By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap
Today Apple is releasing its iOS8 software – and it includes a feature that is proven to grow revenues. This is a great opportunity for small businesses.
What’s that feature? Video messaging. It’s now baked right into iMessage for Apple’s new operating system.
We recently published powerful client data on the impact that video messaging has in sales.
Our client Penn Foster, an online education company, achieved a 34% increase in their close rate, by sending short, individual video messages to students who were engaged but were unsure whether or not they wanted to enroll. This was on a data set of nearly two thousand prospective customers. You can download the full report here for free.
Now, Apple is giving this same core ability to all iPhone users – for free. You can read about it here.
iPhone and iPad users can send a video message almost the same way as they would send a text or a photo. In iMessage, you touch an on-screen button to engage the front-facing camera, then record a quick message that gets delivered right to the recipient’s device.
When would you do this?
Look at how people buy in today’s world. There’s a period of time when the buyer is doing her own research on your product. She hasn’t yet given you permission to get on her calendar for a live call. She isn’t ready for that yet. But she will watch a short, personal video message because, for her, it’s much more convenient than a live interaction. (On Vsnap, average view rates are about 50%, and many people have view rates in the 70% range).
Everybody who’s selling something needs efficient ways to create that human connection with buyers as a context for doing business together, and that’s exactly what a quick, personal video message does. (If you want to read more about how powerful non-verbal communication is, have a look at Honest Signals by MIT Professor Sandy Pentland).
At Vsnap, we see Apple’s video messaging feature as awesome for some business users such as sole proprietors and small businesses, and we know that more structured sales organizations will want features like branding customization, tracking and analytics, flexibility around how the video message gets delivered, and integration options, where they can pair video messaging with their own specific calls to action. For those companies, Vsnap will be a more suitable tool.
Whichever group you’re in, the most important thing is that you understand when to use a video message, rather than a call or an email.
After working with clients who’ve sent thousands of these messages, we have found that this kind of one-to-one video messaging is not for prospecting. Instead, think of it as an engagement accelerator. When a buyer engages with you – someone named Fred Smith downloads a white paper on your site, for example – immediately send Fred a video message.
“Hi Fred, I’m Nancy Jones at Company XYZ. I just want to say hello and say thanks for downloading our white paper. And I want to make sure you know I’m here to help if you have any questions or feedback for me. I’d love to learn more about your business, so let’s schedule a call when you’re ready for that. I have time open tomorrow and Thursday, or if you want to just try me, my direct line is 555-555-5555. I look forward to talking with you, Fred. Hope you have a great day.”
That simple statement puts a human context around the interaction. It makes Fred feel that you value his business, and that you’re oriented around him and his needs, and not around yourself and your needs. This is proven stuff. It accelerates the conversation and increases your close rate – and you can measure that.
For more details on how to do this, have a look at our report Revolutionizing Sales for Online Businesses. And let us know any questions you have. I’m easy to reach via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @davemacboston. We have a ton of learning on this subject. We know exactly what works and what doesn’t – and we love to share it to help people grow their businesses! (We have six simple values at Vsnap, and one of them is “Only Help!”)
By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap
This week I will be speaking at INBOUND
, delivering a presentation titled “Inbound Marketing Does Not Close Deals”. My session is on Thursday at 1:30PM.
My premise is that Marketing and Sales are different. Not just different in degree, like the difference between dark red and maroon, but actually different in substance, like the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly. And for that reason, the principles and tactics of Inbound Marketing are not the right playbook for executing Sales.
In any contest anywhere in life, when you implement the wrong playbook, your outcomes suffer.
My opinion is that if you distill Inbound Marketing down to its essence, it’s defined by a recurring loop of data-derived insights and high-quality content that creates value for buyers that reflect with certain personas.
But if you distill Sales to its essence, that core loop is defined by data-derived insights paired with relationship building tactics, which allow the rep to navigate the non-verbal stuff of human interaction and decision-making.
