A few short months ago I wrote a blog about personalising video and how in most respects, it just wasn’t practical. I’m not exactly eating those words now, but I’m certainly rethinking them.
At the start of 2015, many marketing predictions said that personalised video would be the main trend of the year. But it hasn’t exactly taken off the way many suggested. As I said in my previous blog, there were technical challenges that made the process expensive and time consuming when done at scale.
But it turns out it may not be necessary to do it at scale to be effective. And if you do need to do it at scale, there are many more tools to help you than there were. Let’s take a look at both cases.
Just a few videos
Sometimes, it’s possible to get a lot from a little. That’s what online booking site Travelocity discovered after running a contest on Twitter. Followers were instructed to tweet where they wanted to go using the hashtag #IWannaGo to @RoamingGNome (Travelocity’s mascot) for a chance to win a dream trip. The company awarded the trip, but also responded to 60 Tweets with a custom personalised Vine video.
According to Twitter, in the 24 hours after those personal Vines were tweeted, the @RoamingGnome had the most mentions ever in the five year history of the account. They also acquired 34,517 new followers over the course of the whole campaign.
Granted, a Vine video isn’t exactly a high production type of content. But what made them so successful was the personalisation. This campaign ran in late 2014, but still demonstrates how just a few personal videos can be used to generate a lot of action on social media. If you’re looking to use video in a more direct, convert to sales way, it might not be the way to go. In that case you might want to consider something more grand: making every video personal.
Personalising at scale
There are actually many definitions of personalised videos. One is the obvious one where the person viewing is either in, or directly mentioned in the video somehow. Other definitions are more broad and consider any content that relates to the person watching as personal. For example, an animal lover is shown cute animal videos. It’s not directly about them, but it is still a personal topic for them. Both types can be effective depending how they are used.
I like to call the later type of video “personally related” video rather than personalised per se. These standard videos created by marketers use personal data – shopping history or browsing behaviours – to serve up these videos. They work much like the related items on a shopping website or remarketing advertising. Since video has been shown to increase the likelihood of purchasing by as much as 84%, it makes a lot of sense to invest in this kind of personalisation. It takes work on the backend just like related product recommendations, but the investment is worth it.
Actually personalising video
Now finally we get to video that is actually, specifically, personalised for an individual. On surface it still seems like creating personal videos for the 10,000 or more people on your mailing list is just insanely expensive. But there are companies that specialise in doing just that and probably for less than you might think (depending on your perspective).
If you know how mail merge works, then you understand the basic concept behind how these companies are creating the videos. In each video, there is some text. A portion of that text is written using a code for something like a first name (e.g. [FirstName] or the like). When the video is rendered (fancy word for the final step of putting it all together) the software sees that code, then looks at the list of names and substitutes in the correct one. The rest of the text is left as written. The list of names might be directly from a CRM or from a text list like a CSV file. It all depends on the service you use.
The possibilities though, extend past just putting in someone’s name in text. It all depends on the kind of data you have on your customers. You could put in a Google picture of their house if you know their address (might be a bit creepy but you could do it), or a picture of the homepage of their website if you know their info. And if you have their email (which you must if you’re marketing to them online) you could include their photo from LinkedIn or other information from their public profile. Any of these types of content will certainly make the viewer realise the video really is customised to them. Well, if it’s done right it will feel as if the whole video is created for them. They’ll feel special and according to eConsultancy, they’ll be 19% more likely to buy from you.
Well, that statistic is just for personalisation of text or related content. It doesn’t address personalised video directly. But if you put that 19% together with the 84% more likely to buy after watching a video, you’re going to have a pretty good increase when you combine them.
So while many predicted 2015 would be a great year for personalised video, it didn’t quite pan out. But many of those same places have it listed on their predictions for 2016 too. This time, they might be right.