Interactive product demos: Everything you could ever want to know about them

Interactive product demos: Everything you could ever want to know about them
Andy Binkley

June 2, 2022

Table of Contents

For those ahead of the curve that are already successfully implementing interactive demos, the return has been well worth it. Tech companies are seeing higher conversion rates across their website and landing pages, more engagement throughout the entire funnel, and faster revenue compared to traditional content and video.

A few stats we’ve uncovered from customers:

  • 3x increase in website conversion rates
  • 105% increase in landing page conversion rates
  • 20% increase in outbound email response rates
  • 3x more engagement compared to a Sign Up button

And if those don’t speak for themselves, we’ve even seen numerous situations where companies are winning deals without prospects having to see a live demo at all.

Stats aside, there’s a lot to unpack with interactive demos. Let’s talk about the basics first and then get into more of the nitty gritty.

Interactive product demos

An Interactive Product Demo is a type of content asset that presents a software product in a clickable, interactive format so that an interested buyer can click through and experience the product in a self-guided way (and on their own time) without having to wait for a live demo.

It’s not your full demo. While it looks and feels like your product, an interactive demo is not meant to replace your live demo.

If a live demo contains important flows that highlight the value of your product, then think of an interactive product demo as the extraction of those flows turned into easily digestible, self-guided experiences.

Now your buyers can click through, self-educate, and begin to understand a product completely on their own.

The changing landscape

B2B 👏 Buying 👏 Cycles 👏 Are 👏 Changing 👏

Nuff said.

Interactive demos provide a whole new (and better) experience for buyers in their pursuit to understand a product.

They’re designed to give buyers an immediate glimpse into your product’s capabilities and their future product experience while educating them in an interactive, self-guided way.

Who wouldn’t want that??

Take videos for example. Videos are great for building brand awareness, but they aren’t great for building product awareness and educating buyers on how their product works.

Videos are also passive and don’t address the same level of buying intent that clicking through an interactive demo does.

And with demos, you have the option to gate them and capture new leads. I don’t always recommend this (keep reading for more on that), but interactive demos are essentially a sneak peek into the actual product which can be okay for gating. 

Just don’t expect people to fill out nine different form fields 🙅♀️

Use cases

The use cases are endless, but the core benefit of self-guided demos is driving demand for your product. That means you can start at the top of the funnel and work your way down. 

Here are a few use cases:

  • Website
  • Outbound sales
  • Paid search
  • Paid and organic social
  • Email nurtures
  • Email signatures
  • Events
  • Product launch announcements
  • Pre-demo emails
  • Post-demo follow-ups

Build strategy

Interactive demos can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s important to think through three categories when deciding which style makes the most sense for your demo: Flow, Device, and Product.

Flow

The right flow is very important for your interactive tour. There are three that we recommend: Linear walk-through, Choose your adventure, and Self-serve.

1. Linear walk-through

This is the most popular one. It's a simple walk-through of your product, a feature, or a few features, in a linear, step-by-step fashion that guides a viewer through a product experience.

2. Choose your adventure

This format is basically two or three linear walk-throughs combined into one. The only difference lies in the beginning of the demo. Here, a viewer chooses which path they want to explore.

Side note: We recommend creating a navigation for these experiences so a viewer can toggle back and forth between personas and still check out the other branches.

3. Self-serve

Think of this like an “exploratory” demo where the viewer can click around various parts of the app that they’d like to learn more about. They aren’t locked into one path, but rather they can “self-serve” their own demo experience and see anything important to them. 

Device

Whether it's your desktop app or mobile app, interactive demos can be used to highlight any of these three combinations.

1. Desktop view only

By far the most common. This focuses exclusively on your desktop app.

2. Mobile view only

Great for those who have a mobile app as one of their primary features/product offerings.

3. Mobile view + Desktop view

For those who want to switch back and forth between desktop and mobile, this is great for showing those complementary views.


Product

This one is pretty obvious but important to think about. Are you showing a single feature from your product or multiple? Knowing this will dictate the dynamic or linear nature of your demo.

1. Single feature

Pretty self-explanatory. When you want to show a single feature or facet of your product, you can create a demo for that.

2. Multiple features

On the flip side, a lot of demos incorporate multiple features and capabilities. 

Measuring the ROI

The biggest question: How do you track the success of interactive product demos? Measuring their success and performance is obviously #1, and it’s not so different from measuring the impact of website pages or your existing content. 

We recommend using Tracking scripts, Engagement insights, and Lead forms.

