Video content has become a ubiquitous part of the digital marketing landscape. It permeates our social feeds, enlivens our websites, delivers our advertisements, supports our experiences, and captivates our customers. But there’s one crucial digital channel that has resisted marketers’ best efforts to integrate video: email.

Can you embed a video in an email for your marketing campaigns? Lack of innovation in the email marketing space and technical limitations imposed by laggard email clients have generally prevented the streamlined ability to play video in email—at least until recently. Fortunately, new technology is finally opening up the doors for clever marketers to deliver real video right to their subscriber’s inboxes.

Why Marketers Want to Play Video in Email

Why should marketers be chomping at the bit at the opportunity to join video and email? Because it’s the perfect marriage of marketing’s greatest results-driver and engagement engine!

Out of all the established and emerging channels available, email continues to provide the best consistent ROI. It delivers an impressive $38 for every dollar invested. And marketers report email as by far their biggest driver of return on investment, according to email marketing research by Campaign Monitor.

play video in email

Email isn’t just a huge driver of upfront revenue; it’s also one of the best ways to cultivate long-term relationships, build loyalty, and gather invaluable data for use in other campaigns.

And best of all, it’s one of the most universally-used forms of digital communication: the number of email users worldwide is just shy of 4 billion people. That’s a lot of potential customers!

Video also brings some unique and powerful advantages to the table for marketers.

87% of consumers said they want to see more video from brands this year. Viewers retain about 95% of a message received via video, vs just 10% via just text. And when it comes to learning about new products and features, video is by far the preferred method:

can you embed a video in email?

Long story short: your audience wants video, and email is the perfect way to get it to them.

Keeping Your Audience Captivated

Marketers have developed a lot of ‘tricks’ over the years to deal with the difficulties of playing video in email for their subscribers.

There’s the classic ‘put a play button over a thumbnail image’ move, and the more modern ‘insert a moving image that teases the video’ strategy. Typically those features would link to an app or web page where the video can be played in full. These methods have their merit—but they come with a cost, too.

The problem with this approach to video is that it sends your audience away from your email, right after you put in all that work to craft the perfect subject line and design an amazing experience! And once they click away to view the video, you risk losing them to audience attrition and the multitude of distractions available online.

When possible, it’s often better to keep openers them within the controlled environment of your email, where you determine what content is available and the user’s next course of action should be. That’s part of what makes the ability to play video in email so valuable!

Leaping Marketers’ Highest Hurdle

There’s demand to get video in email from brands and customers alike. So what’s the holdup? Can you embed video in email, or not?

In most cases, it’s the email client—the app, software, or site people to send and receive their emails. Here’s the list of the most popular email clients as of February 2019, courtesy of emailclientmarketshare.com.

can you embed a video in email?

Though some of them support video, others simply will not render this content for various reasons. Traditionally this has resulted in a poor user experience and an ugly or broken email when video was inserted, deterring marketers from using video at any meaningful scale.

Fortunately this is changing. Through a combination of creativity and innovative technology, email marketers can finally include compelling, captivating video streams to entertain, inform, and persuade their mailing lists.

Getting around this obstacle required a simple, but elegant, solution. It involves formatting the email in such a way that it responds to the real-time context of the open: in this case, which client was used to open the email.

Design your emails so that they display the fully embedded video when they’re opened by clients that support video, or stand-in content like an animated gif or static thumbnail when viewed in clients that don’t.

Of course, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. This configuration requires advanced technical skills, backend support, and coding expertise.

The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out yourself; smart marketers can quickly adapt scalable video-in-email capabilities with an out-of-the-box solution that requires minimal resources. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today and see how it works!

The importance of personalization in marketing is well-documented at this point, and most marketers have realized the value of making experiences and messages more relevant to individuals.

But despite this growing focus on 1:1 marketing, many marketing programs go without meaningful personalization in their emails. Nearly 40% of marketers said they almost never personalize their emails last year.

Even among organizations that do conduct some amount of personalization, it is often limited to the same basic customization marketers have been using for years: a first name in the salutation, a recent purchase in the body, and so on. These can be effective tactics, but today’s consumers have come to expect much more from brands.

