How To Make An App Video Preview


Should you make a video app preview? (scroll to bottom to watch video!)

Well let's start off by defining what a video app preview is. A lot of people picture something like a 1 to 2 minute YoutTube, Vimeo, or even Facebook video, but that format is more about telling a story. It's more about branding than it is about the actual sales and optimization process for apps.

What we mean when we talk about app previews are the 30 second clips that you see on the iTunes page for a given app. Instead of a screenshot, you see a quick clip of the app in motion. It's a more dynamic way to give a taste of what the app does.

Since a lot of people have been asking if they should make a video preview, I'm going to answer it directly before explaining how to do it.

The answer is yes. You should make a video app preview.

However, you should only be making one if you are going to make a good one. This is because a bad video can actually hurt your app's chances more than it helps. It is very, very important to focus on quality.


What I'm going to teach you today are three tips to create a really great video for your app page. It oils down to just a few basic principles:

1. Crescendo Effect

The very first thing you'll want to do is what I call the crescendo effect. Now, this is a term I just made up; it's not a real technical term. But the point remains: in music, there's an element called a crescendo, where the sound builds and builds, with the volume, intensity, and even tempo growing to a pitch.

If you're into electronic music, you'll understand this: it's that build-up just before the huge beat drop at the end, when everyone goes crazy.

This is one of the biggest keys for a great app preview because you have to build people through your video. From the second they start all the way through those 30 seconds, it's building momentum and energy, getting the audience more excited.

It makes a huge difference

The first few seconds of your video should nail a potential user right off the bat, and hook them in. There's a lot of psychology and dopamine-triggering at play here, but the simple fact is, we know it works.

2 Music

The second key to creating an awesome app preview video is the music.

I can't tell you how many video guys I talk to who say they spend more time finding the right music before they go out and try to make the video and edits. The music itself makes such a difference. It also plays right into creating that crescendo effect.

You can go on stock music sites and find your tune. You can even create your own music with Garageband or another music app if you're feeling ambitious. As with the video itself, make sure it's quality.

Just as importantly, make sure you have the rights to use the song you choose!

So find something that builds momentum and matches the type of app you're selling.

3. Cliffhanger

This last key is super important. You've got to have a cliffhanger.

So the example I gave before, with the crescendo effect, the big beat drop like an electronic music song: you want to stop the video right before that beat drop. Seriously.

Imagine a game. You want to stop the player right before they're about to get the big prize. Or picture a casino game; right as the huge payout hits and the amount starts to come up, at that crucial moment you say “download right now to get these kind of payouts,” or whatever it may be.

Maybe you've got a productivity app; in which case the most exciting moment is getting your problem solved. In your video, you're showing someone using it and the expression on their face lights up right as they get it. Cut there – what just happened?

The idea is to leave people hanging, so curious that they download the app just to see what happens, and see how it works. As long as your app is worth it, they'll stick around.


Follow those three tips and you can make a really killer app preview video.

It uses a lot of psychological tricks, but it also just uses the fundamental principles of making great video.

I urge you to at least take a stab at it. You can even just use your phone to try it out. But think about these three principles and I think you'll start to see that you can generate a lot more downloads based on this conversion optimization.

I'm excited to see what you come up with!  you come up with your own, feel free to share them.

Catch you later,


  • Kristina June 24, 2016

    Great article! I agree, making an app preview is important and can help optimize your app for conversions if done right. I like your point about Cliffhangers as well – definitely a great way to reel in users. It’s also important to see if your video is converting with another version of the video to see which one may grab a users attention more. Tools like TestNest can help with those types of experiments 🙂 Thanks for the good read!

  • StillUntitled June 27, 2016

    I’d suggest one more tip/way of building emotional tensions. Some intros do get remembered really, I remember Final Fantasy VIII. There was monumental music, but also the magic in there was created by putting in some meaningful words, there was a text appearing “I promise” etc. Check out the video on YT, to see. It was big once!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 27, 2016

    @StillUntitled – Absolutely. Emotional response is huge and is also one of the most nuanced. Music actually does a lot with emotion too.

  • George July 1, 2016

    Great post Carter and great tips in the comments guys thanks.
    Couple of questions please;
    1. What duration should we be aiming for?
    2. How do you create a clickable call to action at the end?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas July 1, 2016

    @George – Thanks!

    1. iTunes has a limit of 30 seconds, so keep it around there
    2. You need to tell them what to do vs the action response. Flash up a big title slide that says “Download Now” or something like that and it will do the job just as well.

  • Darwin Crew August 6, 2016

    No matter what type of app you have developed, it will always be useful to give users a clear value proposition which is transmitted through your video

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas August 8, 2016

    @Darwin – definitely. All good marketing comes down to the unique value proposition. The video is just a way to get people to engage with your core message.

  • Marcus Miller September 26, 2016

    Great post Carter, Videos are an engaging way of promoting your application. Users before downloading an app do some basic research about that app and if the app video is able to showcase all the features that the user wants in the app, the chances of the app being downloaded are quite high.

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