The question of whether video is an effective tool to use in an email is one that has been much debated. The reality is that it’s rarely something that forms part of an email marketing campaign – in fact, a survey carried out by LiveClicker and Beachbody during a seminar on the subject found that more than 50% of the attendees were either rarely or never using it and just 22% occasionally or frequently. This is despite the fact that there’s considerable evidence that we spend an enormous amount of time on our mobiles and around 50% of that viewing videos. So, if video is such an effective form of marketing, and viewing it on mobile devices is so widespread, why aren’t we using video in email marketing campaigns more?

Why aren't we using video more in email marketing campaigns?

The answer to this question most probably lies in the fact that it just hasn’t ‘caught on yet.’ Incorporating video into marketing can seem challenging, a much more professional endeavour than simply using an image. However, the benefits of using video in any form of marketing are well established – it’s an easy way to bring your brand to life, to inject some personality into a business that might not naturally have it and to give your branding a personable, human face. The key to making the use of video in email marketing successful is clearly the quality of the content – this not only makes the marketing message more effective but also adds to the credibility of the business too. If you’re considering some video as part of your email marketing, we’re taking a look at the different options available in terms of both the video and the support for it.

Embedded video

This is where the video itself, as well as the accompanying audio, is located in the email itself. There’s no need for the viewer to navigate to any other page as the embedded video can be played in the email. This is a great option as long as there is the right email client support that will allow the video to be played by the viewer. It’s also worth remembering that if the embedded video process is not properly carried out then there may be issues with delivery. Where no issues arise, an embedded video provides a pretty unique experience for a viewer and can be incredibly effective in delivering a marketing message. It’s also possible to display an image or regular video if there is no support from the email client.

Simulated video player

Although this option might appear a little like an embedded video in fact it is just an image that then takes the viewer to a landing page or website where the actual video can be viewed. The obvious disadvantage here is that when the viewer clicks on the static image, they will be taken away from the marketing email and its message and on to another site or page. However, there are unlikely to be any issues with the email client with this method, which is a significant plus, and it also opens the door for a more in-depth look at viewer analytics from the page that the simulated video player image links to.

Animated GIF

This isn’t actually a video but a simulated video that uses around 15 frames per second to create the impression of a short video clip. There’s no sound with a GIF and if you’re using these then the recommendation is to make them shorter rather than longer – no longer than 20 seconds. The downside is obviously that there is no sound and the fact that the GIF is a simulated video, rather than a real video, can make it appear bad quality and jumpy. There are also limits established by email clients when it comes to GIFs, for example Gmail does support them but limits the size to 10MB. However, GIFs are a great way of piquing interest in a topic and do have the effect of attracting more attention than a static image. They are also fairly simple to make, particularly when compared to full length embedded video, and they are also really easy to implement too.

Variation of videos in emails

It’s important to remember that the support for using videos in email can vary and so, if you’re considering this as an option, be sure to test it out first, both in terms of the needs of your marketing strategy and the market that you’re pitching to. In terms of how the above types of video are most used, this varies from Business to Customer (B2C) marketing and Business to Business (B2B) marketing. LiveClicker recently produced some statistics on how video is supported in these two contexts and embedded video with audio was the most supported for B2C email marketing. With respect to B2B marketing the numbers showed more varied use with 36.1% embedded video, 29.7% GIFs and 34.2% static images.

Given that mobile usage is predicted to continue to rise there is likely to be a huge boom in the use of embedded video and GIFs, which can be played instantly on a smart phone. If you’re planning on creating videos for email marketing use then remember these key points:

  • Don’t be afraid to try embedded video, no matter what your products or services offering – any subject can be successfully turned into a video marketing campaign.
  • Be sure to optimise the video size for email.
  • Keep the videos short.
  • Use HTML5 not use Flash or Javascript, as the latter two are not supported in email.
  • Make sure you have a static image or animated GIF as a fallback in case the embedded video doesn’t work – that way you will still have workable content whatever happens.

If your marketing strategy needs a bit of a boost then incorporating video into your email marketing might be exactly the approach that you need. If you’re not sure about the effectiveness then start with the least time consuming or low cost option and as you get more confident build on it from there.