Obstacles to Relevance

Most marketers would probably do more personalization if they could. But adding meaningful, individualized relevance to emails is often some combination of expensive, time consuming, or prohibitively difficult.

As I explained in our recent webinar, there are some constantly-growing headwinds marketers across industries and business sizes have to fight if we want to find success:

“Email volumes are continuing to rise, so standing out in a crowded inbox is more and more important to marketers and brands. Technologies are continuing to advance, and customer expectations are rising around what the brand experience is and they’re expecting more customized, more relevant experiences to be communicated with them. We’ve seen universally across the board email marketing teams tend to be resource-constrained, making it a challenge for brands to adapt to the high expectations of consumers. And it’s vital that marketers are able to offer compelling experiences in a way that’s scalable and sustainable for these resource-strapped programs.”

P.S. Want to see the complete webinar yourself? We have the complete recording available on demand here!

It’s impossible to hand-craft a customized email to every person on the mailing list. That just would not sustainable at any significant scale. There’s only one way marketers can deliver personalized experiences to all their subscribers: automation.

The beauty and magic of email automation is that it lets you scale up personalization to broad audiences. And not just elementary personalization like putting a name in the subject line, but advanced email personalization experiences as well.

If you need a way to upgrade your automated personalized emails to drive better results, try one of these powerful email personalization automation hacks:

Insert Evolving Content that Never Gets Old

Try inserting content into your that stays ‘evergreen’ and gives openers a reason to come back for more. Adding email features that automatically update upon open means you can constantly serve a fresh experience with minimal upfront input.

Some ideas:

For maximum relevance, make sure this content is structured to update upon open—not just when the emails are deployed. That not only makes sure you’re sending the freshest, most pertinent information; it makes each email open a fresh, novel experience.

As my webinar co-host and Oracle Marketing Cloud Product Marketing Manager Bryan Finfrock explained:

“This is just a great example of doing something above and beyond for customers; adding value and giving them a reason to open that next message, giving them something to look forward to in the experience that makes them want to participate with your brand.”

Send Emails That Adapt to Their Environment

Today’s consumers are more mercurial than ever; constantly on the go and rapidly shifting their interest from one topic to the next. Your email automation needs to change fast to keep up and perpetually bring value through real-time relevance.

Make emails capable of adapting to open-time context for the best relevance and engagement. Include elements that respond to the context of the opener—and your business—right when the email is opened. Some inspiration to try:

These are just a few of the ways you can increase relevance and personalization in your email marketing without having to make a big incremental investment in time and resources. We included a more comprehensive list, complete with effective and inspiring examples, in our latest ebook, Automating Personalization: 5 Ways to Scale Relevance in Your Email Marketing.

Download it now entirely free and start down the path to more relevant, more engaging, more effective emails!

It’s time for digital marketers to reconsider the humble coupon. This venerable marketing tool has drawn price-sensitive customers to businesses for decades. But too often, it gets overlooked and lost in the constant flood of shiny new tactics emerging from the world of digital.

In fact, if you know how to use coupons (and their close cousins, promo codes), they can be incredibly effective in driving conversions online, especially when distributed via email.

Emails with promo codes boast 14% higher open rates, 34% higher click rates, and 48% higher revenues than emails without them.

Statista reports consistent growth in digital coupon users over recent years, and predicts 145.3 million U.S. adults will be redeeming them by 2021.

Deal-seekers certainly don’t feel limited to clipping coupons exclusively from their weekly shopper. According to research from VoucherCloud, the enormous majority are willing to use digital coupons, too.

The Unique Advantages of Digital Coupons in Email

Emails already see widespread use as promotional vehicles for sales events and discounts. So why bother setting up a email coupon system?

Digital coupons bring unique benefits to marketers and and customers alike:

How to Use Coupons in Email (The Easy Way)

Digital coupons have myriad uses and enormous potential; so why aren’t more marketers using them in email?

Once the appropriate systems and support are set up, it’s easy enough to start acting on your coupon marketing ideas. But the upfront resources, time, and expertise needed to establish and maintain such a program are enough to dissuade many marketers from taking the dive.

