While George Jetson’s foldable flying car isn’t a reality yet, video mail is a piece of the future you can make happen today – at least in theory. Video mailing gives recipients a chance to experience your company in a new way. Whether you use it to invite viewers into your new office, demonstrate a product or build a how-to library, video can be a valuable addition to your email campaign. Your clients enjoy getting to know the people with whom they do business, and email should be the ideal relaxed atmosphere in which to introduce yourself.
Unfortunately, early problems with spam, scammers and security risks made many email clients shut down video support. Even today, video mailing carries deliverability risks for companies. Blame technology that hasn’t quite caught up with how video is currently shared. A few years ago, video required a third-party plug-in, something email clients considered anathema. Embedded video was also huge, and no one wanted to wait five minutes to watch a 20-second video. Spam filters trapped video email because of the plug-ins required and the loopholes they created, but the state of online video has advanced tremendously since 2006 or so when video email was shunned.
Now that HTML5 allows video to play on almost any email client and across almost all platforms – including mobile devices – the proscription on video in email marketing may feel outdated, and the market shows signs of change. Many major B2C companies such as Avon, Barney’s and AT&T have used video in their marketing campaigns. Others use animated GIFs to bring movement and life to emails. Currently, though, the best strategy for adding video to email is via linking.
Embedded Video vs. Linking
If you opt to embed video, pay close attention to your sub-header because not everyone will be able to see it. Email clients are getting better at supporting HTML5 and allowing embedded video, but you could miss a large number of your clients who use Microsoft Outlook for their email. Linking video is a sound strategy even if you’re also embedding it.
Another reason to link: It’s far simpler. Embedding video requires picking a format, such as Flash, QuickTime or Windows Media, most of which are incompatible with various email clients. To link a video, however, you only need a place to host it or post it.
Linking Video to Your Email
If you have your own domain name, you can host the video on your site. This is your best bet if you want to direct email recipients to your site, but depending on your hosting plan and the investment you’re making in video, it could be costly. Check to see if you’ll pay additional fees for large amounts of streaming data before you decide to host your five-hour webinar on-site.
You can also post video to sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or another favorite site. Posting on video sharing websites has the added advantage of making your video available to the general public, which could be good news for your SEO strategy.
Whether you host your own video or put it up on a video sharing site, creating a link is simple. The most straightforward way to link is cutting and pasting the URL to anchor text within your email, but using text defeats the purpose of a video mailing. You want something from your video to appear in the email as a teaser. Find a good screenshot image and use it as your link. Don’t forget to include a text link to accommodate people whose spam filters block images in email. To encourage people to click, add a play button; it won’t play embedded video but will take interested clickers straight to YouTube or your site.
Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
Email clients and spam filters are still wary of embedded video, but as video media become an ever larger part of online activity, they’re likely to lower their guard enough to allow legitimate businesses to use video clips in email campaigns. While that day may not be today, savvy email marketing companies should be ready for the shift when it happens.
Contact our email marketing experts today at 855.867.3224 to help you devise your next email campaign strategy.
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