Salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget for $2.5B last week. On Wall Street, the prevailing opinion is that the 53% mark-up is too expensive. But there is a factor in that price that I haven’t seen anyone comment on. It’s that ExactTarget is really more than an email marketing platform.
Yes, ExactTarget provides email marketing capability. But they also have had a strategic focus on enabling more personal, one-to-one interactions as a critical complement to their broader marketing tools. And they’ve been preparing to introduce an app ecosystem called Hub Exchange, allowing third-party developers to bring a greater variety of capabilities to their product. That move gives a sense of how they’re different than a straight email marketing platform.
I see this as critical to the deal price. Because the ExactTarget acquisition will give Salesforce users much more than just another way to broadcast message-in-templates out to big lists.
Look, the complexity of today’s business/customer interactions is precisely why we need CRM. And Salesforce wants to extend its ability to help businesses further into the increasingly fine-grained phases of their customer funnels.
You need more than marketing capability to do that.
In fact, calling last week’s deal the acquisition of an email marketing tool really masks the fact that the world’s most forward-thinking CRM company is making a very deliberate effort to give businesses more relationship-focused tools.
I think they’re brilliant to do this. Because the businesses that use Salesforce know they must be ready to engage today’s ultra-empowered customers in more personal, less automated ways. Which means that Salesforce has to give them the tools that make that easy to do.
It’s the way the business world is moving.
A few months ago we told you that we would be turning on a set of premium features. We’re now just about ready to make that shift. In fact it will happen on July 10th.
Why are we introducing Vsnap Premium?
Because businesses using Vsnap have asked us for capabilities that our free product didn’t have. And because we need to ensure that we’re strong as a company, so that we can continue to invest in and improve our product for you and the other businesses that want to use our platform to make their customers feel appreciated.
What features are being introduced?
This may be the most important feature. Up until now, all Vsnap accounts have been silos. That means that you could have a hundred people in your company on Vsnap, but each of you is an independent account. Vsnap Premium introduces organization accounts, allowing you to have shared data, shared billing, and administrative privileges and oversight.
Premium accounts will have an easy data dashboard, which is something that managers and executives told us they needed. We’re giving you a balcony view on your team’s Vsnap activity and success rates. You’ll also be able to drill down to see a snapshot of each individual team member’s usage, and to manage the status of any video message that one of your team member’s records. This is about giving you the right understanding to support your team as they adopt this new, high-impact behavior of vsnapping customers.
Premium accounts will have three tools to customize the way that your vsnaps are presented to the people you want to reach. Let’s take these in order of the recipient experience:
“Send As” Customization
Premium accounts will have access to a new, enterprise-ready way to configure the “From” address on email notifications you or your team members send. This means that the person you’re reaching will get an email notification from your company email. E.g., firstname.lastname@example.org. The email notifications for free account holders will come from email@example.com.
Note: We’ve offered an SMTP version of this feature previously, and we extended it to free accounts on a trial basis. But we’re disabling that because we don’t feel it’s strong enough in terms of security.
Email Body Customization
Premium accounts will be able to create a standard email notification format for all of their account members. You can put your logo into the email notification and choose how you want the text to read. This is a first step toward making the email notification something you feel very confident about. In other words, we expect to add additional degrees of customization for email notifications going forward, so we welcome your feedback on how you want that to work!
As of July 10th, Premium account holders will be able to display a logo on their vsnaps and in their email notifications. This feature will no longer be available for Free account holders.
As of July 10th, we will begin hosting vsnaps for 12 months from the date of creation. This hosting period will go into effect for both free and Premium account holders. (We had thought we needed to limit free account holders’ hosting to 90 days, but we figured out how to keep your vsnaps free for a full year, whether you’re a Premium subscriber or not.)
What will Premium Accounts cost?
In the first phase there will be two tiers of Premium accounts:
This gives you all of the benefits listed above, except for the Organization Accounts. This is an account for a freelancer or a consultant who’s working alone and needs some business features but doesn’t need the shared data etc. The cost here is $3/month for unlimited usage (based on annual subscription).
This account is designed for groups of three or more users, and it provides all of the benefits listed above. The cost here is $15/user/month (based on annual subscription) for unlimited usage.
Any special deals for early adopters?
Absolutely! From now through the end of July, groups of three or more users can get a Business Plus annual subscription that breaks down to $10/user/month. Furthermore, any additional account members you add during the year will come on at that same special rate.
I’m not planning to upgrade. What will change for me?