Then there’s the tedious matter of setting up audiences, dividing up lists, and developing a different email for each segment and test. As Liveclicker VP Account Development Kenna Hillburn said, “Email marketers already have enough on their plates without having to manually segment and create several different deployment sends in order to serve certain coupon codes to certain individuals and find out what works.”

That’s part of what drove Liveclicker to develop our latest email marketing innovation: LiveCoupon. This flexible new element empowers marketers to generate unique, irresistible, personalized coupons that populate effortlessly in subscribers’ inboxes. The simple, user-friendly interface means anyone can start improving email performance with coupons.

With LiveCoupon, you can:

Leading brands are already using LiveCoupon and getting results.

“LiveCoupon enhances our ability to continue delivering personalized messages and incentives to consumers.” said Jennifer Chiang, Sr. Analyst, Email Marketing, BCBG. “LiveCoupon reduces operational complexity for such campaigns by automating the messaging of the promotions based on consumers’ previous engagement (with the same promotion). This further helps us with customer segmentation, making our program more relevant and effective.”

What creative coupon marketing ideas would you be able to pursue with this capability?

CX is rising to the forefront of marketers’ minds, evolving into a sophisticated discipline and important pillar of customer acquisition and retention. Almost 90% of companies have shifted focus to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience (up from around 36% in 2010). But we still have a long way to go: although 4/5 brands think they provide a “super experience,” less than 10% of customers agree.

One frequently overlooked but crucially important component of CX is the email journey. Though not the newest or flashiest marketing technology, email remains an ROI powerhouse—and one of customers’ preferred ways to engage with brands. It’s one of the only channels that your audience actively ‘raises their hand’ to receive, and marketers’ best option for comprehensive 1:1 customer personalization.

It’s worth reevaluating email’s place in your own customer journey map—and what it could be bringing to the table for your brand.

The Digital ‘First Touch’

In many cases, an email is the first one-to-one interactive connection you can make with your audience. The customer experience begins here, and first impressions are critically important.

When someone subscribes to your mailing list or opts in for communication, they’re sending a clear message that they’re ready and willing to hear from you. The open rate for welcome emails is around 50%. That’s a huge opportunity that too often goes to waste.

A welcome email can set the tone for your entire relationship. Make a lasting impression with an incredible welcome email keeps customers coming back for more and sets the stage for substantial lifetime value.

Sending an Email Worthy of Your Brand

What your vision for your brand? Maybe you want it to be bright and helpful, or clever and entertaining, or serious and no-nonsense. There are a lot of ways you can shape a brand and its persona to connect with customers and plot a clear user journey map. But what you certainly don’t want is a brand that’s bland, confusing, or aimless.

Powerful brands call for powerful marketing, and powerful marketing means emails of the quality and caliber your company—and your customers—deserve. If your inbox experience is weak or outdated or inconstant, it undermines all the hard work you’re doing to establish a compelling and coherent brand voice.

The same old email strategy isn’t going to cut it. Whatever role you want your brand to serve, your emails need to rise to the occasion. New innovative email technology is making it possible to craft more relevant, personal, and brand-appropriate email experiences than ever. If you’re not keeping up, you’re at risk of getting left behind.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

Here’s a common (and perhaps familiar) scenario: a dynamic brand invests heavily in digital to produce a top-of-the-line website, viral online content, an irresistible social media presence, and more. But its emails still look and behave more or less the same as they did 10 years ago.

Most digital marketing channels have made huge strides forward in recent years in terms of interactivity, user experience, personalization, analytics, and more. But for the majority of brands, the email journey has remained stagnant.

That’s a huge problem.

95% of customers use three or more channels to connect with a company in a single service interaction (with almost 2/3 using more than one device). In a global consumer survey, most expressed frustration over inconsistent experiences or information presented across channels.

A powerful, compelling customer experience provides consistent, coherent interactions at every touchpoint. It’s jarring to encounter an engaging and user-friendly brand website, only to receive a flat, lifeless email afterwards.

The myth that “my emails are interactive” is one of the most common, and most dangerous, misconceptions among marketers. In reality, most emails fall far short of delivering the experience and engagement that other channels deliver.

