4 ways retailers can bring video to customers through email

Although video is not new to the email channel, it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest topics in email marketing circles. We all love watching videos, and as we begin to engage more with this content we are not only delighted when brands share videos, we are beginning to expect the brands we love to send us video content. Historically, adoption rates for embedded video have been low due to inconsistent support from email clients, which translates to inconsistent user experiences. But video brings value into the inbox, it drives engagement and it should be leveraged as a way for retailers to create compelling experiences and ultimately drive conversions.

Did you know that even adding the word “video” in the subject line increases click-through rates up to 65%, reduces unsubscribes up to 26% and boosts open rates up to 19%. Not only does video increase email performance it also impacts product sales.

For retailers looking to take advantage of these compelling engagement metrics, there are four main ways to leverage video in your email strategy:  embedded video, adaptive content (third party), animated GIF teaser and static click to play. Before you get started, it’s important to consider your priorities and assess your subscriber’s email client video support, and determine what approach to test first.

Let’s explore these four tactics and what each could offer your email program.

  1. Embedded Video (HTML 5)

Embedded video allows for the automatic playback of the video – including sound if your subscriber’s volume is up – but it has its limitations and is not supported by every email client. To successfully integrate embedded video as part of your strategy you need to ensure it is relevant to your message and has a strong supporting call-to-action that drives clicks or conversions. Shorter videos tend to convert click-throughs best, therefore sticking to two minutes or less is ideal if the goal is to drive this type of engagement. Keep in mind that since videos play directly within the email insight into metrics is limited.

In testing how including an HTML 5 video impacts engagement and revenue for retailers, one test resulted in a 5% lift in average order value as well as a 2% lift in read rates.

  1. Adaptive Content (Third Party)

Adaptive content is a good option for retailers as there is wide support from email clients and third-party partners that can help bring video to life within your email. It works by capturing snippets of your video that auto-play when the email is opened. A custom landing page can be created to host a full-length video or you can direct email subscribers to the web page of your choice.

When deciding whether to use adaptive content in the inbox, know that it is recommended to keep clips to 7-15 seconds and use the video ratio 16:9. In addition, consider your fallback experience—an animation or static frame – to ensure user experience doesn’t falter.

For example, 7 for All Mankind used adaptive content to power a full video and audio experience to play directly in the inbox. By delivering the best video experience possible to each subscriber, they increased the ROI of their “Dreaming in Blue” video that was originally produced for other marketing purposes.

  1. Animated GIF Teaser

Animated GIF teasers have wide support across email clients and are a great way to tease a video within an email. Including animated GIFs will allow you to enhance your message by capturing a few frames of your video to stimulate the video experience. For this type of video inclusion, it is recommended to again use the video ratio 16:9, include fallback experiences and stick to short clips. You should also leverage other areas of your email to promote the video including, text callouts (or play button icons) to prompt click-throughs and support the video through messaging in your subject line.

In an effort to increase engagement, Epsilon provided best practices, video frame options and recommendations to determine if a static image or an animated GIF would yield higher click activity. We found there was a 41% increase in click-through rates with animated GIFs.

  1. Static Click to Play

The static click to play approach has universal support as you are essentially embedding a still video image and linking to your site so subscribers can watch the video. When considering implementing static click to play videos in your emails or website keep in mind the recommended 16:9 video ratio and strong visual cues, like large, clickable play buttons and engaging imagery to encourage subscribers to click through to web-hosted video. This is the easiest and fastest way to begin integrating video content into your email marketing campaigns.

In a study with a major automotive retailer we found triple digit increase in click to open rate when including a static click to play image in the email.

So what can you do? Video in email drives higher engagement rates but you must execute strategically or risk sacrificing subscriber experience. Review your list and consider your segmentation. Create a test plan and determine what works best for your segments and what drives the top results.