Main illustration: Fanny Luor
When it comes to capturing people’s attention, there is nothing quite as effective as video – according to one study, 69% of people have decided to buy software after watching a video.
For Sales Development Representatives, who are at the front line of sales teams, capturing attention is crucial to their success. A lot of our time and energy is spent trying to engage potential customers with outbound messaging.
Leveraging the power of video to get noticed is one of the useful tools we have to cut through the noise. But that’s easier said than done when reaching out to potential customers through email.
Reaching out to prospects with video
A large portion of our outreach process involves emailing a potential customer who has come though as a MQL or marketing qualified lead (someone who had left us their email address and shown an interest in Intercom).
“Knowing how to make an impression and cut through the noise is vital”
An introductory email, asking them about the nature of their interest in Intercom, is a pivotal moment in our relationship with them. But all too often, emails can get lost in the deluge of prospects’ inboxes – particularly when so many outbound messages are requesting leads make room for a “15-minute call”, as our co-founder Des Traynor has pointed out.
In that context, knowing how to make an impression and cut through the noise is vital.
We’re acutely aware that emails can seem impersonal, even with the most careful of tailoring. So as SDRs, we spent a lot of time pondering how we could inject more of our personality into the process.
Experimenting with video for sales
When we considered the degree to which we are naturally drawn to engaging with video, from Netflix to Instagram, we realized that utilizing video in email was a natural next step.
We started with what we call a cupcake – a relatively simple experimental version of the larger project from which we could iterate and develop.
- First, we determined what sort of lead we would target with the cupcake – we decided to focus on trialling leads and the most promising prospects.
- We used a simple browser extension to record personalized messages for each lead.
- We even went so far as to create visualizations of the Intercom Messenger on the lead’s website to add extra impact.
Immediate results with video
We ran the experiment over a three-month period, measuring the level of engagement, including click-throughs and the number of follow-up demo bookings that the videos produced. The experiment delivered compelling results – the emails with video were 52% more effective at getting a reply, considerably higher than text-only emails.
“The emails with video were 52% more effective at getting a reply”
Beyond that, we received some emphatic and positive reactions from leads who received the videos and visualizations – one typical response said “I can just say that my jaw dropped when I saw this. You actually wowed us!”
The response convinced us that using video for customer outreach would definitely yield strong results, and underlined our commitment to forging personal connections with leads.
The key practical learnings we took from the experiment were pretty intuitive:
- Keep each video short, between 30 seconds and a minute, and therefore to the point.
- Add value by mentioning a previous interaction.
- Ask what the leads hope to achieve, thereby opening a door for further interactions.
- Finish with a direct call to action.
Sure enough, the entire sales team embraced these results, and these tips have formed the bedrock of our approach when tailoring videos for existing customers, as my colleague Lauren details here.
However, it’s worth recognizing that scaling this sort of messaging strategy, and keeping videos personalized enough to make an impact, is a tricky problem to surmount.
Personalization practices offer significant benefits to businesses that adopt them, and video can provide one of the most personal experiences for businesses seeking to make a quick connection with potential customers. Increasing the sense of a fast and personalized connection can make all the difference when interacting with potential new customers.
“Video Bots combine the advantages of video with bot-powered automation”
The results of our experiment reinforced the wider desire on the part of our product team to help us and our customers better scale this personalised approach to outreach. And we think we’ve cracked it!
Our efforts have led us towards what we’re calling Video Bots – a new way to help businesses leverage video to create personal and engaging experiences that drive action, at a scale that was previously unimaginable. Video Bots combine the advantages of video with bot-powered automation – record a personal video and set it live within the Intercom Messenger, and best of all use the intuitive power of our bots to target video to different website visitors who meet certain criteria.
Video Bots have well and truly expanded on our cupcake of an experiment and turned it into a cake we can all enjoy, providing both Intercom and our customers with a truly scalable approach to video engagement.