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Break Through the Clutter with Personalized Videos

This month, our Creative Strategist and Creative Director dynamic duo look at how companies can use personalized videos to drive greater engagement, sales, and retention.

COLIN: So Emma, for our third column, we’re tackling personalized videos. And judging from my inbox this last week alone, this definitely seems to be a rapidly-growing tool in the savvy marketer’s arsenal. 

EMMA: My inbox agrees. I just checked my health insurance benefits and loved the fact that they were explained in a video that was personalized for me and my family. It made the onboarding experience feel personally relevant. And apparently, we’re not alone. Brands have recorded up to 8x increases in click-through rates simply from adding personalized videos to their email campaigns. 

COLIN: I believe it. With more traditional approaches like a standard copy-driven email, you often feel the sell as a consumer. But when I watch a well-done personalized video, I find myself thinking, “Well, that was really nice and helpful. Thanks, insert-company-name-here.” And then I smile ruefully to myself, because I know they’ve just gotten past my guard and sold me something. Whether it was a new product, additional services, or their brand, they sold me! Then my marketer side stands up and salutes them. 

EMMA: But what they sold you is actually relevant to you, so you can silence the doubter. Bespoke experiences like this are a great way to not only get attention, but drive action and increase engagement with a new (or not so new) service provider.

How to avoid the creepy factor with personalized videos

EMMA (CONT.): However, I have a pet peeve with any personalization technology. Some marketers don’t understand that in order to deliver results, personalization has to be relevant and not creepy. Without a carefully-crafted strategy, it is at best a novelty, and at worst it alienates your target audience. 

COLIN: Of course, if you’re talking to an existing customer, you have more flexibility than you would if doing personalized videos for prospecting. For example, it’s fine to show how much a person has in their retirement plan if you’re driving them to do a contribution increase, provided you’re delivering that information in a secure channel. But having that existing relationship doesn’t give you carte blanche. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t appreciate my local grocery store telling me how many rolls of toilet paper I bought last month. 

EMMA: Exactly! Just because you have all this data on someone, doesn’t mean you should use it all. On the other end of the spectrum, when brands plaster the recipient's name all over a video in a desperate effort to appear relevant, they’re often simply making people remember why they don’t like interacting with used car salespeople. 

Using personalized videos across industries

COLIN: Like any marketing tactic, finding success with personalized videos all comes down to how well you execute your strategy and creative. When you nail those, we’re seeing great results across all kinds of industries: financial, health, retail, hospitality, the list goes on.

EMMA: We have a great retail example with one of Merkle’s big grocery store chain clients. We essentially turbo-charged their old-school weekly flyers into thirty-second personalized videos. Each video features key products that are on sale that week. It also dynamically promotes very specific service offerings like curbside pick-up or home delivery, the availability of which varies by store. And every video ends with the location of the viewer's nearest store. I really appreciated how the creative team developed a template to allow them to quickly re-theme these weekly flyer videos, changing the products they show and tying them into specific seasons or holidays with minimal time and effort. 

COLIN: Very smart! I also really like what Merkle did for our Regions Bank client. As part of a revamped onboarding journey, the team included an email that promoted a very personalized welcome video. It greeted new customers by name, showed what products they opened, and provided helpful next steps for them. Fun fact: the team recorded the 800 most common first names in Regions’ geographic footprint to use in the voiceover. All this personalization paid off, with 82% of recipients watching the video, and 29% clicking through from it. 

EMMA: Any client should be very happy with those kinds of numbers. And I found it interesting that even just alluding to this personalized video in the subject line dramatically boosted open rates, which were a whopping 109% above the industry average.

Watch this personalized video to see how much you can tailor your message to the individual, without crossing over into creepy:

With personalized videos, success is in the details

COLIN: Before we wrap up, I’d like to build some more on the importance of upfront planning. I just feel like everyone needs an Emma on their team! 

EMMA: LOL! Well, we can let other creative strategists use their own names, but yes, thinking through the ultimate objective with an understanding of what kind of data is available, and an appreciation for the requirements and limitations of the platforms used to generate and place personalized creative, is absolutely necessary for success. For example, if you don’t allot enough time in the script for all possible iterations of personalized copy, your voiceover read can easily get out of sync. Then you’re delivering a personalized mess instead of a personalized message to some customers. 

COLIN: Another example would be a dynamic map showing where your business is located. Your creative team better make sure your graphic supports all possible city names, from Napa to Rancho Santa Margarita. And the things you’ll need to watch out for also vary based on the kind of video you’re doing – whether you’re using a video template that’s locked at a certain running time, like our grocery store example, or a more flexible modular approach, like our Regions Bank welcome video where the length varies based on how many modules each customer is being served up, as defined by their relationship. 

EMMA: Absolutely! And the length of the video should fit your purpose and the channel you’re deploying it in. If you want to get personal in social, there’s no reason to drop a three-minute video when you can have a scroll-stopping personalized GIF. I feel like that kind of personalization is still underused, and a great opportunity for many of our clients. 

COLIN: Which is just one more reason we love our business. There’s never any shortage of compelling new ways to help our clients engage their audiences, build their brands, and deepen their relationships! Until next month, Emma?

EMMA: Until next month, Colin!