Start delivering the email experience your customers deserve with more cohesive cross-channel experience. Bring your emails into the modern age with open-time relevance, dynamic content, and real-time personalization.

As data-driven as we claim to be, today’s marketers are still susceptible to what amounts to old wives’ tales. Some of them are relatively harmless, while others derail marketing programs and sabotage ROI.

Several of the most common, and most dangerous, myths that marketers believe involve email. That was one of the prominent themes in our recent webinar: How to Make Email Marketing Work Harder, with Liveclicker Co-founder Justin Foster and Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk.

The speakers named several hazardous misconceptions that abound in the world of email. Take this opportunity to learn the truth about getting more value from your email campaigns, and stop subscribing to these common myths:

Myth #1: Email marketing is just good for promotions

Think bigger than immediate conversions! Too often email is relegated to an advertising platform for products, events, and offers. It’s easy to see the channel’s applications as a promotional tool—but it’s capable of so much more: brand loyalty, account management, relationship development, and beyond.

Myth #2 Clicks and opens are the right metrics of email marketing effectiveness

Despite marketers’ efforts to make that breakthrough innovation, performance among email’s most-followed metrics has stagnated.

Part of the problem is that marketers are focusing on the wrong targets. Critically important metrics that correlate to brand favorability, depth of engagement, and loyalty are ignored in favor of traditional performance indicators.

As VanBoskirk explained during the webinar: “If you’re using email to do things like create a customer relationship, help connect a customer from one experience from one experience with your brand to another experience with your brand; if you’re using email to introduce your brand in the same way you might use a more traditional media experience like television, then maybe there are metrics that you’re not even tracking right now that are better indicators of the value that email is bringing.”

Myth #3 Your emails are interactive

The definition of interaction is changing across the digital channels, and email marketers need to change fast to keep up. “You get an email into your mailbox, you open it up, and you have a chance to click on a blue link…and that’s kind of far as we got with the experiential element of email.” Said VanBoskirk. “But everything else in the digital world has become more interactive; much more of a surround-sound experience.”

Think about when you interact with something as simple as a mobile app or website. You can probably pinch and drag and resize it with ease. It probably remembers who you are and caters your experience based on preferences and activity. The enormous majority of email programs don’t even scratch the surface of this basic interactive functionality.

Myth #4 Segmentation and dynamic content are enough to make email relevant

Relevance today means much more than catering content to fit certain personas and demographics. Emails need to take into account the context in which they’re being opened; when, where, and how.

Simple factors like time of day, email client, geo-location, and even the local weather can have a huge influence on a user’s immediate needs and interests when they open an email. There’s also the context of your business at the time of open to consider: available store inventory, live pricing, active sales, and more. Cater to those contexts to improve relevance, delight your customers and build lasting relationships.

A “New Chapter for Email”

Study after study discussed in the webinar revealed that mediocrity has become the status quo across the world of email. Even a poor email program can deliver some of the best ROI in a marketing mix, rewarding complacency and discouraging innovation.

But ambitious, forward-looking marketers can find ways to swim against the current, WOW their customers, and earn success not previously thought possible.

The speakers showed several powerful examples of innovative brands that are pushing the boundaries of email with creative technology-driven experiences (download the webinar deck to see for yourself). They also listed three things you can start doing right away to “hack” your email program and get better results in the long and short term:

  1. Make email more than just an ad medium.

Email is a phenomenal direct mail-style promotion platform—and that is getting marketers into trouble. It’s so good at one thing, we’ve often overlook all the other value we could be getting from it.

Start thinking: what if email did something else for you?

What if it played the role of a tv commercial? What if it played the role of a data collection portal? What if it was an ecommerce or customer service platform? Don’t be afraid to get creative and take risks; innovative email marketing technology is making more and more interactive customer experiences possible every day.

  1. Develop email as a comprehensive digital experience.

Historically, email has served as a gateway to experiences. Marketers would use emails to drive subscribers elsewhere; to landing pages, websites, content, etc.