Tracking scripts

Be sure to add any and all custom code snippets to your interactive demo so you can send rich data back to your platforms. The primary ones we see are:

1. Web analytics - Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager

2. Marketing Automation Platforms - HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot

3. Screen recording - HotJar, Crazyegg, FullStory

4. Chatbots - Drift, Intercom, Qualified

5. Ads/Retargeting - LinkedIn ads, Google ads, Facebook ads

Engagement Insights

Make sure your demos have a way to report back on the overall engagement of them. 

How long are people spending in the demo? What are they clicking on? Where are they dropping off? 

Lead forms

There are several ways to capitalize on conversions from your interactive demos. 

Here’s what we commonly see!

1. End of demo

A typical and frictionless way to capture a lead is as soon as they finish a demo. They are arguably at their most educated and interested phase, so adding a form at the end of the demo is a very solid choice. 

2. Middle of demo

I really like this one. Is it a little bait and switchy? Maybe. But it makes a lot of sense for longer demos where you’re giving away a lot of valuable product information.

Give your audience a short demo of a specific feature, then let them know there are more interactive demos tucked away behind this form. Capture their email address and they’re off to view the rest of your interactive demos!

3. Beginning of demo

Ah, a very controversial topic. Gating content. I’m personally in favor of ungated content, but there’s something to be said for gating a really robust, interactive demo that gives away a lot of product information.

In a buyer-first world, always think empathetically. Our typical vote is to ungate your demos, but you know your audience and goals better than we do.

Rule of thumb: If you’re building a three-step demo that shares little product info… don’t gate it. 

4. Triggered by CTA (in the demo)

For some interactive product demos viewers are ready to reach out halfway through the experience (or at some point throughout). In this case, it’s wise to have a CTA in the top or bottom navigation allowing viewers to reach out when they’re ready.

5. CTA (in the demo) to unique landing page

The more targeted and personalized you can make a landing page, the better. If someone is hitting a landing page from your interactive demo, it should have focused content that corresponds to the demo they just viewed. This will increase the likelihood they convert.

Implementation

It’s important to implement your demo so that it maximizes visibility, engagement, and conversions. There are three things to consider when implementing and distributing demos: Location, Promotion, Display.

Location - Where will it live?

There are several places you can put a Tourial (some better than others). While the style of your Tourial plays a role, there are some key places to consider placing it that are going to have the highest impact on your conversion rates and pipe generation.

1. Dedicated page

An isolated page on your site that showcases your product tour is going to be your best bet. For example, most folks put it on a URL similar to this:

mydomain.com/product-tour

This way you’ll keep your viewers within the native look and feel of your site, and you can monitor the performance of those pages for conversions, opportunities, and revenue using analytics tools like Google Analytics, marketing automation (i.e. HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot), and CRMs like Salesforce.

Recommended implementation(s): Above the fold, direct embed, don't make it too large, don't add too much content below the product tour (this can distract people).

Collection page (multiple demos)

Platform page

As the primary page to communicate how your product works and what it does, popping a tour on this page can really add a lot of value. 

Recommended implementation(s): Hero CTA that triggers a lightbox, hero CTA linking to a page, or a specific section of the page that has a clickable image to activate the Tourial. Try to avoid embedding a Tourial too far below the fold or people won’t find it! 

Product/Feature page – Above the fold

Stand-alone (full page)

Promotion (Part 1)- How do you promote it on your website?

One of the most powerful things about interactive demos is that you’re basically unlimited in the ways you can promote them.

Check out these eight examples 👇

1. Hero CTA

Promote your Tourial front and center and grab your visitor’s attention as soon as they land on your website! Simply add a Tourial CTA alongside a Demo Request or Free Trial CTA, or let it shine all on its own — and watch your conversion rates soar.

2. Main nav

Want to ensure a visitor can easily find your Tourial no matter what page they’re on? Add a link to it in the main navigation bar of your website. 

You even have options as to how you add it to your navigation — let’s review some examples! 

  • 2.1 - Resources dropdown

    Some companies like to categorize Tourials as a resource, similar to ebooks and blogs, for website visitors to gain an understanding of your product. Whether you’ve created several Tourials or one, linking to a specific page through your Resources dropdown is an effective way to ensure visitors can quickly find any Tourial.

  • 2.2 - Product dropdown

    Similar to the resources dropdown, a Product dropdown menu makes sense for many companies. As visitors browse through feature pages, integrations, and the like, a Platform Overview Tourial link within this dropdown creates a natural step for them to see your software at a high level.

