The world of email marketing is changing every day, and as more and more brands recognize the value of email marketing – the more difficult it is to stand out in your customers’ inboxes. One way brands can differentiate themselves in email is through video. In fact, including video in your email marketing campaigns and subject lines can increase open rates by 19% and click-through-rates of 200-300%.

While there’s a lot of talk about video in email, it can seem pretty daunting and expensive. Let’s explore how you can (and cannot) include video in your emails, and how to best increase engagement of your content

 

Can I embed video in the email?

The simple answer is yes. The complex is answer is…well, it depends. There are a couple of problems to consider. When you think about it, when was the last time you actually watched a video within an email? If you’re a Gmail user, the answer is “I think I’ve watched a YouTube video a few times”. If you’re a Microsoft Outlook user – the answer is “never”. The same goes for email on iOS or Android devices.

The problem is that a lot of these inbox providers are not compatible with embedded video, which means to get the benefits of video in email marketing, you need to find some tools and loopholes.

For example, Mailjet’s integration with Viwom allows you to embed videos in your email campaigns that will automatically detect the device, operating system, and email client where the email is opened from and deliver the best option to each one. On some clients, the video won’t load but at least you can ensure something is delivered in its place – like a GIF or an image.

When Litmus was putting together their Email Design Conference, they knew they had to do something creative with their emails, so they were one of the first to really try embedded video in email. The effect definitely caught the eye of those who saw it; however, only about 40% of users could actually viewed the video in their email client.

 

While this was four years ago, unfortunately email clients haven’t changed all that much, and video embedded within an email is still not the best practice. There are options, though.

 

An alternative to video in email: Animated GIFs & Thumbnails

The best way to leverage the power of video in your email campaigns is to use animated GIFs to drive attention to the most seductive of internet activity: moving images. Your audience has become accustomed to short snippets of video previewing the content they are about to watch, including previews on major streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix.

 

A major goal of all email marketing is to, of course, have your audience engage further with your content, products, or services. So, having the ability to attract users to your landing page where you can incentivize further engagement is much more attractive to marketers than embedding the video in the email itself. The goal is that your readers click back to your website, not to stay within the email.

On Mailjet, this is as simple as adding an image and linking to your favorite landing page.

You can also simply use a static image coupled with a play button superimposed on the image to indicate to your audience that selecting the play button will send them directly to a video.

The million-dollar question though is this: do you autoplay the video or not? In most cases, autoplay video is frowned upon, it’s annoying when you land on a page and all of a sudden a video and its audio start playing when you weren’t expecting it. This is especially true if you’re on a phone and your precious data is being eaten up.

In this case however, autoplay videos works well, primarily because the user has already indicated interest in watching a video by clicking the play button, so you’re completely within your moral universal internet rights to autoplay your video.

 

Key steps to pairing video with email marketing

Once you’ve decided that yes – I am going to be a video marketing guru and start including video in my email campaigns, the work has just begun. There are three major steps you will need to take to make the most out of your campaigns: establish your campaign goals; film quality video content, and optimize for engagement.

 

Establish your email campaign’s goals

Just like any marketing tactic you explore, you need to identify the goal of your campaign before getting into the weeds. Even Tommy Wiseau had something resembling a plan.

First off, what are you hoping to accomplish with your video? Are you trying to get users to try a new feature? Are you promoting an upcoming event? Do you have a new product that you want to show the world? Or maybe you just want to drive as many views as possible to your video.

Create the right content for the goal you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, a 7-10 second video is all you need to show your great new product, and sometimes an in-depth tutorial or course is exactly what your audience is looking for. If you’re goal is to drive sales, what call to actions are you baking into the video to direct people to purchase pages? If you’re goal is to simply increase the number of views, what are you doing in the first 3 seconds to capture the attention of the user and incentivize them to stick around for the whole video?

 

Film quality video content for your email

Sometimes a webcam video is enough, and in fact it can be a great way to show a personal touch if you are looking to personalize video in your email marketing strategy. Other times, though, a touch of flare and production quality is important to inspire trust and encourage engagement throughout the video and into the next step in the journey you want to send your audience on.

To produce a video that falls somewhere between your grandparents trying to figure out video conferencing and Mad Max: Fury Road, you need to keep in mind four key things:

  1. Lighting,
  2. Dimensions and format,
  3. Cameras and lenses,
  4. Audio.

I’ll leave it to the team over at Vidyard who show us how you can easily shoot high quality B2B videos on your smartphone for under $250.

 

Optimize your video marketing for engagement

Finally, once you have established your goals and filmed that perfect video, you now need to optimize your audiences experience to ensure you are driving attention precisely where you want it.

Check the transition from email to video

First, make sure that the transition from email to the landing page is seamless by ensuring the video is set to auto-play, that the video is clearly visible above the fold on your landing page, and that the videos size isn’t too large that will cause slow load times. This last point is especially true for users navigating to your site on mobile devices, which will already take a bit longer to load and could destroy data usage for many users.

Strategically place your CTAs

As your audience is viewing the video, create clear calls-to-action throughout that are both valuable and unobtrusive. While VH1’s Pop-Up Video may have gotten away with annoying pop-ups all through the 90s, today you need to make pop-ups and call-outs within the video subtle, and clearly adding value to the user experience.

This is especially important during those moments when you expect users to drop off, including the first 10 seconds when you need to capture the viewer’s attention before they leave. On longer videos, those over 10-minutes, most of your viewers are gone by the 50% mark. Pay close attention to your audience retention stats to determine when most users leave and create CTAs just before these moments to drive further engagement.

Video Length Based on Time

Create dedicated landing pages

To encourage ongoing engagement, you’ll also need to send your audience to a landing page you own, that is designed to ensure continued engagement with your content, products, or services.

Far too many brands are still sending their audience to YouTube, or Vimeo, or some other third party page to watch their content. You can either own the entire multimedia experience that your audience is about to embark on, or you can send them to a page to watch your video and inevitably get distracted by the latest cat video recommended to them. Optimizing your videos is about more than just the video – it’s about the entire user experience.

Embrace personalization

Finally, the most exciting and high impact way of optimizing your video marketing is through personalization. Businesses can see a 500% increase in email engagement with video personalization. While this can be difficult for bulk mailing, there are a lot of tools coming out that can connect your CRM and databases to your video content that seamlessly embeds personal details like names, companies, cities, and more right into a video.

If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that personalization is the key to successful marketing and video is the next forefront of this trend. Get ready for your name and information all over billboards and street signs in the videos you watch.

 

To Recap: Done right, video can enhance your email campaigns

  1. Yes, it’s possible to embed video in your emails, but it’s not the best experience for your audience and it doesn’t bring them to an optimized landing page for further engagement.
  2. Animated GIFs and Video Thumbnails are the best way to add video to your email marketing, and in fact can increase CTRs by 200-300%
  3. Focus first on your goals, and then focus on producing the best video to achieve these goals.
  4. Producing good quality video doesn’t need to cost you your entire budget – in fact the whole solution is in your pocket.
  5. Optimize everything! Create the best user experience for your audience to watch and interactively engage with your content.

 

Get those cameras out and stand out from the crowd. What videos are you going to produce this summer? Tell us all about it on Twitter.