Video has ranked number one as the big marketing trend for about as many years as I can remember and this year, analysts and commentators have started acknowledging that the real trend to watch for 2015 is not just video, but personalised video.
It is an attractive idea, combining the unarguable power of video with that of personalisation. After all, personalising emails can improve click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%, according to research group Aberdeen.
If you add the fact that including a video in an email can increase click through rates by some 200-300% (Forrester), then the possibilities for personalised video are attractively and mathematically mind-boggling.
So much so that Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester, declared: “We believe that personalised video will command increasingly larger portions of advertising and marketing budgets due to its ROI improvement over traditional video content and other outbound methods of communication.”
Towards a definition
Personalised video marketing (PVM) means many things to many people. For some it means the novelty of uploading a personal photo into a dancing elf Christmas card, a trend that had all but died with the demise of Flash, but which has recently re-emerged in campaigns like this year’s HSBC ‘Together’ platform.
For others, it is about sending a specifically selected video based on the recipient’s likely needs, which in turn may have been derived from predictive data. Or itis about doing a video selfie and including it as part of an email response. For Vodafone it is about sales people selecting the right clips to create a single bespoke video for their customer and topping and tailing it with a personal video message.
The overriding idea is that one video doe not fit all. Personalised video is about delivering the most relevant, effective and useful video to individuals at exactly the right time. It is about moving away from one to many towards one to one.
Facing a new reality
For many marketers, especially in B2B where budgets are often tighter and audience numbers lower than in the consumer space, facing the reality of how ineffective generic marketing can be will be tough. But face it we must, just as we had to face the ephemeral nature of social content marketing, which at first felt like turning on a tap to fill a bath with no plug. But we got there. And we will collectively get there with personalising our video marketing too.
There is always a way
Many have been working behind the scenes to create the enabling technologies to help make personalised video a reality. There are a number of tools to help create video content of ‘acceptable quality’ and smart marketers will be mixing this raw and ready material with glossier productions with the full understanding that context is everything.
So when I get a personal one-to-one video message from a sales person it does not need to look like Steven Spielberg directed it. In fact, if it did we would all feel a bit awkward.
It’s the future
The bottom line is that personalised video has arrived and even if you elect to ignore it, the chances are your competitors will not. The benefits are manifold. Right now early adopters are getting the benefits of real differentiation.
From my own experience, customers are generally using personalised video as part of their sales cycle. This means sales people are carefully targeting their videos to known recipients. But the results remain impressive.
Each video sent is watched an average of four times, suggesting that the content is being cascaded to other stakeholders. That’s a real bonus when you are relying on a customer to do the internal selling of your product or service for you. It is a very logical step for inside sales in particular where teams rely on little more than disembodied voices and text-based emails.
Perhaps the big question for marketers will be whether personalised video is the next logical step for email and campaigns? We know already that using the word video in the email subject line increases open rates by 7%-13% alone (Experian). Imagine the impact the video itself will make if it talks to every prospect’s exact needs and wants? The possibilities are endless.