If you're planning your next big app launch, it's pretty much essential that you have a promo video to help generate hype and build excitement around your app. A great promo video will give users and the press something to talk about in the build up to launch.
The games and movie industry have promo videos down to a fine art, but it's only in the last few years that it's really taken off in the app world. Just like movie trailers, app promo videos are a great way to build up demand and get people excited about a forthcoming release.
I've helped produce a lot of app promo videos over the last three years, everything from stop-motion to full-production videos with hired locations and actors. Currently I have a soft spot for documentary style promo videos, they are hard to get right, but they simply look and feel more genuine. We did a couple of documentary style videos for Ember after its initial launch, and while they are not well suited for launch videos they are really effective for ongoing marketing campaigns.
If you're planning a launch video, anything goes as long as it's engaging. To give you an idea of what you should be aiming for I've put together a showcase of ten great promo videos.
Enough talk, let's get stuck in and take a look at them!
Tiny Wings 2 ~ 400k views
This is a great example of how charming a hand-made low budget promo can be. It has had almost half a million views and just goes to show you don't need a big budget to make a great video. It obviously helps that the first Tiny Wings game was a massive hit, but I still believe this video would have done really well even without its predecessor’s success.
iA Writer Pro ~ 98K views
This video for iA Writer Pro shows how important sound design is. Without the soundtrack it would be pretty boring, but because the music and the cuts are timed so well it makes the whole thing feel dramatic and exciting. It's very impressive when you consider it's for something as mundane as a text editor.
Clear ~ 1.2M views
I'm a bit biased as this is the promo we made for Clear. The video adheres to the now classic app promo format; nice setting, cheery music, lots of app close-ups - everything is perfect. It looks a little old now, but at the time it was pretty fresh. It's managed to amass over 1.2 million plays on Vimeo alone, not bad when you consider it was made for under $5,000 (USD).
Perfect Weather ~ 43.5K views
As with Clear, this video very much conforms to the classic app promo style (everyone is happy, and everything is perfect). The video does do a good job of showing off the features of the app and overall I think the super cheery style works well for this app — it is called Perfect Weather after all.
Thunderspace ~ 54k views
Top marks for the effort on this one, they literally built a set and drenched it with water. Taptanium, the makers of Thunderspace revealed that the video cost $11,500 (USD). I'd say that sounds pretty reasonable for all the work that went into it. I especially like the fact they tried something a little different.
They also released a behind the scenes look at what it took to produce the Thunderspace promo, this is a must watch for anyone about to produce an app video!
Keezy ~ 76.8K views
This is another great video. It has so much character and charm to it, hardly surprising considering it features Reggie Watts. The follow up video they produced with Reni Lane is long at 2:25, but is completely captivating and well worth watching. These guys know how to produce great videos.
Jelly ~ 200K views
I've already mentioned how much I like documentary style app videos and Jelly is a great example. While this style may not be suitable for a lot of apps or developers, it certainly works well for Jelly.
Day One Journal ~ 50.1K views
We're entering the realms of big budget videos now. This is an amazingly well produced video, it's warm, funny and engaging. While it doesn't show off the app too well (imho) it's perfectly suited for a private journaling app. It's produced by the very talented Adam "Sandwich Video" Lisagor.
Carousel by Dropbox ~ 145K views
Like the Day One journal promo, this would have cost a serious amount to film. It's a well produced video there's no doubt about it, however I feel like it misses the mark a little bit. In my opinion it's a bit long, and doesn't show off the app too well, but even so the video still has nice elements to it.
This business video from Dropbox is pretty neat. It's actually promoting a business feature of Dropbox and not the app itself, but it's still worth watching.
If that wasn't enough, here's a bunch more videos that are well worth taking the time to watch: Ember for Mac, Pizza Compass, Clear for Mac, Hatch, Rise Alarm Clock, Paper by 53, Skylock, Listen, BUBL Draw, Jump.
To effectively market and sell your app, you need a promo video. Even if you produce the video yourself on your iPhone with zero budget, it's still better than nothing. Just like having a landing page and great screenshots, a promo video should now be considered essential.