer subjected to advertising messages, they are not passively waiting to receive brand communications. Instead, they regularly search for the most relevant information to pursue their personal agendas, information that they then share on blogs and social networks.

These information-seeking activities are spread across times and places that vary throughout the day and across multiple devices. This access to information means that messages that fail to provide answers to the needs of the target audience have little impact on consumption choices. It goes without saying that in the current context of content and media diversification, brand messages need to be relevant, not only to improve their business results but also to confirm and reinforce their identity.

So what role do product videos play in delivering relevant and authentic messages? How can they best be used within a marketing strategy? To find out, we need to take a quick look at the 3H Strategy.

Content tailored to the consumer: Hero, Hub, Help

We said that in order to connect with target audiences and satisfy their needs and desires, marketers must create content that reflects the brand’s value system and is relevant and meaningful to consumers.

To systematize the thoughts on this topic, a few years ago, Google – in reference to YouTube – developed the “3H Content Strategy,” according to which all possible content produced by a brand can be traced back to three categories. Each of these categories is determined by the specific strategic objective that the company intends to pursue and the individual segments of the target audience:

Hero video: how to break through to people’s hearts

Often one-shots, Hero videos have to be long-lasting and have a very ambitious goal: to tell the story of the company’s value universe, its past and its future. This is why they are usually the videos on which the brand invests the largest budget.

Video Hubs: how to intercept the interests of your target audience

Video Hubs are designed to maintain the relationship established through Hero content.

The most important feature of this type of video is seriality, which is indispensable for overcoming the resistance of an increasingly elusive audience and for creating viewing patterns and habits. Being part of the target profile of a brand or product, in fact, is not necessarily a guarantee of their willingness to convert.

Help Video: how to respond to specific audience needs

Help videos, the third H in the model, group together under one operational definition video content that is external to programming dynamics and that, building on the inevitable background of the brand world built by other content, shows the product and explains its functionality.

Help videos – and in some cases Hub videos – flow into product videos. Now, in light of what we’ve learned about what they do and how they work, let’s expand the discussion to include video strategy and identify the moments in the marketing funnel when product videos are most effective.

HubSpot’s funnel marketing applied to video strategy: the importance of product videos

In the ninja handbook of web marketing, Edoardo Scognamiglio relates the 3 video categories of Hero, Hub, and Help with the funnel model developed by Hubspot, which is divided into four phases – Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. The ACCD model, which is at the base of the very notion of Inbound marketing, describes the ideal path of a user, from his first approaches to a company he doesn’t know yet or from which he has never purchased to his conversion into a loyal customer.

If, as Scognamiglio says, “every video lives in a specific context,” then the video itself is more likely to get the results it was created for if it finds the most appropriate location – the “right” touchpoint, the “right” distribution frequency, the “right” stage of the journey.

When structuring your video strategy, take into account the specifics of video:

  • Hero and Hub are particularly effective in attracting a user – pushing him from outside to inside the world of the brand.
  • From the Convert phase onwards, when the user is more motivated and willing to listen, it is the help video – and therefore product videos – that play a leading role. From this moment on, it’s important to clearly explain the product offering and how it can solve a given problem.

Two reasons why product videos are a must-have in your marketing strategy

Product videos are flexible tools that, depending on the strategic objective for which they are designed, are able to support different marketing processes, lead qualification, and lead nurturing. They offer numerous benefits, both on the business and consumer side, which can be grouped into two broad categories: increased conversions and product and brand memorability.

1. Product videos increase conversions

As part of a content marketing strategy, product videos are a crucial element that can significantly increase the number of conversions. Statistics show that:

  • 73% of online consumers say they are more likely to purchase a product after watching an explainer video;
  • 58% of consumers think that companies that communicate through product videos are more trustworthy;
  • 44% of consumers would be more likely to purchase from an e-commerce site that features product videos;
  • a user who views a product video is up to 144% more likely to add that product to their shopping cart than one who does not watch any videos (source: invesp).

And such promising data doesn’t refer exclusively to B2C. In 2020, product video was the most widely used video in global B2B communications.

Tutorial videos, full of instructions and explanations, – a particular type of product video – are increasingly chosen for B2B video marketing campaigns: videos with more educational content were used globally by 47% of B2B marketers and, when embedded in social ads, garnered the preferences of 41% of respondents (source: Statista)

2. Product videos help make the product (and therefore the brand) memorable

Successful product videos provide not only an explanation of how the product works and an overview of key technical features, but also a creative and engaging story that showcases the product in the real world and shows the kind of impact it makes in situations where it is actually used. By combining accurate footage of the object with narrative structures and rhetorical figures – particularly metaphor – a product video can create a lasting impression in the mind of the consumer.

Neuroscience research has shown that a memory associated with particularly intense emotions is retained longer and in greater detail than other memories. And stories, particularly those told through video, trigger immediate emotional engagement and thus make information easier to remember.

For decades, marketers have leveraged this unique ability to reproduce and induce emotion to achieve a number of goals, such as to:

  • help viewers make sense of complex information, to persuade them to make certain choices (whether conversions or purchase decisions),
  • create engagement and establish a dialog with consumers,
  • build and enrich brand identity.

By framing instructions within a story that are actually useful for the practical use of the product, the product video not only provides service information but also helps establish a relationship with the consumer. The act of granting trust, a scarce resource in increasingly crowded and competitive markets, passes through a communication that must necessarily be more transparent, open, and authentic.

In this sense, the product video is particularly powerful because it weaves literal plots within the same narrative, which document the impact of the product on people’s daily lives, and more abstract and figurative plots, which testify to the brand’s value system. It is in this second sense that digital video storytelling unfolds in all its power.

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