For any media brand, your biggest competition to hook new holiday readers won’t be another network or news outlet. It’s all those holiday emails filling up your readers’ inboxes.

But don’t close the book on email until after New Year’s Day! Instead, check out these tactics that top retailers use to cut through the clutter, grab readers’ attention, and move engaged subscribers to act. 

In other words, you can beat them at their own game. And if you keep reading, we can show you how.

Email connects you to your audience and new holiday readers

As a media brand, email can connect your audience (and hopefully, a lot of new holiday readers) directly to your latest  books, news stories, TV shows, streaming platforms, or subscription models. But a strategically designed newsletter can also move your audiences to your platform permanently—increasing their daily brand interaction and likelihood to buy.

new holiday readers

So, instead of waiting for them to discover your content, use a well-timed, personalized email to nudge them into action.

Remember the days of  “appointment TV?”

A well-timed email can remind your new holiday readers when and why to tune in now instead of waiting to catch your shows later. Got breaking news? Share it fast in an email bulletin, and track individual engagement and responses to learn which content gets your audience excited.

new holiday readers

You can even use the data you’ve collected directly from your readers or viewers to create highly personalized messages featuring dynamic content that looks as if you chose it just for them. This season, don’t be afraid to call on the power of email—and your audience’s propensity for checking their inboxes regularly—to stay in touch, to persuade them to engage with your emails, to reward them for viewing or reading your newest content, and to whip up excitement about new programs and whatever’s coming next. 

Another bonus to hook new holiday readers: reliable first-party data

Publishers will be among the most affected when Google’s plan to kill off third-party cookies in its Chrome browser goes into effect sometime in 2023 (or later if another delay happens). After all, every other browser is likely to emulate that move sooner or later. 

Today, media brands are ramping up efforts to collect more first-party data before they’re forced to make any changes due to outside factors. And the email address is both a solid piece of first-party data by itself and the gateway to a reservoir of activity tied to it—from predicted future subscriber engagement levels to preference, interest, and behavior data tied to these unique digital identifiers.

Apple’s MPP ups the engagement ante for everyone

Amidst all this email optimism, however, publishers share a data privacy concern with their retail compatriots. 

They’re also figuring out how to grapple with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature in its iOS 15 update, which masks the open rate in an effort to block the kind of tracking email senders rely on for engagement. (Click here to learn more about these changes and make your email marketing evolution possible.)

Today, one important question remains unanswered: How can publishers create engaging content that helps them attract and retain audiences and stand out in busy inboxes? Our answer: Watch what top retailers do and see which three of the following tactics work best for your brand.

4 tactics top retailers use to snag attention and drive action—and how you can use them to hook new holiday readers

1. Automatically pull live web content into your email messages

The secret to email marketing success in media and publishing is efficiency. And one of the best timesavers you can implement is automatically sharing out the content you post on your website with targeted audience segments who are most interested in it—and therefore the most likely to engage with your emails as a result of this addition.

Your subscribers and hew holiday readers alike will see your news as it happens. Tempting them to click through for the full story on your website. You won’t have to wait for them to discover your content on their own ever again.

You could create dozens of individual email newsletters with bits and pieces of fresh web content—but if you’re in the news business, that’s like writing newspapers one by one or hand-crafting a news broadcast for each viewer. It just doesn’t scale.

And sending one-message-fits-all news updates to everyone in your audience will turn off people who aren’t into what you’re sending. Especially new holiday readers who can find similar content in thousands of other places with a simple Google search.

Dynamic content implemented directly into your email experience through real-time data feeds or web scraping tools is the best way to avoid leaving new holiday readers out in the cold feeling disengaged. By using subscriber or viewer behavior, preference, and interest data to select and load content into designated modules in your email template, you can identify any audience perfect for a targeted campaign and maximize their engagement level through highly relevant messaging.

new holiday readers

Bonus 1: If you’re tracking breaking news, trending articles, score updates, or any other dynamic content on your site, your emails will automatically update every time your subscribers open the email with a live scraping tool or data feed’s support—no need to keep sending emails every time something changes.

