Blog Post

The Anatomy of a Great Help Video

Shannon Howard
March 28, 2024
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Video is one of the most popular ways to learn something new. In fact, recent TechSmith research discovered that 83% of respondents prefer watching video to accessing information or instructional content via text or audio.

And it makes sense: When you’re learning something new, it’s helpful to put it into context. To see what it is you’re supposed to be doing. A video can provide you with those contextual visuals.

To help you create the best possible help videos for your product, we connected with Rich Benavides, Director of Customer Success at Videate, to get his insight.

What Makes Up a Great Help Video?

Ever watched a help video and it wasn’t…well…helpful? The reality is: Not all help videos are created equal. The following are three elements that make for a successful and useful help video.

1. Straight to the point

Usually when someone is watching a help video, there’s an immediate problem they’re trying to solve. “How do I do _____?” or “Where do I find ____?” 

With these questions in mind, create your help video to quickly and succinctly answer the question. Rich suggests making these granular enough that someone wanting to learn about one specific feature doesn't have to sift through irrelevant information

Not sure what questions your customers are asking? Check out what they’re searching for in your help center and what they’re typing into search bars. Or ask your Support team which questions come up most frequently.

2. Specific

Great help videos focus on one thing at a time. Think of them like a point solution: Someone has a question about a feature or a workflow, and they’re looking for the simplest way to get unstuck. When you make your videos specific, it’s easier for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

3. What-How-Why

When creating longer form educational content, you may follow a Why-What-How model. So you start with why the topic is important, introduce what the learner needs to do, then show how the learner should do that.

For help videos, we change the order a little bit to reflect what the learner is looking for (quick answer vs. more in-depth knowledge). So, for help videos, we start first with what the video is about, how to do something in the product, and conclude with a short sentence about why it’s important. 

How Long Should a Help Video Be?

This is a frequently asked question for help videos—and length may vary. But if you’re using the tips Rich shared above, he recommends videos be kept to less than a minute, if possible.

An additional benefit of keeping these videos shorter is that they become easier to update. As your product changes, you can isolate videos that are now outdated and quickly refresh them.

4 Best Practices for Creating Help Videos

If you’re like most educators, you love to teach—and you want to share everything you know with learners to help them feel confident. While this is a great characteristic in general, it can negatively impact the creation of help videos.

1. Minimize the use of extended branded intros.

When it comes to support videos, find ways to incorporate your brand that don’t add to watch time. For example, put your logo in the frame or have a brief logo fading in the intro, rather than an animation or drawn out branded intro. 

2. Drop the extensive context-setting.

“Often in our desire to give the customer all of the information we think they expect, we take more time and effort than we should,” Rich told us.

Your learners don’t need two minutes of context for 10-30 seconds of “how-to”. Keep introductions to help videos short and simple.

3. Account for viewer drop-off. 

While you would think learners would watch the full tutorial video, viewer drop-off for these types of videos can be steep.

“Show the customer what they want to see in the first 30 seconds with very little wasted space. They’ll get the information they wanted without frustration,” Rich advises.

4. Add additional context in the help article.

Help videos aren’t just for YouTube or standalone use cases. You can also embed these videos into written help content.

If you want to provide more context to the video, leverage the help article to do so. “You can add more context in the article itself, or in a more holistic article describing the whole section in which the feature lives,” Rich shared.

How Can You Quickly Create and Update Help Videos?

Creating videos for customer education is time-consuming—both in creation and maintenance. But with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s getting easier to create and update help videos.

Not surprisingly, Rich uses his company’s own tool, Videate, to make and update videos more quickly. In Rich’s words: “Instead of needing to take screen recordings and get equipment out to produce the perfect audio track, and instead of needing a professional video editor, we can create videos quickly by simply telling Videate what to say and what to do on our live site.”

Videate takes your storyboard and, within minutes, produces high-quality audio and accurate mouse movements and actions. 

The best part? When new features come out, you can update your video library in days—instead of weeks or months. In fact, the Videate team is about to update their entire library as a few new features come out.

Leverage Help Videos for Better Learning Experiences

Regardless where you are on your customer education journey, remember these key ingredients: simplicity, specificity, and meaningful content. 

Keep your videos short, focused, and aligned with your audience's immediate needs. Don’t be afraid to leverage new tools like AI to stay agile and responsive to product changes. 

Most importantly, see each video as an opportunity to not just solve a problem—but to genuinely connect and empower your audience. Your work matters!

About the Author

Shannon Howard Speaker Headshot
Shannon Howard
Director of Content & Customer Marketing
Shannon Howard is an experienced Customer Marketer who’s had the unique experience of building an LMS, implementing and managing learning management platforms, creating curriculum and education strategy, and marketing customer education. She loves to share Customer Education best practices from this blended perspective.