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Video in Email Boosts Click-Thru Rates 2-3x

YouTube in Gmail

Incorporating video into emails — a simple enough concept that wasn't even possible two years ago — improves click-through rates by 2-3 times, according to a recent Forrester report.

Streaming online video is among the most promising pupils of the interactive industry: it provides audiosensory stimulation while demanding a minimum from users, and opportunities for advertising around it are still being explored.

A recent forecast shows that 71% of the online adult population will watch online video streams in 2009, while the number of video streams consumed will double over the next five years.

Many ISPs and email security vendors adopt a protective stance and have blocked executables, including flash video and embedded video scripts, to protect inboxes from viruses and Trojan spybots. But a new generation of vendors is working to equip email marketing messages with video functionality that eliminates this challenge. Some of the new solutions include:

  • Silent movies via animated gifs
  • Certified video email
  • Clickable screen captures, which also provide a bigger and brighter call to action
  • One-to-one personalized video communication, which provides more value for a narrow audience

Interviews with marketing executives revealed that using compressed video without sound, with animated gifs, and clickable screen shots of videos can result in click-through rates that are two to three times the usual rate. Emerging certified video email delivery mechanisms, such as those provided by Goodmail Systems, also present new revenue opportunities for publishers seeking to expand video ad inventory to email.

Some 9% of marketers are currently experimenting with video in email, and another 21% plan on including video in their email marketing efforts in the next 12 months, according to a July 2008 JupiterResearch/ClickZ survey of 286 email executives.

Adding video to email can increase subscriber engagement, but marketers should take care to implement core best practices, Forrester warns. Survey data indicates that just 49% of email marketers frequently use testing tactics in their email marketing campaigns.

Some of the priorities for marketers working with video are:

  • Applying split or multivariant testing
  • Leveraging transactional messaging streams
  • Measuring the value of your subscribers

Marketers are advised to use video to boost existing marketing goals, but shouldn't entirely replace traditional email marketing initiatives, according to the report. After building competencies in core email marketing best practices like testing, transactional messaging, and customer value measurement, Forrester admonishes email marketers to plan video investments with the following marketing objectives in mind:

  • Increase audience interest and reduce pre-sales support costs for complicated products
  • Increase pre-roll video ad inventory
  • Drive website usage and consumption through a captured image
  • Be mindful of message size and prepare sites to handle streaming loads
  • Respect privacy and drive click-throughs by keeping the sound off

In April, email security firm Goodmail Systems introduced CertifiedVideo, which helps marketers and media companies send videos via email. The tool screens video messages for bugs and viruses and emails them to consumers who have opted to receive them. A new feature in Gmail Labs (accessible via < href="">Google Labs) also enables users to preview — that is, fully play — YouTube videos that have been linked within incoming emails.

Also in April, Forrester predicted that interactive advertising is heading for growth over the next seven years.


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