How To Use Video To Enhance Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Video is sure to improve the click-through rate on your email campaigns, but not all email clients are compatible with video playback. Columnist Michael Litt outlines some ways you can work around that issue.

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Video in Email

Love it or hate it, email is at the heart of many business relationships, and it is one of the main tools marketers use to develop and nurture relationships with prospective customers. Unfortunately, our inboxes are inundated with messages. It’s hard enough to get a response from someone expecting your email, let alone from someone who knows you’re trying to sell them something.

Our inboxes aren’t that different from our social media feeds in that respect. They’re full of updates we don’t care about (and sometimes even from people we don’t care about). Think about what it takes to stand out in someone’s Facebook feed when you’re competing with cute babies and puppies. That’s a challenge social media marketers are all too keenly aware of.

[pullquote]Videos are the next best thing to being there in person. You can inform and entertain while being respectful of your audience’s time. They’ll certainly stand out in an inbox full of text and bad formatting.[/pullquote]

But Facebook and Twitter have learned in the last few months that video brings a little magic to the feed. People actually watch videos! In fact, in a study by GetResponse of nearly one billion emails, those containing video had a 96% higher click-through rate than those without.

Why not apply that lesson to your email campaign, and include a video? Videos are the next best thing to being there in person. You can inform and entertain while being respectful of your audience’s time. They’ll certainly stand out in an inbox full of text and bad formatting. And science has shown that audiences retain information better in video form than in text.

Whether you’re reaching out to announce a new product line or nurturing a particular lead or demographic, the right video can make a huge difference for communicating your message in a way your audience will enjoy.

Now, as much as your email recipients will love your videos, their email systems may not. There are some very real technical obstacles to including video in emails.

Many email clients simply aren’t compatible with video playback. “But I want that 96% higher click-through rate you just told me about!” I know, and you can still get it. There are some effective ways to work around the issue, and in some ways, it’s even better than just auto-playing a video in the body of your email.

Here’s how:

Use An Animated GIF With A Play Button

Within your email, include an animated GIF thumbnail with a play button over the top to mimic the look of a typical video player.

You’re providing the visual cue that a video is part of the mail by including an animated GIF and the play button. When readers click “play,” they’ll be directed to a landing page with your video embedded.

The added benefit here is that you’ve just brought your prospects to your website, where they can find all sorts of useful related materials. Using a compelling splash screen is important to getting the click-through.

Pro tip: A/B split-test your splash screens to see which ones perform the best.

Video screengrab

Embed Video On Your Landing Page And Set It To Auto-Play

When someone clicks “play,” they expect the video to play. Don’t confuse or frustrate your recipient by making them click another button once they get to the landing page. Keep their attention right away and save them an extra click.

In general, your top-of-funnel videos should be 30 to 60 seconds long. You can go longer with people who are farther along the customer journey and are interested in more in-depth content.

Attention spans vary depending on a prospect’s progression through the buying journey, so you’ll want to give them videos that match their level of interest. Don’t scare off a new prospect with a 10-minute product demo when they aren’t even sure what you do yet.

For new prospects, keep it short, sweet and light on product details. At the beginning, you want to entice them to learn more, not overwhelm them.

For prospects farther along the journey, include videos that answer questions you know they have about the product, demos or personalized videos about how your product addresses a challenge in their industry.

Call To Action

Include a call to action during or at the end of the video to suggest a clear next step.

Point people to a case study for a customer who had similar challenges. Provide a button to share the video through their social channels. The last thing you want to do is fade to black and leave your audience wanting more with no way to get it.

A Note About Measurement

You can send as many emails as you want, but if you aren’t tracking responses, you won’t know if they’re working. All email marketing systems can tell you who clicked on your email and which links they clicked within the email, video or otherwise. Don’t stop there.

For our video campaigns, we track not only who watches the video, but how long each individual viewer watched and where they dropped off or lost interest. For instance, if Sally clicks “play” on a product demo but only watches for 10 seconds, it’s safe to assume she was not as engaged with our content as Bill, who watched our product demo and pricing videos all the way to the end.

Email may not draw universal love the way video does, but it remains an effective way to develop new leads and to re-engage existing prospects. Adding video to the mix ensures you’ll see better results and endear yourself to your potential customers.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Michael Litt
Michael is the co-founder and CEO of Vidyard, the leading video marketing platform that helps businesses expand their use of video content and turn viewers into customers. He is a passionate entrepreneur, avid surfer and skier, and has recently been recognized as Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and Marketing Magazine's Top 30 Under 30.

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