Sales is fundamentally driven by understanding the buyer and meeting a whole range of his or her needs that may have more to do with the buyer’s emotions than with the product’s features and benefits.
In my INBOUND talk, I’m going to introduce a framework I call Personal Sales. Personal in terms of how Big Data can make a seller’s proposition highly specific and relevant to an individual buyer. And also personal in its understanding that the human layer of business cannot be overlooked, and needs to be developed further in order to really increase sales velocity and drive up close rates.
I look forward to the conversation around these ideas. I have enormous respect for how profound Inbound Marketing is. But it’s not a full framework for Sales. I know my position is contrarian for this crowd, but I look forward to sharing these ideas and debating them with folks at Inbound. And I want to thank Brian Halligan for inviting me to speak. I’ll see you on Thursday at 1:30PM!
By Guillaume Delloue, Director of Marketing at Vsnap
The field of online education is rapidly changing. Next year, the industry is expected to reach $107 billion dollars. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs alike are rethinking everything — from the latest teaching strategies to the best ways to learn a new skill while working a full-time job. Here are 5 companies that are revolutionizing online education.
In our recent case study, we profiled how Penn Foster used individual video messaging to establish trust with prospective students and increase admission rates by 34% in the pilot cohort. That’s only a taste of how innovative this online education company truly is. Founded in 1890 as a way for coal miners to further their careers, Penn Foster is now the world’s largest distance education institution. In 2010, the school launched a virtual community to reduce the costly email and phone back-and-forths between students and the staff. Three years later the experiment is a huge success, with an ever-growing user base and reduced cost-per-interaction.
Coursera lets you take a variety of courses from the world’s most prestigious universities for free, and on your own time. It’s ideal for busy professionals who want to broaden their skills without the costly investment of a full-time graduate program. And for those looking to dive deeper, Coursera offers Specialization Certificates — a series of interrelated courses around a single area of expertise (e.g. Data Science, Mobile Cloud Computing with Android).
In a traditional learning environment, students are tested periodically to gauge their understanding on the subject. Some students pass, others fail, and the class moves on. Khan Academy takes a different approach. The forever free, web-based company focuses on individual competency around mathematics, the humanities and more. When enrolled in a class, the student cannot progress to the next rung unless he first demonstrates mastery of the current subject. That way the student’s growth is necessary, not incidental, to the learning process.
Southern New Hampshire University
With an online cohort almost 10 times the size of its brick and mortar location, SNHU is proof you can’t judge a university by the size of its campus. As a pioneer in online education, the school is tackling one of the biggest challenges in the field today: student retention. To solve that problem the university turned to data, which it scrupulously analyses to understand student behavior and increase the odds that everyone who studies there does in fact graduate.
There’s never been a more valuable time to become a developer, and websites like Codecademy and Code School have built great learning platforms for beginners and amateurs alike. Treehouse goes one step further. Their Code-to-Work initiative helps students not only learn the skills but actually land a job in the technology sector by offering career services, mentoring and job placement assistance.
Obviously, this is only a partial list. There are dozens of other companies pushing the boundaries of education. Which ones are your favorites? Share them with us on Twitter @Vsnap or drop us a comment below!
By Bonnie Gibson, Content Creator at RAMP
Today’s sales and marketing tactics are full of noise and clutter. As a sales or marketing professional, you might be wondering, “What does a lead need to be a customer?” or “What does the customer need to stay a customer?” or even both. The answer lies within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, the need for love and belonging. Successful businesses such as JetBlue and HubSpot know that creating a more human experience will allow their business to grow. Producing videos is a way to reach your audience and show the human side of your business. Let’s take a quick look at how video can help attract, engage, and convert your prospects and delight your current customers.
Attract – Your step to gaining trust
Think of this as a “getting to know you” stage. Sometimes that getting to know you phase can be overlooked and misunderstood. Even with the best of intentions, nothing drives me crazier than the use of caps and exclamation points. It reminds me of watching the monster truck commercials I’d see as a kid where the announcer is yelling, “SUNDAY!! SUNDAY!! SUNDAY!!” Video clarifies your messaging the way bold, italics, caps, and five exclamation marks simply can’t.
