AT&T: Engaging Customers With Personalized Videos

In this Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, photo, an AT&T logo is displayed on an AT&T Wireless retail store front, in Philadelphia. T
In this Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, photo, an AT&T logo is displayed on an AT&T Wireless retail store front, in Philadelphia. The flow of customers into AT&T's wireless stores slowed further in the latest quarter, putting the company far behind rival Verizon Wireless. AT&T Inc. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, said it added a net 151,000 new customers on contract-based plans from July through September, the lowest number for that period since at least 2003. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Challenge: Gaining customer attention and engagement is tough. Marketer's attempts at "personalization" have not been effective. Can personalized videos engage customers? AT&T thinks so and has the results to prove it.

How important is a personal connection with your customers? Critical, says Danny Kalish, co-founder of Idomoo, "Today's consumers are nostalgic for the personal relationships they once enjoyed with their service providers. This type of emotional connection engenders loyalty, which is as valuable to organizations as innovation in products or services."

Today's customers are overwhelmed with the flood of marketing "spray and pray" blasts. To really engage them, marketers need to make it obvious that unlike their previous messaging, new communications are truly and obviously personalized and relevant.

With this in mind, AT&T has been testing auto-generated personalized videos in its billing for its wireless services. Subscribers receive an email with a link to a video, which addresses the subscriber by name before going through each element of their personal bill, anticipating and answering customer concerns along the way. The content the customer sees are his or her own, not generic examples -- and it's all clearly laid out.

The results have been very encouraging:

1. Over 85 percent of customers have found the bill helpful.

2. Almost 80 percent of customers open and watch the video bill to completion.

3. Significant reduction in bill-related calls.

4. In July, AT&T and SundaySky won the Global Telecoms 2012 Consumer Service Award for Consumer Billing Innovation.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

1. Add new dimensions to your communications.
Help customers receive the information they need. This will engage customers short-term and build long-term loyalty.

2. Engage customers throughout the lifecycle.
Personalized attention should not stop at the moment of acquisition. Personalize all customer communications such as billing, offers, specials, and customer appreciation touches. Every communication is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.

3. Relevance is the key.
Customers will embrace a message when it makes sense to them as individuals. Simply adding a name to the beginning of a general blast is not personalization. For example, a personalized video can deliver personal information in a multi-sensory way that clearly highlights relevant information both visually and audibly.

4. Constantly test.
Testing different versions will enable you to learn what message and media mix is most effective.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."