In today's world of high-speed Internet access, video has emerged as the leader of online content. It embodies the best qualities of digital communication, giving viewers the intimate experience of a face-to-face conversation while providing the non-disruptive, "on my time" engagement style that people love about texting and email.

Email continues to be the go-to channel for marketing and sales, and business accounts can receive as many as 100 emails each day. However, many users have become savvy at detecting messages that have obviously been sent through an automated algorithm.

When people think "video for marketing and sales," they might envision any number of television commercials or viral online ads, but leading video-enabled businesses are moving far beyond simple advertisements.

"We all want to be seen, treated and spoken to as individuals--not as just another person in a crowd. Personalized video helps build stronger, one-on-one relationships with customers," said Michael Litt, the CEO of Vidyard.

Vidyard, a video creation, hosting and analytics platform based in Kitchener, Ontario, is one company leading the push toward smarter use of video for business. A Y Combinator graduate backed by more than $60 million in venture capital, Vidyard's platform is used by global brands like LinkedIn, Lenovo, Sharp and Honeywell.

In a recent interview with Litt, I learned three specific strategies for how Vidyard and its clients use personalized videos to engage leads and nurture strong relationships:

1. Collect and nurture leads.

Vidyard and a number of other providers offer software that can automatically insert personal information you've gathered from inquiry forms or email list registrations into pre-recorded marketing videos. When a lead watches the video, they'll see their name, company, job title, or any information of your choosing displayed on-screen at strategic moments.

Influitive, a marketing software provider, used a personalized video campaign to promote their Advocamp marketing conference in 2016. The campaign yielded a 29 percent open rate and a 5.5 percent click-through rate-a huge improvement over their previous promotion with 16 percent open rate and 0.7 percent click-through rate.

Take a look at one of Influitive's very simple but effective campaign videos: Watch here.

2. Engage prospects.

When it comes to sales, nothing is more effective than the face-to-face pitch. Consider recording short webcam videos to pitch your product or service.

Attach video "selfies" to your outbound emails. Think about starting your video by holding up a personalized message written on a whiteboard to create a compelling thumbnail image.

Lauren Wadsworth, a sales rep for the enterprise tech company Dynamic Signal, reported a remarkable increase in conversions after implementing personalized videos into sales emails.

"I had a 37.5 percent response rate and a 12.75 percent positive response rate (meeting booked). To give some context, the average call-to-meeting conversion was one percent, and email-to-meeting conversion was two percent across the team," Wadsworth said.

Continue to use these one-on-one videos throughout the sales cycle. In another example, Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing explains how he uses video to "unstick" stalled accounts here.

3. Build customer loyalty.

Your relationship with customers doesn't end after you've closed a deal.

Rather than direct support queries to an online help database or walk customers through issues over the phone, companies are seeing success using personalized video in a customer service capacity. Consider recording a quick screen share video, walking your customers through the answers to their service requests and then sending them a clip to that video in your response.

Jay Baer, the founder of Convince and Convert, also uses video in various customer service applications to keep his client base engaged.

"I like personalized video because it really works," Baer said. "In fact, I just finished a round of one-to-one personalized videos that I sent out to all of our current clients at Convince and Convert, thanking them for their business and asking them to complete a very short Net Promoter Score survey to see how we're doing for them."

Learn more from Baer on how he leverages personalized video for his business here.

Video is quickly becoming the dominant medium for businesses to connect with their audience in a world saturated by sterile, automated emails.

"We're now bombarded by 3,000 marketing and sales messages every day," said Litt. "For marketing and sales, that means it's tougher than ever to stand out, keep audiences engaged and build memorable relationships. By treating each prospect and customer as an individual, personalized video can help with all three."

Listen to my full interview with Michael Litt here:

Published on: Jul 21, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.