Try transforming your emails into discrete, complete experiences capable of standing on their own. Instead of sending openers onward where they might drop out of the journey, keep them in one place and give them everything they need to learn, see, engage, and convert right there. Implement dynamic email content elements that update reflexively to real-time data and personalization while minimizing the amount of effort and production time spent crafting these experiences.

  1. Tenure your email team.

Remember that powerful emails come as much from talent as technology. According to VanBoskirk: “What we find from our research is that companies that have more senior email managers tend to have more competitive email programs.” But this is a field of high mobility and turnover, where expertise is highly valued and demand is competitive. Getting top talent, retaining it, and keeping it on the cutting edge is a constant battle.

The webinar featured several suggestions for tenuring a seasoned email program, from reverse mentoring of senior marketing leadership to alternative team structuring and incentive programs. However you choose to approach this challenge, the takeaway is clear: don’t get so focused on new tactics and tools that you lose sight of the human intelligence making it all work.

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Need some inspiration? Find real-world examples of these ‘hacks’ at work, plus more insights, in the webinar recording. Click here to watch it now

Editor’s note: This is part two of a series where we highlight the challenges and immense power in embedding video in email. Make sure to catch the first installment, where we explain how to work around common obstacles and add video to your emails.

Video has been permeating nearly every digital marketing channel for years. But email, one of marketers’ most reliable workhorses, has resisted that trend. Innovative technology has finally opened the door for email programs to deliver real, streaming video straight to the inbox—for massive success.

Now the world’s most innovative email marketers are using the excitement and vibrance of video to improve engagement and conversion rates. Use their example for inspiration to surprise and delight your own customers and create a more compelling experience.

Case study #1: Alfred Dunhill Limited

Alfred Dunhill Limited (Dunhill) wanted to generate more interest in the upcoming Fashion Week in Paris, and specifically, its participation in the prestigious Men’s Fashion Show.

The company’s marketing team came up with a great idea: to promote these events using embedded and live streaming video. Yet the actual execution was still an obstacle. Dunhill did not have any in-house developers or other technical resources capable of embedding video in emails.  

Overcoming this challenge was actually much easier than Dunhill expected. Using LiveVideo, an easy-to-implement email element, the marketing team easily embedded a feature video to generate excitement for Fashion Week. The video was delivered as a seamless part of the email itself and created a surprising new experience that really caught recipients’ attention.

Dunhill did not stop there. The marketing team created a second email that also used video in an innovative way, but this time with a twist: The email featured a LiveTimer element to count down to  a live streaming video of the actual event. The final email contained a recording of the fashion show as well as product images and the option to click for even more highlights.

It was wildly successfully. In this case, using video helped Dunhill achieve a 17% increase in unique clicks (over a previous show promotion) and a 35% increase in total reach.

Key Takeaway: Think bigger than prerecorded video. Live streams in email bring immediate relevance to a whole new level.

To learn more, download the Alfred Dunhill Limited case study.

Case study #2: MS Society

The MS Society recently wanted to create more engaging email content for its holiday email campaign. Past email campaigns hadn’t produced the donation results the MS Society was hoping for, so the organization was ready for a change.

The MS Society created an interactive video for its annual “Christmas Appeal” holiday campaign using Liveclicker’s LiveVideo advanced email experience. This video highlighted the most compelling reasons why recipients should contribute and concluded with a “donate now” link. Where embedding video in email was once considered a technical feat, the MS Society was able to do it easily.

This new experience delivered some significant results. Powered by LiveVideo, the Christmas Appeal campaign was much more engaging and much more effective. MS Society achieved a 70 percent uplift in total donations over the previous year and created one of the best email-led campaigns the MS Society conducted.

Key Takeaway: Make your video content a two-way street. Giving email openers the opportunity to interact leads to incredible engagement levels.

Download the MS Society case study for more information.

Case study #3: Celebrity Cruises

To create excitement and interest, Celebrity Cruises sends daily “Exciting Deals” emails. While effective, it recently wondered what it could do to enhance these messages and improve customer engagement and responses.

