Adding video to email is a powerful way to double and triple the click your call to action in an email campaign might receive. Obviously, this will vary with other elements, but it’s a pretty accepted and tested tactic.
Of course the trick you can’t simply slap a YouTube video in an email and send it out. To date, none of the traditional ways of creating and viewing video are compatible with email sending. A host of services are cropping up to try to create turn-key platforms that make using video in email much easier, but there are two methods today that many small business folks can take advantage of without too much technical expertise. (I believe you should be testing this right now)
1) Click to view – this isn’t really video in email but it creates the allusion of it and the video call to action is a very strong incentive for people to click through. (Who knows this may lose it’s effectiveness as many things do, but for now it’s more effective than a text link.) All you need to do to create a click to view call to action is capture an image of your video in what looks like a video player, complete with play button. When people click on the image it takes them online to the URL embedded in the image.
You can host your video on YouTube, Vimeo or Viddler and send people directly to one of these sites to view, but I would take the extra step of embedding the video on your site or in a blog post. It’s terribly easy to do and that way you keep the brand experience going and can offer additional information and offers on the page.
2) Animated gifs – Animated gif files are pre 2000, you remember the days of the spinning chicken on your website, right? They have become much more sophisticated and can be used to deliver a richer, animated experience in an email. One downside is there is no audio, just motion. They also currently have issues in Outlook 2007 and show only as an image. You can create animated gifs in Photoshop and most email service providers allow you to embed them in your HTML templates like you would any other image.
Both of these approaches can only be delivered via an HTML email and the precipitant must enable images to view.
There are signs on the horizon that a true video in email experience is not far away – Google Gmail now allows a setting that will show YouTube video preview in Gmail. (You have to enable this setting in the Labs tab) Other 3rd party systems like GoodMail are trying to push for a certification system that would allow you to send video in formats such as flash as long as you were a certified sender in good standing.