Personalized video, a marketing tool of the future

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Personalizing email messages in direct marketing campaigns is easy: You just put a name (“Dear Joe”) at the top. Personalizing a video message is harder; but that's beginning to change. As video production platforms multiply and the cost of the technology falls, it's now possible to create video messages that directly address each of your prospects by name. “The technology is there now and it's cheap,” said Bob Leonard, owner of content marketing agency acSellerant and a video marketing evangelist. “We're going to see tons of this stuff in the future.” That doesn't mean, however, that personalized video marketing messages are always a good idea. A canned “come to our webinar” video dropped into a personalized email, for example, “[is] kind of hokey and doesn't draw on the power of video,” Leonard said. Its only benefit is that it is cheap, he said. At least one company thinks it has it right, however. Marketing services company Avitage offers a personalized video platform that's designed to help salespeople with technical questions as part of direct marketing programs. “We do a lot of work with video, and most is composite video,” said Jim Uchneat, VP-marketing services at Avitage. “We're pulling in scripted audio with professional voices and animation on PowerPoint slides to create modular videos.” Avitage's modular videos are built from a marketer's library of animated PowerPoint slides, with voice-overs that can be configured in a number of ways, depending on what information is valuable to the prospect. This approach works especially well for highly technical information about software and computer products. The last step in the process is personalizing the video by adding voice-over recorded by the salesperson that directly addresses the prospect and their company's unique needs. “We suggest that salespeople are not always credible on technical questions,” Uchneat said. “So [our] approach is to use a voice video from an expert and in addition record a personal voice intro by the salesperson with a slide showing the salesperson's image at the beginning of the video.” Prospective customers can share that video internally, distributing just the information they need within their organizations. Over time, Uchneat said, marketers can build up a library of slides answering detailed questions that make it easy to create highly effective, personalized video messages that double as content pieces for direct marketing campaigns. “Many people haven't embraced the notion of personalized messages because they think it's too complicated,” he said. “But it's really the same as voice mail, and it feeds the creation of articles, blog posts and other content.” In some special situations, the decreasing cost of video can even justify truly personalized videos, acSellerant's Leonard said. “This is the kind of video where you look at the camera and talk directly to your prospect,” he said. “But you have to record one for each client. We're not talking about selling paperclips like this. We're talking about selling to CFOs or CEOs who can make high-value buying decisions.” For example, one of Leonard's clients sells specialized high-end software packages priced at about $100,000. “There are probably only 500 people in the country who would buy this solution, so [using] it makes more sense,” he said. “And you don't shoot them all at once. You do 10 a week until you're done.” Ultimately, the effectiveness of personalized video marketing depends on the quality of the recipients, just as with email direct marketing. “It doesn't exist in a vacuum,” Leonard said. “You have to do your research. It always goes back to knowing your customer.”
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