Why Embedded Video Does Not Work in Cold Email

There’s no shortage of reasons why embedded video should work in cold sales email. Sadly, they amount to lazy fantasies of inside- and field-sales reps who should know better. Cold email is work. Real work. Research. Creativity. Resisting. Not caving to urges to be cute or funny.

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There’s no shortage of reasons why embedded video should work in cold sales email. Sadly, they amount to lazy fantasies of inside- and field-sales reps who should know better.

Cold email is work. Real work. Research. Creativity. Resisting. Not caving to urges … to be cute or funny. Most of all, it’s tough to not “go for it” in the first, second or even third email. I get that.

However, it’s far more effective to use text. Words. Text-based emails work best to start discussions. Because text-based cold email provokes questions … so you can answer customers, yourself in real time.

Customers don’t want what you’re pushing in embedded video. But they will gladly be provoked and consider asking for more details… if they are primed for it.

3 Reasons Why Embedded Video Content Doesn’t Work

Time, expectation and assumptions. Video almost never starts conversations (in cold email) because your target doesn’t have time to watch.

When customers see “aah, a business-oriented video” the expectation is “this will take too long getting to the point.” Kind of like a webinar. You can be 10 minutes late, not have missed anything on arrival… and you’ve invested those 10 minutes productively!

From a customers’ point of view, video is also expected to persuade, based on what you think their pain is. Video is, essentially, a monologue.

Perhaps most convincing, video content often produces no useful action (response) in the client… even if viewed.

Why the love affair with video? One of my students broke away from my guidance for video. He sells for a global B2B publisher selling exclusively to lawyers who, “receive more emails in a day than any professional I’ve encountered,” said my student.

His reasoning was, “Lawyers, if they get 10 emails by text, and one by video, which one stands out?”

Standing out is important. This quality often makes a cold email successful, at the core. But how you appear unique decides response (and conversation) rate. Video does not seem to be working beyond the promise of vendors who sell it.

No Time Left For You

With rare exception, a “first touch” cold email (with integrated video) is a non-starter. Instead, short, pithy provocations are the way forward. Campaign data shows: You have 8 seconds or less to earn attention of a VP, director, owner or C-level decision maker.

Your provocation must generate a short, pithy reply. I use the word provocation purposefully. Targets are on their mobile devices, clearing email. Deleting the deluge of unsolicited messages from reps like you… 90% of whom:

  • ask for meetings too soon,
  • try to convince prospects (of needing a solution) using quoted research,
  • boast about Gartner ratings and client lists,
  • ask questions designed to elicit qualification-driven responses.

60 seconds? 90 seconds? 3 minutes for a video clip? You must be kidding.

You have less than 20 seconds for targets to read, consider and respond to a provocation. Anything more is unrealistic.

Your Ugly End Game

Customers know your end game before you even get started with video-embedded email messages. Video content is often structured to convince and qualify clients. They assume this the moment they see it. It is also one-directional. A broadcast, not a conversation.

In my (and my students’ experience), it’s not what they’re looking for. It’s what they love to delete.

You may think video is a new, unique way to separate from the other wolves. But it’s not. We’ve all seen business video shorts… and know what to expect. We know why they’re being shoved at us.

Embedded video clips usually play on a presumed need, pain or goal… in an attempt to garner a response that makes the buyer vulnerable to a pitch. At best, they’re designed to qualify the viewer. Convenient for sellers, not for viewers.

Video tends to reveal your true end game: to speak at, not with, clients.

Video amplifies your willingness to look like another spammy push-marketers. Not to mention being too lazy to get cozy with them. Instead, you expect video to do the heavy lifting (qualification) for you.

My former student defended his decision to abandon text-based emails for video this way:

“Through video you can show your enthusiasm,” he said. “You show that the email is hyper personalized and not templated, and if done correctly, you can start to build trust from first contact.”

“If done correctly” is perhaps the most over-rated, over-used, disingenuous phrase I read online lately. Aside from this observation, it’s true… you can, as a seller, personalize and avoid a templated message using video.

However, if it’s not effective (for the reasons I’m discussing here) how can you justify using it?

Outcomes Produced

The best outcome of a cold email is to spark curiosity in your words. Never to convince or persuade a client. Qualification (of you) is also too big an ask, too soon.

In this age, human beings are hard-wired to run from (delete) anything that smells promotional. Videos are promotional.

Most cold emails using video aim to convince and persuade. Instead, earn the right to speak with prospects… so they may convince themselves of their need.

This is a worthwhile outcome. This is a realistic outcome. Relying on a video within an email to help prospects qualify you or your solution? Unrealistic in most B2B selling cases.

Cold email must be provocative. Provocation takes research, creative application of words (mental triggers) and diligence on follow-up. There are no short-cuts.

Most importantly, video is asynchronous. Text-based email is, too. Both embedded video and text do not encourage synchronous conversation. Email, in general, not encourage customers to engage rapid-fire, freely, quickly.

But with practice pithy provocations can produce quick exchanges that pique curiosity in buyers… resulting in requests for more deep conversations.

I’m curious… what has your experience been with video? I’m open to your experience being educational for me!

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

2 thoughts on “Why Embedded Video Does Not Work in Cold Email”

  1. I can see what you mean when I am attempting to use video in emails. Could you give me examples of a “pithy provocation?” I would like my cold emails to be successful, for sure. How can I understand what good cold emails look like and read like? Some guidance would be greatly appreciated here.

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