E-mail with streaming video grabs attention

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E-mail is the largest component of the CMO Council's communication strategy with its members. So when open rates starting dropping late last summer from 85 percent to 50 percent, the organization's leadership became worried.

While e-mail can be the easiest way to communicate with busy chief marketing officers, this can result in a large volume of e-mails, according to Liz Miller, vice president of operations at the CMO Council. The council regularly disseminates research and other information in addition to sending event notices. This fall, the peer group for senior marketing and brand decision-makers uncovered one way it could get its messages to stand out - and be read: embedding a streaming video message.

"As the CMO Council, we need to be ahead of the curve in customer engagement," Ms. Miller said.

The six e-mail blasts with a video message that were distributed by the council debuted a new technology to members and got their attention. About 99 percent of recipients actually opened the first e-mail, which was sent in August, and 85 percent viewed the video.

The videos were used in e-mails meant to promote the council's two fall summits - one in San Francisco in October and the other in London in November. E-mail communication about industry events is often text-heavy with a significant amount of information to slog through. However, working with webcasting and rich media marketing provider ON24 Inc., the council designed a significantly shorter e-mail that simply indicated registration for the council summit had begun.

In one video message, Yahoo CMO Cammie Dunaway talked about the networking opportunities, the high quality of the attendees at the summit and other benefits she received from attending in previous years. The subject line of that e-mail read: "A personal message from Cammie Dunaway of Yahoo."

"We were astounded that the combination of the new technology and the personal message [produced such strong results]," Ms. Miller said.

The messages were sent to the CMO Council's approximately 2,600 members and a list of about 2,000 brand executives it has selected as possible future members of the invitation-only group.

Another factor contributing to the success of the e-mails was the quality of the technology provided by ON24, Ms. Miller said. The look of the interface is very clean, which fit nicely with the council's own branding. This meant the council didn't have to invest in any technology and had its first video completed within a few days.

"Our members are on their laptops a lot, zipping around the world, so it is really important to us that the technology is seamless," she said. "We brought in the logo and the script and ON24 handled the rest."

This year, the council is looking to incorporate ON24's BannerCast Live technology, which features a streaming video inside a banner ad.

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