Video in email. Not a week goes by without a webinar, blog or email newsletter mentioning the topic. But is video in email the real deal? Or is it still too early to start whipping out the camcorders and hiring scriptwriters?
To get a better handle on the topic, I turned to ClickMail Marketing’s CTO, Cameron Kane, for some insight. Cameron is paying close attention to the video vibe and was deploying video for clients way before the hype. But whether or not video is ready for prime time is the topic I asked him to speak upon.
First off, Cameron says you need to be clear on your motivation. Video can be a good tool to engage prospects or re-engage existing customers. But make sure you’ll use it that way. Ask yourself, “Will this really help me engage the customer or am I doing this because it’s the next shiny new thing?”
Next, Cameron cautions being aware of the different ways to deliver video. Which method you choose depends in part on your audience and in part on how much success you want.
- As a static image that clicks through to video on a landing page – This is an image with a Play arrow on it indicating it will start a video. The video starts playing upon the click through.
- As an animated .gif that plays in the email – Cameron says this is a good way to go if you can get the point of your short video across without sound. “It should be used as more of a lure than the full-blown video,” he says. But it will not play if images are suppressed. And it only shows the first frame in Microsoft Outlook 2007, so when you’re creating it, you must make your first frame a static image with an arrow (as above) so the user can click through. For this reason, it’s a bad choice if you’re a B2B marketer as so many business people use Outlook.
- As certified video that plays in the email with audio (AOL only) – Right now this applies only to AOL, although other ISPs are joining, like Comcast. “I think the expansion into ISPs needs to widen a tad before we can really speak to this,” says Cameron. “The home run is if they can get Hotmail, Livemail and Gmail. Then video will be pervasive,” he says. Certified video has just come onto the scene and it will be very interesting in watching this playout. The implications on this front go wide and far. I think the best has yet to come.
- As embedded Flash video: “Very bad idea,” says Cameron. “We could do this 5 years ago, but no longer.”
Of the four choices above, Cameron recommends using the static image for a B2B audience. If the audience is B2C, he says, start with an animated .gif and do an A/B split test. If the animated .gif works, filter your AOL audience and if that audience is big enough and a lift in revenue would be significant, use the certified video for that segment. “I would see this option as the best for large retailers,” he says. Although he also points out Goodmail hasn’t done their homework yet on the effectiveness of video and whether or not there’s a lift in ROI. “They don’t have conclusive data as of yet on the lift a sender would receive if using video,” he points out.
If you use video in your email marketing, there are still email best practices to adhere to. Just because you’re adapting a new approach and technology doesn’t mean the old rules no longer apply. Things to keep in mind when using video in your email marketing include:
- You still have to be relevant and targeted
- It’s still email. You’re still trying to get the recipient to do something, to take some kind of action
- You still have to measure its impact
- You still have to test
- You have to consider bandwidth and rendering issues
Most of all, perhaps, and this is where the discussion about video in email gets fuzzy, you have to consider image blocking. A recent webinar on video in email hardly spent 10 seconds on the topic, but the reality is, if your recipients have images suppressed, it doesn’t matter which method you choose to deliver your video in the email: They won’t see it.
As Cameron says, “You have to get them to download images, then view the email and video, then click through. This is all before they hopefully convert. There’s lots of room for drop out.”
So maybe it’s worth waiting a while before you “drop in” to the video in email camp.
– Marco Marini, CEO, ClickMail Marketing