Bonus 2: Add live video from your event right into new holiday readers’ email experiences. If your subscriber’s browser supports it, they can watch your interactive content right in their message. If not, they’ll see an optimized static image they can click to view on your website.

2. Season static content with 1:1 personalized material

Emails from top retailers often include a mix of general news, like sneak-preview sales announcements, with content based on individual subscriber data from previous web behavior, email activity, or submitted content preferences.

This tactic combines discovery—showing your subscribers something they might not find on their own —with personalized content. And together, these two forces create a feeling of serendipity. The personalization you can offer may not be as obvious as it would be in a transactional email, for example, but it definitely has a more relevant look, feel, and message than a generic news roundup.

You can see this serendipitous mix of static and dynamic content subtly at work in the Food Network’s Recipe of the Day daily email below. Look for modules of dynamic content based on the recipient’s browsing or download history sandwiched between layers of static content.

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 3. Turn new holiday readers into first-time attendees with live calendar reminders

Remember the old days when you had to park yourself in front of your TV at a specific time to watch the latest episode of “Survivor,” “Blue’s Clues” or “Seinfeld?” If you missed it, you were out of luck until the next broadcast.

Today, streaming and live content have just about destroyed this concept. While it’s good to give your audience viewing options, wouldn’t you like to send them a reminder to tune in at a specific time so they can see your shows roll out in real-time?

A live calendar element helps you build engagement for any exciting event: whether that’s a season-opening TV show, movie premiere, book launch, and or special educational webinar. And by making your invite as easy and engaging as possible to act upon, you increase the chances a new holiday reader becomes a first-time event attendee.

Retailers use calendar invites to remind customers about new-product launches, big sales, store openings and other can’t-miss events. Here’s how it looks in a new-collection drop-date announcement from Tommy Hilfiger:

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This year, invite your viewers from the same email you inform them about a new event by introducing “Add to Calendar” buttons and links. That way, subscribers have a one-click process to register for any online experience that’s automatically updated to their calendar app of choice—so when the big day finally arrives, a reminder email can automatically be sent without building, updating, and sending any follow-up messages manually!

4. Count down to the season’s every can’t-miss event

A customized email countdown timer is one of the most versatile retail personalization elements  you can use to inject real-time anticipation for any kind of topic, article, or newsworthy event. Use these simple-yet-sophisticated elements to build excitement before an event—or to let new holiday readers know how much time is left before their first invite expires. 

On its own, this is a popular tactic among retailers to let customers know how much time they have to shop before a juicy offer ends. But for even greater impact, combine your email countdown timers with any of the dynamic personalization tactics we’ve already covered in this blog.

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In this email, Disney combines video and a countdown time to promote its programming for International Friendship Day. Just imagine the urgency and FOMO you can add to any email experience with the simple addition of a timer.

The latest research from our sister brand Campaign Monitor shows that only around 15% to 25% of emails ever get opened. If you have a small to medium-sized business, that means you can expect subscribers to ignore roughly four out of every five emails you send.

But don’t get disheartened! Writing captivating email subject lines is an art. And, in this post, we’re going to teach you how to write subject lines your subscribers can’t resist.

But First: We’re Throwing You a C.U.R.V.E.

All good subject lines have one or more of these five elements:

Curiosity: Pique subscribers’ interest by telling them something they don’t know. The more shocking or surprising, the better. Or, ask questions—just not the yes or no kind.

Urgency: Your email subject line should make your readers stop scrolling and open their email RIGHT NOW instead of saving it for later. If they’re not worried about what they’re missing out on, you’ve still got work to do.

Relevance: A gripping subject line speaks directly to your subscribers’s needs, wants, and desires. It should feel personal, even if you didn’t personalize it.  

Value: Explain—or hint at—how your email will change their lives, even if it’s just saving a bonkers amount on a popular product.

Emotion: How do you want your email to make your subscribers feel: Excited? Anxious? Happy? Comforted? Whatever emotion you want to evoke, just make sure you do it right away—don’t wait for them to open your message or miss the chance entirely.

