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How to Use Video in Your Email Communications – Ethan Beute
The Agents of Change

How to Use Video in Your Email Communications - Ethan Beute

We’re all used to video marketing on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok…the list goes on. That’s great for one to many communication and marketing.

But how about leveraging the power of video—the visceral eye-to-eye, face-to-face style communication—in our emails? Our outreach emails. Our follow up emails. Our proposal emails.

We speak with Ethan Beute of BombBomb on how to embed video communications in your emails to increase your open rate, click through rate, and engagement rate, and how to get metrics to know if and when people are opening your emails.

Rich: My next guest has taken my request for a short bio to new heights, if not new lengths. He’s the chief evangelist at BombBomb, a video email marketing platform that allows users to create and build relationships through video. He’s the host of the Customer Experience Podcast, and he’s the co-author of Rehumanize Your Business. By the way, I added about 75% of the words to that submitted bio. Please welcome to the show, Ethan Beute. Ethan, thanks for coming on.

Ethan: Sure. Thank you so much, Rich. I really appreciate it.

Rich: And I hope that you’re okay with me giving you a little bit of guff over the bio. I actually usually have to carve bio’s down from about 2,000 words down to about 110. So you actually did excellent.

Ethan: Good.

Rich: Good. So tell me a little bit more about BombBomb. How did you guys get started? What do you do over there?

Ethan: Company was founded in 2006 for several years we’re, how do we get email delivered and how do we build software? Because the two guys who started it were sales and marketing guys. But the premise that’s alive and well today in our 45,000 or so customers and the folks that receive their emails is the same vision that the company was founded on over a decade ago. Which is that, you’re better in person. You’re better face to face. It’s how we connect and communicate most effectively and yet every day we rely on plain, faceless digital communication for most important and valuable messages. And so our goal is to get you face to face with more people more often because you’re your own best differentiator.

Rich: Well, I think a lot of us appreciate the value of video, but when we’re thinking about videos, we’re thinking about posting videos to YouTube, or creating stories on Instagram or Facebook. How are you suggesting that we use videos in our sales and marketing?

Ethan: I really appreciate that question because that’s a common go to. I think when people hear a video in a business context, they either get really excited or they immediately turn off. And what we’re proposing here is that a lot of what you think about when you think about video in a business context, we throw that into a bucket called marketing through video. And if you’re doing it, that’s awesome. If you’re not, don’t worry about it. And either way, this is an opportunity for you to use video in a different way than has been traditionally seen and used in a business context. And this is something we call relationships through video. This is a simple web cam or smartphone video recorded and sent in place of plain typed out text. It doesn’t require scripts, and lights, and editing, and production, and polish and all of that. It’s just a video that allows you to communicate with your whole self for clearer communication is richer for a little bit more human connection, right?

Ethan: That eye to eye, face to face, be there in person when you can’t be there in person, and ultimately higher conversion. We hear this reported back anecdotally and through survey data. And those conversions might be micro conversions like, more email replies, or return phone calls, or more people setting appointments with you. Or might be a macro conversion like the ultimate yes, a signed contract, a yes, I choose you and your business or your product or your service. And so it’s a lighter way simpler style of video to capitalize on that human connection that is inherent in every successful business relationship.

Rich: This is definitely seems like more of a one-to-one, or a one to few as opposed to a one to many type of marketing communication. Would you agree?

Ethan: Typically, yeah. I would argue, and I’m a little bit of a purist, but I would argue that that’s the highest and best use of our platform and of this style of video. That said, we have a lot of folks who are very successful sending a, let’s say, a monthly or a quarterly video email to all the folks in their database and then they use the tracking and analytics to follow up on a one-to-one basis underneath it in order to check in with people, see if they have any questions, say hi. Other simple uses. Just while I’m here, thank you is one of the best ways to use this in a one-to-one or a one to a few people context as well as those types of things that we see on social. Whether you’re on Facebook or LinkedIn, or somewhere else, you see job promotions, you see children getting married, you see kids making captain of the soccer team, you see all these different little pieces of news including birthdays, and work anniversaries, and personal anniversaries.

