Email Marketing and Video: A Winning Combination

Even with all the newer digital tools and platforms, email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective strategies around.

But there's a worrying trend: email's impressive results are diminishing over time. According to email marketing platform MailChimp, only about 18 percent of marketing emails are opened, with click-through rates languishing at two or three percent.

More companies are competing for our attention via email than ever. And with our attention spans steadily shrinking, that's bad news. It's hard enough to get the attention of someone you know, much less a business trying to sell something.

Email still has incredible potential to connect with people unlike any other marketing strategy. But businesses need to adapt sooner rather than later, or they'll be forced to endure lower and lower ROIs.

Video can help.

Photo credit: Vimeo

Photo credit: Vimeo

Breathing New Life into Stale Email Campaigns

Adding videos to emails breathes life into stale marketing campaigns and helps your clients connect with their list in a much more personal way.

Offering these services is a straightforward way to add value for clients and position yourself as a thought leader. With hundreds of millions of hours streamed on YouTube every day, it's clear the audience for video is growing and hungry for more.

You can also use videos in your own email marketing efforts. As you build your list of prospective clients, videos help you build deeper connections and give people a taste of your expertise firsthand.

Selling Your Clients on Video Emails

If your clients are seeing similar results as other digital marketers, they might be a bit down on email lately. But you can give them plenty of good reasons to try a revamped strategy that incorporates video.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons why anyone who markets via email should start thinking about video today:

  • Higher click-through rates. A study from GetResponse found that emails containing videos had 96 percent higher click-through rates than text emails. And Cisco found that simply using the word “video” in email subject lines boosted open rates between seven and 13 percent!
  • Better engagement. People don't just open emails that contain videos more often. eMarketer reported that people also spend more time reading emails which contain videos.
  • Express the unique personality of your brand. Videos are great for building a personal connection quickly. Instead of just reading, the audience gets to hear the sender's voice and see them on-screen. It's easy to stand out from thousands of other emails that look the same.
  • Quick, effective delivery. Video also delivers information quickly and effectively. It's possible to break down even complicated subjects in a short time. That's ideal because most people won't spend long on each email.
  • More sharing/forwarding. Adding videos, according to eMarketer (same report), also makes recipients more likely to forward emails and share them with their social networks.
  • Recyclable content. Every video you make is an opportunity to increase exposure in a way that text can't. You can “recycle” video content by posting it on platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and others to build brand awareness and reach a larger audience.

What Makes Good Email Marketing Videos?

Once you've sold a client on email marketing with video, it's time to put your plan into action.

What makes for a good video?

Start by assessing the goal of each marketing email beforehand. Why is your client sending this message? What are they trying to get their subscribers to do? Understanding the marketing aim will inform your video strategy.

Finding the right length is crucial. People reading their emails are busy. They want to get in and get out as fast as they can, not spend all day trapped in their inboxes.

If your videos run too long, you'll lose subscribers' attention and they'll start ignoring messages. Somewhere between 30 and 90 seconds is the sweet spot because viewers drop off quickly after that.

A lot depends on the subscribers' position in the marketing funnel. If you're creating a video for someone who just joined the list, keep your videos short and light. Don't dive to much into the specifics of the product or service yet. The idea is to connect emotionally and get people intrigued to find out more.

You have more leeway to send longer videos when targeting people lower in the funnel. Because they're closer to becoming buyers, they're more receptive to hearing about specifics, watching lengthy product demos, and more.

If your video idea runs too long, consider splitting it up into a series. Series are great because they get the message across in digestible chunks, and they accustom subscribers to expect (and open) emails.

Finally, remember to include a call to action during or at the end of every video. Give the viewer one step they can do next to further the relationship. The last thing you want to do is pique someone's interest, only to have it fizzle after the video ends.

Navigating Pesky Email Clients and Compatibility Issues

Once you've created a video to include with your next email, it's time to think about how.

This is a little trickier than you might think. The problem? Finicky email clients. Because everyone uses different clients to process emails, you can run into compatibility issues if you aren't careful.

Here are the most popular ways marketers add video and how they affect compatibility:

1. Embed the video directly

This option makes a lot of sense at first blush. Why not just embed videos directly into your messages and let subscribers watch them from within their email clients?

Here are a few examples from WordFly:

The issue is compatibility. Directly embedding video relies on the programming language HTML5. Because this language is newer, some email clients support it but others don't.

While embedding videos directly makes the most seamless experience for readers, a good chunk of them will miss out due to their email client of choice. And the other options below give you more insight into your subscribers and control over their viewing experience.

2. Attach a GIF and link to a landing page where the video will play

Another option that minimizes compatibility issues is to include a brief snippet of your video in GIF image form. GIFs are image files that support animated images, including ones that loop.

You can include a GIF within your emails to signal to readers that there's a video to be watched. Marketers include a play icon alongside the GIF, so when someone clicks the icon, they're taken to a dedicated landing page where the video plays.

Here's a creative email from American Apparel:

Image credit: MailBakery

Image credit: MailBakery

This option preserves compatibility and offers more control over the viewing experience. Instead of fighting for attention in people's inboxes, you can send them to your own landing page and optimize the content there (removing distractions, branding, adding calls to action, etc.) for engagement.

Some email clients won't support GIFS. In those cases, a still image from the GIF is rendered, but the link to your video is preserved.

3. Attach a still image (thumbnail) and link to a landing page where the video will play

The safest bet for maximum compatibility is to simply take a still image from your video (thumbnail) and attach that to your message, along with a play icon.

This way works like the GIF option. When someone clicks the icon, they're taken to a landing page where the video plays. You get to control the experience, and your analytics tools also measure who clicks on your videos, how long they watch them, and more. All that information can be extremely useful for further marketing efforts.

Make sure to choose a good thumbnail! That's the only image you get to persuade the reader to click over to your video, so make sure it's compelling.

Here's how the Email Design Conference promoted their San Francisco and London events:

Image credit: Kissmetrics

Image credit: Kissmetrics

Standing out and Building Stronger Relationships

As competition increases and attention spans wane, video can give you and your clients' emails a massive advantage over all the others.

These videos don't have to replace written content altogether. They can make your text more effective by opening up another way for recipients to interact. The sooner you start experimenting with video email marketing, the sooner you'll master the art of integrating different media seamlessly for the most compelling experience.

Have you tried using videos in your email marketing before? If so, was there anything that surprised you along the way? Leave a comment below and let us know!