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Why marketers should use “true” video in email

According to comScore’s recently released July 2012 U.S. Online Video Rankings, 85.5 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in July. That’s a record of more than 184 million U.S. Internet users who watched 36.9 billion online content videos.

And it’s not just consumer audiences going nuts over video. A Social Media Examiner survey of 3,800 marketers found that a full 76% named YouTube and video marketing as their top areas of investment in 2012. That’s because, thanks to their engaging nature, videos are great for promoting everything from products, to webinars, to events and much more.

Even business executives are succumbing to the power of video. According to a Forbes Insights study, more and more executives are embracing the “Non-Text Web” and are now just as inclined to take action based on viewing a video than they would be based on reading an article.

The power of video is so bewitching, that according to Experian’s 2012 Digital Marketer Benchmark and Trend Report, simply including the word “video” in an email’s subject line saw an increase of 7%-13% in overall click-thru rates in 2011, and embedding a video in an email itself generated an average conversion rate (CVR) that was 21% higher than emails containing a static image alone.

Put all of these resounding stats together and you have a pretty clear message: Video is a must-have element in today’s marketing content mix, whether you’re targeting B2C of B2B audiences, and since email is still the #1 preferred marketing communication channel, it makes perfect sense to use the two together to create killer user-engagement.

Using video in your emails could increase CTR by as much as 67%, so if you’re not already using video in your marketing initiatives, you might want to re-think your strategy if you want to compete with those who are.

But is all ‘video in email’ truly video in email? Apparently not.

There are some forward-thinking marketers who understand the potential of using video in email who are boldly paving the way for others to follow, but it’s important to remember that most instances of “video in email” merely refer to either a link or a screenshot of the video, which when clicked, opens the video in a new window and not inside the email itself, so it’s not really “true” video in email.

There are also a few “video in email” solutions available that are based on HTML5 coding and even marketers who are experimenting with it, but HTML5 video is not supported by all email clients. It is estimated that only about 60-70% of recipients would actually be able to play video inside HTML5-based video emails, while the rest of the recipients would see fallback alternatives like a silent animated .GIF/.PNG video (if enabled) or a static image, depending on what their mail client supports.

It’s also true that some webmail clients (like Gmail and the new Outlook.com) enable videos from certain (not all) sources to play inside emails, but even then the videos are displayed at the bottom of the email, and not at the location in which they were embedded within the email body.

The only solution available at the moment that allows marketers to embed any type of videos and have them play in context within their own email marketing HTML templates is ActiveMail, a technology that enables users to view and interact with rich-media directly inside emails.

The content of an ActiveMail sits on a regular web page which is displayed to ActiveMail users in an iFrame within the email, allowing them to interact with a variety of rich-media elements (not just video) as though they were interacting with a live web page. Some of these interactions might include flicking through entire image galleries, filling out forms, viewing live new feeds, all manner of Flash animations, social sharing, seeing performing searches and much more – all within the email itself without clicking out to see any of it in a new window.



In short, ActiveMail provides a “true” in-email experience that’s supported by all the major browsers and email clients and is therefore today’s marketer’s best bet at engaging the vast majority of his captive email audience right inside their inboxes with rich-media content. And it’s just as well, because today’s modern audiences have already come to expect this sort of dynamic content in most of their other online experiences, so if you’re a marketer who’s been a bit slow to incorporate at the very least video in email, you’d better get cracking!