Video In Email, Take Three
If you ask the email marketing industry’s founding fathers about video in email, they’ll hark back to a time in the late ‘90s when sending email with embedded video was no problem. There may not have been too many marketers producing video at the time, but if they did, and wanted to deliver it via email, they had nothing to worry about.
By the early 2000s, everything had changed. The rapid rise of email-borne security threats like spam, phishing, and malicious code got ISPs nervous about allowing images to be displayed in email -- let alone more complex content like video. And so, for almost a decade, email was resigned to static images, even as video on the Web was exploding with the advent of popular services like Hulu.com and YouTube.
Fast-forward to 2009, when a startup called Goodmail Systems attempted to resurrect video in email with the launch of “CertifiedVideo.” The product enabled full motion picture in
the inbox, but ISPs were slow to adopt the technology. And without widespread ISP implementation, there wasn’t much incentive for marketers to get on board, either. It was a classic chicken and
egg situation, and neither side knew who was supposed to be the chicken (or the egg?).
Over the last year, we have seen video in email make a comeback in a major way, with brands like Sony, Foot Locker (all clients) and many others producing elegant examples. What’s making today’s video-emails possible? The answer is HTML5, and the massive popularity of the email clients that support it.
HTML5 is a programming language that makes it possible to publish secure multimedia content on the Web without relying on plug-ins like Flash and QuickTime. Because it’s a wide open standard, its uptake has occurred rapidly throughout the Internet ecosystem -- including within some of the most popular email clients -- and it’s a safe bet to say that HTML5, and video-in-email, are here to stay.
Producing digital video has become easier and less expensive, and marketers continue to adopt it enmasse. This great infographic published by Invodo highlights the estimate that one-third of online ad spending in 2013 will be focused on video, and that 76% of marketers plan to add videos to their websites. What’s more, shoppers who view video are 174% more likely to make purchases than those who do not, and are half as likely to return a product. The question shouldn’t be, why use video in email -- but why not?
Best practices for using video in email
If you have digital video content, weaving it into your email campaigns is at least worth testing, and more often than not should be strategically incorporated throughout your lifecycle email campaigns. Here are a few best practices to get you started:
- Know your list. Understand the makeup of your list to find out how many of your recipients will be able to view video in their inboxes. This chart shows which email clients and platforms offer which level of support for video in email. Most B-to-C marketers will find that the majority of their recipients will be able to view video directly within their inboxes. Unfortunately, for the time being, B-to-B marketers with Outlook-heavy lists won’t be able to take as much advantage of the tactic.
- Display optimal video formats. New technologies make it possible to auto-detect recipient email client video-support capabilities and show the optimal video format based on those capabilities: for example, full video, animated gifs which closely resemble video, or static images with play buttons that take recipients to video landing pages.
- Test and optimize. Maximize your investment in video-in-email campaigns by testing and targeting in real time. Video in email content can be time-targeted, geo-targeted, and even weather-targeted for maximum impact
Video in email finally works, is powerful, and is here to stay. With the right content and technology, video can tell your story in a way that images alone cannot, and be a game-changer that drives deeper engagement, higher click-through rates, and ultimately more sales.