Although "personalized" and "personal" video may sound very similar, the truth is that they aren't -- and getting it wrong can mean the difference between brands building long-lasting, trusted relationships, versus confusing and alienating their audience.
The most recent trend of personalized video, which has emerged over the past few months, is when simple elements in a video (such as a recipient's name) can be customized in real time for every individual they're sent to. Vidyard and Idomoo are two examples of companies that provide this type of personalization. On the other end of the spectrum are personal videos that are designed to be viewed once, by one person -- the antithesis of viral video marketing.
The reason why this personal approach works so well in video is because film is an inherently human and emotional medium. Having someone sit in front of a camera and make a video especially for you, not only demonstrates their willingness to invest time and energy into nurturing the business relationship, it also shows their desire to connect with you as a person.
The intention behind personalized video, on the other hand, is to scale the impact of personal video. However, it doesn't work.
Nor will it ever work, because we're simply too smart.
As humans, we have spent our entire lives training to distinguish genuine interactions from generic ones -- we know when the person we're speaking to cares about us, or whether they have ulterior motives. This holds true both in face-to-face interactions and one-way communications, like video. As such, a generic piece of content which has been personalized after the fact, to give the illusion of a tailored message, is far too easy to spot.
The problem with personalized video comes from trying to automate and scale something which is inherently un-scalable -- one-to-one communication. Indeed, the very virtue of one-to-one communication is that it can't be scaled. The individual attention you receive from another real person for a specific amount of time is the value.
The moment you try to automate this process, by customizing a video to include the recipient's name, or including a pre-made segment related to a persona, is the moment when you've failed to communicate to your audience as individuals. Having the exact opposite result, this approach makes it incredibly obvious that you're speaking to the viewer as a collection of bits of data that you've sourced from your CRM.
Thinking about it from the perspective of the viewer, the very idea that someone would be more persuaded by a sales video simply because it had their name emblazoned on it, in comparison to one that didn't, is crazy. Yet, as marketers, we're excited and easily swayed by the promise of greater returns with little or no additional effort.
Rather than trying to automate the impossible, you'll reap greater rewards by recognizing the value of connecting with your customers through one-to-one communication (even if this means a quick webcam piece).
Here's the challenge: If you're serious about engaging your customers at a deeper, more meaningful level, it can pay to create a greater number of personal, lower-effort videos. This whole approach is not about production quality or slickness; rather, it's about the effort that one person will make, to find a creative way to connect with another.