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Video in Email Marketing: Is the time right? – Part 1: Can it be done?

Despite the countless benefits of video production as a tool for marketing and promotions, and a general public that is not only accustomed to but hungry for online video content – YouTube currently has around 500 million unique visitors a month – the use of video in email newsletters and promotional messages hasn’t quite taken off in the way that might have been expected.

The potential value of video in email seems clear. Consider these facts:

  • Studies from Forrester and the Direct Marketing Association have found that emails containing video are likely to double or even triple the audience click-through rate
  • Using the word ‘video’ in the subject body has been shown to increase open rates by 20% vs identical message bodies without the word ‘video’
  • Video has been shown to significantly increase the amount of time people spend looking at particular emails

Video provides a fantastic opportunity to enrich emails, adding personality and character, and turning dry text-based messages into more of an experience. So why does video remain under-utilised within email?

The answer is a combination of longstanding technical issues concerning delivery, and an uncertainty about how best to utilise the power of video within the email form.

Technical barriers still remain to some degree, namely those concerning compatibility with different email programmes and beating spam filters. Related to both these issues is the fact that the video content contained in the email has often faced major limitations over size, running time and quality.

Although these technical issues exist, they shouldn’t stop you from including video within your emails and reaping the benefits. Perhaps the best, most reader-friendly workaround at present is embedding a still image within your email that links directly to the video on the web.

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Over time these technical factors should become less of an issue. HTML 5, currently supported by key players such as the iPhone and iPad, presents a real step forward for full quality video in email. Recently announced support for this format by Hotmail has fuelled speculation that maybe the doors to video in email are about to really swing open.

From our perspective, it’s difficult to imagine that full quality video content won’t be more prevalent within the email experience in the future. As consumers become ever more receptive to video, and email programmes become more universally compatible, the stage is set.

The responsibility of businesses is to ensure that the video in email is effectively targeted, relevant to their readership and well-presented. For more on this, see the second part of this blog post.