Well you can still record and share as many vsnaps as you like, and you can still turn to us for great support if you have a question or hit a snag in using the product. As of July 10th, you won’t be able to have your logo on the player anymore. And if you’re one of the folks that enabled our SMTP feature, that will also be disabled. Finally, as with our Premium accounts, your vsnaps will now be hosted for 12 months. That means they can be viewed for a full year.
One more thing – you’ll also see a download button on the view page for vsnaps you create.
If you have any other questions about premium or setting up an account, you can send me an email or comment below.
by Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience
We’ve blogged about engaging people via Vsnap and what you should say in your vsnaps, but we haven’t pulled together a comprehensive post on what a vsnap should look like. I usually say it all comes down to great lighting and a personal message that makes someone feel valued. But here are some details that really up the effectiveness of a vsnap.
Make sure you vsnap in a place with good lighting. Being able to see your face is one of the things that really sets video apart from email. Click here for a trick Dave uses when he’s using the mobile apps.
Be aware of what’s in the background. You don’t need to manicure the background. In fact, a little activity is good - it helps the message feel more authentic. But don’t let what’s happening behind you distract people from what you’re saying to them. Also you want to make sure you aren’t showing signage or anything that’s off-brand for you.
Don’t feel like you have to take up the full 60 seconds. I always say if someone has to re-watch your vsnap in order to get the gist of it, then it should probably be an email.
Don’t forget to smile! And smile through the first couple seconds. Not only does it start the video off on a warm note, we grab the thumbnail in the first few seconds.
The Title and Description
Currently the title of our vsnap is the only customizable part of the email, so make it count. Be as specific as possible by including the person’s name and why you’re vsnapping them. For more on that you can check out this post: coming up with a vsnap title.
The description box is there to clarify the attachment or leave a quick note. Don’t feel the need to use it to reiterate what you’ve said in your vsnap.
If you are attaching something to the vsnap, make sure to title it appropriately. Something like, “2013 Customer Engagement Study”, is better than “Whitepaper23875638”, and it will make people feel better about clicking download.
The Email Signature
If you record a signature vsnap, the thumbnail of that video will go into all your vsnap notifications. How do you create a signature vsnap? 1) Record a vsnap as your normally would. 2) Send it to yourself. 3) Click on the vsnap in your feed. 4) On the view page, scroll down to the share icons and to the left you should see a button that says signature. Click on that, and now that vsnap is your signature vsnap.
The sign off in your email notifications will now look like the picture below. Full name, then thumbnail of your signature vsnap:
Some people have been having audio issues when recording vsnaps on their Macs. The symptom is typically that there are bits of audio that drop out when you play back a vsnap you’ve just recorded. Usually this is an easy-to-fix problems in one of three areas: Operating System Volume, Recorder Volume, or Chrome/Flash Problem. Our advice is try these fixes in the following order:
1. RAISE THE OPERATING SYSTEM VOLUME
Macs default to a lower operating system (OS) volume than PCs. Usually that’s about 50%. We’ve found that if you change this to about 75%, you should be fine. Here’s how to do that.
Click on the gear icon in your dock (bottom or side of your screen depending on how you set it).
This will bring you to a window that looks like the one below. Click on Sound.
On the sound page, take the following steps.
First make sure that the microphone you want to use is selected. For most people it’ll say - Name: Internal microphone / Type: Built-In.
Then make sure your input volume is up and test it out. You should see the input level go up as you speak.
2. RAISE THE RECORDER VOLUME
On the record page (https://www.vsnap.com/vsnapMake/record when you’re logged in), perform the following steps.
First, make sure that the microphone you’re using is the one that’s selected at the top of the record screen. Most people use the Macbook’s microphone, so the option should be set to “Built-in Input”.
IMPORTANT: If you can’t see the the microphone selection, you may need to zoom out your browser. Hold down the command button (next to the spacebar) and 0 (zero) at the same time to reset the zoom.
Now make sure that the volume, in the bottom right corner of the recorder, is up. You may need to test this out once or twice because if the volume is too high, depending on your voice, the audio gets crackly.
Personally, I like to use my headphone mic instead of my computer mic since I’ve had hardware issues in the past (Tip #3 in this post: http://bit.ly/4k5tips).
3. RESOLVE A POSSIBLE CHROME / FLASH PROBLEM
If you’re using Chrome & can hear the audio in your vsnap but it’s garbled or out of sync, it’s probably an issue with Chrome’s version of Flash competing with your computer’s version of Flash. Click here to view a walkthrough of how to fix this.
If you have any other questions or feedback, feel free to email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your operating system, browser version, and version of Flash (check here if you don’t know). If you’re unsure of your recording environment, you can also go to our Help Center homepage: https://www.vsnap.com/about/help. We’ll detect your environment for you, just copy and paste the information under “Still having issues?”.
Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap