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Video E-mail Arrives Full Stream Ahead

Kimberlee Hawk
Every now and then a technology comes along that changes your life and you give up the old way of doing things.  Kimberlee Hawk, a sales associate with RE/MAX Executive Group in Kissimmee, credits an inexpensive e-mail tool called helloWorld with radically changing the way she does business. Via video-streaming software, helloWorld lets Hawk create video e-mails and instantly send them to anyone in the world. Instead of writing a traditional e-mail, Hawk simply videos herself talking to the e-mail recipient who then can watch a video instead of read an e-mail.
The program helped Hawk turn one sale into three sales. “An investor-client in New York was interested in one of my listings, so I made a video and e-mailed it to him the same day,” she says. “I always say the date so they’ll know it’s fresh. The integrity of the process is improved 100 percent because I highlight things they would notice if they were walking through [the property] with me. Instead of buying just one house, now he’s talking about possibly three purchases.”

There are several video e-mail providers from which to choose, but Hawk was introduced to VMDirect’s helloWorld (a Web-based program) when an affiliate showed up at one of her open houses and told her about it. The product costs either $10, $20 or $40 per month, depending upon which features the user wants.

Here are five benefits Hawk derives from video e-mail:

1. Create That “Wow” Factor
Our society has become much more “visual,” and most people simply don’t have time to read text-intensive e-mail messages, says Hawk. “I have a huge database of people who e-mailed me in years past, and I’m responding to them and hearing back from them whereas before they really weren’t saying anything back,” she says. “Now, when people see and hear me in a video e-mail, and all these extra senses are involved, they immediately say, ‘Oh, that’s really cool’.

“I have a [Web] camera that sits on my desk, I press record and [speak into the camera] and when I’m done I type in the e-mail address where I want to send my video message.”

When a recipient opens one of Hawk’s e-mails, he or she will see a “filmstrip” of about five still images of Hawk, and a message that reads: “Hi [Recipient], Please tap on the filmstrip below and disable any pop-up blockers so you can see my message.” All the recipient needs is a high-speed Internet connection and he or she can view Hawk’s video in seconds. There are no downloads, so hard drive space isn’t used.

2. Strengthen Relationships
A resident of Celebration (the town that Walt Disney World built) since its inception in 1996, Hawk makes an effort to get to know her neighbors. She finds that helloWorld helps her break the ice at community events. “I recently videotaped a neighbor’s child winning an award,” she says, adding that she uploaded the video to the VMDirect server the same day, clicked a button and instantly sent the video to the child’s parents. “Now they’re saying that if they ever sell their house they’ll call me.

“Within the past few months, my [face recognition] has multiplied a good 30 percent, with people stopping me in the street and saying they know me from somewhere,” Hawk adds.She has no doubt that her video marketing e-mails have created a sense of familiarity. Her video e-mails also include a link to her Web site (

3. Enrich Marketing Efforts
According to Hawk, helloWorld has helped her attract a global audience for pennies compared to the cost of traditional marketing. “I’m trying to get away from things that people throw in the trash,” she says. “Just look at sending out 1,000 postcards at $2 apiece. That’s $2,000 a month, and you never know who’s looking at them. For just $40 per month and a couple of mouse clicks I can broadcast my own real estate video blog, do live Web casting and send unlimited video e-mails. It’s not invasive, and I get e-mail verification so I know my video was watched.”

Virtual tours also cost Hawk next to nothing. “With most virtual tours you have to hire a camera crew and they have to edit the video. With helloWorld you take your camcorder to the home and do the tour, then upload it and publish it the same day. You can put music behind it too. It puts you in control.”

4. Broadcast Open Houses
For out-of-town clients who can’t be present during an open house, Hawk places her Web cam inside the property and uses helloWorld to “broadcast” the event to them. “They can be in Philadelphia,” she says, “watching what kind of traffic we’re getting.”

5. Host Live Video Chat
Another feature Hawk enjoys is live Web chat. “That’s huge for sales associates because we can get the lender, the closing agent and the client online,” she says. Each participant must be a helloWorld subscriber, so if Hawk knows she’s going to be working with vendors for a while, she signs them up. “If I want to be able to communicate with a builder, for example, I can pay the $10 fee and then cancel afterwards,” she says.

Hawk predicts that video e-mail will be the “next big thing” for real estate. “It will revolutionize the way we communicate,” she says.

This column, designed to offer examples of how salespeople and brokers are using technology in their offices, won first place in the 2006 Best Column category from the Florida Magazine Association. The column is for general information only. Opinions expressed here don’t necessarily reflect an endorsement of the views by Florida Realtor® magazine or the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).