Ethan: These are all great opportunities just to reach out, let someone know that you see them, you hear them, you appreciate them, and being appreciated was one of the deepest human needs. And so it really drives a lot of connection for the sender and for the recipient when you do it in this more personal way.

Rich: I think I shared with you offline at some point when we first chatted that there was a time period, I work for, I own a digital agency, I send out a lot of proposals. Many of the proposals are going to people I’ve not yet met. And whether they’re here in Maine or somewhere else in the country, and what I did for awhile is when I sent out those proposals, I created a little video kind of introducing myself, my team, and explaining why we might be the best vendor out there for them. And found those videos to be very effective. I have gotten a little bit away from that, but after having this conversation with you and cracking the spine on the book you sent over, I’m definitely thinking that this is something that I could get back into to help increase sales.

Ethan: I think what you’ve identified is really, really powerful. I think it’s cool that you’re a pioneer in this. We’ve been actively selling the service since about 2011, and we’ve had a lot of folks with us over that time. And the people who are doing their own style of this process as you were, are really the pioneers here. And we’ve just driven it forward by trying to get in front of as many people as possible. So, thank you for hosting this conversation. I think everyone can benefit from this approach whether they use BombBomb or another service.

Ethan: Because as you already said, I’m not going to meet these people in person maybe ever. Or I haven’t met them in person yet. And so this idea that people can feel like they know you before they ever meet you is really, really powerful. In addition, especially when you follow up after you pitch, or after a proposal, or after the initial meeting, or after a demo, whatever the case may be for you and your business, you’re able to speak specifically to any objections they had, anything that really excited them, anything that concerned them, other decision makers that might be involved in the process who weren’t in the meeting. And this ability to follow up after the proposal or the presentation allows you to get past any gatekeepers that might exist as well. And this allows you to present as yourself in person.

Ethan: So instead of relying on that person who you had that meeting with to carry forward the message and the opportunity and to reflect you and your brand and all the other things that you bring to it in a tangible and intangible way, you allow yourself to do that through video. And this can be spread throughout the organization on the other side. And again, get in front of any of the other decision makers that might be in the process. And you, of course, are your own best differentiator. And so, video allows you to do that in a really great way both before and after you’ve connected on, let’s say, that initial appointment.

Rich: Now, there are a lot of marketers out there that just don’t like getting in front of the camera. What are some of the reasons that you hear that people aren’t creating and sending videos, and maybe how can you help people overcome that?

Ethan: Great question. And I would extend it from a lot of marketers to a lot of human beings. Most people don’t like seeing themselves on camera. It’s a new skill, frankly, to look the camera in the lens and speak to one, or five, or 500, or 5,000 people as if you’re just having a conversation with them. It’s a new skill.

Ethan: In addition, I would say we are our own harshest critic. We judge our hair and our color, and the way we spoke, and the way we paused or said, um, and all these other little things. So if you’re recording a video for this purpose and in this style, just record it and send it. Don’t watch it back because you’re going to fuss over every second of that video. Meanwhile, on the other side, the person is saying, thinking, or feeling, “Gosh, I can’t believe they took the time to record this video for me.” Or, “That’s cool. I’ve never seen this before.” Or, “Gosh, I feel like I know her.” These basic human connection pieces that come through video, because we’re still very early in this. As late as I feel like we are collectively, it’s taken a lot longer to get this movement going than I expected.

Ethan: And I think this human vulnerability, this fear of judgment and ultimately the fear of rejection. That’s the flip side of, any of us really needs and wants at a deep human level is affirmation and acceptance and appreciation. On the other side of that is, a fear of rejection, a fear of judgment, a fear of being thrown out of the tribe or rejected by the tribe. And it’s a deep, deep human thing. And so I think that vulnerability, that fear of discomfort, and this fear of judgment are what holds more people back than anything else.

