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Onboarding is difficult.
You, as the developer or marketer, may be certain that everything will be clear, intuitive, and easy for a new user to pick up. But from the user’s perspective, it may be confusing and unclear what they should do or how.
Enter app demos. They’re like the digital version of back-of-the-box instructions.
Demos are helpful for making onboarding seamless by quickly educating users and familiarizing them with the UI. Whether you have a video of next steps for users to take or an animated gif depicting the app’s functionality within the mobile browser, app demos will help users quickly reach the aha moment within your app.
Continue reading for strategies and examples of great app demos below or jump to our infographic for a checklist of steps to include within your app demo.
An app demo is a visual guide to introduce users to the user interface and key features.
App demos are usually done automatically during the onboarding process, but when the app comes with a substantial price tag, an employee usually demos the app personally.
A demo app, on the other hand, is a tool to show a prospect what the app could look like for their unique use-case and allow them to play with the product using mock data.
The demo app is typically used by enterprise-level businesses as a way to close the sale of a big-ticket software solution. A software sales cycle requiring a demo app would usually include the very hands-on demonstration of the app by an employee, discussed above.
In this article, we discuss app demos and how to take advantage of this automated onboarding tool.
You may think app demos have one function: onboarding.
But app demos are useful in many more ways. They can be used to launch new products, release new features, educate existing users, and much more. We will cover a few of the common scenarios where app demos are helpful.
Of course, an app demo is useful for launching new digital products and quickly showing value proposition.
For example, when TechCrunch was launching their mobile app, they provided a demo of how the app could be used and specifically how the user interface is helpful for finding the latest news in tech. They even demo how push notifications can be used to add more value.
Before onboarding, user acquisition is the most important use case for app demos. Your demo can be helpful for increasing the conversion rate of app landing pages.
Most app landing pages feature some visualization of the app’s user interface or user experience. This helps paint a picture in the prospective user’s mind of how the product can benefit them personally.
Venmo, for example, provides a quick demo of their user interface with mock data to show prospective users how the product is used and will add value to their life (literally).
Another common use for app demos is when launching a new software update, version release, or feature improvement. Similar to an onboarding tooltip, you can educate existing users on the improved interface as you would a new user.
Upon the release of new features, Grammarly includes helpful visualizations to demo the new components. In this case, they show animate GIFs of recent updates to their workflow.
When you provide users with a laundry list of to-dos in order to get your software installed or to integrate with a third party, a demo is a handy tool. In this scenario, it’s especially helpful to mirror the user’s view and map the demo to their next step.
This is exactly what the chrome extension Keywords Everywhere did for their users. By mirroring the next step to install, the user can intuit what to do next to get up and running.
If you’ve ever seen an app demo done well, you may not even have noticed it was happening.
The best app demos are the ones that are seamlessly integrated into the signup, installation, update, and new feature rollout process.
Your app demo can pull from the following proven strategies to acquire and educate users.
GIFs are a quick and easy way to record and embed a visual guide for users to see the product in action. Most GIFs have a 500 frame limit, which can be a welcome restriction for your app demos.
Working within the limitations of a GIF allows you to focus on which aspects of the demo are the most important to convey.
Having a designer animate a GIF demo can keep your branding elements consistent and can help prevent your demo from becoming outdated with UI updates and changes, as long as the functionality in the demo is left unchanged in the app.
Video can be one of the strongest mediums to demo your application’s functionality and provide a more in-depth demonstration. Your only frame limitation is the time frame your user is willing to spend watching the video.
Screen sharing videos are commonly used for their ease and simplicity. More sophisticated, professionally made narrative videos can be helpful to build trust among users because they project a dedication to quality and attention to detail.
Pro Tip: Include narration and subtitles in your app demo videos. This will help add context for viewers, and especially helpful for viewers with muted audio.
The use of subtle UI animations is a great way to “demo” the product in real-time. If you find new users open the app and then quickly churn, you can use microinteractions to guide them towards the desired action.
Video games frequently use microinteractions to show a possible move for players to make next. If you’ve ever been stumped while playing solitaire, you’ll notice a card vibrate or drag across the screen towards a valid next move. This is the value microinteractions can bring to your app demo.
Many people praise word-of-mouth as the most powerful referral marketing strategy, and although it has its strengths, another referral strategy has been found to work equally as well — over-the-shoulder.
Maybe you’ve seen a friend, colleague, or even stranger using a mobile app over their shoulder and been left wondering why you are not an active user. This form of demo is left in the hands of users, literally, but you can implement a similar strategy in your app demos.
By showcasing your mobile app being used over someone’s shoulder, like in the TechCrunch example above, it can feel like the user is being shown how to use the product by a friend.
App demos solve for the curse of knowledge: a cognitive bias where it is assumed the user has sufficient knowledge and understanding to accomplish a goal. The following app demo examples remove this bias and are exemplary ways to onboard, educate, and retain users.
Stripe’s interactive app demo for their Connect product is a helpful way to show how easy it is to set it up for a business.1
In their app demo they use mock information and display the user journey for onboarding — they even show a push notification for their authentication code. It’s an easy way to show users how simple their app’s onboarding and verification process is.
The app demo for Earnin does a great job of showcasing how the user would interact with the app and even shows mock values of the typical user experience.2
Earnin’s app demo successfully implemented strategies such as:
Slack uses a professional video to demo their application.3 The video also includes a demo of the main actor using Slack in her hypothetical position as an editor of The Daily News.
Their branding throughout the video remains consistent and the demo is helpful to show how their product is used on a daily basis — not only to organize departments but also to share files and communicate with multiple employees.
The personal finance and credit score company WalletHub built their app demo within their app landing page.
Wallethub shows what the user will see and successfully integrates animated text within their demo to elaborate their value proposition. For example, they show the text “Get free credit scores & reports, updated daily” followed by an example of what the UI would look like for users.
If you want to understand whether your app demos are successfully acquiring, educating, onboarding, and retaining users, consider using CleverTap’s intelligent mobile marketing platform to gain deep insights into when and where users churn and how you can use omnichannel marketing strategies to keep them engaged and retained.
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