A brainstorming session quickly brought up the idea of using embedded video in these emails. Such an approach would make good use out of the many exciting promotional videos Celebrity was using. Yet the marketing team had one goal: it wanted to deliver this content inside the emails—as opposed to requiring recipients to access videos on YouTube—to maximize the experience and driver engagement.

Liveclicker’s LiveVideo experience was exactly the solution Celebrity Cruises had in mind. By including video content directly within emails welcoming new subscribers, the company achieved a 97.2 percent lift in click-through rates (as compared to previous welcome emails).

Key Takeaway: Don’t forget new subscribers. Greeting a customer or registrant with video in the very first emails they receive will get them excited to open more in the future!

To learn more, download our Celebrity Cruises case study.

 

What are you waiting for?

We hope these examples will inspire and motivate you to add video to your next email marketing campaign. It’s not as hard as you think, and chances are that it will give you a powerful edge over the competition.

In the first article in this two-part series, we look at the challenges related to embedding video in email while providing tips and tricks to pull it off. Stay tuned for our next article, where we offer real-world examples and specific client successes.

How to Embed Video in Email (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

Adding video to email can be a game-changing experience for marketers. Online video is extremely popular today and can be one of the best ways to reach millennials or any other consumer looking for faster, more engaging content.

It is effective, too. Research from Campaign Monitor shows that adding video to email can lead to open rate increases of 19% and click-through rate increases of 50% or more. Additionally, a Forrester research report highlighted the fact that embedding video in an email can boost click-through rates 200-300%. Such exponential results can be very appealing for marketing teams achieving single-digit increases using traditional email marketing methods.

These findings lead to one important question: Why aren’t more marketing teams doing more to send video through email campaigns?

Why aren’t we embedding video today?

The likely answer is probably related to the fact that the majority of marketers still think it’s too difficult. In the past, there were many technical constraints and other hoops that production teams had to jump through to get it done. Most notable is the fact that a typical mass email goes to recipients using many different email clients. Some can open embedded video inline, yet others cannot.

This represents a dilemma that requires some creative thinking. For example, email producers had to hard code media queries into HTML to attempt to determine which clients would receive the email. Yet this strategy was really a watered-down approach that was intended to create a lowest common denominator experience for the highest number of clients. But this was a far cry from easily creating jaw-dropping, memorable email experiences that consumers en masse would love (and respond to).

How to embed video

Ready for the good news? All of this has changed in the last few years, and now there are better ways to send a video through email. It’s worth the effort: When done well video can instantly communicate your message, exceed recipients’ expectations, and appeal to users who prefer video. All of this helps your brand stand apart as a leader and a viable business partner.

What is the best way to add video? If you’re comfortable with HTML, you may want to try adding it yourself. But before you do, remember the challenge described above: some of your recipients’ email clients won’t support the ability to play the video right in the inbox. Many of them will, and those that don’t will offer a static image as a graceful fallback image, but you should still use caution.

If you choose not to attempt embedding video in HTML, there are also a few different tricks you can use without actually doing it.

  1. Use a play button: Using a play button on top of a static image is a great way to link to video content that is hosted on YouTube or Vimeo. All you have to do is to link the image to the hosted version of your video.
  2. Animated GIFs: Another popular way to create the illusion of video in email is to use animated GIFs. While not technically a video, animated GIFs can still be used effectively to create better emails—and motivate recipients to take the right action.
  3. Animating the play button: This is actually a hybrid approach where you would link a static image but use an animated GIF to draw attention to the play button.

Liveclicker’s approach

There are other approaches, too. For example, Liveclicker’s RealTime Email technology and advanced email experiences work with nearly every email client. Our LiveVideo element uses moment-of-open technology to identify the specific level of video support in each email client and displays the appropriate embedded video, animated GIF, or static image.

On average, 40% of all RealTime Email recipients can view video inline or full screen – leaving 52% with animation and a tiny 3% with a static image linked to the video. Liveclicker provides moment-of-open personalization to deliver the best possible experience for just about any recipient.

How to get started

The best way to see if video in email is right for you is to try it. Testing a video in an email campaign can be as simple as creating a one-off video and segmenting a small portion of email subscribers to test its validity and overall success.

