October 24, 2011

How You Can Incorporate Videos in Email Marketing

by Emily Keye, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

A couple of weeks ago we discussed whether or not sending video in email was a good idea.  The answer comes down to: Do you have relevant content that your subscribers’ value?  To read more best practices, check out my earlier blog post on video in email.

So you’re ready to try video in your email messages, let’s take a look at your options of making this happen.

Today, many of the technical hurdles that prevented email marketers from using video are no longer relevant.  New technologies allow video delivery directly within email messages for the vast majority of email recipients.  However, there is still no universal video format that can be used to play videos in all email clients (see charts below).  Methods now exist to safely fall back to static images, without requiring the creation of different campaigns or sets of creative.  There is also the approach of integrating static images in email that link to videos on campaign landing pages.

So I encourage you, the email marketer, to use video in email (when relevant and compelling) to help improve click through rates and increase conversions.  Let’s discuss how you can incorporate video in your future campaigns and some great examples to help inspire you.  First, let’s look at what email clients/ISPs support video and how you can incorporate video.

What Email Clients/ISPs Support Video?

Email Clients that Support Video

*2011 Video Email Marketing Guide by Justin Foster, Co-Founder and VP of Market Development at LiveClicker.

How to Incorporate Video?

How to Incorporate Video?

*graph created by Justin Foster, Co-Founder and VP of Market Development at LiveClicker.

Here are a few examples of how video can be used in email to increase engagement:

Animated .GIF/Animated .PNG Example:

Until recently, it was not possible to deliver video through animated .GIFs or animated .PNG files because the files required too much bandwidth to play back smoothly for most subscribers. Today, with many Internet users accessing the Internet through high speed connections, these files are being used as video delivery devices in email.  Like Static Images, Animated .GIFs are supported nearly everywhere.  These files display video directly in the inbox and can be used in email without risk to deliverability, when used properly (with image referencing, rather than embedding).

Hewlett-Packard used an Animated .GIF video to call out product highlights and also managed to do this in an exceptional way even with no audio (sound is off by default).  HP included “video” in the subject line and also featured the video in a prominent location above the fold.  The expectation for video in this email is clearly set. 

HP Eye on Design

HTML5 Example:

HTML5 is the next standard of HTML. As of November 2010, this standard is already supported in major email clients such as the iPad mail client, iPhone client, Thunderbird, Entourage 2008, Apple Mail 4, and some other mobile device mail clients. Using HTML5 video, email marketers can embed video directly in email through the use of a <video> tag without causing deliverability problems.  Safe fallbacks are available so HTML5 video can be safely sent to an entire email list, and nonsupporting mail clients can still display a static image or animated .GIF video in place of the HTML5 video.

Discovery Channel used HTML5 video to tie in with the product that was being promoted (which is video itself).  The video is the primary call out with a clearly presented play button.  The video content in this email allows the audience to experience a preview of the show without leaving the email.

Discovery Channel Life Series

Static Image Example:

The most generally accepted method of using video in email has been to link a static image, often appearing as a video player, within the email. When clicked, the user is routed to a landing page containing a Flash video player, often set to auto-play the video.  If you haven’t tested video in your email messages before, this could be a great first step and requires the least amount of technical resources.

Ralph Lauren has created a back-to-school story where at any point you can mouse over one of the kids in the video and learn more about their outfit.  This is a great example of how you can still use video content to drive engagement, but not have it play in the email itself.  This video opens in a landing page.  Check it out by clicking here.

Ralph Lauren RL Gang

These examples are just scratching the surface of great examples of video in email.  But note that all of these emails are compelling, have a clear Call To Action (CTA) that promote viewing the video either in the email or by clicking through.  Also make sure that you text only version is equally compelling.  An image heavy email is pretty, but without a proper text only version, your text-only readers will see a very "un-pretty" email.

Have you seen any fantastic examples of video in email?  If so, share below.

Emily Keye
Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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Emily Keye, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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