Ethan: Beyond that, of course, are a little bit of the, “What do I say? When do I send videos? Do I have the right camera? Do I have the right microphone and all these other things?” And to all of that I would just say, anytime you’re about to type out a long message or anytime you’re about to type out a message and you wonder, “Should I add an emoticon, did I get this right? Are they going to read it the right way?” Or anytime you want to show and tell, use a screen recorder video. BombBomb has one and so do a lot of other services.

Ethan: And so there are all these opportunities in your day to be more personal, more clear and more human in what you’re doing. Those are all great opportunities for video. The question is, would it be better if I said this in person? And then as to the equipment side, use what you have until you outgrow it. Use the webcam that you have built into your laptop. You have an amazing camera on your smartphone. And oh by the way, it’s actually a phone, so it’s pretty good at collecting your voice as well. And so, you already have what you need to get started. The main thing is just to get over that initial hurdle. And the last thing I’ll recommend here is, think of five people that you appreciate.

Ethan: The first five people who come to mind. People who are contacts in your phone, or people in your social networks, or people in your database. They could be employees and team members. They could be longtime customers. Just people in your life that you appreciate. If you just reach out and say thank you, or I was thinking about you, to five people, A, you’ll get comfortable with your recording environment and your equipment. And B, you’re going to get at least two replies that let you know this is a different and better way to communicate, and that will help get that flywheel going where you’re no longer in your own head about what you look like and sound like, and is the video good enough? Am I good enough? And instead you’ll really be in this better position of being in a greater relationship with the folks around you, the most important people in your life and in your business.

Rich: Ethan, you’ve already mentioned a couple of things such as, just kind of create that video, get it out there, don’t watch it again. But are there other best practices that can make these videos more compelling, more interesting and more effective?

Ethan: Sure. I always recommend stepping back from the camera. If you can have a little bit more… People, one of the reasons they don’t like the way they look is that they’re may be too close to the camera. The big old head in the middle of the frame. Take a step back or move the camera back a little bit, and this will allow you to use your upper body. So talking with your hands is, A, good for the recipient, and B, it’s really good for you. Even if you’re not like a “hand talker,” we all use our bodies to communicate. And so it’ll be a better message. It’ll also be a little bit more comfortable for you and you’ll like the way you look better.

Ethan: The light should come primarily from the front. And this doesn’t mean that you need special lights or special equipment, but it does mean if you have a window behind you at your desk, close those blinds or maybe orient yourself 90 degrees against it. Make sure that you turn on all available lights. More light is always better than less light.

Ethan: The closer you can be to whatever is recording your voice, the better off you are. And so, if you do have a microphone, pull it closer to you. Like I have a little USB microphone on my desk and it’s obviously plugged into my laptop by a cord, so I just pull it close to me so that there’s less ambient noise in there, and it doesn’t sound as hollow, it’s just closer to me. And I got it for 50 bucks. It’s a Samson Meteor Mic. There are a bunch of other microphones available. And to that I would say, you can hit Amazon and just search for whatever you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a USB microphone, or a webcam, Logitech is the standard, and that will typically give you a better microphone and a better camera than what’s built into your laptop.

Ethan: I caution spending money before you really get going. Because you’re not quite sure what you need and again, you already have everything you need to get started. I would also add smiling. You know the classic smile before you dial. It puts you in a better mood, period. That’s a psychological and biochemical research. That smiling instantly puts you in a better mood. It also makes you more presentable and attractive to the person who’s going to watch your video.

Ethan: I would also say to length, this is a very common question and then I’ll give it back to you, Rich. People wonder, how long should my video be? I say, as long as it needs to be, get in and get out in an efficient way. The only time I ever rerecord a video is if I record it, say a two and a half minute video and I think to myself, “I know I could do that in a minute and 45 seconds. I know that it was just a little bit off point. In a couple spots I allowed myself to go on a tangent.” In those cases, I’ll rerecord it out of courtesy for the recipient.

