Adding video to an email can be a game-changing event for marketers. While many email professionals shy away from the technical complications that video in email can bring to a marketing program, they lose sight of the messaging influence that video delivers to consumers. A recent Forrester report says that including a video in an email can boost click-through rates 200-300%; combine this engagement increase with the fact that over 55% of people online watch video daily and it’s evident that people are happy to interact with video consistently.

Historically, video content has had a hard time fitting in with the email industry due to technical constraints. In the last few years that has changed; email has embraced video as inbox and device technology catch up with media demand. Mobile devices have played an enormous role in online media consumption, also paving the way for increased amounts of video in the inbox. Today, email has evolved even further; real-time targeting is possible, tailoring content display at the moment the email opens.

Learning how to Target Video in Email

At Liveclicker, our RealTime Email platform uses pre-existing (CRM) and real-time (moment-of-open) data to render hyper-personalized content for each email recipient. Sending one video file to an entire list is email suicide; there are too many clients to get it 100% right with one file. To prevent any issues with video delivery, RealTime Email automatically detects the client the email is opened in and delivers the best possible media file type. Additional targeting can be configured to display a variety of different video options contingent on the openers:

  1. Device-in-Use – Device targeting is a great way to ensure 100% delivery of video media to an email list with Liveclicker. When the email opens, RealTime Email registers the device the email is opening on and delivers the most functional media file for that technology. An example of how this works in a real campaign would be an email list with a broad variety of email client diversity – a retail company with a huge email base of blended demographics. Email clients like AOL, Outlook (desktop), Outlook.com, Gmail (mobile and browser), Android (phone and tablet/various OS versions), etc. are all represented. In years past, this was a segmentation nightmare. With RealTime Email, one video uploads for encoding and when the email deploys, and each device receives the media type that works best for it. An older Outlook desktop client would get an animated gif automatically, whereas mobile devices and Apple Mail play video in the inbox.
  2. Current Weather – Current weather is a great way to target video promotions to the inbox, especially if there are multiple videos to use for differing weather conditions. Companies like car parts manufacturers, outdoor lifestyle retailers, travel websites, home repair, and sporting goods could all use contextual email technology to display different video offers based on the local weather where and when the email opens. An example could be a national outdoor gear provider is sending out a quarterly promotion to their entire email list, and they have four separate product videos for new clothing lines they carry. Each new item has some weather-specific use case for hot, cold, rainy, windy, etc. Once the email is ready, known first name data personalization is used alongside real-time weather targeting to send a product video contextually related to each opener’s weather forecast.
  3. Time of Day – Using time is an excellent method to engage email openers with contextual video content; urgency is very compelling. Time of day promotions can increase engagement tremendously with repeated opens and clicks throughout the campaign duration – adding video only makes it more interactive. Imagine a retailer using time of day video targeting to release deals online, and a different video was rendered in a single email template every 3 hours with a promotion code that worked for specific items on its ecommerce website. Engagement would go through the roof!
  4. Real-Time Location – The location of an email open for a single recipient can infinitely vary due to changes in things like the season of the year, time of day, the day of the week, traffic patterns, travel delays, moving house, lifestyle changes, etc. Known data like street address, zip code, and phone number do not accurately reflect the recipient’s relative location one hundred percent of the time. RealTime Email uses an opener’s position the moment the email is opened to display video personalized for that region. Each time that email opens, location reestablishes, and content is redisplayed.
  5. Known data (CRM/ESP) – this is pre-existing customer data from a customer relationship management tool or email service provider such as:
    1. Purchase history – leverage purchase history to dictate display of LiveVideos containing product or service information
    2. Gender – create gender-specific targeting to personalize LiveVideos for recipients at scale
    3. Previous email behavior – tighten email relevancy with intelligent analytics. Use past email behavior to dictate the next video for recipients. An electronics retailer could use previous email click patterns to dictate which Playstation 4 game video to show in the next newsletter as an example.

Keep in mind; this list isn’t a comprehensive summary of video targeting by any means. There are unique LiveVideo applications for every business using email today. Real-time video personalization can be done with or without CRM/ESP data and deployed at 100% scale using Liveclicker’s forward-facing segmentation. These examples are to show some ready-to-go scenarios that incorporate video targeting into everyday campaigns.

Benefits of Real-Time Video Targeting in Email

Using Liveclicker, emailing video is far less complicated and stressful than most know. The basics of delivering video to each email client are automated; one video upload equals all email clients covered, the leading image for the video can be customized before the send, multilingual subtitles can be added for the hearing impaired, GIFs are delivered to non-video email clients, and all this is before we add any LiveVideo targeting rules. The benefits of real-time video targeting start with:

  1. Complete list segmentation is possible without any usage of previously known data
  2. LiveVideo personalization at scale can be done using any of the real-time time targeting triggers
  3. Video-in-email can be as interactive and real-time as other online video-capable channels
  4. Campaign development time is significantly reduced with software-based automation
  5. Heavy list segmentation is replaces with intelligent, real-time content personalization

Video in email is not only here to stay – it’s ready to make bigger waves. Our clients have done studies to validate the power and saw dramatic changes in their own campaigns. Don’t hesitate to begin your exploration; we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Creating the perfect email isn’t a dream anymore.

In recent years, technology has opened new paths to consumer interaction in the inbox – bringing rich media and deeper content personalization mainstream. The movement of software and device maturation towards customer experience is helping marketers deliver better message content and template functionality. This move has positioned email as number one business-to-consumer channel of choice for almost all digital communications.

