5 Pro Tips for Using Video in Email

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Tim Goodell

Have you been checking your office email inbox lately? If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of emails from all kinds of online marketers, each of them trying to convince you that their latest service package is going to revolutionize your business strategy. Most of them communicate relatively the same thing in relatively the same way, but more importantly, most of them look exactly the same to the average recipient. Even if what you’re saying is mind-bogglingly important, human beings are quick to tire of the mundane and repetitive; so, after a quick glance, most of these emails go straight to the trash bin without so much as a second thought, and your important message is never read. If you want your audience to hear your message, retain your information, and respond to what you have to say, then you have to differentiate yourself to magnetize their attention. When it comes to email, this means being visual as well as informational. And the best way to communicate information visually is- you guessed it- using video.

Create a Magnetic Thumbnail Image

Video is on a steep rise in every category of marketing strategy, but email is a particularly simplistic and case-specific medium which demands forethought and creativity from the video marketer. Emails do not host or contain your video content, but they do host and contain images with no trouble at all. So, how do we connect our email recipients with our video content? Simple…we create a thumbnail image with a ‘play’ button. We can hyperlink this image to wherever the video content is hosted on the web, creating a simple bridge between email and video with a single click. Recipients are absolutely compelled to click on a ‘play’ button, in the same way that a big red button on a lit pedestal in the middle of a dark room just has to be pushed. Creating a thumbnail featuring an interesting image combined with a big, noticeable ‘play’ button communicates very quickly to the recipient that your message content is available as a video and that they can absorb it quickly and conveniently, and you’ll be amazed at how much of your audience is willing to commit to that proposition.

Keep it Short

Remember that your strategy hinges on the attention span of your audience, which means being informative without being tiresome. Video has been known to increase the duration of audience attention spans by as much as 2 minutes over written content, but that doesn’t mean that your audience will just as happily sit through a ten-minute video with no interesting visual content at all. Videos sent to broad audiences through email should be kept to a strict 3 minute maximum, and the shorter, the better. The shorter and clearer your message is, the better your audience will retain it.

Brand Your Content

What good is it to share a message using video if that video isn’t driving audiences back towards your organization or your brand? If you would brand the written content of your email, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t brand the video content of your email as well. Regardless of whether your video content is hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, or some other video platform that better suits your service offering, create a quick graphic opening (or at least a title card) that identifies you as the content creator. If your audience has spared you the time to watch your content, then it’s clear that they want to know more about who you are; make it easier for them, not harder!

Include “Video” in Your Subject Line

The word ‘video’ on an email’s subject line has been proven to boost email open rates by 19% and increase email click-through rates by 65%. Audiences have been trained to recognize certain email subject lines as containing messages or content that they don’t particularly care about, or that is not relevant to their needs. If you’re using video in your email strategy, and you aren’t seeing this rise in audience engagement, it’s probably because your audience doesn’t know that you’re using video in your email strategy. Be sure to title a message that includes video appropriately, using the word ‘video’, to attract more recipient opens and to make sure that your message is heard!

Measure Your Engagement

Video content is extremely high-value content, but it takes time to create and strong video content can sometimes be costly. In order to justify the use of video within your organization, you need to be able to track the value of video within your strategy. Your email’s open rate, clickthrough rate, subscriber rate and (most importantly) the rate of improvement are all metrics that mean nothing if you aren’t keeping track of how video enables each rate to rise. Keep track of the analytics for your email marketing, but also keep track of the analytics for your video on whatever platform hosts it. Video analytics can tell you about the moments in the video that caused audiences to drop off, where your audience is watching from, what time of day the audience is most likely to watch video content, and much more. Using these analytics, you can create stronger, more relevant content in the future and turn a simple A-B test into a full blown video marketing campaign using email. 

Wrapping Up

For the time being, email remains the most-used method of business communication. Video, meanwhile, remains a powerful tool for any marketing strategy, so it makes perfect sense to combine these assets. Using video as part of your email strategy is a net gain, and is also a simple way to expand your audience and to bring more potential clients under your brand’s umbrella. If you want to know more about how and why to use video in your emails, we’d like nothing more than to show you how it is that we do it ourselves. Subscribe to our email newsletter, and check out the many ways in which email can make a real difference in a video marketing strategy!


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