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The What, Why, and How of Video’s Next Revolution in Content Marketing

Who doesn’t love immersing themselves in a compelling video?

Our collective passion for this engaging medium has spurred numerous innovations in just the past few years, from DIY-friendly mobile filming and editing tools to video-centric social channels like Twitch and TikTok to more intelligent automated systems that can make scalable, data-rich video campaigns a breeze to create and deploy.

Yet, as media evolves from a mass to micro focus, so too have the audience’s expectations of personal relevance and value. Brands increasingly realize one-size-fits-all video content is no longer enough to gain attention, let alone compel people to act on what they’re watching.

That’s why video’s next revolution will likely center on personalization. Read on for a brief tutorial, along with tips, examples, and ideas on how to put these advantages to work in your content campaigns.

Video’s next revolution in #ContentMarketing will center on #personalization, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Vidyard. Share on X

What are personalized videos?

Brands create personalized video campaigns by incorporating details about the recipient into the storytelling experience similar to what you often do with emails and newsletters. The message resonates better – like a one-to-one conversation rather than a mass-produced marketing message. Done right, it’s a powerful way to use your customer data to reinforce the value of engaging with your business.

Your effort could be as simple as displaying the recipient’s name on the screen using text-field inserts and overlays. But, by integrating more CRM system data, enabling users to contribute their own assets, or exploring more advanced tools and applications, the personalization possibilities can be expanded to:

  • Visual elements: By segmenting delivery, viewers can see photos, artwork, or graphics based on their geographic location, topics of personal interest, or prior purchasing behaviors.
  • Audio: Configure the video to deliver a different script over part (or all) of the main footage. For example, one traveler might hear an overview of a hotel chain’s signature amenities, while someone who has a reservation might hear details about the accommodations at that location.
  • Real-time experiences: Individually generated, these videos can include text, images, and personal details contributed by your audience members themselves (see the Subaru example below). Because this approach requires users to upload files and information via a form, you likely need a dedicated tech platform for execution, which can add costs and complexity to your campaigns. But in return, it offers the potential for users to spend more time engaging with (and sharing) your content. It also can provide new insights on consumers’ interests and preferences that you can use in future marketing efforts.
  • In-video shopping: Customize how viewers experience the video content rather than the contents of the video itself. Viewers can self-select certain products or features in the video they want to explore in more detail. It’s particularly well-suited to drive traffic from a paid video on social media to your brand’s e-commerce site or a customized landing page.

Tailored videos also work well in account-based marketing programs because you can directly appeal to the targeted viewer based on their industry vertical, region, or employer. You can create one video but customize elements to speak directly to their role in the decision-making process, or their specific function within their organization. As MarketMuse’s Jeff Coyle has pointed out, a hyper-personalized strategy can be a game-changer in ABM.

Customized #videos work well in #ABM marketing. You can target the viewer based on vertical, region, or even their company, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Vidyard. Share on X

What do you need to get started?

If you’re looking to deliver personal videos to a few select customers, you can do them manually by filming multiple versions or splicing the main footage with customized voiceovers, text, or other visual assets.

But let’s be real, to deliver these videos at any level of scale – especially if you’ve got hundreds or thousands of consumers to reach – a handcrafted approach isn’t feasible (and your video editors will probably hate you for even asking). Your best bet is to take advantage of technology.

First and foremost, your team needs the right data – types and amounts – and permission to use it. Nothing personalized is possible without accurate customer information to incorporate into your message. But nothing derails the potential impact of the resulting video campaign faster than crossing the line between clever use and creepy intrusion.

Nothing personalized is possible without accurate customer information to incorporate into your message, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Vidyard. Share on X

As with any content you deploy, you must have a robust CRM system in to enable segmented delivery. You also need to create a video template that contains fields for each personalized element so it can be replicated for each new viewer – a task that makes a CRM’s automation capabilities a must-have for optimal success.

You also want to account for a few additional elements:

  • A personalization strategy and clear goals for the effort: Before moving forward, HealthPrize Technologies’ Vishal Khanna suggests asking a single question: Is personalization integral to achieving success? If the answer is yes, outline exactly what you are looking to achieve through this effort, so you can accurately gauge if it fulfills its purpose.
  • Creative direction and marketing alignment: The more forethought that goes into your creative process, the better the end experience will turn out. Map in advance how you want the story to unfold, where to incorporate the personalized features, and what actions you want the viewer to take afterward. Make sure everyone on your team, from writers and video editors to your tech and data teams and any external vendors involved, know what they need to do to make it happen.


