This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Product videos demonstrate an item’s features, benefits, and uses in action—helping to inform, persuade, and bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences. Adding video to your ecommerce product pages can increase conversions, reduce return rates, improve buyer confidence, strengthen brand image, and even boost search engine rankings. Plus, many types of video content can also be used to avail marketing strategies on other channels.
To make high-quality product videos at home, you’ll need a smartphone or camera, a quiet indoor or outdoor space, time to research and plan your video, and some basic equipment you may already have around the house.
Step 1: Understand Your Target Audience
A successful product video is well-crafted and well-researched. It needs to appeal to the customer base you’re targeting, so it’s crucial to understand how to reach them.
Start by creating a customer profile to establish key details about your ideal buyer types. This practice involves making a list of shared demographics, pain points, priorities, typical buying journey, and more. When it comes to creating videos, it helps to know which devices your target audience will be watching on, what language they respond to, and what types of media they prefer to consume.
Even if you don’t plan to use your videos for social media marketing, it’s important to evaluate which social channels your customers are on. Trends on TikTok posts, Instagram reels, live streams, and various types of YouTube videos can help you plan for and create a product video that engages your audience.
Step 2: Plan the Type of Product Video You’ll Be Shooting
Product videos can be made in different formats to serve different purposes. Consider which of the following five types of video is best for your product, customers, and intended channels.
These videos are typically simple and short—going for around 15 to 60 seconds generally. The objective of a product demo is to provide a high-level overview of the product, its capabilities, and what it looks like in action. They’re perfect for use in the gallery of a product page.
The style and content of these clips can vary based on the product, brand, and intended usage, but they often include full views and close-ups of the item. Audio and text may or may not be used.
Short demo videos are typically the easiest to make and most likely to be watched in full. They can even be turned into a looping GIF.
Explainer videos are more in-depth versions of product demos. The objective of these videos is to illustrate something about your item in detail—like its features or product story. They highlight the “what” behind the product and provide detailed information—making them useful content for product pages and YouTube.
These productions are typically 30-120 seconds in length and include audio, text, or both (such as a demonstrator on-camera speaking, a voice-over narration, appropriate music and/or a text overlay).
Product tutorials are similar to product explainer videos, but they apply to customers at different stages of the sales cycle. Tutorials are typically longer, more instructive, and geared toward customers who have already purchased the product.
While they typically aren’t useful marketing tools or product page assets, tutorial videos are excellent content to make for complex items that buyers may need help using.
These videos showcase product variations and indicate use cases for each one. The objective is to help users decide between varieties of the same product.
Selection advice videos can be used to reduce returns, minimize pre- and post-sale customer service needs, simplify and speed-up the consumer decision-making process, and increase buyer confidence. They’re great for use on product pages and social media channels.
An unboxing video shows a customer receiving the product as it’s packaged and sharing the experience of opening it with the audience. The objective is to showcase the quality and aesthetics of your product’s packaging—which lends to perceived product quality and brand image—and speak to the customer experience as a whole.
It’s a sensational type of content highly popular on YouTube and social media platforms—but can be useful for product pages as well as other marketing channels. Unboxing videos are often used for informational and entertainment purposes, so they’re typically much longer than other product videos (around 5-10 minutes or more).
You can choose to shoot your own unboxing video, but it typically instills more confidence in the customer to use existing UGC (User Generated Content) or sponsor an affiliate influencer to create one for you.
Customer testimonial videos are similar to written reviews—they give shoppers information from a trustworthy source, which increases buyer confidence through social proof.
But video testimonials tend to have a greater impact since they provide visual details and convey emotion naturally. Plus, viewers understand that a customer must feel passionately about their purchase to go to the effort of making a testimonial video about it.
To get the best video quality, try recording testimonials from local customers in your studio, or propose to bring the shoot to them. Offering incentives—such as gift cards, discounts, or merchandise—is a great way to encourage participation and thank reviewers for their efforts.
Competitor research should be a fundamental part of your planning process as well. Explore your competition’s product pages and marketing channels to get insight into their video strategy. Consider engagement and sales metrics to get an idea of what works—and what doesn’t.
Step 3: Create Your Video Script and/or Storyboard
Creating a script or storyboard is essentially the process of finalizing a detailed plan for your product video. It should map out every element of your video—including scene composition, setting, camera angles, transitions, flow, gestures, and dialogue.
