How (and When) to Use Video In Email

silver-play-buttonIncluding video in your email marketing campaign can have a high payoff. Previous advice was to avoid video, but computers and mobile devices are faster, and movement catches the eye. In an Experien 2012 study, the word ‘video’ in the subject line raised open rates 7-13%. Another email marketing study found that over 60% of email recipients watched an advertising video to completion.

However, there are still technological hurdles to consider.

Marketing Effectively with Video

As technology has made multimedia more portable, video is the new marketing gimmick; but like any new trick, you should ask why video, and why email marketing to send your video. As part of your entire campaign, video can serve a useful purpose. Entice readers to click the link, go to the website, or wait for it to load (even seconds is a wait in Internet time), with relevant, useful content like:

  • Product demo/review: The most difficult aspect about shopping online is seeing the product in real life, so show how the product moves and feels by a real person using and talking about it.
  • How-to or instructable: Show how to use your kitchen gadget, or how your products can solve a problem in every-day life.
  • Interview or testimonial, especially if it’s an emotional journey

Video Embedding that Works

Unfortunately, literal video embedding is still limited. Apple devices and mail clients are the only technology that truly embraces embedding. You can embed for those customers by splitting your list, and sending your media-enhanced newsletter to them.

Embedded video works in:

  • Apple Mail
  • Entourage 2008
  • Outlook Mac 2011
  • MobileMe
  • iPhone

For a straight-forward HTML tutorial on how to embed video for Apple email clients, with an alternate image for those that can’t, check out [this article] [“”target=_blank].  In this CSS/HTML5 hybrid trick, if your customer’s email client blocks images, they will see a white box.

Video Without Embedding

There are options other than embedding video:

  • Animated .gif. An A/B test by Holland America revealed that an animated .gif versus static image resulted in 100% higher click-through rate. .gifs are supported in all clients except Outlook 2007. Your ESP analytics should tell you on which email client your userbase most often opens their emails, so you can split your list.
  • Link to a video. Make the link look attractive and seamless by taking a screencap of the video player, stopped at a point in the video you want to use as the video thumbnail. With proper design, the video looks embedded, but when the user clicks the play button, the video opens in a new window. This is the most common method for video in email right now.
  • Gmail supports embedding of Youtube and Vimeo . . . but it’s really more like an attachment, and only if you use Gmail, not your ESP. Don’t use the ’embed’ code that Youtube provides, use the direct link to the video. This would work best for established clients, not direct mail, because you can’t send mass email from your private Gmail account without your account being locked down as a spammer.

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