Here are a few video ideas for a pilot program:

Get started with video in email

Online video is one of the most popular types of content and accounts for approximately 50% of all media consumed on the Internet. If you’re looking for a new way to get ahead, beat the competition, and give your prospects a highly engaging experience, try using video in your next email campaign. Your subscribers will appreciate it, and chances are good that it will generate positive new results.

We hope this article was helpful as you begin to consider the best ways to add video to email marketing campaigns. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we look at real-life examples of Liveclicker clients who are actually using video today.

Ho, Ho, Ho! The 2018 holiday season has officially come to a close, and as we look back on all the fun and festivities, we wanted to highlight a few real-time holiday email designs that really “sleighed” this year.

Hickory Farms

Hickory Farms spread good cheer with an in-email poll asking customers if their shopping was finished. Recipients who voted “yes” were directed to a landing page featuring stocking stuffers, while recipients who voted “no” were directed to a page featuring Christmas gifts. In addition, recipients could return to the email for live poll results, adding a sense of community with subscribers and establishing the email as a living, evolving experience. What a brilliant way to engage customers in email and connect them with relevant content!

White House Black Market

As a gift that kept on giving, White House Black Market promoted 10 days of deals leading up to to their holiday event. For 10 days, recipients could come back to the same, elegant email and see a different deal every day. And on the final day, the image switched to “Hurry Ends Tonight” to create an even greater sense of urgency.

Pier 1 Imports

Pier 1 helped customers get their online shopping done on time by counting down the days to its Christmas shipping deadline, and then automatically switched to a reminder that it wasn’t too late to pick up purchases in a nearby store. So no matter when the recipient opened the email, they received the most relevant information.

ITV

Everyone loves a good holiday TV special. With this engaging and easy-to-read schedule, British network ITV made sure everyone had the chance to settle down with a cup of cocoa and get in the Christmas spirit with their favorite flick. This email uses LiveSlides to rotate through numerous shows, keeping the reader engaged and enabling the brand to convey a lot of information in just one email.

Taubman Centers

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, things can fall through the cracks. That’s why Taubman Centers’ option to add its “Photos with Santa” events directly to recipients’ calendars was such a wonderful (and helpful!) idea! Personalizing emails with location and timezone data is especially powerful for brands with large brick-and-mortar footprints. Pair that with a customizable calendar invite for a big event or sale, and you’ve got a potent recipe to bring customers in at a particular place and time.

Content really is king today. For proof, consider that marketing teams and companies that embrace the right content marketing approach tend to succeed on many levels.

First, these companies distinguish themselves as true thought leaders and stand apart with their ability to provide the very latest news and information. At the same time, they do a great job of giving their audience a steady flow of helpful content that informs, educates, and guides them toward the right decision.

(Sidebar: It is important to note that successful content marketing strategies are not overly promotional or salesy. The same can be said for the best email marketing campaigns, which is a topic we recently covered in a blog article that showed how helping customers and prospects can improve your bottom line.)

But let’s face it. Asking busy marketing teams to constantly churn out high-quality, creative, and relevant content just isn’t realistic. Many companies don’t have full-time content professionals yet, which probably means that their employees have other responsibilities beside content creation. Expecting busy marketers to write a good blog or two “whenever they have downtime,” only leads to decreases in content frequency and quality.

Curating content can help

Fortunately, there is good news. Content curation—the process of finding great content and delivering it in a way that is meaningful and adds value—overcomes these challenges. Using curated content from third-party sources also helps minimize the amount of self-promotion (“me-speak”) brands tend to do, helping to draw consumers in. More, it also enables marketing teams to efficiently maintain their cadence of fresh new content, leading to increased engagement and loyalty.

Yet many companies may believe that curating content presents the same challenge as creating content: namely, that the process will still take too long, especially if employees must now scour the web each day/week in search of new ideas.

Better use of social content

Many leading content curation tools and platforms address this concern by simplifying the process of discovering user-generated content at scale. Marketing teams can search for content or influencers based on hashtags, engagement rates, and other variables. Then, they can creatively publish this content to their own channels, including their website and social media sites.