Follow these steps to write a powerful product video script:
As you plan your product video, consider some important questions that your final production should answer:
- Who is the target audience?
- What is the product for?
- Where and how can they use it?
- Why is it worth using/buying?
Not all of these topics need to be blatantly addressed in the video’s dialogue or overlaid text—especially if you’re shooting a short, simple video without audio. But the answers to those questions should be conveyed to the audience through your choices in subjects/actors, settings, and themes, and the ways that you showcase the product’s features.
Reference your customer research to understand how to approach these objectives in a way that resonates with your audience.
Tone is the “personality” of your business or brand and how it comes across to your target audience. It’s conveyed through your product descriptions, marketing copy, social media posts, site design, and product videos.
The tone of your video’s narration, dialogue, music, setting, and production as a whole should align with what speaks to your customers. To zero-in on the right tone to use when writing your script, consider a hypothetical meeting with your ideal customer profile in your mind: How, where, and why would you talk to your target buyer in person?
The dynamics of an in-person conversation will guide you toward an appropriate and compelling tone. Any exchange will naturally take on a tone of its own—business, technical, casual, cheeky, sassy, supportive, instructive, etc. By adapting that sentiment to your script, you’re more likely to engage qualified shoppers.
Keeping your objectives and tone in mind, start envisioning your video and jot down notes, ideas, and diagrams. Then proceed with writing a script. While it doesn’t need to follow any specific type of format, ensure that your script is detailed, consistently written, and clear to everyone involved in shooting. You can reference similar businesses’ product videos for inspiration and guidance if you feel stuck.
As you finalize and edit your script, create and stick to a consistent formatting. The best approach is to separate audio and video by using clear indicators before each cue or direction. You can also distinguish the elements of your script (such as narration, on-screen dialogue, transitions, and sound-effects) by color-coding, italicizing, formatting in bold, or bracketing them.
A storyboard is a graphic organizer consisting of visual cells that represent each scene or part of your video. An illustration of the background, product, user, and any other subjects can be drawn in each cell, and notes pertaining to camera angle, camera movement, music, and more can be added underneath.
Storyboarding can be a useful supplement to a written script. But for product videos that don’t feature narration, dialogue, or multiple sets (like the example shown below), a solid storyboard may replace a script altogether.
Use this storyboard template to get started:
Script-writing Do’s & Don’ts
Here are some tips to plan a product video that sells:
|Include at least one ‘Hero Shot’ that showcases your product in action||Over-explain the product or provide irrelevant details/specs|
|Show your product from multiple angles and levels of detail||Talk down to your viewers or use commanding language|
|Address your viewers directly||Use overly complicated wording|
|Use active verbs and strong imperatives||Incorporate jarring visuals (like strobe lighting, dizzying graphics, or disturbing images)|
|Emphasize how your product will improve the shopper’s life||Add inappropriate music for your product and brand image (remember, what you like may not match up with what your customers like)|
|Explain how your product solves pain points|
|Demonstrate dimensions and/or relevant specs. Give the viewer context for how large or small the product is and how heavy or feather-light it feels|
|Include your logo and a call to action|
|Say the product name multiple times (aim for 3+)|
Hero Shot: A scene or image that helps customers envision what it would be like to use your product and how its benefits could fit into their lives.
Step 4: Set Up Your Studio
Creating a product video doesn’t require a high-budget setup with fancy equipment, but you’ll need some things other than your camera or phone.
Every part of a home video studio can be DIYed or purchased affordably. The tools you’ll need are listed below.
While it helps to have a dedicated video camera, it’s likely not necessary to invest in a new device to shoot your product video. Many modern smartphones are built with advanced cameras that can capture beautiful photos and video alike. DSLRs and compact digital cameras can achieve great results as well.
That being said, an old iPhone 4 isn’t going to provide the video quality your customers are looking for. If you need to borrow a device from a friend or upgrade to a more sophisticated model, here are the specs to look for:
- Megapixel Count: Megapixels—or MP—is the number of pixels in an image (the prefix “mega” denotes a million). In camera specs, it refers to the resolution of the photos the device can create. Aim to shoot with a camera that has 12 MP or greater.
