Data shows that using one-to-one, personalized videos in your marketing gets better results, but few marketers or actually using it.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, BombBomb Chief Evangelist Ethan Beute breaks down the topic of personalized video - from why to use it, to how to do it well, when to use, who it's right for, and what kinds of results you can expect.
Bottom line - by just about every measurement of success, using one-to-one videos gets better results. And with so many new technologies available to make the creation of one-to-one video easy and affordable, there is no reason not to get started.
Highlights from my conversation with Ethan include:
BombBomb is a video platform that, amongst other things, supports the creation of one-to-one, personalized videos.
Ethan says that we are successful when we connect with people and are sincere in our ability to provide value - so this ability to do it in a more complete way, with today's technology, is simply a return to the way business was exclusively done just a few generations ago.
The biggest reason more marketers don't use one-to-one video is that it requires vulnerability, and many people are uncomfortable appearing on camera.
There is also a behavior, or habit, change required so that when people would normally sit down at a keyboard and type out a message, they think instead about creating a video.
A great way to get started with one-to-one video is by sending it to people who already know and like you - for example, your internal colleagues.
There are several use cases for one-to-one video, from landing pages with form fills, to frequently asked questions, emails, customer testimonials, and success stories.
Other common use cases include when you have to explain something complicated, or demonstrate a product.
Ethan recommends that if you include a video in email, you don't put the full text of the video into the email. Use the email like a teaser.
The most important thing to consider when making one-to-one videos is what is in it for the recipient. Why would they open your video?
A couple of things you can to do increase the chances someone will watch your video are use an animated preview thumbnail, and do something in the first few frames to really customize it, like hold up a whiteboard with the recipient's name, or do a screen capture of their LinkedIn profile.
Adding one-to-one video to your emails generates powerful results. 81% of people said they get more replies and responses, 87% of people say they get more clicks, one in six said they doubled or more than doubled their click rate, 68% say they convert more leads, and 10% said they doubled or more than doubled their conversion rate.
These same results all increase by 2 to 5% when you use an unformatted email template meant to mimic a personalized gmail.
I'm your host, Kathleen Booth, and this week, my guest is Ethan Beute, who is the Chief Evangelist at BombBomb. Welcome, Ethan.
Ethan Beute (Guest): Thank you so much. I really appreciate the invite, and I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Ethan and Kathleen recording this episode together .
Kathleen: Me too, and I love your t-shirt. People who are listening can't see this, but he's got on a t-shirt that says, "Rehumanize," which definitely is related to what we're talking about today.
Let's start out by having you tell the audience a little bit about yourself and about BombBomb. What do you guys do?
Ethan: Sure. I've been with the team for eight years full time and two years part time prior to that. A, we've been at this a long time, and B, I've been involved with it for a long time. We maybe had a couple hundred customers when I started full time back in 2011 and more than 45,000 today, so it's been a really interesting journey. And I think it's just, there's so many factors that we're working in our favor at the time. What we do, we make it very easy for people to get face-to-face again through simple video.
The ideal situation is that you and I could get together and have this conversation in person, but time and distance are the things that keep us apart. Here, we were able to work out time, and then, we use Zoom to cover the distance. It allows us to be there in person when we can't be there in person, and that's what this style of video is.
It's simple, personal videos, typically webcam, smartphone, unscripted, conversational. Not to put on your home page, not to build a YouTube channel with, but in order to get face-to-face again where it matters most for you, and for your customers and future customers.
We have a tool set that works in Gmail, in Outlook, in Salesforce, in Outreach, in a bunch of other CRMs and platforms, our own web application, mobile apps, etc.
But the premise is, you're better in person. You're going to communicate with people more clearly. You're going to connect with them more effectively, and ultimately, you're going to convert at a higher rate when you get face-to-face. And those conversions aren't just a macro conversion, like a signed contract or something like that. It's also the micro conversions, like more replies, or a return phone call, or more clicks through to fill out that form or to give a review, or whatever the case may be.
And so we've found that, when people are a little bit more personal and a little bit more human in their communication, instead of relying exclusively on the same plain black text on the same white screen that doesn't differentiate you, doesn't build trust and rapport, and doesn't communicate nearly as well as if you just looked someone in the eye and just spoke to him or her. And it's a really effective and satisfying way to communicate with people.
Kathleen: Yeah, I really could not agree more with that. We're recording a podcast right now, and we're starting a little late, because I had some technical issues. The technical issue I was having specifically is that my webcam wasn't working. And you would think, "Well, why do you need a webcam to record a podcast, which is an audio podcast?" But the reality is that it makes a huge difference if I can see the person I'm talking to and vice versa, not only to forge a connection, but the facial expressions, my hand moving as I talk. And also, not talking over each other.
Our ability to have a great conversation is so dramatically influenced by our ability to see each other.
