Case Study: Marketing to Marketers With On-Demand Video

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Interestingly, the Council likes to refer to these promotions as video emails, while ON24 refers to them as on-demand webcasts or simply on-demand videos. Technically, ON24 is more correct.

According to Ware, the CMO Council provided the content, the people, and the framework for these promotional videos. ON24 handled the technical aspects, from shooting the video of the presenters in their studio, to editing, to designing the look and feel of the pages, to handling the hosting and streaming. The Council also took advantage of back-end tracking features that are built into ON24’s proprietary technology platform, including lead generation tracking and the ability to measure certain users’ interactions such as length of time spent viewing and so on. The actual distribution of the videos is done by ON24’s CDN partner Limelight.

So the CMO Council, with help from ON24, set the trap with these emails, but would members take the bait? "We were kind of skeptical at first whether this would work," Ware admits. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the first round of promotional video emails had a 99% open rate. However, he attributes at least part of that success to the fact that, "Our members knew these emails were coming from us." One subject line, for example, was "An invitation to the CMO Council Summit from Cammie Dunaway, CMO of Yahoo!" That told members immediately that the email wasn’t spam or something from an unknown source.

The video-based promotional campaign for the Summit was actually a sort of four-pronged attack, which started with an email invitation from Jan Soderstrom, the chairperson of the CMO Council, who in his linked video introduced the theme of the Summit. This first video message was "well-received," according to Ware, "and gave us encouragement for the next round." The next round, which was launched the following week, was the Cammie Dunaway video message. And the third round on the third week was a video that featured Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the Council. A fourth video gave members their "last chance" to sign up and featured both Dunaway and Neale-May.

"We saw an uptick from these," says Ware. "People were opening the emails and meeting new people and seeing new faces, and I think that helped put a face on our brand," he says. "Our old marketing strategy was somewhat impersonal. These new messages feature someone talking to you directly and personally, and that helped to connect us to our audience and our audience to us."

Ware says that the Summit event, when it finally rolled around in October, gave him an opportunity to get feedback from the targets of his campaign. He says that many attendees "raved about" the promotional videos. "People had begun to feel connected to the CMO Council," says Ware, "and they knew who we were and got a sense of how we operate, and that made them feel more comfortable about attending our event."

Ware explains that the promotional campaign this year combined old-fashioned static emails with the newfangled "video emails." To ensure full attendance at the October event, the CMO Council began their promotional campaign in June. It started off with an ordinary email offering a $300 discount to "Early Bird" sign-ups. This part of the campaign ran through July 4, when it was replaced by another email promoting standard non-discounted sign-ups, which ran until Aug. 8. After Aug. 8 the ON24 video email/on-demand webcasting campaign began.

According to Ware, the traditional email campaign conducted between June 1 and Aug. 8 (over three months) registered only 68 people (out of the target of a full attendance of 300). By comparison, the video email-based effort succeeded in signing up 45 people in just one week (Aug. 8–15). "That was a huge uptick in response rate, by comparison," says Ware. "We were crawling like snails to the first 68."

The second wave of video emails netted an additional 30–40 people, according to Ware, and the Summit was sold out by September, a month and a half ahead of time. In fact, the Summit sold out before the Council even had time to run the last video email of the series. "We ran it anyway," says Ware, "to compensate for any attrition."

While the CMO Council had also managed to sell out their Summit event the previous year (2005), relying solely on static emails, the effort had been much more laborious and slow, says Ware. Plus, the Council had had to give discounts to 50–60 discussion leaders or table leaders in order to fill all the seats. "Despite that fact that we had a great program and great speakers last year, we were moving along very slowly and not getting a lot of traction," he says.

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