Why we made this case study
This case study series was created because I believe producing a single explainer video for your SaaS business is no longer enough.
I believe video marketing for SaaS businesses is at the start of a big shift. To explain this shift better, I wrote this case study to break down what’s happening and how.
Here’s where we are now: Customers now expect to find an explainer video at the top of your website. They expect this video to quickly and easily explain your product and how it benefits them. This is the new normal, which means exceeding expectations and delighting customers is now much harder.
Here’s what the best SaaS companies are starting to do: Savvy SaaS companies are creating video libraries for their explainer videos and product demo videos. This goes beyond the ubiquitous video at the top of your website, and extends to the most critical and confusing steps in your customer journey.
These videos are consistently branded, and regularly updated as new data about the customer journey is obtained.
These companies use their video libraries to ease frustration, educate and delight customers at scale. By creating videos for key conversion points, they’re able to improve conversion and retention, while only marginally increasing customer acquisition costs.
This is where I believe we are heading, but it isn’t very common yet.
This means that starting a video library of your own in the near future is a huge opportunity to be an industry leader in using video to reduce friction and delight customers at scale.
To explain how this is achieved, I’ve created detailed case studies like this one to showcase how the best companies are doing it.
We’ll kick start our series with a famous company called Square.
Disclaimer: We did not make these videos for Square.
Introduction to Square
Square shot to fame as a tiny credit card reader that plugs into any phone, tablet or computer. Square enables their customers to conveniently handle credit card transactions on the go.
Quick facts about Square:
- They grew from $203k net revenue in 2012, to over $2.1 billion forecasted for 2017. (Source 1, 2)
- Including the tiny white reader they are known for, Square actually has 26 software and hardware products in their ecosystem. (Source)
- They’ve had 24.45 million website visits from Jun-Nov 2017. (Source)
- Their main traffic source is direct traffic (46%). Followed by referrals (27%), search (14%) and social (4%).(Source)
Square is an established SaaS company, with an experienced marketing team. Let’s explore how they’ve used animated video to explain their products simply and effectively.
What we’ll cover:
Tip 1: Know when to use animation versus live action
Note: Live action simply means filming with a camera.
Square actually uses a variety of video styles. They use live action videos for their customer testimonials and hardware how-tos. And animation for their software and process videos. Animation works best for explaining software and processes because visualising abstract concepts and software is best done graphically.
The main focus of this case study is the colourful stop motion animation video campaign that they’ve used extensively on TV, their website and on social media.
Below is a sample section of videos from their Youtube channel. We’ve highlighted the videos from the campaign we’ll be focusing on. Do note that there are many more videos under this campaign that are not seen in this screenshot.
How you can figure out which video style you need:
Food and beverage companies have to use live action (filmed with a camera) videos to showcase their food. As a SaaS company, you have more options.
Live action is good if you want to show some human realness for testimonials or a CEO message, but not so good if you need to explain a process or showcase your software. It requires you to have someone that’s comfortable in front of the camera or be willing to pay for a professional actor.
Conversely, animation works best to explain processes, software and ideas, but should not be used for customer testimonials or hardware demos.
Tip 2: Identify points in your consumer journey that could use video to reduce friction.
Square has a massive website, and they make many videos, but it’s clear they don’t make them randomly. Instead, they make videos by figuring out which areas of their business need the most explaining, and where their customers experience the most friction.
The best way to reduce friction is to have someone physically guide a customer through a product, like they would in a brick and mortar store.
Online though, this is more difficult. Things have to be communicated through a screen.
The richest way to communicate on screen is video. This is why 4x as many customers would rather watch a video than read about a topic.(Source) It’s also why including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%. (Source)
Hence, it makes financial sense for Square to create videos for key conversion points to communicate information at scale in a way that’s both helpful and professional.
By doing this, they’re able to turn what was previously a confusing and frustrating experience for their customers, into one of delight and illumination.
Here’s some of the places they make use of explainer and demo videos on their website:
- Above the fold headers for their key products:
- Deeper into landing pages
- Help pages
How to identify which parts of your customer journey need a video:
Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics, or heat map tools like Crazy Egg, to figure out which points in your website are receiving the most drop off. Then, talk to your customers to learn which parts of your business they’re having trouble understanding. Finally, if you have a customer support team, chat with them to find out what are some common customer questions or complaints they frequently deal with.
Consolidate the data and determine which are actual product issues, and which are caused by gaps in communication. Then pick the top 3 to 5 points in the latter category that can be eased through video. Congratulations! You now have a list of videos you need to produce.
