Digital-First Economy Values Personalized Video For Consumer Engagement

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A picture, the old expression goes, is worth a thousand words. Expanding on that adage, a video must be worth a thousand pictures. It’s a particularly relevant sentiment as the world is increasingly digitizing and consumer preferences are shifting.

The effectiveness of video in the current climate was a key topic in a recent conversation between PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster and SundaySky CEO Jim Dicso. Communications heavy on text and jargon, he said, aren’t going to drive the kind of engagement brands actually want with consumers because consumers don’t have the bandwidth for all that friction. Insofar as video can streamline communication channels, he said, it is becoming increasingly important to brands in building customer relationships.

Good video content, he said, takes some craft to present properly. First, it has to be relevant to the consumer in the context of the interaction. Second, the information conveyed by that video needs to be helpful and valuable to that consumer. Finally, it needs to be easy to access and leverage for that customer. And brands, he said, are increasingly understanding the power of properly placed video.

“Most are getting pretty good at using data about the individual to surface the most appropriate content first, and then have the next-level content available, one click away,” Dicso said. “[The brands] that are most advanced are actually using data about people’s behavior to surface recommendations for the next best action and communicating proactively. And they are doing so in a way that is contextually relevant to the individual and helpful.”

By way of example, in financial services, he cited the customer who has already signed on for a mobile app but hasn’t set any alerts around important financial events. Institutions looking to get ahead, he said, are then pushing the video content on the value of setting up alerts and how to do it, to help guide their customer to their next critical best action. But more broadly, he said, those playing to win with video are being more intentional about using data and behavior to surface their recommendations for consumers that are increasingly shifting to digital and looking for simpler and more efficient channels for interaction.

Properly Placing Video

While video is often described as a new and emerging channel all its own, SundaySky, Dicso said, tends to think of it a bit differently. Video is not a channel on its own, strictly speaking.

“Video is a type of content that can be activated across any digital channel. So in a case like Bank of America, for example, they have Erica, their messaging app. Erica is a digital channel for them to activate their preferred rewards video experience,” Dicso said. “In our world, because video is a modular medium, not a linear medium, you can include or exclude certain content that’s most relevant to the individual at that moment in time.”

And leverage that content, he said, in whatever manner it is most relevant. That might mean informing the consumers and answering their questions or inspiring them to move ahead with the action type being demonstrated. Actually creating that relevance, Webster said, is the “tricky part,” an observation Dicso seconded, noting that the only way to make a truly relevant offering to the individual in real time is to know something about that person at that moment in time based on their data profile.

Pushed by the systemic shock created by COVID-19 over the course of 2020, there are now people who before never would have thought about using digital tools as a primary means of engaging with the world of banking and commerce. They have now shifted to using those tools to get a majority of that activity done, he said. There’s more of an opportunity to gather that data and use it to deliver video content than there has ever been.

“For some people, you know, reading lots of texts and looking at pictures is not necessarily going to give them the same degree of understanding that they get with video,” Dicso said. “So where there are many topics, and some quite complex, video is just more effective than many other means at communicating. And when you make it data-driven, you can then make it personally relevant in ways that are possible with traditional video.”

Particularly, he said, when the focus is on building modularity into those video content packages, they really are bespoke to each viewer’s needs.

The Magic Of Modularity

SundaySky’s most unique contribution to leveraging video as a digital communications tool for a multichannel work, he said, is focusing on offering customers modular video content that can be disassembled and reassembled in different configurations depending on user preferences. SundaySky software, he said, isn’t picking a single video to show every customer from its content hub but assembling a video out of various interconnected modules based on consumer data. Every customer is, in fact, different — and their needs vary across consumer or financial services journeys, even if those journeys look somewhat similar from the outside. What the customer wants and what will be effective in reaching the customer and keeping them on board, he said, will vary. And video content done well will account for that variation.

“It’s not that you build a single monolithic piece of content that’s usable in different places. Everything is atomized down to the ounce, to the smallest level, and then you select from content that’s most relevant and assemble it at that moment in time so that no two people ever have the same video powered experience,” Dicso said.

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