For example, a retail brand might search for a hashtag related to its clothing to find great photos of influencers wearing its latest fashions and other user-generated content. This content can then be used to create galleries of product imagery, complete with product information and cross-selling offers or promotions.

Curated content in email marketing

Curated content marketing can be delivered in email, too, a strategic approach that is recommended by Forrester Research. In its research report, Empowered Customers Inspire Email Innovation: Your Best Subscribers Will Help You Do More with Email, Forrester advocates co-creating content with your best customers to help you innovate. Examples include instructional videos, input on new store locations, user-submitted photos, game-playing stories, and more.

Liveclicker now offers powerful integrations with leading content curation platforms, Olapic and Curalate within our RealTime Email platform. Liveclicker customers can combine real-time email personalization technology with these integrated solutions to develop and deploy extremely innovative emails that feature user-generated social content.

Not only does this become a unique way to engage consumers and promote products, but using curated social content is enabling today’s innovators to increase brand awareness, email performance, conversions, and sales.

Stay tuned for more information on our social content curation integrations, or as always, visit our website or contact us for more specific details.

As originally published on WhatCounts + Windsor Circle blog

The stage is set for a potentially historic holiday shopping season. For proof, consider these positive trends and indicators:

These signs reflect a new way of thinking: It’s not a matter of if holiday shoppers will turn out this season, but where they will shop when they do.

All of this leads to one big question: Is your brand ready to stand out from the crowd and capitalize on this significant opportunity?

If you don’t know (or have doubts), here are four proven best practices in email marketing you can implement to differentiate your email messaging, create and drive urgency, and engage with consumers on a one-to-one basis this holiday season.

Best Practice #1: Help Shoppers Find You with Dynamic Maps

If you’re an omnichannel retailer with physical stores, consider using dynamic maps to help your shoppers find the one closest to them. This can be an important advantage: research shows that in-store shopping is responsible for 79 percent of total holiday sales, and dynamic maps can help make it easy to get shoppers in your store.

For example, PierOne, an omnichannel retailer specializing in imported home furnishings and decor, developed campaigns that included a dynamic map highlighting the closest retail store. The emails used geotargeting with the recipient’s zip code to offer an engaging—and helpful—email experience.

Best Practice #2: Engage Consumers with Interactive Polls

When shoppers gravitate to online sites to look for gifts and purchases, this is the perfect time to serve an in-email poll. For example, you could ask “Who are you shopping for?” and directly link the responder to a curated product list that matches their selection.

Additionally—and even better—you can collect poll responses and use this as data to send targeted messages for future holidays. Imagine the benefits of a personalized email that reads “You trusted us for a gift for mom before. This year, don’t miss out on this special Mother’s Day offer.”

Best Practice #3: Generate Excitement with Add-to-Calendar Functionality

Glass half full: 33 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas means more time to shop!

Glass half empty: At the same time, it’s also much more time to procrastinate.

Do all you can to stay top of mind with your shoppers by using add-to-calendar functionality in your emails. This lets people choose to set a reminder (or view reminders) related to expiring promotional offers or shipping deadlines in order to get their gifts in time for Christmas. Include a unique promotion code in the event’s description as an added bonus for those who choose to add an event to their calendar. This capability shows your audience that you want to help while also creating a sense of urgency that leads to sales.

Best Practice #4: Get Kinetic with Mouseover Functionality

If you are looking to differentiate your creative from all the other messages in a consumer’s inbox, use kinetic mouseover functionality to show different product angles, features or colors. This interactive design allows the consumer to hover over your images to uncover alternate images. Consider showing an image of a wrapped present that unwraps or an advent calendar that shows the hidden “gift” upon mouseover—your creative will be interactive and festive, a win win!

‘Tis the Season …  to Stand Out!

This year’s holiday season looks to be big, and the market is ready to reward those retailers who can truly stand apart from the competition and capture consumers’ attention in new ways.

Make sure you’re doing all you can to deliver the best experiences possible to engage, even delight your customers. Not only will they appreciate this personalized email marketing approach, but they’ll give you a gift in exchange: increased conversions, sales, and revenues. And that’s a gift any marketer would love to receive this holiday season.