As your business matures, you might need new or updated videos as you add or change features. New insight into your customers’ behaviour is another reason to update your video library. It’s important to keep reviewing this list regularly.
Tip 3: Keep your script simple and to the point.
In their brand awareness videos, Square makes it easy for potential customers to see the benefit of using square by focusing on a universally valued feature – speed.
In this commercial that introduces Square, they emphasise the word “fast” repeatedly. 9 times to be exact!
Watch it here:
Now, let’s break it down.
They use the word fast 9 times in 30 seconds. When combined with the image of the stopwatch and motion graphics, the idea that Square is fast really comes through.
They also know exactly what features their customers care about, and make sure to cover them in the video.
Many scripts try to do too much, but with Square, they kept it simple. They knew exactly what they wanted to highlight, and did so.
Amusingly, here’s the only comment on this video on Square’s Youtube page.
How you can keep your script simple and to the point:
When we’re creating a video, we spend a lot of time trying to make it shorter and simpler. When adding to a script we always ask, “does it need to be in?” Instead of, “should we take it out?”
When considering what should be in your script, write out everything you think needs to be in there, then rank them. Keep in mind that the longer the list, the more they detract from point number 1.
At the end of the day, making 1 strong point, is better than making 3 weak ones.
Tip 4: Length matters, but context matters more.
A video that’s too long can be boring. But what makes a video too long always depends on the context.
So, is it ever a good idea to make a long, detail-heavy, super specific video?
It depends on what the purpose of the video is, who you’re showing it to and where you’re going to show it.
Here’s a video in Square’s library that’s super detailed and specific:
This video is long (3:30 mins) and talks more about chip readers and bluetooth than I’ll ever care to know. Why?
Because it’s made for someone who needs to ensure they’ve set up their system correctly, or risk losing a sale.
This video was made for someone who has already signed up with Square and wants to get set up. This video appears on http://www.square.com/setup so you can bet someone on this page needs help and wants details. Within the context of the page and the viewer’s frame of mind, a 30s overview simply doesn’t cut it.
How to ensure your video focuses on context, not length:
The video example above shouldn’t be used as a reason for you to make a 3 minute video.
Instead, ignore video length. The best scripts start by focusing on your customers. Here are some questions to answer to ensure you have a great plan for your script.
- What’s your customer’s starting point? – Consider where they’re viewing your video and what led them to discovering your video.
- What’s your customer’s ideal end point after watching your video? – Consider where you’d like them to go after watching your video and what you want them to know from watching it.
- Where and when will they be viewing this video? – Is it on Facebook? On your front page? On a help page? Will it be viewed because you bought an ad? Or are they clicking on it because they’ve interacted with your site for awhile and are genuinely interested? The more attention you pay to the platform and context, the more likely you’ll successfully deliver a video that connects with and helps your customers.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of the length and type of video that’s appropriate for its specific purpose.
Tip 5: Adopt a consistent look and feel.
Square has made a lot of content for this campaign. And as you can see, it has a very distinctive and consistent look.
This allows a deeper connection to be built every time their audience sees content from the campaign.
In addition, familiarity and knowing what to expect helps your audience focus on the content, rather than the novelty of it.
It’s also a subtle signal of professionalism.
Finally, videos are richer than images or words. So the brand association and recall from watching a video is significantly higher. Hence, a consistent video goes much further to help potential customers remember a brand than a consistently written blog post.
How you can achieve a consistent look for all your videos:
Partner with a professional studio to come up with a visual identity for your videos. This should include illustrations, style templates, fonts, colours, and video intros and outtros that will help improve the consistency of your videos.
Tip 6: Create secondary edits to extract more value from your videos.
Square uses videos in different lengths and formats across all of their platforms.
Once their primary videos have been conceptualised and created, making secondary edits of those videos helps get more mileage out of them.
Aside from their website, Square has also shown this campaign on Facebook a lot. In fact, earlier this year they used this video campaign as their page’s cover video.
As you can see from the screenshot, all the videos with a clean coloured background and single item in focus is from the same campaign.
You’ll notice that all the videos from this campaign are short. Around 15 seconds kind of short. This is because Facebook is an awareness platform for them, not an education one. So instead of boring users to death with 3 minute-long videos, they keep their Facebook videos short and sharp. Square knows that the role of Facebook is to drive interest and get potential customers to click through to their website and landing pages. There, they can educate and connect deeper with people who are already interested.
In conclusion, we're not allowed to say our reader is the fastest, but it's really, really fast. 😉 pic.twitter.com/lffsofZPT2
— Square (@Square) March 24, 2017
Here, Twitter has adapted their video into a GIF. GIFs are simply a lot more native to Twitter than video, so it’s easy to see why they choose that format.
