About a month ago an email from AppAssure Software Inc. about their Replay DR recovery software caught my eye with the words “Watch a 2-minute video on Replay.”  Hmm, I thought; short product demos embedded in email signatures. Can this work?

I clicked through, liked what I saw and asked Director of Marketing Dan Soschin who thought this up and how it worked out. It all grew, he says, out of an effort to standardize what had been a chaotic mix of email signatures sent out by their sales reps. One thing led to another, the video email signature was born.

The video link “works extraordinarily well,” he says, and “generates a lot of interest.” In fact, says Soschin, “one of our sales reps made a cold call and the person he spoke with didn’t have much time to chat, but let our sales guy send an e-mail… the prospect clicked the video, liked what he saw, and scheduled a one on one demo”

I narrated my own video and in December (despite light email traffic due to the recession and the holidays) chalked up 65 viewings of a two and a half minute Powerpoint presentation promoting some new marketing services. That’s probably 60 more people than I would have reached with direct outbound marketing efforts. As AppAssure found, the prospect doesn’t have to invest 30 minutes in hearing your pitch, but can click through, watch on impulse and be done in three minutes.

Creating the video took about 20 hours, which I could not cut down to ten. Key steps included, of course, writing the script and creating the presentation. To keep the viewer entertained, I did a lot of cutting and pasting of images and screenshots (using the $50 SnagIt) and went through a big learning curve on managing animation in Powerpoint. Then there is the recording the narration, for which you’ll want a room without an echo, a $30 USB mike and a glass of water to cut the dust after your 29th retake narrating that pesky slide 6.

Once you’re done, note that embedding video in the email itself is usually NOT an option, for various technical reasons. YouTube is indeed a respectable place to post videos (see: Barack Obama) but they must be under ten minutes, 1Gbyte or less in size, and preferably in H.264, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video formats. I found the $40 Wondershare PPT to Video 5.0.0 an easy-to-use way to convert and condense my presentations. If you’re doing product demos, or want more video and audio editing capabilities, SnagIt’s more versatile and more expensive counterpart $300 Camtasia is by all accounts the way to go.

I haven’t closed any sales yet as a result of the video, but it’s still early. Aside from the time you’ll spend, it’s a cost-effective way to get your message out there, and keeping your pitch to three minutes DOES force you to polish your pitch. I’d be curious to hear how video within signatures has worked for others, and whether anyone has found a site that can track visitors, not just report on total hits.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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