Ethan: I agree completely, and I know a little bit more about you. Even before we started speaking. You have a really nice little diffuser going. I can see-
Kathleen: My essential oils back there.
Ethan: Yeah, yeah. I can see photos of your family.
It's the spoken and unspoken things. It's the body language, but it's also the context and all this stuff. It's just so much more rich. And again, effective, as you already said. You know when I'm winding down, and I can see when you're ready to ask a follow up question so we don't speak over each other and things, but it's also more satisfying. I feel a little bit more connected to you. You're able to read the word on my t-shirt, and know that it says something about me and the way I look at things.
There's just so much there. That's what all of this is all about.
Ethan: It is about getting to the MQL number or the SQL number or the revenue number or whatever, but all of that is facilitated through, and I don't want to sound trite and go, "It's not B2B, it's not B2C. It's H2H." It's true. I don't want to be trite about it, but that's all this is really about.
"We are successful when we connect with people, are sincere in our ability to provide value, and so this ability to do it in a more complete way, with today's technology, is simply a return to the way business was exclusively done just a few generations ago." - Ethan Beute, BombBomb
Kathleen: You just mentioned something really interesting to me, which is "with today's technology."
I have noticed that, in the last few years, there are just a proliferation of tools available to support making these kinds of videos. But there actually are an astounding number of marketers who are not taking advantage of them. I would love to just start by talking about why you think that is the case.
Ethan: I'll tell you exactly why it's the case. I think one of the biggest hangups is that it requires vulnerability. That's it. We don't want the discomfort of appearing on camera.
There are some other things too in that there's not a lot of best practices established. I think a lot of people see people on LinkedIn, with this maybe this style of video and think, "Who do they think they are? I would never do that. I can't do that. Can I do that? Is this good enough? Am I good enough?"
Just to bring it back to the vulnerability. "Do I actually have anything to say," and all of these other pieces, and so I think a lot of it is that personal piece of, "I'm not comfortable enough in my own skin to put myself forward in a real and honest way, sitting here in my cubicle," or as I'm doing, standing in a bedroom in my dad's condo in West Michigan.
We are who we are. We are where we are. And if we come with the right spirit of service and, again, trade word, value, that it all works out. I think the human factor is the single biggest factor.
And then I think, more practically, this simpler style of video, there are not a lot of best practices established. I think there aren't enough people modeling it. A lot of people are ... Any typical adoption curve that's fat in the middle, we're still on the early upside of it, and so the followers that want to be a little bit more cautious and comfortable in, "Oh, other people have done this successfully," we're not quite there yet. I think there are people sitting on the sidelines, maybe waiting and watching.
And it's behavior change in general, this idea of hitting record instead of going to the keyboard when I'm responding to a customer inquiry, or making that initial touch, or following up after an appointment, or all these other various places you can drop videos.
It's a habit change, so even some of our best customers will confess, "Gosh, I love this. This is great. You guys are awesome people. I love what you allow me to do for my customers and in my business, but gosh, I just wish I used it more often."
Even people who have jumped all the early hurdles, and we can get into those more specifically, but even people who've jumped all the hurdles are still struggling to make it a habit, which is the thing that I'm most excited about in the work that I do, is getting more people to be more consistent about being more human in their day-to-day communication.
Kathleen: You have hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. Because, and I speak from experience, because at IMPACT, we've had a stated goal in the last year of really weaving video throughout every single thing we do as a company, and I have seen both of the things you said.
One, I have absolutely seen and I have experienced it myself, that feeling of, "Oh, I didn't put on a nice enough outfit." Or, "I haven't done my hair, so I couldn't possibly do a video today."
I've been experimenting with LinkedIn video a lot in the last few months, and it is funny, I do feel like the days when I wake up and put an effort into my appearance, I'm like, "Gosh, I should record three of these in different shirts so that I take advantage of the fact that I look good." And you find yourself getting all caught up in appearances, as opposed to just acknowledging, "This is what I look like today. Let's show the world, and that's okay."
But then also that muscle memory almost that you tap into when you need to communicate. A lot of us don't think of video first.
I always think of it as building a culture of video within your company. Again, we've been trying to do this for the last year, and we have some tools in place that help us create one-to-one videos really easily. They're in-browser, and it's interesting to see adoption. There are a couple people who are just amazing at it. They use it for everything. And then there are definitely people who, you can remind them time and time again, and they still default back to writing. And so much is lost in that writing, so much of the context.
One of the greatest things that I think we did as a company, and I'm going to give credit to our COO, Chris Duprey, is that we actually had this communication training earlier in the year. And it wasn't so much about video, but what he did was, after the communication training, he asked everybody in the company, once a week, a question about how they were implementing what they learned, and he required them to answer that question via video. You had to post a video of yourself answering his question in this particular Slack channel, and it was a great structured way of getting people used to having that kind of a conversation by video.
