Whether you’re selling a product or service, the ubiquitous product video can be the make-or-break moment for your potential customers.

Including video on your website has been shown to improve conversions by roughly 80%.

A truly great product video both informs and inspires viewers to give you their attention (and to open their wallets). We’ve seen our fair share of product videos here at Vimeo — including the ones that have launched successful crowdfunding campaigns and sold plenty of units in the process. 

Here are some tips for making great product videos that convert, along with examples from brands and small businesses who are killing the game. 

Unsure how to make a product video? Follow these 9 tips.

1. Context is king

Don’t just show off your slick product, show how it fits in the bigger picture of your customers’ lives. Aim to answer these questions with your product video: 

  • What problem is your product solving? 
  • How does it enrich your customers’ lives? 
  • Is it inspiring a customer to do more? 
  • Will this product increase their overall happiness?

2. Show AND tell

A high-concept product trailer may be artistic and fancy, but if viewers don’t know what you’re selling at the end of it, they probably won’t be inspired to become customers. 

Pretend you’re back in first grade doing “Show and Tell” — show off your product, and tell your customers about it. It’s that simple.

Here are a few types of product videos that tiny ecommerce businesses and the big guys alike rely on: 

  • Demo. Simply put, a demo shows off the product in action while someone is using it!
  • Explainer. The humble explainer video tells you exactly how a product works and shares the story behind your brand using a combo of audio and text. Often, explainer videos are what convinces a human to purchase.
  • Tutorial. These are instructive, using providing a list of step-by-step instructions. Tutorials might be tailored to those who have already purchased and need help with a complex product, rather than purely a marketing tool.

What should be included in your product video?

  1. Plenty of product photography, ideally a 360° glance at your goods
  2. Dimensions, so viewers know how large, heavy, or feather-light your product is
  3. A call-to-action to your website, follow your biz on social, etc.
  4. Social proof, like testimonials and reviews to show why your product or service is better than the competition
  5. Your unique personality and spin on things

3. Share your story — or let your customers tell it for you

When people look at a product video, they don’t just want to know the technical specs of the product. They want to meet the people behind the product and the people who use it.

(Pro-tip: include specs in the product description of your listing, wherever that may be, or add a quick pop-up of text in your video with all the details to keep your viewers paying attention). 

Sure, specs are helpful, they’re not everything. Today’s consumers are savvy, preferring companies on a mission rather than those with merely a glossy product. A BBMG & Globe Scan deep dive discovered something telling about Gen Z — they are “3x more likely to say that the purpose of business is to ‘serve communities and society.’”

Gone are the days of consumerism for consumerism’s sake, so use your product video or demo to explain your business’s reason for existing. Answer the big questions. For example, does your business: 

  • Partner with social justice initiatives? 
  • Donate part of your proceeds to community organizations?
  • Use your social media platforms to educate your followers about social issues? 
  • Have a meaningful sustainability practice, whether that’s eliminating single use plastics or going carbon neutral? 

In other words, caring is cool. 

When it comes to testimonials, use a current customer as your hype man. These can be raving quotes taking up a single frame of your product video, or a talking head interview of how your product or service changed the game.

4. Customize, customize, customize.

Your product video is an advertisement — and a first impression — for your product/service, so appearances matter. That means blurry footage or unclear photography can (and will) lead to a nose-dive in product sales.   

Your product video might live on as a Facebook ad or embedded on your ecommerce website, so you want to be proud of the final cut. With Vimeo Create, you can customize your product video entirely to your tastes, whether that’s uploading your brand’s logo and fonts or using our limitless library of not-cheesy stock footage to jazz up your product demo. 

Take the team at City Beauty as a powerful example. While it used to take more than 15 minutes to make a customized video, City Beauty upped their product video production by 150% with Vimeo Create, shortening their production time to a mere 2-3 minutes from start to finish.

Hosting your video in the Vimeo player has its advantages, too. Treat your viewers to zero pre-roll…because the last thing a potential customer wants to watch is an ad before your ad. (Talk about eye-roll inducing.)

How long should a product video be?

Answer: it depends!