- Sensor Size: The size of a camera’s internal sensor impacts image quality. It’s measured in inches or fractions of an inch, and smartphones typically have smaller sensors than dedicated cameras. In any case, choose a device with a sensor measuring as close to 1” as possible (or larger).
- Aperture: Aperture is a measurement of the size of the opening through which light enters the camera. This opening (or diaphragm) on dedicated cameras can be adjusted, whereas most phones contain a fixed aperture. To allow for the most versatility and brightness on a camera phone, find one with a relatively large aperture (f/1.8 or wider). For this setting, the smaller the value, the bigger the lens’ opening will be— which allows for more light to be captured
Stabilizing your camera or phone is crucial for getting smooth, professional-looking footage.
It’s possible to set up your device by setting it on an object of the appropriate height—like a stack of books or a piece of furniture. But keep in mind that smartphone cameras use digital zoom that reduces the image quality—so zooming to get a close look at your product will likely result in a grainy video.
Your best bet is to buy a dedicated tripod that can adjust to the proper height for your setup. Here are some useful options that cost $35 or less:
- 55-inch Extendable Aluminum Tripod: This fixture is lightweight and versatile, so it can sit on the floor or your shooting table. It can hold your phone, DSLR, or compact digital camera, and includes a remote shutter control.
- 360-degree Rotatable Telescopic Smartphone Tripod: The flexible shaft on this tripod allows you to capture compelling footage from alternative angles.
- Octopus Smartphone Tripod: This phone mount features flexible legs that can wrap around anything to secure itself in place. It can also be used as a table-top tripod or a selfie stick.
If you’re filming a small or moderately sized product with props or hands, you’ll need a flat platform large enough to easily display the subjects. You can use a dining table, desk, or similar platform as your shooting table.
You can also purchase a dedicated studio table with a built-in sweep (covered in the next tab) for $50–$125, like this economical option—but DIY versions work just as well.
Try covering the surface of your shooting table with colored paper, cloth, or another material that matches or complements your background. To create a flattering reflection beneath your product, lay a flat piece of glass on top of a dark-colored surface.
When shooting larger subjects (like actors), forgo the table altogether and position them in front of a sweep or backdrop.
Backdrop or Sweep
It’s one option to shoot in an environment that contributes to your product video, such as a classroom, gym, or hair salon. But in most cases, you’ll want to create an elegant, distraction-free background for the subjects of your video.
There are a couple of tools you can use to achieve this:
- A sweep or infinity curve: A sweep is a seamless backdrop that smoothly transitions from the horizontal to vertical surfaces in your shot.
- Backdrop: A backdrop covers only the vertical surface of your setup. It’s typically used if the horizontal surfaces won’t be visible in your shot, or if your shooting table has an attractive background of its own.
Similar to fashioning a sweep, you can make a backdrop by suspending paper, cloth, foam, or another material behind your shooting area. Or you can buy a backdrop that consists of paper or cloth loaded onto a large frame.
Alternative materials can make for an interesting and on-brand background, like in the example shown below.
Audio quality makes a huge impact on your video. To get crisp, professional-level audio, you need some type of microphone other than the one built into your primary phone or camera.
Here are some economical microphone options to record great sound:
- Secondary Smartphone: In a pinch, the built-in microphone on a friend’s or co-worker’s phone can be used to capture your audio (which can be synced with your video in post). Try setting it up on a separate tripod near the audio source.
- Shotgun Microphone: Smaller versions of these professional mics are available with a 35mm headphone jack that plugs into a phone or camera, such as this affordable option that comes with a tripod.
- Clip-on Microphone: These mics are best for capturing spoken dialogue. Most cost-effective options, like this set of clip-on mics, connect to your device’s headphone jack through a long (10+ ft) cord.
If you use an iPhone 7 or higher (or another device lacking a headphone jack), remember to purchase an adapter for the devices above that require 3.5mm port connections.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of your product video. Poor lighting instantly makes a video look dull, which can affect the perceived quality of your item.
Always avoid shooting with a bright light source (like a window) behind the subject. This can cause problems with the auto-exposure on your camera and create a washed-out foreground.
There are multiple ways to approach lighting for your product video:
Working with natural light is typically the best for DIY product videos. It’s easier, cheaper, and more forgiving than using studio lighting. Plus, a wash of soft, natural light provides the best color balance.
Try these methods for getting the right natural light in your studio:
- Shoot near a large window, glass door, or open door. The closer you can get your subjects to the natural light source, the better.
- Shoot outdoors on an overcast day for naturally diffused, even light.
- Diffuse bright, direct sunlight with translucent curtains or by draping thin fabric.
- Turn off domestic lights, unless they’re 5000K bulbs or have a temperature that’s similar to the natural light coming in. Mixing color temperatures can throw off your camera’s automatic white balance, which results in poor, unflattering video.
- Use reflector boards to manipulate light for even coverage in your shot and to reduce shadows. Professional reflectors are available for as little as $15, but a simple white foam board can be used instead.
Artificial lighting is an alternative that provides flexibility and convenience. This option may be particularly helpful for those without the right weather, windows, or daily schedule to capture any sun.
If you plan to use artificial lighting, opt for 5000K daylight/cool white LED bulbs or adjustable LED lights that have cool-toned settings. This color temperature provides a glow that’s very close to natural light and tends to look best on camera.
Here are some studio lighting options and equipment you may need:
- Ring Lights: LED ring lights are the simplest type of studio light to use, and they typically are made with light-diffusing plastic covers. Pricier ring lights like this model feature an adjustable telescoping stand, phone holder, 36W output, colored gels, and remote shutter release control. Cheaper options, such as this ring light, are typically smaller and less powerful.
- Clamp lamps: These fixtures house a bulb in an aluminum reflector that disperses light nicely, and can be attached to any household object to get lighting at the right height for your product. Note that most clamp lamps (like this set of two) are sold without bulbs included.
- LED bulbs: Most studio light housing fits an E26 base, and the pros recommend having a total of 200-300 watts for a small studio—so a pack of bulbs like this one would be plenty.
- Reflectors: As explained above, reflectors can be used to evenly disperse light and eliminate shadows on your subjects.
- Diffusers: If your artificial lights are too bright and harsh, you can soften and disperse their output by using professional diffusers like this one or homemade tools, as shown below.
You can never be over-prepared for a shoot, so plan for the additional tools and accessories you may need. Some miscellaneous items to keep on hand include the basics, like pens, paper, tape, extra batteries or a charger, and a lens cloth.
Other useful items you may want to procure before you shoot include:
- Teleprompter: If you’re working with actors in your video (or filming yourself), a teleprompter can be used to give a visual reminder of lines and physical cues. Many free apps are available to turn a smartphone into a teleprompter—like these 5 recommendations.
- Cleaning Supplies: Bright lighting and close-up shots can put dust, fingerprints, and grime at center stage. Make sure your product looks appealing by keeping it clean and polished before each shot.
- Props: Try incorporating props and special touches to add visual interest to your scenes. Aim to gather items that align with your video’s tone, that tell the product’s story, appeal to your audience, and fit in with the scale of your subjects. Avoid heat- and time-sensitive props (like ice cubes) and opt for stable acrylic replicas instead.
Step 5: Shoot Your Product Video
With your script written and your studio set up, it’s time to record a beautiful product video.
Here are some tips to get professional-quality footage from your shoot:
The auto settings on your camera or smartphone may be all you need to capture high-quality video. But if your test shots aren’t looking quite right, try refining these settings manually:
Frame Rate & Resolution
Frame rate is the frequency at which images are captured by your camera. Shooting with more frames per second (or fps) yields more fluid video.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels that can be displayed in any given frame. A higher resolution records information on a greater number of pixels, yielding better video quality.
These attributes are typically adjusted together on modern smartphones. The most commonly used settings are:
- 1080p at 30 fps: For the most life-like video
- 1080p at 24 fps: For a pleasing, cinematic look
- 1080p at 60 fps: For ultra-fluid video that can be turned into slow motion footage
- 4K at 24 fps: For high video quality even when cropped or displayed on large screens
This setting adjusts the color temperature of the scene you’re shooting. Color temperature is measured in K or Kelvins, and ranges from warmer, orangey tones at 1,000 K to bluer, cooler tones at 10,000 K.
Your camera’s white balance features add the opposite color to the image to neutralize the scene’s color temperature.
Aim for a white balance that gives your video a neutral, true-to-life hue. Adjusting your lighting and settings is the best way to achieve this, but color temperature can also be reworked during editing.