But it was funny to watch, because there were definitely some people who, you could just tell, they were procrastinating doing it. Or they didn't want to show themselves. Absolutely, everything you just said is true, and I've 100% lived it within our company, the whole spectrum of people who are early adopters to people who are true, true laggers.
Ethan: I love it. The confidence piece of, "I feel like I look good today," is a real thing. And when you are feeling it, definitely create opportunities to do that. Even my use is pretty streaky, where I might send 15 or 20 or 30 videos in a day in order to execute something that I'm working on, and it requires benefits from one-to-one communication.
If you are feeling it, ride that. But if you're not, know that you care a heck of a lot more about your own appearance than anyone else does.
The other cool think that I love that you all are doing there is, and it would be one of the tips that I would offer for anyone just getting started, is start with the people who already know you and like you. These are your coworkers, and so an internal Slack channel with your team members all talking about what we're learning and how we're going to move forward together in these types of things, is a really great way to start getting comfortable, because it is a new skill.
You're not just going to pick up the saxophone, or pick up a lacrosse stick, or sit down at the piano, or open up a Mandarin language book and just be expert out of the gate. And this is a new skill. This idea of looking the camera in the lens and speaking as if you're speaking to somebody isn't the most natural thing we've ever done, so this idea that you're going to practice is super, super important. And the idea that you can do it in this safe, closed space is just a killer idea, so yeah, props to Chris.
Kathleen: Yeah, Chris is a smart guy.
Using one-to-one video in your marketing
Kathleen: In terms of marketing, there's so many use cases for these one-to-one videos, but let's zero our focus in for a minute on marketing, because I have some other areas I want to talk about too.
Marketing, specifically, can you talk a little bit about some of the use cases you've seen, where one-to-one video can be useful? Because there are plenty of use cases for non-one-to-one video that I think most marketers are very familiar with, but how do you see one-to-one specifically being used?
Ethan: I'll start with the common thoughts, which is the idea that it's recorded once and used over and over again, but it goes to one person at the right time. This would be, maybe, something that you would write and script and edit, and it isn't truly in the context or even the spirit of what you and I have been talking about with regard to video.
But anywhere that someone is making a transition, this could be from a form fill to a free trial, or a free trial to a customer, or any of these points of transition for the customer that are in marketing's zone of activity or responsibility set.
Frequently asked questions is always a great source of video content, whether that is for an email nurture sequence or a YouTube playlist or a set of blog posts. Whatever the case may be.
Anything that your best customers are wondering about or need to know in transition from one place to the next is a great place to do relationship building and teaching and nurturing through video.
I would add then that, for the marketer in general, some places I've personally ... I was a one-person marketing team for about three and a half years, and then we've dramatically grown the team out over the past three or four years since then. I sent a ton of email, and I did not send it from a group address. I sent every email, whether it was a newsletter, one of these nurture type emails, trade show pre-event marketing or post-event followup, I sent all of them from my own email address.
And so A, if you're not sending email from a real person, I encourage you to do so. The reason you're sending email isn't just to blast information out. It's to create conversation and to help people, but the benefit is these replies, the things people wonder about, the things people thank you for, this is how you understand your customers.
If you're not getting on a phone with them regularly, this is another great way to have those conversations. And do you need to budget time for it? Absolutely.
What I found myself in ... I'll go to a really fun one. If you send emails to large lists of people as I was doing, as the sole practitioner and even as we were building the team before I handed some of this stuff off to other team members, I would regularly get, from time to time, on an email to 80,000 or 120,000 people, get that periodic reply that says, "Why are you in my inbox? I hate you." Foul language.
Kathleen: Isn't it amazing how awful people feel like they can be over email?
Ethan: Right, unsubscribe. And so, it's funny. What I would do in all of those cases is I would just hit reply, and I promise I'll give you a couple more good use cases, but I would hit reply and I would say, "Hey Jeff, Ethan Beute here with BombBomb. Wanted to let you know I got your email. Hey, I am so sorry. It does me no good to make you upset. I don't want to send you email you don't want to receive. I know the outcome is going to be terrible. I wanted to let you know that I've personally manually unsubscribed you in both of the systems that we use to have email. And if you ever want to get face-to-face with people as I'm doing here, to build a relationship and let people know what's going on, just reply. Let me know. I'd be happy to resubscribe you any time."
And about one third of the time, you get nothing back. About one third of the time, you get an, "Okay, thanks." And about one third, maybe a little bit less of the time, you'll get, "Oh my gosh, that was really nice. Yeah, resubscribe me."
Again, all anyone wants is to feel like they've been seen and heard. That person who was very angry in the moment, maybe they just lost a deal, or got chewed out by their supervisor, or got a piece of bad news, or woke up on the wrong side of the bed, they get your email and they are just ready to start firing. All they want on the other side is, "Hey man, I see you. I hear you. I'm sorry. This is not in my best interest either. I don't want to spam you, because that's bad for both of us, and I've taken care of the issue."