Ethan: In general, if it’s for someone you’ve never met, keep it as short as possible. You’re just looking to put a face with the name, and let them know that, I’m the guy who left you that voicemail. Or I’m the guy that sent that proposal the other day. Or I’m the person who was referred to you by our mutual friend, Jeff. Whatever the case may be. Get in and out. The only goal is to put a face with the name and to compel them to follow up in whatever way is necessary or appropriate at that time.

Rich: Ethan, I’m sure there are people who are listening who send out emails, sent texts, proposals all the time, and they’re thinking that this is just too much work. It’s just one more thing to do and it’s not worth it. What would you say to those people?

Ethan: I’ll say two particular things. One, I think activity count, especially in larger teams, activity count is are really big deal for, particularly for sales team members. You know how many emails are you sending, how many calls you’re making, et cetera. And the pushback I have on that is, if you’re going to get to a particular outcome, in this case it’s you putting a proposal out and getting an appointment to talk about that proposal with someone. Would you rather get there with 25 activities, or would you rather get there with five activities, or 10 activities? Right? We want to get there faster. And so when you think about the touches that you’re making and you think you’re checking all these boxes because those are the boxes that have to be checked. Think about, what if I could accelerate this by having someone know me, like me, and trust me sooner and faster.

Ethan: And I know that sounds a little bit dramatic, but it’s true. I’ve seen it and heard it many, many times. I’ve sent over 9,000 videos myself. And so that’s going to bring me to the second point. So, again, if you think, “I don’t have time for this because I need to do these other things.” Think about those other things that you’re doing and why you’re doing them. Are they the right things? What if you could get there a little bit faster? Because it’s all about trust and relationship, period. I don’t care what business you’re in. It’s about trust and relationship to get the macro and micro yeses that we need.

Ethan: And then the other side is, once you get basically comfortable, you’re going to save a lot of time. We speak on average four times faster than we type. And so again, when you’re about to go to your keyboard and send a three or four paragraph email, and the research which I include in the book Rehumanize Your Business, shows that we have a lot of anxiety over whether or not we captured it, and we over craft our emails. We also overestimate our ability to communicate clearly through our typed out emails. And so instead of typing those things out, you can just look someone in the eye and talk to them.

Ethan: You still include a line in the email about why they should watch the video and what they’re going to learn, or what they’re going to get if they do. And then you include the line of text to support your call to action, whatever that might be. But ultimately when you’re basically comfortable doing this, you’re going to save some time because you’re going to get there faster. It’s a richer piece of communication. And you can talk faster than you can type.

Rich: Now, we’re talking about video that is much more about communications back and forth. How do you get, or any suggestions around, how do we get more opens, please, and replies to these messages we’re sending out?

Ethan: Sure. I think what a lot of folks do when they start with a video email is, they record a video and they send it and they wonder why didn’t he play my video? Why did she play my video? Why didn’t they play my video? We treat the video like it’s magic. And frankly there are a lot of vendors out there who are selling video like it’s magic. And it’s not. It’s just a richer piece of communication that allows you to be your whole self. It allows people to feel like they know you. It allows you to connect and communicate in a more effective way. But it’s not magic.

Ethan: So before you ever type, this is for any piece of communication. And you’ll recognize this and I doubt that you’ll have any pushback at all, Rich, is you need to think about what’s in it for them. Instead of sending something and wondering, “Why didn’t they reply? Why didn’t they open my email,” et cetera. You think… Move it in advanced, move it to a future look instead of a, I’ve already typed it up and sent it off, or I’ve recorded the video and sent it off and I’m wondering why it didn’t in a past tense. Instead ask yourself why would or why should someone participate with this? Why would someone open this email? Why should someone open this email? And when you asked that question in advance, you’re putting it about them. It’s about the customer values. It’s about what’s in it for them.

Ethan: Everyone is just as busy as you are and we need to respect their time. Again, that’s why I’ll rerecord a minute and a half video if I know I can do it in 52 seconds, out of respect for the recipient. And so for any piece of communication you’re sending, the default go to when we want to just run, run, run forward, run forward, run forward is, we type these things up where we record a video and we just talk about whatever it is we think we have to say. And it’s not until later that we really think about, what’s the motivator for the recipient? Why should they participate in this? And when you do that in advance, you’re in a much better position to get the outcome you want.