It may seem frivolous, but don’t forget to clean your lens before shooting. Smartphone cameras accumulate a lot of dust and grime, so give yours a quick swab to ensure your shots are crisp and unobstructed.
As mentioned above, great product videos show the subject from a variety of angles to provide maximal information and create visual interest.
Along with using a turntable, one of the best ways to accomplish this is by creating dynamic camera movement around the product. The camera must be stabilized as you do this—otherwise your shots will be shaky and rough (no matter how steady your hands are).
Try the techniques shown below to create dynamic movement with equipment you already have.
If you plan to use text overlays in any of your scenes, make room for them by shooting with the product positioned off to one side.
Not every shot you capture is going to look good—and you’ll only come to realize it once you’re in the editing stage.
To avoid the hassle of setting everything back and reshooting faulty scenes, aim to get a surplus of video the first time around. It’s much more productive to review everything in post and choose only your best shots from a large selection of footage.
Need an easy and cheap alternative to shooting your own product videos? Try Shopify’s free online video builder to quickly create custom videos using simple templates.
This method yields more of an enhanced slideshow than a true product video. But in a pinch, it’s an effective way to create content that’s more informative and engaging than standard product photos.
Step 6: Edit Your Video
Once your product footage is captured, the final step is editing. In this stage you can review everything you shot, stitch together the best scenes, add text and/or music, and adjust the look of the video.
Editing your video also allows you to optimize it to load quickly, look better on browsers, and increase page visibility.
Here’s what you need to know to turn your footage into a polished representation of your product and brand:
The best app or program depends on the tools you need to bring your plan to life. Here are the top choices for video editing programs:
- For Windows, Mac, and Linux
- See the user guide and tutorials
This program is famous for its approachability (thanks to its large collection of in-depth tutorials) and intuitive interface. Its free features include everything you’ll need to produce clean, attractive videos that sell your product, but a paid “pro” version is available starting from $9.99 to those who want to take their videos further.
- $20.99/month after 7-day free trial
- For Windows and Max
- See the user guide and tutorials
Adobe’s editing products are widely considered to be the gold standard, and Premiere Pro is used by professionals, enthusiasts, and beginners alike. The software comes with 100G of storage and social media tools, among other useful features.
- For Windows and Mac
- See the user guide and tutorials
VideoPad is a great entry point to product video editing, complete with customizable transitions to weave product clips together nicely and exportable presets to optimize files.
- For iOS and Android
- See the user guide and tutorials
This mobile app is best for quickly touching up clips and/or photos and stitching them together into a video. It allows you to use convenient filters, change video speed, sync audio, and more.
Including product videos in your online store is typically as simple as uploading them to the listing’s media field on your ecommerce platform.
Similarly, adding videos to social media platforms and other marketing channels is very straightforward—but it’s important to adjust your video to meet the platform’s compatibility requirements.
The exact requirements and limits for these specs can usually be found on the provider’s Help Center page. The most common requirements pertain to:
- File Size
- File Type
- Aspect Ratio
These requirements can be met by making adjustments and conversions on your video editing software.
Adding a background track is an easy way to enhance your video during editing. Music can help convey the emotional attributes of your product and make your video more engaging.
But you must avoid using copyrighted music illegally. Featuring a copyrighted song in your video without permission from the owner(s) is considered copyright infringement, and can have serious consequences.
Most sources for CC music allow a free license that permits anyone to use their songs as long as they are credited in your project. Many of these providers offer a commercial subscription or “Pro License” that lifts this requirement, allowing you to use their music freely without crediting the source.
Alternatively, you can purchase a license for commercial use of stock music or royalty-free music. Generally, this option allows you to use a copyrighted song in your product video without the need to pay ongoing royalties or other fees.
Try using these sources for safe and legal tracks:
Product videos work with your product descriptions and product photos to inform, qualify, and persuade shoppers. It’s widely reported that using product video on your store or landing page can increase conversions by up to 80%. Plus, adding video to your existing content is a great way to boost rankings through SEO (or Search Engine Optimization).
Search engines like Google reward videos for their ability to capture clicks, inform viewers, and keep customers on the page. So the more informative and engaging your product videos are, the better your SEO results will be.
An effective product video doesn’t have to be a high-budget production outsourced to a professional company. It’s easy to create engaging and informative content using just your smartphone and basic equipment.