That's all anyone wants. I do customer testimonials, customer success stories. I think, yeah, you could write a rule set in your CRM or something that will produce a list of your most active customers or your longest lasting customers or customers within a particular segment or whatever, and send a mass email requesting that they send a video testimonial or some kind of success story or whatever. That's okay. I typically prefer to do that on a one-to-one basis, because I do want their personal story.
I might template the email with three or four tips on how to provide that story or that testimonial, or leading questions or a structure for how they might respond, or go to a third party site and leave that thing you want to give that instruction.
But I think, even if it's 85% the same video, I think it's worth 45 seconds a person to let them know that you appreciate them. There's a benefit here too. Smiling is like gratitude in that the more we practice it, the better we actually feel. It's a chemical benefit. It's an emotional benefit. It's a physical benefit to us.
And so this idea of anything that's positive in your customer communication, I think the more you can do that and be sincere in it ... Your current customers are your best source of your next customers, period. They're least expensive, the warmest, etc etc etc, and so why not honor those people? Those are the people that you can turn into the loyalists and the advocates, simply by, even with 40 seconds of your time, they're going to say something like, "Oh my gosh, thank you for taking the time to send that video." And you say, "Oh my gosh, it actually took me a quarter of the time it would have to type all this out."
Anyway, I could go on, but I think when you look at the times when you're clicking Send, you're going to find opportunities where you can communicate more clearly or make a stronger human connection or make a bigger impact or be much more clear in your communication, and those are the spots where you might take care to hit Record.
And again, once you get comfortable and get over those human issues in the beginning, you're often going to save a lot of time.
Kathleen: Yeah, there are so many great use cases.
Again, speaking from personal experience, and I wouldn't say we're experts at this, but we've been playing around with it a lot, and some of the more effective use cases that I've seen are ... We have a Contact Us form on our website, so for anybody who's interested in talking to someone from our sales team, we actually have one person, her name is Myriah, who everybody talks to first. And so, we made a video of her.
On the page, it says, "If you fill out this form, this is the person that you will be speaking with." And it's her saying hi and saying, "I'll be the one you're talking to," and explaining what she's going to cover in the call. That's been very effective, and people really like that. They're like, "Wow, I really did get her on the phone." And then-
Ethan: That's the really interesting thing. When people greet her on the phone, there's not just the basic relationship building there, like the psychological proximity. There's also a degree of authority there in this idea that, "Oh, it's really you." This idea that they feel like they know you, and so when you get on the phone, it's like, "Hey, it's you." What a benefit to the entire rest of the relationship, especially if that's the first touch they get. So good.
Kathleen: Yeah, we've done that also in a lot of our email marketing, like you were suggesting. Whether it's promoting ticket sales for an event and having somebody ...
I'm a user group leader for HubSpot, so whenever we invite people to our next user group meeting, there'll be a little video of me saying, "Hey, I hope you can make it. Here's what we're going to cover." And it's funny, because when you pair that with the email ...
We have one of our email templates. We call it "conversational email," but it's basically a stripped down email template. It looks literally like it came out of my Gmail. It's done by design.
It still has the CAN-SPAM footer, but it's subtle. We just stripped all the formatting out and made it look like every other email you get. And when we create the email like that and make it very personal and from me, and then have a video of me in it, it's sent through a mass emailing system, but it is astounding, the number of replies I get. People saying, "Oh, thanks for your email. I'm sorry, I won't be able to make it." Nobody responds to a formatted mass email to be like, "I'm sorry. I can't make it." But the fact that they're doing that, it's because it really feels like they're getting a personal email from me.
Ethan: There's a social reciprocity element. I feel like it's subtle. You can't describe it. They would never articulate why they chose to reply to that email. If you deliver it as if you're speaking to one person instead of, "Hey everyone." If you're like, "Hey. As someone in the HubSpot community here locally, you blah blah blah ..."
When you speak to one person, they feel like it's for one person, and there's this, almost an obligation to participate in a different way. The same as your front desk or your admin who's the first point of contact and the router of all of the opportunities, that she's greeted in a different way as well. I'm not surprised by that result, but I love to hear it.
Kathleen: Yeah, you also talked about one other thing, which I've found to be true as well, which is when something's complicated, I actually love video for that. Because it is exhausting to think about having to write out an email about a complicated topic, when you can just turn your video camera on and, in no time, just talk it out. And then send that to somebody. I think it's easier for you, as the person who needs to communicate the message, but it's also easier for the one receiving it to understand it.
Ethan: Completely, and so when you fold in something like screen recording, that helps as well. If you need to walk people through a process, or walk through a form or a document, or a piece of software or something else, this idea of being able to blend show and tell together is especially powerful for detailed and complicated topics.
