Video is engaging. Fact. The popularity of sites such as YouTube, for access to training videos, presentations, entertainment and demonstrations, is testament to this.
Internet video appeal
Video is attention grabbing, easy to share and a bit of a novelty. In December 2008 the 30 leading video and TV streaming websites attracted close to thirteen million Britons - that is nearly 40% of the entire UK internet population, at a growth rate of 70% over the previous 2 years. This is especially impressive when you think that over the same period, the total internet audience itself managed to grow by no more than 14% (MediaWeek 1/08).
It is not surprising that with figures like this, Marketers are often keen to jump on the internet video bandwagon.
Who receives your email campaigns?
The opportunities and developments within the realm of digital marketing are dynamic and exciting. The list of possibilities within online marketing is constantly growing, but that does not mean the rest of the marketing world, or your intended audience, are developing digitally alongside you. You may have the most sophisticated video email delivery system on the planet but unless you have an audience with the technology to receive and read it, you may as well have sent them a message in ancient aramaic.
Test your emails!
You may be able to insert java script into an email which enables your video to play. However, this is likely to be specific to certain ISPs only, which means the need to test remains paramount to the success of your campaign. Good email marketing providers give you the tools to see how your email renders in a variety of ISP's and on a range of devices for instance; you need to know whether your recipients are opening your campaigns on a laptop, PC or handheld device. You also need to know if your recipients are using Firefox or google chrome. This is important to ensure you video email renders properly.
Common problems with video embedding
• Low email delivery rate: Emails made heavy with embedded video content are more likely to get caught up in filters and less likely to reach your subscriber's inbox.
• Missed opportunity: If you are sending to subscribers who do not have the necessary programme to run the video you've used in your email, you have wasted the space on the page, and the time you spent putting it there. It can look unprofessional and cause frustration for your recipient, not the impact you were hoping for!
• Loss of impact: Video can take a while to download. Frustrated and bored subscribers may delete your email without seeing your content, or even unsubscribe.
• Loss of viral advantage: You can’t control forwarded emails, you have no way of knowing where they will be sent. This means the valuable viral element of your email campaign will be lost, simply because of the unreliability of video.
• Intrusiveness of video in email: This can be a problem for B2B campaigns, especially when sending to lists where your recipients are at work. Some recipients may not feel comfortable with video, particularly video with sound playing at their desk when the boss is hovering near by.
The most reliable solution to all these issues and complications is to use your email campaign as a teaser to drive recipients to a campaign microsite or splash page, where they can view your video at their own leisure.
How to make video work for your campaign:
If you are set on using video, you just need to take a couple of steps to ensure you don't fall victim of the common problems mentioned above:
1. Try using a 'play' button in your email: Take advantage of social conditioning and human reflex - instruct a recipient to click ‘play’ when it looks like there is a video to watch. This button will be set up as a link to drive traffic to the video embedded on your splash page or website and in his way it can act as a powerful call to action.
2. Use an image of the first frame of your video as an image link:This should be linked to your video, which would ideally be hosted on your own website or splash page, or on youtube etc.
3. Always back this up by putting a text link in your email to your video too. If your images haven’t downloaded, you will need to make sure recipients have another route to your video.
The benefits of this method are that your email is lighter and easier to deliver and that through clever use of your link tracking, you will gain a much clearer understanding of who is interested in seeing the video. You will also save yourself the headache of your recipients needing the right programme to run the video.
4. You might even try using animated gifs instead of video. This will add an engaging, non text based, piece of content to your email and as long as your animation is not embedded into your email, it will make for a lighter and easier to deliver alternative.
You should, however, be aware that not all email clients will render the animated aspect. For example Outlook 2007 does not render and will only show the first frame of the animated gif. You should ensure you put the most important part of your message in the first frame as this is the frozen image your recipient will see.
5. Make sure you test your campaign! Thorough inbox testing is essential when you are embedding video. This is vital as some email clients, such as Microsoft, use HTML tags which will allow video to be played in emails. But others won’t. The only way you will get a clear picture of how effectively your campaign will be delivered is by testing your creative.
If your testing works well, you'll know which domains can support your video and which can’t. This means you can then filter your campaign sends by domain name in order to control it's successful delivery.
Email Marketing can drive traffic to your website, with clever use of online video
As you can see, marketers and ESPs can still benefit from the attractiveness of video, and use the pull of video in their emails to drive click throughs, without the need to embed within a campaign. Using a campaign micro site with video to form the centre of your integrated marketing campaign, by driving traffic to it from a series of online and offline channels, can really maximise your return.