Of course, you won’t be able to squeeze in all these things into your email subject line every time. Nor should you try. Which elements you use will depend on what your email message is supposed to accomplish. 

Also, you should know which subject line templates drive your subscribers to click and convert most often (if not, that’s a good place to start your A/B testing program).

Which brings us to…

7 Email Subject Lines People Can’t Resist

Now, let’s look at seven tried-and-true subject line templates that incorporate the C.U.R.V.E. principles we just shared:

1. FOMO

No one likes to feel like they’re missing out, especially on a great deal. An easy, effective way to create urgency with nothing but your email subject lines is to add a deadline before an event ends or a product sells out to create the impression of scarcity. 

Example: “Last chance! Just 5 spaces left on our exclusive training webinar.”

2. Self-Improvement

Ah, a dependable classic. Promising people they can be a better version of themselves isn’t new, but boy does it work. Put another way, it answers the customer’s most pressing internal question: “What’s in it for me?”

Example: “Get six-pack abs in just 10 weeks”

3. The If-Then Statement

If you know your target audience well enough, then you’ll have a good idea of which characteristics they share. Mention a situation that applies to most, if not all, of the people on your list starting with your subject line. Then, link this to the solution you’re emailing them about. That makes any reader think, “Oh, wait, that applies to me!” And just like that, your email is scarily relevant.

Example: “Struggling with staff shortages? You need THIS tool.”

4. Freebies

No, putting “free” in your subject lines will not drive your email to the spam folder. Everybody likes to get something for nothing. So, give your subscribers the impression that something real and tangible is waiting for them. This approach is always a winner because it’s a great way to cut through all of the competing noise in your customers’ inboxes—especially if you personalize it too.

Example:. “Hi Ben! This month’s free marketing tutorial is now ready for your viewing pleasure.”

5. Cliffhangers

Humans are curious creatures. Create a little mystery or suspense and we can’t help but peek inside. Don’t believe me? Scroll to the bottom of this page to find out why.

Example: “Pssst! Bet you don’t know this profit-boosting trick”

6. Keeping It Casual

Being informal with subject lines is an increasingly popular method, with good reason. The idea is to mimic the way real people write subject lines to each other, be they friends or colleagues, to eliminate the sales and marketing speak that scares most subscribers away from your emails.

Example: “Are you free for a 10-minute chat tomorrow?”

7. Controversy

Okay, so you need to exercise this subject line tactic with extreme caution. Making an outlandish claim or questioning a popular belief is a great way to get clicks. Just make sure you aren’t overdoing it, or you’ll lose people’s trust! And they won’t click through to your website, which is what your email is supposed to do in the first place.

Example:  “Are you wasting money on Facebook advertising? Here’s why you need to stop, today.

Two More Tips to Drive Even More Email Engagement

1. Front-Load your main point.

Most inboxes will cut off the subject line somewhere between 60 and 80 characters. Meaning that—if you’re offering a discount or have something specific you want your subscribers to do—you should put that info at the start of your subject line, not at the end, to guarantee it’s seen. 

You might also have heard that short subject lines are better. That’s something else your A/B testing can help you prove or reject. An informal rule of thumb is that shorter subject lines drive more opens, but longer lines drive more clicks. And considering all of Apple’s recent changes, the door has never been open wider for new subject line innovation.

2. Use action-oriented verbs. 

Use strong verbs that tell subscribers exactly what you want them to do. Some good examples to start testing: “discover,” “reveal,” and “learn.” 

With email open rates becoming less reliable as a measure of customer engagement by the day, your subject lines need to amp up their click, conversion, and engagement-driving capabilities. This approach helps you measure what your customers are interested in, even if the click itself doesn’t lead to a conversion. 

Along with this new focus on engagement-focused success metrics, pay attention to what people are clicking on in your emails. Do the clicks correspond with your subject line, or are people clicking on other things like secondary offers or in-email navigation? Knowing the answers to questions like these future-proof your campaigns and make your next send even more effective.