And a point of caution here that I would offer people that say, "Oh gosh, this is great. I'm going to add some videos to my emails." A, I definitely agree with your idea of stripping down some of the emails and making them more ... We call it Gmail, Gmail style, Gmailesque. But then I would also say, don't be redundant.
The text in the email is meant to support the video, and the video is meant to support the text in the email, to ultimately make it clear to people, "Why did I get this? What's my opportunity? And how do I proceed?" You do need some text maybe to help compel that video play. The video is there to bring the message to life, to maybe add some clarity or add some emotion. In the case that it's an event invite, really build it. Sales is the transfer of emotion, so capture the spirit of the event and what you think is really cool about it, or attractive and why you would just plain not miss it.
These kinds of things are going to naturally draw people in, with fellow human beings and fellow social creatures that we are. And then, there's often a tendency then to put all the detail from the video in the body of the email. I strongly discourage that. Then there's no reason to watch the video. Again, these are all habits. No one send is the thing. Just speaking of your HubStop user group, these are people that you reach out to monthly or quarterly. You maybe have some exchanges. You're going to be back in their inbox, and so the more you train them that, "I don't need to watch the video, because it's all here in the email body," they're not going to watch the video.
Or the more, in general, let's step outside of the user group. The more emails you send ... Every single email you send, you're training people to open or delete your next message by how good it is. And it's the same thing with any aspect of that email. You're training people to know what to expect from you when your "from: name" and "from: email address" hit their inbox.
We need to be careful to keep the human elements in the video. Out of courtesy, if it is a complex topic, go ahead and include a list of bullet points or details, or date, time, location, street address stuff that you don't necessarily want to memorize and put in the video. It doesn't belong in the video. In video, in email, you can use them together, the video and the text to be complimentary, to compel people to ultimately take you up on the call to action, whatever the purpose of that email is.
How to do one-to-one video right
Kathleen: That's a great point, and I think what it speaks to is, what are some things that you should be aware of if you want to do this well? If somebody says, "I'm into it. I want to create a one-to-one video. I like that tip of 'don't be redundant.'" One of the other things I learned was, when you hit that record button, already be smiling. Because, if you put a video thumbnail in something, and you have a serious face, it's not going to entice anybody to watch. Whereas, if you have a big smile in that thumbnail, somebody's going to want to hit click. It's much more inviting.
Are there other tips along those lines that you have for people if they're going to test this out?
Ethan: Sure, absolutely. Something that happens when people first get started is they think the video is magic, because a lot of people selling video solutions are selling magic. That's just my shorthand for "dramatic promises that this is the one thing you've been looking for, that it's going to make the difference in ..."
What's going to make a difference in your business and a difference in the world at large is being consistent about doing it and making it a habit, and now this is part of the way we communicate.
It doesn't replace phone calls, doesn't replace text messages or emails or social messages. It's just part of what we can add into so many of our situations to, again, bring it to life and convey the emotion, have people feel like they know us.
What people will often do is just record a video and send it on its own, essentially. And then they wonder, "Why didn't they play my video?" Which is the wrong question. That's backward looking, looking to blame. You can learn and apply it forward, but it's too late. You've already done all the action.
If we instead ask, "Why would he play this video? Why should she play this video? Why would they watch this video?" Then we're going to be much more clear. This is just ... and you don't have to go through all these steps every time.
Like you're sending a marketing email to 1,500 or 15,000 people every single time you send a one-to-one email, but once you start getting habitual about it like, "Okay, what's in it for this person," and when you're clear on that, you're going to A, record a much better video. Because you're much more clear about the intention and the value to the recipient, but it's also going to come through in your subject line, one line of text to tell someone why to play the video, and then a supporting line of text after the video to drive the call to action, which I assume you'll be talking about in the video.
Being clear on what's in it for them from the get go is going to set you up to create a much better experience for them from subject line through opening it through watching the video through following up on the call to action. Being clear on the value is a good one.
Something that we do at BombBomb, we take the first three seconds of your video and automatically turn it into an animated preview for you. That gives you three seconds to do thinks like, of course, smile or wave or gesture at something in the room. I keep a little whiteboard on my desk, a dry erase board, and I'll write notes. Sometimes I'll draw people's logos.
I'm using the animated preview as well to let people know why they should watch the video. You can do that in a static thumbnail as well. Other people use sticky notes or iPads.
You can use screen recording, where your little face is in the corner, and you're over top of their LinkedIn profile or over a blog post that they recently published, or a podcast episode, or a podcast they host. These kinds of things to let them know, "This is just for you. This is not something that I ..." Because as video becomes more common, the same reason that direct mail fell off, I feel like it's having a little bit of a resurgence. The reason it fell off is, we all know this is just ... "This went to everybody. It's not necessarily relevant to me," and all of these things.
