A lot has been said about the current technical limitations of video in email and some of the ingenious ways that email marketers have found to get some form of video into marketing messages.
What hasn't been talked about (much) is the marketing craft associated with using this new technology.
On the comment board of a recent Video Insider column, Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc. described the current contents of his inbox and then imagined them reworked to include video. He imagined being "greeted with video of a dog crapping on a carpet, a guy with a British accent telling me how well-known I am (and how I can be better known for a mere $99.95), General Patton telling me to stand at attention and fill out the attached form and a sweeping panorama of a remodeled bathroom." He then went on to write "That's not email - that's hell, people."
It's so tempting to rush headlong for the next cool, whizzy-bang technology, but attention must be paid to the marketing details and consumer experience as well.
Email is not TV. It's certainly not the movies. It's not even YouTube. So that means if you're going to really leverage the technologies that are fast approaching, you really need to think about what video can (and can't) do for your email marketing efforts. I know, I know: what about all those case studies that show a magical 20+% lift by merely including video? Think about it: have you ever seen a case study that didn't show a 20% lift? You know why? Because those case studies don't get published.
There is no magic in any technology.
Which means the real magic lies with you. (Very Seth Godin of me, right?) It's your amazing marketing prowess that is going to lift your email up from the gloom and excite your customers.
Consider these ideas for maximizing your impact with video (first two are kind of technical, the rest are about the craft of marketing):
2. Know what works where. In reality there is no such thing as "video in email" in the sense of one technology that anyone can take advantage of. In fact, there are varying standards -- the most widely used are HTML5 and video .gif -- that work in different ways with different mailbox providers. The array of options is dizzyingly complex. You need to know what will work at each mailbox provider, then layer in the possibilities based on browser version. You also need to know about frame rates and compression to create an optimized experience. Companies like LiveClicker can help you by automating the detection process and delivering the right technology to the right inbox.
3. Use video for what video is good for. In general, it's best to use the lowest-tech solution that you need to drive the result you want. So, for example, filling up an email with big huge photos just for the sake of having beautiful photos isn't great strategy. But having great product shots can obviously enhance an ecommerce campaign. By the same token, video can be great for product demonstrations, customer testimonials, step-by-step instructions and virtual tours. These are all cases where mere text -- or even text with images -- would not be as powerful.
4. Make the video the star of the show. If you're going to the trouble and expense of adding video into an email, don't gunk it up with lots of other stuff. Keep copy to a minimum and don't include any other images.
5. Get your analytics in order. If you aren't already buttoned-up with your analytic capabilities, you want to be sure and do that before you start launching videos. In the future, there will additional technologies that will be available in email. Make sure you are ready to test these as well.