  • Quick demo: anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute
  • Explainer: anywhere from 30 seconds to 90 seconds  (depending on how complex your offerings are)
  • Quick tutorial: If you’re distributing on short form- friendly social like Instagram, shorter is better.
  • In-depth tutorial. You might be a vlogger doing a “Get Ready With Me” video or a real estate agent teaching the baddest tricks in the housing game. For channels like YouTube, long form (anywhere from 7-15 minutes) is fair game.

5. Cater to your target audience

Often when bands go on tour, they’ll shout out the name of the city they’re playing in. We recommend doing the same in your product video, figuratively or even literally.

Whether it’s a certain demographic or geographic audience you’re targeting, you should customize your product video to be highly relevant to your potential customer.

Take a look at how Spoak Decor immediately calls out to their target audience in their explainer video for their product Spoak Play. “Calling all interior design lovers,” reads the first frame, establishing their niche quickly and effectively. Then, they go exactly what users can do with Spoak Play.

6. Don’t foster FOMO.

Nothing screams ‘cheap infomercial’ like attempting to scare people into purchasing your product. By fear, we mean FOMO, what the kids say to refer to the fear of missing out.

When businesses try to sell the risks of not buying their product, they’re using fear as a cheap tactic to get people to buy. A great business like yours should be focusing on the benefits of your product/service in your product video, rather than on scare tactics.

If you’re having trouble identifying your product’s unique selling points (USPs), grab a blank piece of paper (or Word Doc) and ask these questions: 

  • Who are your competitors, and what do you love about your competitors’ products? (It’s totally okay to admit when your competitors are doing something right! Inspiration is important.) 
  • Of the folks who have previously bought your product or service, what are the common threads in their reviews, comments, or feedback? Write it all down, make a Venn diagram, whatever unlocks your mind.
  • What’s the most positive thing about your product or service? Lean into that.

7. Inject some personality

Don’t be afraid to use a product video to showcase your brand’s identity. Showcasing your personality is a great way to differentiate your product from the millions of similar products out there.

8. Include a call to action so people know how (and where) to buy

Make it easy for potential customers to purchase your product/service once the video comes to an end. How? Include a call to action or a next step/destination.

If a person makes it all the way to the end of your three-minute blender demonstration, they’re probably pretty interested in buying that blender. If your product video is more of a proof-of-concept, try including an email capture or link to preorder in your video.

Look at how Hello HUM shows off how to use their product with a cheeky headline — “Getting to know your HUM” — and an easy-to-follow CTA pointing to their website.

9. Connect, human to human

It’s all too easy to talk at your audience in a product video instead of to them. Because your goal is to start a conversation with a potential customer, do your best to connect with the human on the other side of the screen.

How to shoot product videos

You don’t need a video agency to make a stunning explainer video. While we love the glossy elegance of a majorly produced product vid, in today’s lightning-paced marketing world, small business owners need to be making content faster and more efficiently.

There’s no shortage of marketing channels to push content out on, and we’d guess you don’t have nearly as many videos as you want. That’s where agility and scalability come in.

Shooting product videos, explainers, and demos can be intimidating, but here are a few starting points:

  • When in doubt, use a flat lay or a white background. The simpler the background, the better. After all, you’re not selling the background.
  • Aim for consistent lighting. Avoid shooting with people if you can help it. Even though golden hour is beautiful, it’s finicky and unreliable. You know what’s reliable? Good old studio lighting.
  • You don’t need a DLSR. Use your iPhone’s portrait mode against your simplistic background to get high-quality product shots in minutes.
  • Lean on user-generated content. Are people using your products on social media and tagging you in their videos? Ask them if you can use their UGC as part of your promo!

How do you make a product video?

Making a product video doesn’t have to be an expensive, outsourced to-do. Open up Vimeo Create on mobile or desktop and use an AI-powered guided template to make a product vid in minutes.

Answer a few easy questions, upload iPhone photos or videos of your product, and tinker with text and a call-to-action. Save, publish, and share to any (or all, we won’t judge) your social channels.

The main takeaways

To make a successful and interesting-to-watch product video, try to be direct, creative, and human.

Prioritize your efforts toward being helpful, showcasing the unique selling point of your product — even if that seems like something your competition is doing, too.

The bottom line? Most consumers aren’t carefully watching your every move. They just want to know the top benefits of your product and how to buy it. 

Make a stellar product video in minutes.

Originally published in 2015 by Amy Liu. Updated in 2021.