Square also uses the same general look and feel for their PPC ads.
As you can see, they don’t look 100% the same as their videos, but this isn’t a huge deal, simply because people don’t pay huge attention to PPC ads.
Interestingly, even though their videos are uploaded on Youtube, it’s clear that it’s just a video hosting platform for them, not a platform they’re actively trying to build a following on. You can see this by the fact that they don’t even reply to comments on their Youtube channel.
How you can start creating secondary edits:
Here are some ways your existing content can be repurposed for more mileage:
- Teaser – Turn a long video into a 5-10 second teaser or GIF. You can use it to direct new viewers to the full length video. Or retarget viewers of the full length video to remind them to take the next step in their journey.
- Alternate call to action – Perhaps one of your videos was leading to a webinar, but you’ve since started doing sales calls. You could edit the video to drive them to schedule a call instead.
- Adapt for platform nativity – Imagine you have a video that lives on the top of your website. But you want to start using it for Facebook ads. One way you could do this is to add subtitles to the video to ensure it can be understood without sound. Alternatively, you could extract the voiceover from the audio, and add captions to the video to emphasise key points, making it more meme-like.
Tip 7: Have compelling calls to action
Calls to action are super important, yet tricky to create.
To be honest, Square doesn’t do a great job with calls to action. Most of their calls to action are simply too generic, and don’t pay attention to where and when the video is played.
When you click on the play button on this page, a video pops up explaining how Square works.
At the end of the video, there’s a voiceover call to action that says:
“Learn more about what else square can do for your business at square.com today”
The call to action tells people to head to square.com, even though they’re already there!
Instead they could’ve said something like “Click to get started and get your free card reader in the mail”. Ideally, the call to action should relate to the main “Get Started” call to action button that’s above the “watch the video” button.
This next example, doesn’t have a call to action at all:
The video has no call to action in the voiceover, video captions, and post caption.
Instead of using this video to drive viewers to get signed up, it simply leaves them hanging.
Perhaps after their caption of “It’s as easy as slide, click, paid.” They could add an extra sentence like, “Signing up is also easy at square.com”. Or “Learn more with ease at square.com”
All in all, Square could have done a better job creating enticing and relevant calls to action so that viewers will have a clear idea of what next steps to take, and actually want to take them.
How you can create effective calls to action:
For every video you plan to create, think about where your viewers will see it, and where you want to lead viewers after the video.
Always keep in mind these 4 principles for creating compelling calls to action:
- Low friction
At a minimum, your call to action should be clear, relevant and low friction. That is, your viewer should be 1. clear on the next step, and the next step should be 2. relevant to what they’ve just watched. It also 3. shouldn’t ask people to perform an action they’re unwilling to do.
When done well, a call to action should also be 4. enticing. When a viewer feels like they might be missing out, or can clearly see the value in your offer, they are more tempted to click.
This is much more difficult than it sounds, but doing this right goes a long way in delighting and guiding your customers to becoming big fans of your brand.
Here’s a recap of the tips that will help you succeed in creating a video library of your own:
Tip 1: Know when to use animation versus live action. – Live action is best for customer testimonials, CEO messages and physical products. Animation is great for explaining software, processes and ideas.
Tip 2: Identify points in your consumer journey that could use video to reduce friction. – Analyse your website and talk to your customers to learn where they experience confusion and frustration, then make videos to help ease those points of friction.
Tip 3: Keep your script simple and to the point. – When adding to a script always ask, “why should it be in?” Instead of, “why should we take it out?”
Tip 4: Length matters, but context matters more. – Determine A) what led your customer to watching your video, and B) where you want them to go after they’ve watched it. Your script should contain the information necessary to lead your customer from A to B.
Tip 5: Adopt a consistent look and feel. – Create a visual identity that works across formats and platforms and apply that to all your video content.
Tip 6: Create secondary edits to extract more value from your videos. – Brainstorm opportunities where your video can be repurposed. This includes social platforms and PPC ads.
Tip 7: Have compelling calls to action. – Always keep in mind these 4 principles for creating compelling calls to action: clear, relevant, low friction, enticing.
Could your SaaS business benefit from a video library?
So that’s it! Those are our top 7 points to help you create a video library that turns customer journey pain points into delightful and helpful experiences for your customers.
If you’re a SaaS business, let us know what you think about creating a video library, and whether you agree that more SaaS businesses are turning to video to educate, convince and convert customers.