Ethan: In addition, you cannot be too clear about your call to action. So again, we talked about video plays and clicks and replies and things. Whatever your call to action is, set it up in the beginning of the email. If you send a video, don’t bury the call to action at the end of the video. Introduce it, fill it in, and then reintroduce the call to action. Then add a line of text that reinforces the call to action as well. We need to be of service and value to the people we’re sending to. And the more clear we can be about why you received this message, what the opportunity is, and how to proceed, the more work we’re doing on their behalf to make it easy for them to say yes and move forward.

Rich: So, you mentioned something, as I was saying before, I used to create these videos and embed them into proposals. I never knew if anybody watched them. You mentioned like, you can get some of these metrics using BombBomb. What are some of the tools that people might get when they’re using a platform like yours that are above and beyond me just pulling out my phone, taking a video, and attaching it to an email or something like that?

Ethan: I’ve got two things there. First, any service that you would subscribe to should be able to tell you who’s opening your emails, who’s watching your videos, how long they’re watching your videos, and who’s clicking your links. Those are all things that are very easy to track. So what we do is, we operate inside the Gmail inbox, in Outlook, in Salesforce, in Outreach, in a variety of platforms, in addition to our own web app and mobile apps. And in all those places you can see, Rich just played my video, Rich just clicked my link, and all these things, and how many times it happened.

Ethan: So any service you’re evaluating, that is a really important value add. This allows you to follow up either A, reduce the anxiety of wondering what happened with your message. This might be something where you just want to make sure that they received it and engaged with it. And that will let you know and kind of let your brain off the hook on that open-ended loop of, did they get it yet? Did they watch it?

Ethan: On the other hand, you might actually want to follow up based on that information. The other interesting thing there is that there’s something I call latent demand. I do a very quick drive by on it late in the book. And this is the idea, and I’ve seen this many, many times myself and heard about it from other people as well. You’re sending these messages out, but as you well know, Rich, as a business owner, sometimes people go on vacation, or a family member gets sick, or there’s some other thing that happens in their real life that diverts their attention from the opportunity that you represent. And so they kind of go dark on you. They go cold on you, they maybe have to bail out of the appointment. Hopefully they let you know in advance. And then a couple of weeks goes by and you’ve both forgotten about each other temporarily.

Ethan: But then all of a sudden, two weeks, or four weeks, or six weeks, or six months later, people start to engage with these messages again. And so, as soon as you see those alerts come through, that’s a great time to reach back out. And you don’t reach back out and say, “Hey, Tina, my video email service told me that you looked at the stuff I sent you a few weeks back.” You reach out and say, “Hey, it’s been a few weeks, Tina. Last time we connected, we talked about this, that and the other thing. I’m wondering if anything’s changed. I’m wondering if you have any questions. If this might be something that we might look at picking back up again and start moving forward.” And so, that’s another benefit of tracking.

Ethan: The last thing I’ll say here is, recording a video on your phone and attaching it to an email, A, it’s an attachment. So it’s very good odds that it’s too large to go through. Gmail limits it to 25 megs, but our camera’s recorded 4K or 1080P, like these really nice high quality large video files. In a lot of cases you’re not going to be able to get that video to attach, and or on the recipient side, even if you can attach, on the recipient side, it might not get through either. In addition to when it arrives, it’s an attachment. People don’t see you.

Ethan: What we do, and there are variety of different ways that people present these videos. But what we do is take the first three seconds of your video and turn it into a little animated loop so that people recognize that it’s a video. And then we’ll put a play button and a little bar that says play 37 second video. Or played one minute video or whatever. And so if it’s an attachment, it’s this thing that someone has to download completely before they ever spend one second with you. And in this case now, I have a 42 Meg video deep and buried in the bowels of my phone that is just taking up hard drive space on my laptop or even on my phone. And it’s just a really goofy delivery.

