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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.
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You’ve Got [Video] Email: Where your email marketing strategy is headed in 2012

If you’re an email marketer, then one of the most crucial questions you must constantly be tackling is how can I make my email more engaging this time? As we’ve said before, user experience trends and content expectations are moving forward at record speed, so it’s crucial to keep at least one step ahead.

One of the rising trends in email engagement is including a video in your message – and we don’t mean a thumbnail linking to a YouTube link. In this Column Five infographic created for Wistia, businesses surveyed indicated that video has become the forefront of content strategy in 2012 email campaigns.

Some of the stats include:

  • Over 75% of businesses surveyed planned to continue (or in some cases, start) using video in their email campaigns in 2012.
  • Of the kinds of video content available, most videos sent to customers via email were training courses, with product demos or product promotions right behind.
  • Close to 70% of respondents believe that including a video in their email messaging has had a positive impact on conversion rates.

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Rich Media: The not-so-secret ingredient to boosting email engagement

The Humble Animated GIF

If you were old enough to use a computer back in the late 1980s, then you’ll remember the advent of the animated GIFs, a file type that flips through two or more images combined to create basic animation. Although they’re no longer considered as revolutionary as they used to be, they nevertheless enjoyed a very long run as part of marketing efforts, including email campaigns.

An animated GIF viewed inside an email.

Dynamic elements such as animated GIFs allowed email recipients to see more than a flat image to represent a product, deal, or ad. Marketers could apply simple animation to graphical elements inside their email messages and display different product angles, color options, and calls to action. Here are some good examples of GIFs use in emails from a May 2012 blog post by Philip Barnes.

For a long time, animated GIFs were all marketers could use to make their emails interactive. The trend caught the attention of industry analysts as far back as 2010, when Responsys published their animated GIF usage findings, concluding that “the increase in usage likely stemmed from the ability of animated gifs to get subscribers’ attention and therefore boost engagement and clickthroughs.”

“We’ve used them quite a lot with various clients over the years,” said Aaron Smith, Director of Creative Technologies at Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company, “and in tests we’ve done, we’ve seen several percentage points higher on the clickthrough front with the animated versions.”(1)

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