  • 2.3 - Main nav link

    Perhaps you're looking for a more direct way to promote your Tourial. If your navigation is more simplistic or you want to avoid dropdown menus altogether, adding a link directly to the navigation is the method for you. Plus, it’s a sure-fire way to ensure visitors don’t miss your Tourial! 

  • 2.4 - Main nav CTA

    This functions almost the same way as placing a Tourial CTA in the hero of your homepage. But with a button in the main navigation, visitors can easily access your Tourial from any page. This comes in handy when people initially land on an interior page and might otherwise miss a CTA button located elsewhere.

3. CTA collection

This could live on any page and functions similar to adding a CTA to the hero on your homepage. Give your buyers an easy way to tour your product in the same place they might request a demo or view on-demand webinars.

4. Banner

Recently launched a new Tourial? Promote it with a dropdown banner! You’ll be able to see how many visitors are getting to your Tourial from the banner link compared to any other promotion locations, and it’s a simple way to grab a visitor’s attention no matter what page they landed on. 

5. Product page CTA

Your company may have several products, each with its own Tourial. In that case, place a CTA in the hero of each product page to allow visitors to quickly access the Tourial they're most interested in. 

6. Image link

This example might look like an embedded Tourial on a page, but it’s actually a clickable image. A visitor sees the image and clicks the “Start Tour” button to open a Tourial pop-up. 

7. Chatbot

If you have a chatbot on your website, this is a fantastic place to promote your Tourials and also allow visitors to self-serve. 

8. Exit Pop-up

Exit pop-ups can increase conversions and reduce bounce rates by providing visitors with a final way to view your Tourial and (hopefully) convert. It also gives you an opportunity to promote it one last time - just in case your visitor landed on some page and didn’t see it.

Promotion (Part 2) - How will you promote it outside your website?

Remember all of the use cases we covered earlier? Let's take a deeper look at nine examples to promote interactive tours outside your website.

1. Outbound sales

2. Paid search

3. Paid and Organic social

4. Email nurtures

5. Email Signatures

6. Events

7. Product launch announcements

8. Pre-demo emails

9. Post-demo follow-ups

Display - Lightbox vs direct embed

Lightbox

Implementing a lightbox gives you the ability to use CTA buttons or links to show your Tourial off in a popup. A great example is adding a “Take a Tour” CTA button above the fold of your homepage so that your visitors can quickly view your interactive demo without navigating to another page. 

Lightboxes also work great if you have a page dedicated to multiple Tourials (let’s say you had a Tourial for each product or feature). Instead of opening several other pages, visitors can view a Tourial in a lightbox, close it, and quickly open another. 

Direct embed

On the other hand, embedding an interactive demo directly on a page has its advantages as well. Landing pages come to mind! You can embed a Tourial on a campaign landing page and surround it with relevant information plus a lead form.

Or, if you have a dedicated platform page featuring your Tourial, directly embedding it on the page places it front and center, making it the main focus for a visitor.

Tips

  • Don’t bury it at the bottom of a page (where people are less likely to scroll to) or behind too many clicks!
  • Experiment with CTAs (Take a Tour, Take an Interactive Demo, See it now)

Best practices

Best practices for building out an interactive demo is going to vary based on where and how you use them, but ultimately there are some pretty straightforward rules you’ll want to follow. 

Let’s walk through some do’s and don’ts when building these. 

Plan your story flow first.

Mapping out the story flow allows you to think through all your product’s “a-ha” moments that you want to highlight and it will actually help you determine how your demo should be built. More on that later.

Some of you will know exactly what you want to show in your demo. Even then, mapping out your story will help you finish faster (contrary to what you might believe) and prevent you from starting over when you decide to change the story halfway through 😉

Build and style your tooltips

Before you start creating your demo, style your tools and tooltips using your brand colors, fonts, logos, etc. 

The best tooltips include:

  • Headline
  • Description
  • Next button
  • Back button
  • Counter

You can add in more styling to give it some flair and brand recognition too, but don’t let it distract from the demo.

Here are a few great tooltip examples:

Take high quality screenshots & videos

We feel strongly that screenshots and videos are the best format for creating interactive demos when using them for a self-guided experience. With that said, taking high quality screenshots is a must when building out your demo. Poor screenshot resolution can result in blurriness across browsers.

✅  Use a high resolution device. If you have a Macbook, take screenshots on your Macbook, NOT your extended monitor (unless you're fancy and have an iMac). If you’re a PC user, check the resolution of your extended monitor because that may be your best bet for grabbing screens.

✅  Use a chrome extension. This will allow you to take consistently sized screenshots, and it’s a lot easier than manually uploading them from your computer each time (yes, we have one 😉 ).

