A step-by-step guide to personalized video production (examples included)
Once you decide to move ahead with a personalized video campaign, you still might have a few things that are unclear to you. By this point you know the benefits, you know the use cases but what often confuses people is personalized video production.
And that’s what I’m going to explain today. From this step-by-step guide to personalized video production, you can expect to learn the following:
- Why it makes sense to invest in personalized video production
- How to get started with personalized video production
- What to pay extra attention to when it comes to creating personalized videos
- What tools can you use
Why it makes sense to invest in personalized video production
Depending on the objectives and requirements of your company or organization, investing in customized video creation can make sense for a number of reasons. Check the table below to see examples of use cases.
Getting started with personalized video production
Starting your first personalized video campaign might seem daunting at first, and many people think it’s too complicated and technical. That’s not the case. My intention with this article is to demystify personalized video production and boil it down to the basic concepts. This will allow you to stop thinking about the technicalities, and start thinking about the benefits and creative ways to improve your video personalization game.
Personalized video production can be used in various contexts, such as marketing and advertising, e-learning, customer service, and entertainment. A marketing team might, for instance, develop a personalized video campaign that targets particular audiences with messages that are tailored to them based on their demographics, past purchases, or browsing habits. Based on the learner's skills and interests, an e-learning platform may use customized videos to deliver training modules that are specifically designed for them.
But I’ll touch upon the use cases in more detail a bit later.
Overview of personalized video production process
Each campaign starts with an idea. The idea can be as simple as: “We want to delight our employees with a personalized video celebrating their years at our company”. Okay, you got your idea now, let’s see what elements you need to produce this kind of personalized video campaign.
Step #1: Create a video template
The first thing you’ll need is a video template. This template is going to be used for all of the videos as a base, and your video automation tool will swap out elements of that video to make it personalized.
What’s great is that the template can look however you want. It can (and probably should) follow your design guidelines, it can be in whatever style and dimension you wish and the sky really is the limit here. It all depends on how much resources you want to spend on this.
The template itself can either be made by your in-house design team or an external agency/freelancer. Some personalized video solutions are using in-built template editors, but we use Adobe After Effects as the tool to make templates. This is good for you because After Effects is an industry-standard program in the design world. Your in-house design team is probably already familiar with it, so creating a template will be hassle-free.
Step #2: Create a data source
The second thing you need is a data source. No matter what video automation tool you choose, a data source needs to exist in the process of personalized video production. Now, I’m aware that data source sounds really fancy, but it can be as simple as a spreadsheet that will contain all of the personalization data.
If you wish, you can push this further and connect your template to an RSS feed, a database of some kind, or even an external API. But a spreadsheet is oftentimes enough.
If you’re using a spreadsheet, you will have to lay all of the personalization data inside of it. Create a column for each dynamic element inside of the video, and simply add new rows for each video. The video automation tool or a personalization video software of your choice, will go through every row, pull the data out and insert that data into the video template you created.
This of course can be a more robust workflow. You can pull data from your CRM, or database and create if-this-then-that workflows that will create customized videos at the right time for the right person. That leads me to the next point.
Step #3: Create the integration
The third, and final thing is creating the integration. There are two ways to do this:
- You can create the integration manually if you have the dev resources or knowledge
- You can use a tool like Zapier/Integromat which will connect your data source and the video automation tool
What are you doing here is basically creating the workflow that’s going to create videos on autopilot. Now, this is where a lot of people get confused, so I’ll try to simplify things.
Want to learn more about automating content creation? Head to the linked resource - promise you won’t be disappointed.
In order for the entire workflow to work, you need a way to connect your data source and your template. This way the video automation tool can take the personalization data and insert it into a template to produce the personalized videos you need. Some tools have native Google Sheets integrations, allowing you to connect your spreadsheet to the template in a few clicks.
Even if this is the case, you still need to distribute these videos somehow to your users. Maybe you want to send videos through email, SMS, or through a Web App. This is what creating an integration means. You’re integrating multiple pieces of the workflow together.
If you don’t know how to code, you can still create pretty awesome integrations. This is where tools like Zapier and Integromat come in handy. These integration tools don’t require code knowledge and the setup takes only a few minutes. They will allow you to:
- Connect ANY data source you want
- Distribute the videos through any channel
If you’re a newbie to no-code, both Zapier and Integromat have a lot of useful resources on how to get started.
Pro tip: Check out our inspiration library to understand the potential of personalized video production and potential use cases for your business.
And voila! Your personalized video production is ready to start. There’s only one more thing to sort out.
Step #4: Decide what will be the trigger for the personalized video production
There are a few options you can choose when it comes to setting up your personalized video production:
- Do a batch render of all of the videos
- Render videos on a set time interval
- Have the end-user trigger the render
Depending on your use case, you’ll likely set this up while creating the integration. With these three approaches, all you need to do is press the “play” button and relax. The videos will be created automatically and they will distribute depending on the way you set up the integration.
Things to know about producing customized videos automatically
If you want to save money and reap the most benefits out of your personalized video campaign you need to do some optimization. Producing personalized videos is usually priced on a per-video or a per-video-minute basis. This means that the more video you create, the more you will pay.
Because of this, it’s crucial to audit your list. Here are some useful questions you can ask:
- Does everybody on that list need a video, or can someone be skipped?
- What is the return on investment I can expect from producing personalized videos for this audience segment?
- What is the ultimate goal I want to achieve with customized videos?
In cases where you are sending personalized videos in sales emails, doing a batch render might be inefficient. If you have 1000 people, and your open rate is 20% then you really need only 200 videos targeting your most active subscribers.
In cases like this, creating a trigger will save you a lot of money. The trigger can be the user opening the email they got or something similar.
Render speeds are an important factor also. When it comes to personalized video production, videos need to be rendered. In use cases where a user triggers rendering, speed is crucial because it determines how fast will the user see the video. When rendering batches, it’s less important because you usually render videos and send them after they are all done.
Want to see some great personalized video marketing examples? We got you covered: check the link out and get inspired for your next campaign.
Best tools for personalized video production
If you’re looking for personalized video production tools, I’ve already written about my top picks. Also known as personalized video software or personalized video marketing solutions, these tools help you get the most out of your production.
Not to toot my own horn here, but I did personally test a lot of tools out there and mapped out their shortcomings when creating Plainly.
There are plenty of tools in various shapes and sizes, but the one with the best balance between functionality, ease of use, and bang for your buck is Plainly. It’s a cloud-based video automation tool. The learning curve is truly mild and that’s something our users appreciate.
Plainly API allows you to create the exact workflows that suit your business needs, without any compromises. This means you can use ANY data source you wish, and distribute videos to any channel you wish.
If you want to learn more about personalized video API, make sure to check the linked resource.
Plainly is using After Effects for templates, which means that your team can create amazing templates quickly. However, it’s also Zapier/Integromat compatible which means you can set up integrations without using any code.
Setting up a personalized video production using Plainly takes only a few hours, and you don’t have to sit through 6 calls and 3 demos.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a video in which I explain how to set up a personalized video production in under 15 minutes using Plainly, Integromat, and Google Spreadsheets.
Ready to get started with customized video production?
I hope that this article brought you a bit of clarity when it comes to personalized videos and the way they are produced. As you can see, it’s really not that complicated and technical. Once you get your first campaign underway, the next ones are easy as you are just switching templates and maybe a thing or two in the integration.
Personalized video production brings a bunch of benefits. In the world of digital noise, getting a message that’s 100% tailored to you is the only way that someone will reach you. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
If you want to start your personalized video production journey, book a 15-min Plainly demo. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve with little upfront investment!