Video will reach that point. I actually think we're years away from it, because there aren't enough people doing it, for some of the reasons we already described. There'll be a point at which we need to be much more clear about the value of video.
I think we still have a window here where, simply using video in some of these places where it's not necessarily expected or common will get you an extra lift right now, but especially as we go forward. This ability to convey the value to the recipient and reasons to participate, because goodness knows, our time and attention are not going to be more available in the future. They're only going to be less available, and so we need to be more clear about these things from the get go.
Who should be using one-to-one video
Kathleen: So true. Now, what do you ... I imagine there are people who hear this and they think, "Okay, one-to-one video. I get it, but by nature, it is unscripted. It is less polished. It is more informal." What do you say to people who come back to you and say, "My brand, that's not congruent with my brand. My brand is more corporate. It's more polished, and this isn't going to fit with it
Ethan: For starter, I would obviously ask some follow up questions. My flippant response is, "You are wrong." My flippant response is what I said earlier, which is just ultimately, you need to honor those elements, and I think some of that's going to come through.
Maybe you control your setting a little bit more. You control your clothing a little bit more, but ultimately ... I wrote a piece years ago called The Shiny Authenticity Inversion. It was based on anecdotal evidence from working with thousands of people around this, and people using video in YouTube, in Facebook, even at the time, five years ago, let's say, and in email and these other places.
And they say, "I do all kinds of video. I have all this expensive video equipment. I made a studio in my office or in my garage or whatever, and I do all this great stuff." But the videos that generate the best response are my simplest ones, where I just hold out my iPhone and I just talk to people.
I organized that, and then I specifically set corporate against human in a table to characterize it: scripted versus conversational, edited instead of one take recording. This kind of shiny, scripted, produced, edited, animated open, like the video opens and we're in a polished video.
And I think the reaction to the simpler style is a reaction to, or an echo reaction even, to Seth Godin's television industrial complex. This idea that, if you had budget enough to produce a video and put it in front of enough people that you would inherently and immediately have trust, the idea that you had enough of a budget to create a television campaign in the '80s and '90s, was enough for people to say, "Oh, these people are super legitimate." And now I think we're overtrained that way.
This idea of pulling the curtain back, and stop putting on all of this overdressed ... Brené Brown's language for it is like armor, and some of these other things, this overly produced scenario, where we act as if.
We act as if we're not the same as you. We're not the same as ourselves. We're better than ourselves, all this dressing up. There are places for it, and I think there are ways to do this that honor the spirit of your brand and are true to who you are.
But ultimately, people want to know that. They want to see you and hear you just like they want to be seen and heard. They want to know and trust the person who's on the other side, and so I think the more we can ask why when we feel defensive about these ideas of being more honest, and being more direct, and being more personal, and being more human in the work that we're doing.
Another thing is, "This doesn't scale." It doesn't, but you've got to pick your spot. I say, if you as an agency are doing high value/low volume, then I think there are a lot of places to do this. If, like us, as a software company with 40,000 customers, are doing high volume, you need to pick your spots and say, "I'm going to do mass emails for this," but when people reply or when I go through the analytics, I'm going to follow up underneath and be truly person. You've got to pick your spots where it's going to make the most sense and the most value for your organization.
I would say the same thing to your question of, "That's not me." And by casual unscripted, I don't mean you have no idea what you're going to say when you hit record, or that you're going to do it in the parking garage, the fifth floor of the parking garage underneath your office building.
I'm not suggesting that it's intentionally trashy, although my shiny authenticity version was. I feel validated. About a year later, the Content Marketing Institute, which produces a ton of amazing content, a gentleman did a piece called Visual Realism: The New Way to Build Trust. And he broke down how Levis, Coca-Cola, Betabrand, and some of these other really big companies are intentionally dumbing down the quality of their photos and videos in order to ... appear more trustworthy.
And so, while we're down here wondering how we can put more gloss and polish and budget behind our video efforts, these companies that have 100,000x your budget and more people and more time and all of this are trying to find their way back down toward the rest of us, in terms of being approachable and being trustworthy. I would just encourage you, if you take this position of, "I can't do that because," ask a couple layers of why, and be honest with yourself, because ultimately, you're going to win when you can put yourself forward more often.
Kathleen: You know who nails this, who's a great example of it? And I think proof that you can really get real and not jeopardize your business credibility, is Dave Gerhardt, who is the head of marketing at Drift. Drift is a very, very successful company that is growing like gangbusters, that sells into other very, very successful companies. And Dave not only does super informal one-to-one style videos, but sometimes he'll do it after a workout when he's sweaty, or walking down the street with one of his kids. He takes it to an extreme, but it's because the stuff that he's saying is so valuable that nobody cares what the setting is.