One last word of advice: Test your subject lines before you depart from any standard formats. What works for one brand may not fly with your audience, so don’t be afraid to try and do new things. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, download The Smart Marketer’s Guide to 2021 Holiday Success now!

Today,  Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection update goes live. If you’re scrambling to put together any last-minute planning or prep to evolve your email strategy, check out our press release or our Navigating an Evolving Privacy Environment webinar where we cover high-level changes that will impact every email marketer.

In the weeks leading up to today’s update, we’ve been taking time to understand the full impact these consumer privacy-minded changes will have on our products as well as the digital marketing community at-large. And we’re doing some exciting, new things to help you evolve your email strategy, navigate the uncertainty, and take advantage of every opportunity the future presents us all to think and engage differently.

If you’re curious about how to evolve or how Liveclicker can help you inspire more moments that matter, click here to explore the future of email with Adam Weissmuller, Liveclicker VP of Product Management, and Maria Braune, Sailthru and Liveclicker Senior Manager of Product Marketing.

If you want to boost email engagement, one of the best ways is also becoming one of the easiest: add video.

Video and email are a match made in marketing heaven. Everybody uses email, and more consumers are watching videos online with each passing day.

If video is so great, why doesn’t everyone use it in their emails?

The relationship between email and video hasn’t always been a smooth or lovely experience. In the past, largely technical hurdles like incompatible email browsers and spotty bandwidth have kept these channels separated.

These tech limitations made video in email a hit-or-miss experience for many viewers. And that unreliability, coupled with a hazy ROI and lack of content and production time, also turned many email marketers off the video trend.

But today, technology is catching up with the public’s growing appetite for consuming video. And it’s doing so in a way that makes the value of video in email much more apparent and trackable. Now, all it takes is a few clicks to embed videos into email and analyze the results without a single line of code or concern about platform compatibility.

A few browser holdouts are keeping video from reaching its full email potential (we’re looking at you, Gmail), but every day more and more email environments are evolving to handle video. Apple’s native desktop and iOS email clients, for example, make embedded email videos possible in Outlook across every Mac device.

Why video is worth the effort

In short, people love it. Just putting “video” in your subject line can boost open rates by six percent or more. Not to mention increase click rates by 300% and reduce unsubscribes up to 26% too. 

Especially if you’re trying to capture the attention of highly coveted Gen Z and Millennial buyers. A 2020 survey found 88% of this group watch videos for entertainment, giving the brands that take advantage of this trend a unique opportunity to engage audiences across a variety of digital and social media channels like never before. 

The lesson here: If you want to increase engagement among your younger customers (or any follower, for that matter), add video. Besides expecting it, these active video consumers are much more likely to respond to interactive messages. So why not give them exactly what they want?

It’s not as pricey or complicated as you might think. Marketers spent less than $300 on average on video in 2020. Today, cost is no excuse. You can produce a high-quality video using just a smartphone and a good ring light. And that doesn’t include the dozens of free or low-cost video production tools you can use to edit emails like a pro. 

Video can amplify other advanced personalization tactics. Video is most successful when used strategically. Your embedded email videos can draw eyes to dynamic factors such as real-time content targeting by location, time of day, and more. Ensuring your customers never open an outdated offer or out-of-stock sale alert again.

2 emails that are winning with video

Add the human element: Room & Board features live video in many of its promotional emails. In the email example below, it brings a customer’s story to life with an on-demand interview that discusses their unique experiences and most helpful advice.

video and email
Image via MailCharts

Set the tone: Videos got many homebound tourists through a year without travel in 2020. And now, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is capitalizing on both the longing to get away in luxury and the need to feel safe by including video in its emails that takes viewers on an up-close,-personal tour of its newest ships.

video and email
Image via MailCharts

Ready for your closeup?

If you’re ready to add video into your email experience, check out our How to Embed Video in Email guide. You’ll learn the basics of DIY video embedding, different ways to use video, and how to effectively experiment with your emails to improve results.

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.

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:

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.

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!

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.