9 Types of Video Every Business Must Have to Succeed

There are SO many different types of videos you can make for your organization, it can be impossible to know where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

How brands are putting personalized video in play

Your creative approach will depend on your budget, data, integration capabilities of your CRM system, and the desired effect. But all things being equal, personalization can increase the impact of your video content in a variety of ways – from simply making your video feel more human and relatable to delivering a “Wow! How’d they do that?” experience that audiences will be eager to share and socialize. 

Here are a few examples to illustrate the possibilities:

University of Waterloo makes mass recruitment feel warm and welcoming

This spot uses one of the simplest techniques – text overlays – to place the prospective student’s name everywhere – from the labels on her boxes of belongings to a sign outside her dorm room to a T-shirt given while visiting various campus activity booths. In combination with the video’s first-person filming perspective, it creates an emotional resonance that helps the viewer virtually experience the warm welcome they would receive on orientation day at the university.

The @UWaterloo sends a first-person perspective #video with the prospective student’s name on a dorm room sign, a T-shirt from a campus activity booth, and more, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Vidyard. #Personalization Share on X

Bank of America promotes the value of membership

As a thank you to its preferred rewards program members, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch sends a personalized video at the end of each year. It summarizes the perks earned by the participants, the benefits they took advantage of, and suggestions of other services they might want to explore to grow their financial portfolio.

To create the videos, the bank aggregates data from the recipient’s account. They email a unique link to the customer’s email address, so only the intended recipient can view their financial details. Though the content details are similar to what customers can access on their rewards landing page, the videos motivate the customer to click and see the results they’ve achieved through the bank’s programs.

The bank also uses personalized videos on the B2B side. For example, its financial advisors can send customized videos to their wealth management customers. Customers can view their investment portfolios and select different products and options to see how each might affect their financial goals.

Facebook celebrates users’ memories and milestones

For a classic example of this technique, look no further than those compilation videos Facebook posts in your feed to commemorate friendships, celebrate birthdays or anniversaries, or simply spark nostalgia with pre-packaged collages of the viewer’s popular posts and pics.

Since Facebook’s user terms grant it permission to use any assets on its platform, their team needs only a creative idea and an algorithm to create and scale deployment of these kinds of personalized video campaigns. The company also commonly offers the recipient’s the ability to swap out images and artwork after the videos are shared (and is magnanimous enough to let users decide whether to let anyone else see them).

Keep in mind: While this kind of video is a no-brainer for Facebook, incorporating user-generated content to personalize a branded video campaign is not a decision to be taken lightly. Before Facebook launched this feature, a lot of tech development had to happen behind the scenes to power it, including proprietary applied machine learning tools that could gauge the selected content for appropriateness. If you’re thinking about involving customer-submitted assets in your video personalization, you might want to consult with experts in this technique (or, at the very least, your company’s legal team).

If you’re thinking about involving customer-submitted assets in your #video personalization, you might want to consult with experts in this technique, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Vidyard. Share on X

Vodaphone saved Christmas during COVID

When COVID-19 forced the cancelation of Vodaphone’s annual Christmas party for its employees and their children, the company delivered a little digital holiday magic.

Working with agency 256 (the 2019 Content Marketing Award winner for best small agency of the year), Vodaphone created 380 hyper-personalized Santa videos. They went from conception to completion in five days. To manage this, they scripted and produced a generic piece with an animated introduction and an outro delivered by Santa himself. Then, through a smart video workflow, they recorded Santa’s individual audio messages for each employee’s children, including details like names, ages, and hobbies.

According to 256, each video took less than 10 minutes to shoot, edited, render, and upload to its custom web page. What is even more impressive is the effort’s impact: Vodaphone achieved a 100% open rate on the email campaign, and the videos were viewed an average eight times – and shared on an average five times as recipients spread the holiday cheer with their extended families and friends.

Subaru created cameo appearances for vehicle owners

Subaru has earned a reputation as a brand that enables sports enthusiasts and active families alike to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. And given how many people consider their pets to be their loyal outdoor companions, the Barkleys – an active family of golden and Labrador retrievers – are a natural fit for Subaru’s promotional efforts across multiple platforms.

As a thank you to its owner community, the automotive brand created its Best Day Ever effort – a customizable video that enabled fans to insert their likeness into a fun day at the park with the Barkleys. Not only did the spot tap into the personal passions of its customers, but it gave them a way to see themselves (literally) as part of the brand’s lifestyle experience.

Are you ready to join the video vanguard?

What’s your take on personalized video? In your experience, is this technique worth the extra effort, or does it just add unnecessary complications that don’t add up to increased marketing impact? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute