Mobility Drives Multichannel Video Strategies

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An Informational Utility

Although the benefits of video in driving multichannel brand awareness are clear, video in a customer service scenario is a bit murkier for companies. According to Johan Jacobs, enterprise application analyst for Gartner, live video chat "is currently very low in adoption" because of contact center resources and the cultural change that would require agents to shift from typing behind a console and answering telephone calls to appearing on-camera.

But there are examples of companies that are utilizing informational video tutorials and how-to videos to leverage the personal and interactive nature of video for customer support–related issues. AT&T tapped SundaySky, the creator of real-time customer engagement platform SmartVideo, to help turn AT&T'S U-verse customer bills into interactive mobile billing experiences. Instead of relying on static paper communications and essentially forcing customers to call a toll-free number with any inquiries, AT&T provides personalized video breakdowns of the customer bill. As a result, there has been a reduction in incoming calls, with 90 percent of customers deeming the video bill as "helpful," according to AT&T.

Similarly, Honest Discounts, a company that connects consumers with discount prescription drugs at more than 54,000 major pharmacies across the country, needed a way to articulate its site and purpose to prospective customers. According to company CEO Chris Jacobs, "One of the biggest issues we had until we put a video out was 'Is this product for real?'"

After turning to Phunware, an integrated services platform provider that enables brands to engage, manage, and monetize users on mobile devices, Honest Discounts could create a mobile application for the service to ultimately help optimize and drive mobile ad revenue.

The company created a 15-second video clip designed for mobile ad networks, as well as a minute-long informational video describing the service and how it works. "We worked really hard on our script with Phunware; people understood our product better, and we were able to put more of a sense of legitimacy to it," Jacobs notes.

Honest Discounts has garnered more than 100,000 hits on YouTube for the minute-long informational video, and also saw a 50 percent decrease in its call center volume because consumers were turning to the video for basic information about the prescription drug discount program, rather than phoning Honest Discounts' support agents.

Knowledge Bank

One of the greatest benefits of video content is the bank of knowledge and assets it allows companies to offer. When quality videos are combined with text or print collateral and are searchable, businesses can build up a widely varied knowledgebase for customers, partners, and even employees, especially in the B2B arena.

Supplemental insurance company Combined Insurance hosts a portal of video content called Success System Library for its mobile sales force through online and mobile video presentation platform Brainshark. Combined Insurance filmed a series of educational videos in-house, which were then packaged and distributed via the portal through Brainshark. Because salespeople who were on the road could log in at their convenience and from mobile devices, Combined Insurance saw a 100 percent completion rate of its video training courses.

Another company, global biotechnology and sciences firm Life Technologies, created 42 short videos complete with dynamically embedded self-service "product finders" for its customer base of scientists. Rather than resorting to drop-down menus, by making videos more interactive with product search, Life Technologies drummed up interest and garnered more than 75,000 views on YouTube.

Although YouTube can be a viable means of drawing more eyeballs to created video content, some companies need an added layer of security, which can be accomplished by hosting a video content management system or library in-house. "YouTube is clean, it's simple, and it's always there and you can access it," remarks Michael Helton, special projects coordinator for technology and training at Combined Insurance. "The problem with YouTube...is the learning management side. How can you go in and see who's viewing content and who's not, and where are you losing your users throughout the video?"

Combined Insurance took a multichannel approach to sharing video content, and allows salespeople to access the library's content through a newsletter link, a QR code, or even by text message for a link to be delivered to that rep via mobile device. "I can push or pull technology and the message to fit whatever we're trying to do" with video, Helton says.

The Next Wave

In the coming years, video will continue to stretch the boundaries of e-learning, e-commerce, marketing, sales, and customer service. With major retailers such as Target experimenting with new video waves of the future, such as "shoppable video," to help bridge the gap between digital media and commerce environments, other brands will follow and in new ways.

"YouTube is an interesting animal to drive views and drive SEO, but at the end of the day, when somebody does an application right, they're including that client server content in a purpose-built, single container that users can get anytime, anywhere," comments Alan Kane, cofounder and chief financial officer of Phunware. "I don't think I've done a single application now in the last three years that doesn't embrace some aspect of video."

Brands are beginning to increase video assets available within mobile applications to capture data related to views and sharing in-app. Companies are also encouraging customers to share user-generated content to enhance the experience for other users of the mobile application. Phunware has seen an uptick in companies looking to drum up user-generated content inside of the application. Then, mobile app users can search for and load videos, and ultimately share them through the application with other users, Kane notes.

Other platforms, such as Pokeware, look to further monetize video by creating "pokable" video content that advertisers can bid on. For instance, companies can bid on search queries for products in a video installment of Bravo TV's hit series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

"With a huge migration to mobile devices, there is a huge opportunity to satisfy consumers' search interests with video," remarks Joseph Zoccali, executive vice president of business development for Pokeware. "It's just a matter of time until people hit that tipping point where interactive video is truly a compelling supplement to existing marketing campaigns and dollars" as companies begin to look at second-screen viewing habits by consumers who simultaneously watch TV while surfing the Internet on smartphones and tablets. (For more information on this, read the feature story "A First Look at Second Screens" in the April 2013 issue of CRM magazine.)

Video is most effective when it enhances or enriches the understanding of a product, service, person, place, or business. Although delivery methods are vast, companies must consider the audience and platform before video is deployed. A video of a model on a catwalk could easily accompany a product image and description on a fashion brand's Web site, but would make less sense when uploaded to YouTube without the extra context around the product.

"All content needs to be shareable," Forrester's Gill maintains. "If it's only embedded on your Web site [or only on one other platform], it's not going to reach the level of audience it needs." The more successful mavens of video, Gill says, are creating content that can be "boiled down in consumable chunks," pushed out on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, while providing the hooks back to a campaign landing page or global brand site for measurement.

Associate Editor Kelly Liyakasa can be reached at kliyakasa@infotoday.com.

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