And let's be honest. We're all human. We don't walk around 24/7 in tailored suits. We all have lives, and so it shouldn't come as a shock to anybody that people work out, people have kids. But if you have a message of value to deliver, I think, being willing to do that any time, any place, is very humanizing. When you talk about trust, it's funny, and you talked earlier about every email you send is an opportunity, or reinforces whether somebody should open or delete. What started turning in my head was actually Jason Fried, who is one of the founders of Basecamp.
In his books, he talks about something called the trust bank, and he talks about it with respect to employees, but I think it's just as applicable here, which is that, he talks about when he hires somebody, he has a full ... He has a trust bank, and every action you take, every interaction you have, either puts more money into the trust bank, or it takes it out.
I think it's the same thing with video and with email. Every piece of content you create is either going to add to that trust bank or remove from it. Yes, while you might make a fancy, polished video, is that adding to the trust bank or is that withdrawing from it? Is it going to make you feel colder and less accessible or is it going to invite somebody in?
Ethan: Yeah, and is it self motivated or is it in the service of the other person? The other interesting thing then is, with Dave, which is a great example, and you'll find other people of note, familiarity, large companies or big names in and of themselves, doing this. I think, if you find yourself standing back and saying, "I would never do that," or "I just don't have the same kind of value to add," I think, A, he's getting the benefit of some of the things I got when we turned our cameras on to start this conversation, which is, I see where you work. I know some things about you.
There's some things around you that I can attach myself to and say, "I have some affinity with her," without us ever saying a single word. And it's the same thing with him. When he's leading his life and allowing you into it, it's not just about the message. It's also about, "I like this guy a little bit more." Or, at a minimum, "I know more about him." And the value of that is so intangible, but significant.
And the other thing I would say, for people who think, "Gosh, if I'm going to step it up and I'm going to communicate these messages in video, I need to have something extraordinary or extra special or super insightful," or these kinds of things. I just don't think that that's true.
I think, for starters, most working professionals, who've achieved even some moderate level of success, have a lot more to teach and share than they would ever give themselves credit for. And then again, going back to customer value, you probably know, if you're a competent marketer, you know where people get hung up and where people are successful.
You can communicate these things en masse or one-to-one to people who are stuck. They've maybe been with you for awhile, but they're stuck and they need to move forward. Or people that are just getting started with you.
Short line on that is, you have a lot more value to offer than you probably recognize or give yourself credit for. If you look around, you're going to find spots where you can be more personal and more helpful, and you can do this and you are good enough.
How does one-to-one video translate into marketing results?
Kathleen: I love it. I feel like I could talk to you about this forever, but I'm realizing that we're running out of time, and there are some important questions I want to ask you before that happens.
First one is, we've talked a lot about the why and the how. Can you address ... How does this move the needle? How does this translate into marketing results, and what have you see in your experience?
Ethan: Sure. I've seen all kinds of wonderful things, from an anecdotal standpoint. Again, as a front line guy for years, who sent all of this stuff personally, I have relationships with hundreds and hundreds of our customers, and I know their stories and how they're using it and all that.
Survey data, 81% of people said they get more replies and responses to their emails. Again, the goal of the email oftentimes is to generate a reply, especially in sales. As you start moving into the MQL or SQL range, depending on how you're structured, you might still have a BDR or SDR function within the marketing team. Some people separate it. It's actually separated at BombBomb. It's now on the sales side of the fence, not that we don't have a ... You've got to draw a line somewhere, not that we don't have ... collaboration.
More replies and responses. 87% of people say they get more clicks through their emails. I think it was one in six said they doubled or more than doubled their click rate. 68% of people say they convert more leads. I think 10% said they doubled or more than doubled their conversion rate. This one gets more into, and not necessarily a hardcore marketer, but 90% of people said it allows them to stay in touch more effectively. I think it was 40% said they doubled or more than doubled their ability to stay in touch effectively. And then I think it was 56-57% of people say they generate more referrals.
And those numbers, specifically in our Gmail instance, again, the question was, "Compared to traditional, typed out text emails, how much of a lift does BombBomb video in email give you?"
When we asked the same thing exclusively in the Gmail context, all the numbers were the same, but with two to five points on top of it. Which, again, goes back to this idea of the simpler style email. Not necessarily the full blown design header, graphics, colors, these things that, again, signal to people that this is polished, this is for everybody, this has some gloss on it.
And it's appropriate in moments, but I think the more we can strip it back a little bit and get straight to the heart of it, typically the better off we're going to be. On the CS side, which may not necessarily be directly of interest to marketers, but there's something there.
First touch resolution has dramatically improved, so when someone reaches out with a problem or a question, which again, I got as a marketer, being able to send a video and even a pre-recorded video that addresses that specific question, dramatically reduces the back and forth time, which A, eats up your time as a marketer or a team member, and then B, frustrates the customer in that, "I'm going back and forth. I have a meeting to go to. I still don't have my resolution. I'm not clear. I don't understand." These longer exchanges, so first touch resolution, people filling out satisfaction surveys increases. And I think it goes back to this reciprocity piece in your story of, "Oh my gosh, it's really you on the phone." It's that.
How to connect with Ethan
Kathleen: Yeah, yeah. I like that. Well, if somebody wants to learn more about this, or they want to reach out to you and ask you a question, what's the best way for them to reach you?
I co-authored a book on simpler personal videos called Rehumanize Your Business, and you can learn more about that at BombBomb.com. It's just the word bomb twice, B-O-M-B-B-O-M-B.com/book. And, of course, you can find it on Amazon as well. We walk through all the stuff. What is this all about? Why does it matter to you and your business? Who's actually doing it? When do you send a video instead of text? How do you technically do it?
And then we have some advanced ... How to get more emails open, how to get more videos played, how to get replies, responses, clicks, etc. And then how do you follow up? What happens when you send a video email to 500 people? What do you do with the 168 people who opened it but didn't play the video? How do you follow up with that? So a bunch of follow up strategies as well.
We want to make this accessible. I am sincerely convinced that, when this becomes a more standard business practice, and again, I don't see this as a strategy or a tactic. This is just a different and better way to communicate using today's technology.
The bandwidth that we have as recorders and senders, and the bandwidth that our customers have as recipients, and the nice cameras we have built into our laptops and our phones and all of this. This isn't ... My vision and my hope for this is that this becomes a more standard way to work, because it's going to bring us closer into relationship with one another. It's going to close this, "We're more connected than ever, but we feel more disconnected and lonely and unseen than ever." It's just going to be a better way to live and work as a practitioner on the company side, and as a stakeholder on the customer side.
I'm very encouraged by its growth and the receptivity to it. I recognize the human challenges, and I hope people can go forward. I hope the book is of some value in that process.
Kathleen: Amen. Well, I will put those links in the show notes for sure. If you want to connect with Ethan or check out the book or BombBomb, head to the show notes.
Kathleen's two questions
Kathleen: Two questions I always ask my guests, and I'm curious to hear what you have to say. The first is always, company or individual, is there a particular person who you think is doing inbound marketing really well? But I'm going to twist it and ask you, is there an example of a company or individual who's doing personalized one-to-one video really well? Because you work with a lot of these companies, so who should the audience check out if they want to see a best practice example?
Ethan: Good one. We just spent a lot of time with one of our really good customers who's just ... We're all in Colorado Springs. I'm not at the moment, but our company is and I typically am. But there's a company called Madwire Marketing 360 that's up in Ft. Collins. They were already a really good company culture, and you can see that when you get into some of the content that they produce, but they really just took this on and ran with it.
Ethan: The adoption there was just really amazing. I've been a part of the adoption of video on a variety of teams and company situations, and they just really, really ran with it. It's been really inspiring, and the results they're getting are fantastic.
Kathleen: Great. Well, I'll definitely put that link in as well. And then, digital marketing is changing so quickly, and I always hear marketers complaining that it's like drinking from a fire hose. How do you personally stay up to date and keep yourself educated?
Ethan: I read a lot of books, and I read them in print, and I read them with a pencil. I'm not a hardcore gadget, tool, tech guy. I'm not looking for new apps. I'm not looking for new tools. I want to understand the problem first, and so I think there's something about reading. The pace of it, especially reading with a pencil, where you're very clear about what's super important, which I underline. And when it's also of secondary importance, which I put in parentheses.
There's something about that process. I think so many people run to digital tools, but they're not clear on the real problem they're trying to solve, and therefore, the implementation is either incomplete or potentially even not helpful. They think that just by evaluating three solutions and subscribing to one of them that they've solved their problem, and in fact, that's just a very, very beginning, and very often, it's a reflection of the fact that you didn't truly understand your problem.
I'm much slower. People on our team, thank goodness it really does take a variety of disciplines and backgrounds and stuff, because I do have gadget guy and gadget gal and app guy and app gal on my team, which is awesome. That's what helps me as well is my colleagues. If you're not that type of person, it's okay. It took me awhile to come to terms with that myself, but know that we all add value in the process, and being very, very clear on what you're actually trying to solve is the most important step to staying abreast of the latest changes in martech.
Kathleen: Yeah, I love that you're a pencil and hard copy book kind of guy, because I love nothing more than making notes in margins and underlining and marking books up. All right, well we are just about out of time, so again, head to the show notes if you want to know how to contact Ethan or if you want to learn more about BombBomb.
Ethan: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it too, and if you're listening, if you've listened to other episodes, go leave that review. It really matters.
Kathleen: It does. Thank you for saying that. All right, see you next time.
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