✅  Take screenshots on the same monitor/device. This will ensure consistent sizing.

❌  Don’t use cmd+shift+4 on your Mac or any hot keys to capture a screen. 

❌  Don’t zoom in or out before grabbing a screenshot (like cmd+).

Add a navigation

Just like a website, a good demo should have a way for viewers to take action or navigate to a different part of the demo (if applicable). At a minimum, we always recommend including a main CTA and a Home button.

Here are a few great navigation examples:

Use Spotlights

Spotlights can’t really be overused. They’re perfect for removing distractions and making sure your visitors’ eyes stay focused on whatever section you want to highlight.

Use zoom and scroll effects

Zooming in on sections of your application allows you to create a hyper-focused view of a screen. You can pan across the screen or create a scrolling effect for visitors to scroll down a page.

A couple of tips for adding zooms:

  • Add a delay - It’s best to add a short delay before the zoom effect begins so it doesn’t feel abrupt to your viewer.
  • Make it smooth - Don’t zoom too fast or too slow. 

Use click zones for that “real-feel” experience

Click zones give visitors the sense of actually clicking and experiencing your real application.

A couple of tips on click zones:

  • DO use click zones when it’s valuable for the viewer to understand a powerful action resulting from clicking the screen.
  • DON'T over use them on the screen
  • DON'T over use them throughout the demo
  • DON'T add click zones for every action the viewer must take. You aren’t training them on how to use your product, so excessive click zones can lead to click fatigue. 
  • DON'T add a hundred click zones on a single screen. A lot of pulsating buttons like that can be distracting and harsh on the eye (see below).


Use hotspots and hover effects (when it makes sense)

We just mentioned it, but we’ll say it again. One thing you want to avoid with your interactive demos is “click fatigue”. This is when visitors have to click and click and click and click to get through the entire demo. Your completion rates will suffer, and you’ll see drop offs happen a lot earlier than you’d like.

So when you have a screen with a lot of information you want to highlight, it doesn’t always make sense to “tooltip your way through it”. A better solution would be to add hotspots that visitors can simply hover over and view information. 

Remember! Hotspots and hover effects are really cool, but that doesn’t mean you have to put them in your demo. Not all demos need them. Sometimes, you just need something simple and linear that walks your audience through your product. 

Bookend your demo with intro and exit popups

1. Intro popup

You’re sharing a quick story, so it creates a better experience to introduce your brand, your product, and even kick it off with some personas.

2. Exit popup with CTA

Every story needs an ending. In this case, include a CTA leading them to your conversion page. You can also include a link back to the beginning of the demo and a link to other demos for them to check out.

Don’t forget about mobile!

In the B2B world, it’s a lot of desktop…but that doesn’t mean you can ignore mobile. If you’re sending marketing emails, sales emails, or even running paid media campaigns, the likelihood of viewing on mobile devices goes up a lot

So make sure your demos are mobile optimized.

Tips to mobile optimize your interactive demos:

1. Keep it short. If you built a longer demo you don’t need to replicate it one-for-one on mobile. You’re going to get about half to one-third of the time and attention from mobile viewers, so if your demo takes a few minutes to click through, you’ll need to trim that down to about a minute.

2. Break it up. If you do have a longer demo, break it up into smaller experiences and provide breaks that encourage action (think “Sign up” or “Book a demo”). Let them know there’s more to the demo if they want to continue, but don’t make them click through a marathon of screens.

3. Push viewers to desktop. Your product is most likely built for desktop, so viewing it on desktop is going to be optimal. Provide CTAs or alerts to let your viewer know the desktop experience is best and provides more in-depth information. Give them a good reason to check out your desktop demo, but do not fully deprive them of the demo just because they’re on a mobile device. A single screen demo with a message that says “Please go to your desktop to view this demo” is not a great user experience. Find the right balance.

4. Zoom in. Your desktop-based product won’t look good on a mobile device if you don’t zoom in on the important parts. Sure, you won’t be able to highlight the entire application in one view, but that’s okay. Convey the most important pieces of your story and your product’s value. Showing that in the context of the full screen application isn’t required. When you want to highlight another part of the same screen, simply add another view with a zoom-in effect and you can slide right over to it.

5. Bigger buttons. If you’re going to put buttons in tooltips, make them bigger. Mobile devices are small. Another option that we love is adding arrow buttons in the middle or bottom half of the screen so that viewers don’t have to click the tooltip button every time and move around the screen. Having a consistent navigation on mobile means viewers can view your demo happily and easily. Plus, you can save a lot of space by removing tooltip buttons.

