December 17, 2019·9 min read

Learn how to make tutorial videos that engage and educate audiences. Plus, find out how valuable how to videos can be for your business and see examples of effective ones.

Ever type “how to <fill in the blank>” into Google and noticed the number of video tutorials that appear on the results page?

screenshot of a how to video detailing how to eat pasta

There’s a how to video for everything!

Those videos are more than just search engine window dressing. Businesses are leveraging how-to videos to grow their brand and earn more customers.

What’s causing this trend? The rising popularity of this type of video, along with websites like YouTube and Vimeo, is part of it. Plus, Google’s research found that the most popular queries on YouTube are “how-to” searches—meaning users want to find video answers to their queries.

If you’re wondering how to create effective instructional videos—and how to capitalize on them for sales and marketing purposes—you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve written an extensive guide to creating the best how-to videos.

Watch and Learn

Mat King, Vidyard’s Video Production Manager, delves into the essential things you need to know about how to videos: What they are and how to create one that teaches your audience what they want to learn. Along with Vidyard’s Creative Director, Blake Smith, Mat also breaks down a real tutorial video to examine what makes it work.

  1. Contents
  2. 1.What is a Tutorial Video?
  3. 1.1What’s the Difference Between How-To, Explainer, and Demo Videos?
  4. 2.What Are the Top How-To Video Ideas and Topics?
  5. 2.1 Concrete Instructional Videos
  6. 2.2 Abstract Aspirational Videos
  7. 2.3 Social Media Scannable Videos
  8. 2.4 Supportive Screencast Videos
  9. 2.5 Presentations or Webinar Videos
  10. 3.What Are the Benefits of Creating How-to Videos?
  11. 4.How Do I Make a Tutorial Video?
  12. 4.1 Pick Your Video’s Topic, Style, and Focus
  13. 4.2 Create a Script and/or Storyboard
  14. 4.3 Gather Equipment and Talent
  15. 4.4 Record Your How-to Video
  16. 4.5 Edit Your Video Tutorial
  17. 4.6 Upload and Share
  18. 5.What Are Some of the Best How-To Videos?
  19. 5.1 Highlight Expertise: “Former FBI Agent Explains How To Read Body Language” by WIRED
  20. 5.2 Use Great Visuals and Value-Based Statements: “How To Get Big Volumized Hair (Easy and Affordable)” by ThatsHeart
  21. 5.3 Create A Strong, Consistent Brand: “Cisco Tech Talks” by Cisco
  22. 5.4 Focus On Your Video’s Title: Best Interior Detailing Tricks by AMMO NYC

What is a Tutorial Video?

A how-to video shows viewers the steps needed to complete a task in a logical order. It uses visuals and/or audio instructions to communicate the process clearly and concisely.

Video tutorials can illustrate simple actions (like how to fold a sheet), or abstract processes (like launching an online business).

Here’s an example from Kraft Foods’ official YouTube channel:

What’s the Difference Between How-To, Explainer, and Demo Videos?

Businesses usually create video tutorials that are relevant to their industry or product category. How-to videos are similar to explainer videos or demo videos, but they are more instructional and less promotional than explainers or demos (which illustrate exactly how a brand’s products or services work).

How-To VideoExplainer VideoDemo Video
PurposeExplains how to do something; Often based on popular search queries; May not feature a product or service.Explains why a product or service exists and, at a high-level, how it works, why it is valuable, etc.Explains the nuts and bolts of how a product works in a real-life scenario or setting; May show off multiple features.
LengthCan vary depending on the topics; Often short.Not usually more than a few minutes; Should be short.Varies depending on the complexity of the product.
DistributionShared widely on social channels, blogs, etc. May be embedded into not-so-prominent places on the company’s website.Usually lives on a company’s main website and product pages. Can be shared on social media channels sparingly.Usually lives on a company’s main website and product pages. Can be shared on social media channels sparingly. Frequently shared by the sales team.
Buyer StageNo obvious buying intent shown.Some buying intent observed.High level of buying intent demonstrated.

What Are the Top How-To Video Ideas and Topics?

Most how-to videos fall under five categories:

1. Concrete Instructional Videos

These show users exactly how to complete tasks that have a straightforward, expected outcome or process. Think of things like fixing or building something, cooking a meal, etc.

2. Abstract Aspirational Videos

These videos explain a high-level concept by breaking it down into clear steps. These videos may use graphics and animations to explain tasks. They often inspire viewers to complete a more creative task.

3. Social Media Scannable Videos

These micro-videos are meant to be viewed on social media channels directly. They are often short or sped up, and use alluring visuals to capture attention. They usually just share high-level steps vs. going into the details so viewers are more likely to click a link to learn more.

4. Supportive Screencast Videos

These videos use a computer or phone screen recording to show others how to perform an action on their devices. Technology companies often use these to train customers to use their software. Some people create live screencasts for gaming or other creative endeavors so viewers can be inspired by their use of specific digital tools.

5. Presentations or Webinar Videos

Some brands will present recordings of an in-person presentation or recorded webinar as how-to videos. However, they are often very long and should be edited to include graphics or headers and transitions that make them more engaging for the web.

What Are the Benefits of Creating How-to Videos?

There are a lot of reasons why your brand may want to consider creating tutorial video content.

  • Broader marketing reach: A 2018 video marketing report found that 72% of people prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video. So, you may get more clicks (and brand awareness) than a how-to article by offering an instructional video to searchers.
  • Increased sales:Studies show that 68% of buyers require four or more pieces of content before they’ll shortlist your solution—so, creating more helpful content (like instructional videos) can increase your chances of being purchased over a competitor.
  • Re-engage existing customers: Giving existing customers helpful, relevant content can increase their brand loyalty, product usage, and increase the likelihood of repeat purchases.
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