Examples of videos that attract:
· Tips and tricks
Engage – Being as human as possible
Purchases are based on need and emotion. The bigger the purchase, the higher the emotion. So it would make sense in any sales or marketing strategy to cater on the side of emotion to further build a relationship with your prospects. With a video, you can put a face behind the pitch and build trust and relationship with your potential customer. This is what Vsnap is all about, sending short, personal messages showing a prospect or customer how much you appreciate their business.
Examples of videos that can engage:
· Follow up’s
· Thank you’s
Convert – Keep the cycle going
In marketing, we strive for conversions, and we do this by creating a call-to-action. If you’ve ever seen a “register here” or “download now” button, then you’ve seen a call to action. The call to action is the next step you want the customer to take. For a disengaged customer, you might want to send a quick video letting them know you care and what steps to take to keep them involved in a relationship with your customer. You might have a big renewal coming up for a current customer, using video to convey why you are excited about your company can help in getting the customer ready for that new contract.
Remember, it’s not about how big you or your business is, it’s about how your customer feels. When your customer feels the love, so does your business. In the “Age of the Human Era”, isn’t it time you sent them a video to show your appreciation?
By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap
I went to Las Vegas last week for ITExpo – “The Business Technology Event” – and learned about some really valuable communication tools that keep upping the functionality and ease of use for customer-focused business users. I enjoyed the conversations with these guys, and thought I’d share some quick details.
Zoom is better video conferencing and online screensharing. Here’s a detailed list of features that will appeal to different users, from people that have satellite teams to those who run online meetings. My favorite aspect of Zoom is the ability to share your screen from your mobile device, even in-app. Screensharing is getting more important all the time, and making it easier and richer and more device-agnostic feels really smart. Zoom should definitely be featured in our free “Tools & Tactics to Close More SQLs” eBook – we’ll add them to future resource lists on this topic. Also, they have an awesome freemium plan.
They’ve organized the briar patch of inbound and outbound calling for sales teams with incredible value-adds in how calls get routed and queued up based on specific rules that sales leaders can define. For example, if you have a rep that is awesome at closing opportunities around a certain line of business, you can make sure those calls go to her.
I love the way RingDNA lets you play to the strengths of your team. It really rewards introspective leaders, letting you transform that self-analysis into productive actions that build your bottom line.
They’re making conference calls better. That means no PINs to join the call, and no ambiguity about who’s on the call or who’s speaking. Social data gets pulled up on the fly, so you can sneak a peek at the LinkedIn profile of that new guy Harold in Minneapolis that you never heard of before the call. UberConference also lets you share screens and documents, so you don’t need to pair it with another tool like WebEx.
This product lets consumers text businesses and receive automated responses based on rules that the business sets up. Makes sense to me that consumers want to text businesses to gather information, and that some information can be automated for really easy access. Haven’t played with this but it’s always a good idea to let consumers access information in their preferred format.
For people reading this post who don’t know Vsnap, we make video messaging easy for sales people who don’t have face time with their buyer. An individual video message is the most efficient way to establish trust with the buyer, and our clients are increasing their close rate by as much as 34%.
I represented Vsnap on a panel called “Killer Tools for Customer Acquisition”, along with the RingDNA CEO Howard Brown and Business Texter CEO Aaron Rollins, which was moderated by telecom guru and business strategy savant Larry Lisser.
The big takeaway for me is that there is more specificity to communication tools than ever before. Business users should look to bolt together different products to get the full functionality their specific challenges demand.
Because today’s customer is more empowered than at any time in the history of commerce, and you simply cannot expect to win by doing the same old stuff in terms of engagement, collaboration and sales.
For more IT Expo coverage, check out Peter Radizeski’s blog On Rad’s Radar.