Filed under: Content management
|Product demos and samples|
|Importance to consumers?|
|How do vendor websites rate?|
Product demonstrations and samples provide an opportunity for customers to get a sense of the functionality of the product before contacting the company or committing to a purchase. Given the interactive nature of the web, and the eagerness of customers to try things out, this is a chance to sell the product that vendors cannot afford to miss.
Customers value a sense of how the system works in practice, which enables them to gauge how well their technical and non-technical staff might receive it.
Over three-quarters of our survey respondents rated demonstrations as important or very important and they had strong opinions about how accessible they should be. Respondents disliked demonstrations that needed scheduling, one respondent saying:
“The worst is when you have to schedule a demo. Most of the times I want my demos NOW!”
“I have gone to CMS vendor Web sites that have demos that are either not working or too limited.”
We awarded low scores to sites that included some non-interactive multimedia walk-through of the product, such as screenshots and descriptions. Nearly a third of sites did not get even get this rating, relying instead on sales contact. From the customer comments in the survey, this may be a less than successful strategy.
“I’d much rather have an online demo than to have to schedule a visit from a sales person. If we like the demo, we might do a site visit later, but let me have a look at the product. Even better is a downloadable demo.”
Some of the tours on offer need help from a usability consultant. They seem to have been devised by the developers, and as a result they move through functions with the speed and familiarity of experts, only succeeding in making the product interface look extremely difficult.
Some sites included presentations that did not run on all platforms and browsers, one even crashing the browser. The best tours and demos were careful in providing the necessary technical information (and download buttons) so that they ran successfully.
Better-ranked sites offered a variety of demonstration options, stopping short of a full evaluation copy of the software. Many of these sites required customers to register and give a lot of details before they could access the demonstration material. This is fairly unpopular with customers.
Highly-ranked sites in this category were those that offered a downloadable evaluation copy, or fully functioning demonstration site for customers to log into. Customers need to have an idea of why they would take the time to download the evaluation copy, so sites that failed to provide supporting descriptions were marked down.