Video is everywhere these days, and not just on your phone or TV. (Nothing like watching the news while you pump gas!)

One place video isn’t as prominent as it could or should be is in email. In some ways, the inbox represents the final digital frontier of widespread video ubiquity. But evolving technology and delivery tactics can help more email marketers harness the engaging, eye-catching power of video, too.

Why video is so compelling

Even marketers who are devoted to the written word can’t deny that video grabs attention and can drive engagement (opens and clicks) and conversions:

What’s keeping video out of email?

Tech and user issues are the main obstacles preventing video content from taking over the inbox.  

Some email clients that don’t support embedded video will display a big black rectangle instead. Even the next best alternative – showing an animated GIF or a static image with a clickable “play” button instead of the video – may eject the reader out of the email to watch the clip on the website. That means lower view rates and less time spent in the email.

Video can make the message file so large that the email client will clip it, forcing the reader to click to see the whole message. Some ISPs block messages if their file sizes exceed their limits, and mobile users may also have trouble with large files on their network (not to mention complaints about data usage).

Today’s dynamic email content platforms are capable of resolving or mitigating these tech and rendering issues by detecting and displaying the method – embedded videos, animated GIF or static image – the user’s client will support. For instance; only 3% of Liveclicker embedded video recipients see just a static image, while 40% can view the embedded video.

Experiment-worthy: live streaming and sharable social video

Online video continues to evolve, generating a flurry of developments and use cases. Not all are suitable or practical for email right now, but two show definite promise without requiring massive infusions of budget or an entire creative staff. In some cases, all you need is your phone and some fans!

1. Live video streaming

Need some numbers to show how livestreaming has gone mainstream? Here you go:

All this means is that many of your email readers know about and are open to viewing livestreamed content in your email. You won’t have to explain what it is or why it’s worth their time to watch your live event. Big, recognizable brands like Facebook, Instagram and the Super Bowl have done it for you already.

Use it in email to showcase an event: Livestream a product launch, unboxing or contest reveal. Create a library of tutorials or demos. Stream a press conference, as LG did at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. Any event with FOMO potential can become an engagement magnet.

Harley-Davidson used video to launch its 2019 fall FXRG Collection clothing line:

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2. TikTok social video

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are so-o-o-o 2018! Well, no, they’re still relevant. But now you can add TikTok to the lineup of social media channels whose content could cross-pollinate to email.

With 500 million users worldwide, (188 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 alone), chances are good some of them are in your email database if you appeal to a Generation Z demographic

This is prime UGC marketing material. Use it in email to expand your reach, reward your fans and put your customers’ faces and voices (and bizarre antics) in your emails. 

TikTok is the newest short-form social video platform, and one that’s stealing Gen Z users away from other video channels. Marketers are beginning to investigate for its potential to sell to that key audience, but, as with so many other social channels, most are still trying to figure out how to use the platform.

Mainstream brands like Macy’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and even the Washington Post are on TikTok. But some of the most interesting uses of TikTok come from non-marquee brands, like NYX, which embeds a fan’s TikTok video in a business-as-usual email:

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Before you dive into video … 

Have a sound business reason to use it and the technology to provide a good experience for your readers. Video for video’s sake does you no favors. How does it fit into your broader strategy, and can it help you achieve your email or business goals?

Be sure you have the technology that can give your readers a good experience. Usability studies say you have only a short window – from less than 60 seconds to 90 seconds at most – before viewers will abandon a spotty stream.

A dynamic email platform content platform capable of seamlessly embedding video into emails will help you get over those rough spots and give your readers yet another avenue to love your emails.

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.

We always want to help our clients improve their marketing results, whether it’s rethinking existing marketing challenges or using real-time email personalization strategies to accomplish new goals.

This is the idea behind our RealTime Email Innovators program, a series of topical case studies that offer a detailed look at how many leading companies are achieving success using Liveclicker solutions. Each case study provides real-world examples in our attempt to give you specific tips, tricks, and best practices to transform your marketing efforts.

We’re happy to unveil two new RealTime Email Innovators: Alfred Dunhill Limited and Hot Topic. Both of these leading retailers faced difficult challenges related to traditional marketing approaches. Fortunately, both brands were able to use real-time personalization to devise innovative new email marketing strategies to overcome past obstacles and improve the way they engaged their customers and prospects.

Dunhill Limited Creates a More Engaging Customer Experience

For example, Dunhill initially approached Liveclicker to improve the way it promoted its presence at the annual Fashion Week in Paris. Specifically, the retailer wanted to generate as much anticipation and excitement as possible for the showcase event of Fashion Week: the prestigious Men’s Fashion Show.

Dunhill’s marketing team used Liveclicker’s real-time email personalization platform and services to create a three-touch email campaign. The first email offered a full-motion video trailer to announce the brand’s presence at the Paris Fashion Week. The second email featured a countdown timer, which was set to 15 minutes before the show started and then revealed a live video stream of the fashion show. The final email contained a recording of the fashion show as well as various product images to encourage the audience to click for more highlights.

A Time-Based Strategy Overcomes Past Challenges for Hot Topic

Additionally, Hot Topic partnered with Liveclicker to create a time-based targeting strategy and highly dynamic product-centric emails that updated in real time to deliver a better customer experience.

Such an approach was needed as an improvement over past email marketing efforts. Hot Topic used to send marketing emails as soon as a product was available on its site, yet these products would often sell out before all subscribers even received the email. The entire experience was frustrating for those customers who couldn’t act fast enough to get the product they saw in email.

With Liveclicker technology, Hot Topic created an email using RealTime Email’s LiveImage capability that highlighted the fact that the product was now available in stores. Then, when the product also became available online, the image automatically swapped to offer a new link to promote online shopping. Hot Topic was even able to use a grayed out image to show when a product was out of stock.

Interested in learning more about these examples, and how you can use real-time email personalization to achieve powerful new business results? We invite you to download our RealTime Email Innovators case studies for more information.

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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.