How to Make a Promotional Video for an App

04.02.2021 Video Marketing
Danielle Clarke
Head of Production

When it comes to trying to promote the idea of your app, it can be tricky to differentiate yourself from the plethora of swarming applications offering this, that and the other. It is a mad struggle for supremacy and recognition, regardless of the industry that you operate in. When it comes to helping people choose your app, promotional videos are a good way to go. A short clip of what you can offer to your target audience, it is an efficient means of giving off the right first impression. But there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration when making a promotional video for an app.

Creating a promotional video for your app is similar to any other video production process, just with slightly warped rules. The timeframe that you are working with is small. Your entire app concept needs to be summarised without it being overwhelming. And content specifications need to be followed dependant on where you are promoting it. But fear not, there are ways to help your video give off just the right impression.

What works for each company will vary greatly dependant on the brand and app in question. With apps varying from flashy games to social pages to everyday necessities, creating an all-encompassing guide would be difficult. That is why we are here to provide you with tips that can point you in generally the right direction. Here is our guide to creating a promotional video for your app.

Brainstorm and storyboard your app promo

With such little time to play with, it can be difficult to think of original ways to advertise your app. Setting up a brainstorming session is a fantastic means of opening your company to new ideas. Create a relaxed, creative space in which your team can table suggestions for making your promo video really stand out from the competition. 

Remember that there is no such thing as a bad idea during a brainstorming session. Even a notion that may be deemed irrelevant could end up leading the conversation in an innovative new direction. It is all about allowing for freedom of creative thought but keeping the conversation heading in the right direction. Try activities like channelling that which inspires you on a daily basis or by taking your team somewhere different. 

Once you have a few ideas up your sleeve, try to get them in a more structured format by using a storyboard. Storyboards are a way of mapping out how your video will look, shot for shot. It gives both you and your stakeholders a visual aid when it comes to picturing the final product. Drawings don’t have to be detailed but just outline how and why you will use particular shots during your promotional video.

Once you have completed this stage of the process, you have a solid foundation on which to build your promo video. But there are a number of things to consider before you start cracking on…

Include selective highlights of your app

It sounds obvious, but it is vitally important. You need to bear both the branding of your company and the purpose of the app in mind. If you ever feel that you are straying from the path, refer back to your original content strategy. What were the original goals of your campaign? What will your target audience be looking for? How can you hit that sweet spot just right? These are the questions that will keep you on the right track.

App Video Production
App Video Production

If your app were a shop, your app promo video would be the physical store’s window display. Whilst you undoubtedly have a lot of things to show off, you don’t want the window to be overbearingly crammed with all of your trinkets. This could drive people away rather than draw them in. Instead, choose what best reflects the nature of your app’s contents and is most likely to attract the right crowd. It is more important to be tasteful with the small window that you have (more on this shortly) than fitting in everything that you can.

Use informational animation graphics

This isn’t an essential feature in promotional videos for an app, but it is uncommon not to include it. Using animation doesn’t mean adding cartoon characters to the content that you have shot. Animation is typically used as an informational tool in this circumstance. This could be in the form of informational text popping up on screen or a demo of how the app works. These two styles in particular are effective considering that many promotional videos are watched without sound. It allows you to advertise features that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Health Explainer Animation
Health Explainer Animation

Include some form of functionality demo in your promo video. It may sound patronising, but it gives the audience a more vivid depiction of how your app functions. Capturing the UI helps potential users to visualise how your product would slot into their routine, reinforcing functionality. However, it is important that you don’t use a “hand” to outline how the app works. Not only can it look tacky, but this is something that Apple frown upon and therefore may prove detrimental. Instead use a screen pointer or equivalent to help get your message across.

Keep your promo video short and sweet

Human attention spans have fallen victim to the fast-paced world that we now live in. People are constantly consuming media content through their devices. This has led to a sense of impatience when it comes to video. If attention isn’t grabbed in the opening seconds, then people will likely scroll past before you really get to show off what your app can do.

This is true of all online video content. Research has shown that typically, the shorter the video, the more successful it will prove to be (within reason). But obviously this also depends on the nature of the video content itself. For example, the optimal tutorial length is between 45 and 90 seconds, whilst adverts should be between 15 and 59 seconds.

When it comes to your app’s promo video, the stores themselves advise as to what may work best. Google doesn’t impose a limit on the video length, but recommends that it lasts between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Apple currently only allows your videos to last up to 30 seconds, so it is important that you make the best of this relatively narrow window.

Given the restrictions on the latter, it is advisable that you create a promo video that is under 30 seconds. This way you will save yourself the hassle of having to create video content twice over. Remember to keep your content short, sweet and enticing from the offset.

Video for Tech
Video for Tech

Make sure your videos are in the right format

First things first – bear the format of your promo video in mind. The unceasing jostle for supremacy between Android and iOS means that your video promo requires a different format for each platform. The video promos appear differently on the iOS App Store than they do on the Google Play Store. This means that you may have to create different promo videos for each if you wish to get the best results from your content.

The primary difference between the two is the fact that the iOS App Store autoplays your video in the search results without sound. This means that your content has to be attention-grabbing, even without your killer sound effects backing it up. The Google Play Store on the other hand doesn’t autoplay, instead offering a thumbnail option and encouraging the user to press play. This means that your thumbnail becomes more than just an important part of your SEO strategy, taking the form of the vital first impression that viewers have of your app. Apps may also appear in both landscape and portrait formats on the iOS App Store, so bear this in mind when designing your promo video.

Apple products will see up to 3 promo videos in the store listings, compared to just one on Android devices. However, the latter does have a feature graphic. Video as a format has the disadvantage of often having to persuade the viewer to click play before it has had a chance to show off its content. 

This means that you need to market your app over 2 forms of display media. A thumbnail of the footage will often suffice, but this is a chance to really show off your flair for design and draw attention to your product. After all, a good feature graphic leads to people clicking the play button, which in turn shows off app functionality. Make sure that you get that initial click.

The content itself doesn’t need to differ between the two. But to have your videos approved and optimised for both stores, you will need to tweak the format here and there.


Making an effective promotional video for an app is all about capturing the audience’s attention in a short space of time. Make sure that you grab their attention before they scroll past in search of alternatives. This may seem like an impossible task, but people start to form first impressions within 17 milliseconds of coming into contact with a brand.

To do so, you need a video that summarises your app, makes the right impressions with the right people and matches your company branding. Whether you do this through flashy graphics or dazzling video content should depend on who you are and the impression that you are looking to give off. Being consistent is paramount in this circumstance. Whilst initial impressions are made in the blink of an eye, we don’t truly form an opinion of a brand until we have encountered it 5-7 times. You don’t want each of your different forms of video content to present you in a different light. It is particularly important to pay attention to this if you are basing your marketing strategy around video

Remember that your promotional video is a summary of what your app and brand can offer to potential customers. Ensure that you give off all the right messages and paint a worthy image of your app’s potential.  

For more information on how to make a promotional video for an app, drop us a line

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