Ethan: You can text video reasonably well. Especially if you know you’re going iPhone to iPhone, or Android to Android, or in particular Samsung to Samsung. But in the case that you’re going into a void where you’re not quite sure who’s on the other side or where it is, even that texting scenario can go astray pretty quickly. And so, any service that you’re using should make it nice, clean, and professional for you. And again, provide that tracking.

Rich: So we’ve talked a lot about the benefits of video, but are there any downsides here? And what I’m thinking of is, somebody sitting in their cubicle at work, open workplace and you send a video, which obviously is audio to it, they can’t listen to it and maybe they just ignore it. Or it’s embarrassing because all of a sudden your voice comes shouting through their speakers. What do you do then?

Ethan: A couple of cautions. One, video is not appropriate for every situation. I think a lot of people who get excited maybe start to overuse it. And so this is just something that belongs in the mix. Especially like in a prospecting scenario. As you’re reaching out with phone calls and emails and maybe text messages, just mix video in. It’s just another value add, or another opportunity or a tool in the kit in order to engage people, inform people, and move opportunities forward. And so you don’t need video every time.

Ethan: So, pick your spots. Where do you need to communicate more clearly? Where would it be a value to manage the emotion or the tone? Or would it be good to address the detail or nuance? Those are good spots for video. The other thing I’ll say there is, with us, with that animated preview, it’s important to use that preview to let people know that the video is just for them. And in this case, even if they can’t watch it in the moment that they receive it, they know that it’s just for them. So I keep a little whiteboard, I think it’s maybe eight by 11 or something like that. And I keep a dry erase marker, and a little dry eraser, and I write people’s names. I draw their logos, I promise answers to their questions. I promise four facts about something they’re interested in. I write little notes on it. And then in the animated preview they know that it’s highly relevant to them. This goes back to the how to get more videos played.

Ethan: But it also is that deal where it’s not just, here’s another mass email that they recorded once and sent to 10,000 people. They know that it’s just for them. If you write someone’s name on a whiteboard and you greet them by name in the beginning of the video, that’s just a really great way to let someone know that you’ve put the time and attention into them. And again, that’s what we value above anything else. Especially if it’s an answer to a question as well. As long as you can let them know that you are addressing something they’re very specifically interested in, you’ll be fine.

Ethan: This is not an autoplay situation that is against our kind of… I’m going to overstate it here, but it’s what comes to mind. It’s against kind of our moral code. Like we don’t think autoplay is appropriate. There’s nothing worse than being on a website or having a couple tabs open, and all of a sudden your speakers start blasting and you don’t know which tablet’s on and that kind of thing. Anytime someone is going to hear the video that you’re recording and send with us, it’s going to be because they clicked play on it. And certainly if you’re clicking play on a video, you might expect that there’s going to be sound.

Rich: All right. Ethan, this has been great. You’ve got a book Rehumanize Your Business, which is obviously available on amazon.com. You’ve got a podcast, people can check out The Customer Experience Podcast. And you’ve got the business BombBomb. Where else can we find you online?

Ethan: I’d be happy to take any connections on LinkedIn, especially if you send a note with it. That would be awesome. And again, my name is Ethan Beute, last name is spelled B-E-U-T-E. I’ve been spending a lot more time there maybe the past couple of years, and it has turned out to be a really good place to connect, communicate, stay sharp by learning how other folks with other specialties and expertise are communicating with each other. What they’re thinking about and what they’re working on. So I’d be happy to get to know any listener there.

Ethan: You can also email me directly, ethan, E-T-H-A-N, @bombbomb.com. bombbomb.com is the website, bombbomb.com/book is the book. Bombomb.com/podcast is the podcast. And of course, as is agents of change, it’s available in your favorite podcast player.

Rich: There you go. Ethan, thanks so much for stopping by today.

Ethan: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And again, congrats on pioneering this communication and presentation with video.