Should Marketers Use Video in Email Marketing?

Attention SpanDid you know that the average attention span is a mere eight seconds now? That’s down from 12 seconds in the year 2000. Marketers know consumers are more distracted, so they have even less time to tell their brand story.

And nowadays, email engagement is getting more difficult to achieve. You really only have three to five seconds to grab someone’s attention and get them to take action.

Why Video Is Perfect for Storytelling, But Not for Emails

Video marketing is a perfect format for quick but strong, memorable storytelling. But can marketers include video in emails? I mean, surely technology can handle this now?

Think again. While there has been a lot of advancement in email marketing capabilities, embedded video is currently supported by iOS, some Android devices and a limited amount of email clients. The charts below show that many email clients — major ones such as Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook for PC — do not support embedded video with audio.

B2B Video Email Client Support. Source: Salesforce

B2C Video Email Client Support. Source: Salesforce, 2014.

B2B Video Email Client Support. Source: Salesforce

B2B Video Email Client Support. Source: Salesforce, 2014.

Like a lot of email marketers, I’m cautious of using videos or rich media in emails because of deliverability or rendering issues. Getting into the inbox is the first and most important hurdle. If no one sees your email, does a buyer click and purchase?

The answer is no! The worse our deliverability, the less successful our email marketing results — no matter if you’re targeting the right person, at the right time, with the right message.

If You Must, How to Incorporate Video in Email Marketing

As a marketer, you must ask yourself, is the advantage of playing a video directly in your inbox that much better than an animated gif or static video image that clicks to the full video viewed in a browser?

Technology is changing rapidly, so you can and should be open to trying new formats. There are positive reasons — you can review Marketingland’s “Mythbusting: Videos in Email” and see real-life examples of brands who are using video in emails (be sure to click on the “Videos” filter).

Game of Thrones Email

Game of Thrones used an episode preview video to engage their viewers. Source: RealTime Email

Now, if you’re comfortable in testing embedded video in your email marketing, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Understand your audience and email clients they use to view emails. So far, videos work better on iOS devices and for B2C audiences.
  • Use a deliverability tool like ReturnPath. Know whether emails are reaching the inbox before you send them out.
  • Use a rendering tool, such as Litmus. See how your email looks in different email readers and on mobile.
  • Test with a small audience. Test your email the day before and see how that impacts your deliverability (and click rates)…. before you send it out to everyone.

For most email marketers, the jury is still out on using videos within emails. But if you proceed with caution, here’s hoping you’ll grab the attention of your distracted audience and get them to take action!

About Brenda Snaith

Brenda Snaith is a Bay Area direct response marketing consultant, specializing in email marketing. She's passionate about the customer, lifecycle marketing and automations that support it. Brenda loves sailing on the bay and getting hands dirty in her garden. View all posts by Brenda Snaith
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One Response to Should Marketers Use Video in Email Marketing?

  1. Rachel Plasse says:

    Great info Brenda. I also have used the services of Flimp Media to send what they call a “video postcard”. Essentially it’s a landing page in an email with video incorporated. Deliverability was carefully weighed and I was impressed with the metrics offered – including video viewership at the email address level. Here’s a good example of their work:

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