Email is the #1 activity on the Internet – even over using a search engine. It’s also the #1 activity on mobile devices” (Marketing Growth Strategies, Litmus)

Marketers consistently rank email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention” (Gigaom Research)

Consumer experience is a key factor in email marketing’s growth. Static email content has grown to become dynamic and still grows as real-time functionality can identify recipient-level variables to deepen message personalization. Segmentation has also evolved – from historical to forward-looking demarcation.

A forward-looking approach is a cornerstone to basic inbox personalization at scale. Real-time information is used to trigger content delivery within an email template to heighten recipient interest. Segmentation in this process happens at the moment the email opens, rather than before the email sends. Each email is individually personalized based on live recipient data, rendering uniquely in each inbox.

How Does Live Data Scale Email Relevance?

With real-time email technology, live data pulls directly from the email recipient each time the email opens. The data is analyzed and filtered instantly, pushing back the most recent and relevant content to openers. By positioning segmentation at the inbox rather than before the send, personalization is fluid to the point of open, not limited to pre-send information within the campaign workflow.

Uncoupling segmentation from predefined lists allows more interactive content within an email campaign. Images, omni-channel marketing data, custom feeds, website content, and live CRM data are pulled in real-time to create the highest possible relevance for openers. Live data filters automate segmentation, reducing the need for list building.

Pre-defining lists for an email campaign comes with a certain amount of disconnection between the company and recipients. As data ages in a CRM, it has a natural amount of attrition that atrophies messaging personalization. Pre-defined segmentation also inherently ignores the context and setting of where an email opens regarding the recipients – diminishing relevance before deployment.

Where is Live Data Used?

Live data can be used to increase relevance for all types of email content. To date, companies using real-time email technology are leveraging time, location, device, and inbox client data to tighten email context. Live data helps recipients open more interesting emails, also giving marketers an edge technically on rich-media delivery. Device and software identification assists in delivering the appropriate video or animated image to email openers to prevent broken emails in the inbox.

What Email Elements does Live Data Affect?

Email elements with imagery are the most affected by live data. Because HTML text is hard coded into an email, contextual content technology does not currently change the text within an email template. However, live website, social media, or weather information pulled for an email are refreshed within embedded images, mimicking text-based content.

Example: Live Data in Email

Live data in email

Live data makes a big difference in email relevance and can be as simple as cross-channel inclusions, like Instagram photos. 

Can Live Data Replace List Segmentation?

Yes and no. Segmentation based on real-time variables that overlap with CRM information would need consideration, but live data does a better job of enhancing pre-existing data segmentation than replacing it. Using historical in conjunction with moment-of-open information is the perfect mix of context for the email recipient.

When is the Best Time to Involve Live Data?

Anytime.

Live data integrations into an email can be as simple as configuring the logic and pasting a line of HTML into an existing email template. Simple implementations like social media feeds or weather are implemented in less than a few minutes. Although, similar to any marketing campaign, customizing images and element display can take extra development time.

Advanced integrations like real-time account-level information delivered in graphical form naturally take more time to configure and test, but create a lasting impression on inbox performance.

Using known information to improve communication is nothing new in the digital world. Since my first day as an email marketer, I’ve been groomed to look for insightful ways to divide and conquer email lists. List segmentation has been a core component of email marketing’s ability to stay competitive amongst peripheral digital channels.

The email ecosystem has always seen the biggest successes from marketers willing to take the next step in personalizing the customer journey. Context is a crucial element to every conversation; maintaining relevance is just as important as the value of words conveyed. Online, this conversational practice is primary to holding the attention of customers. In email, this challenge has been particularly difficult to solve with basic list segmentation.

Contextual Email in Current Workflows

Contextual interaction marketing in email still involves all of the previous personalization methods but allows for increased focus on the consumer. List segmentation can be used initially for the targeting framework, responsive HTML design will deliver the message cleanly across devices, dynamic personalization structures the content, then contextual elements interact with user-level indicators as the email is opened to enhance content interaction.

Adding contextual functionality to email shouldn’t affect how an email campaign is created, managed, or deployed. Naturally, it’s an additional step to create the real-time targeting, but the HTML is added to the email template the same as any other content. The actual segmentation work happens the instant the email opens and the targeting variables are identified.

Dynamic vs. Contextual Content

You might be asking. So, what’s the difference between dynamic email content and contextual email content? In principal, they’re very similar. Both segment content based on data from the recipient. The primary technical difference would be where the data gets pulled for the customization.

Dynamic and contextual email code are created and integrated into the email template during the development phase. During the email deployment, as emails are sending, dynamic content is pulled into each email just before it leaves the server. Dynamic content creates unique messaging for each recipient but relies on backward-focused CRM information to personalize.

The contextual technology works more responsively within the campaign structure. While the targeting is done before the email is sent, the content segmentation is done as the email opens and recipient attributes are used to dictate the display. Creating unique messaging for each recipient and giving the email forward-looking flexibility to deepen that personalization.

You’re Better Off Using Both Content Types

Each form of personalization works well independently. What makes a difference in an email is when these two methods are combined. Being heavily CRM-driven, dynamic email takes on a whole new life with contextual functionality. With both content types being used contextual relevance meets documented customer history.

A great example of this type of email could be a membership rewards campaign. Dynamic (pre-defined) data would be used to add things like name, member id, birth date, etc. While contextual (real-time) data like reward points total, reward availability and imagery all refresh at the moment of open.

The Future of Contextual Email

Real-time content elements will gain usage as email companies discover new applications for the kinetic style of messaging. Consumers will largely demand better digital communications from companies overall, consequentially pushing email functionality towards more of an interactive online medium. The inbox will shift from flat email content to a website-like interface.

Domain authentication will also become more prevalent in email marketing; helping authenticated email senders deliver enhanced messages, leaving unauthorized emails in cyberspace or relegated to static content delivery only.