Examples

We thought you’d never ask.

Dun & Bradstreet


Salesloft


Partnerstack


Sprinklr


Aforza


InsightSquared


PowerDMS


BoostUp


Sisu Data


BuildWitt

Tools

There are a handful of ways to build demos. Most aren’t great, but hey, we don’t want to sell you short. 

Here are some that we’ve seen in the past.

Google slides

Pretty straightforward. Grab some screenshots, add them to individual slides, make your tooltips, done.

Pros: Free

Cons: Clunky, hard to build, poor brand experience, not customer facing, no data, no integrations, no forms, should we go on? So, just don’t build a self-guided demo using slides…

Custom dev work

We’ve seen some really cool demos built from custom dev work. Unfortunately, we’ve only seen them done by folks with massive budgets and large teams. For the other 99% of software companies, this likely isn’t an option. 

Pros: Super customizable, can look very beautiful and branded.

Cons: You will blow through your marketing budget, custom implementation makes it very hard to maintain and update, not scalable, requires engineers.

Camtasia

Camtasia is little more than a video tool because you can create some interactions…if you know how to use it.

Pros: Can make videos slightly interactive.

Cons: Hard to learn, somewhat antiquated, no data, must create a high-quality video first, did we mention it’s kind of hard to learn?

InVision

The original hack for creating click through demos. We’ve seen companies piece demos together using prototyping tools like InVision, but they’re typically bare boned.

Pros: Pretty easy to create, cheap.

Cons: No data, no customization, not a great viewer experience, can’t add simple callouts like tooltips.

App Cloners

We don’t know what to call them, so we just call them app cloners. These are tools that allow you to copy the frontend code of your application and create custom demo environments for the purpose of live demos. They’re quite powerful and work great for live calls, but they’re not ideal for self-guided experiences.

Pros: Data manipulation, predictable demo environments.

Cons: Not mobile optimized (or it’s clunky to build), unpredictable experiences across browsers, can’t control the viewer from scrolling and getting lost, no video, must pull from app data (can’t use Figma files to tease/promote future product launches), very limited brand control.

Tourial

We have to throw our name in the hat somewhere right? 😊 When it comes to marketing and driving demand for your product, there’s no better way to do it than with interactive product demos. And there’s no better tool for building them than Tourial.

Pros: Mobile optimization, video, custom branding, control (viewers can’t go off the rails), dynamic (create “Choose your adventure” demos for different personas), media-based (think screenshots and videos).

Bonus: Why images (screenshots) and videos?

We get this question from time to time on why we don’t copy the font-end code of an application instead. 

Here are seven important reasons why:

1. Browser predictability

You never know what browser type or size a viewer is on when they view your demo. Media-based demos (meaning screenshots and videos) provide 100% confidence that no matter how someone views your demo, it'll always scale and look good.

2. Faster load times

Pretty simple. Images load faster. A code-based approach can take quite a while.

3. Guardrails

With screenshots viewers don’t have the freedom to scroll around and get lost. You decide what they can and can’t click. Where they scroll and don’t scroll. Keep them on track in the demo so that they don’t get distracted from the story. They’ll be way more likely to convert.

4. Video

The true power of your application is sometimes not felt with a screenshot or a screen. Video allows you to show the full functionality of your product within the demo such as data loading, dragging and dropping, typing text, etc. A code-based approach is static and unfortunately can’t replicate functionality that requires more extensive code on the backend.

5. Mobile

Using screenshots allows you to scale the demo down across devices and zoom in when needed.

6. Instant swap

If you replace a screenshot the tools and effects will remain unchanged. So if your UI changes but the tooltips don’t need to be moved, you’re all set and don’t need to start building from scratch. It’s just a simple swap.

7. Figma

There’s nothing like soft launching a new product and starting to promote it before it hits the demo environment or production. Figma screens can be exported as images and used to build interactive demos that you can share with prospects and customers before it’s live. The only negative here is that you have limited data manipulation (text only).


And there you have it. It’s certainly not everything, but it should be enough to get the ball rolling with interactive product demos. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that interactive product demos are the latest and greatest growth strategy across all SaaS and software companies alike. Given the rise in PLG (product-led growth) over the last 5-10 years, buyers have grown more resistant to sales conversations but are still demanding more trials and experiences where they can explore the product as much as possible before reaching out or buying.

If you’re ready to explore interactive product demos further, chat with us! We’d love to walk you through our platform and show you how we help software companies everywhere build interactive demos for their sales and marketing campaigns.

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