Two years ago you wouldn’t dream of getting emails with videos embedded in them.  Today, you may be seeing more and more of this and who knows, in a year or so we might be moving towards HD and 3-D videos in our emails altogether.  We can only dream…for now, it is a hot topic that is still aggregating data in order to support it as the new evolution of email marketing.

Online video views in the US doubled to 33.2 billion views a month last year, according to the February 2010 Comscore report.  That is a hefty number of play buttons clicked.  With companies looking to save a dollar here and there in their marketing efforts, a bell should immediately sound.  The number of people watching videos to the number of dollars it costs to create a video is not proportional in the least bit.  You can video yourself on your personal laptop camera anywhere and anytime you like and billions of people will be willing to watch it.  Additionally, there is a plethora of free software out there that can help you make it look “nice”.

Increasingly, the websites you visit all have videos and more sites than less are centered around videos, especially those trying to target a younger audience that needs interaction or promote the product like virtually test drive a car.  According to Forrester, 18% of top internet retailers used video on their sites in 2008, today that percentage is at 68%.  The growth has been tremendous.  It only makes sense to take video to more and more aspects of online marketing, social networks for one, emails for another.  A May 2009 Forrester study revealed that video in email can increase click-through rates by as much as 2x-3x.  A Marketing Vox reported similar statistics with a 33.42% click through rate to the videos with 33% of viewers viewing on average 1 minute of content to completion, when the average time to read an email is 8 seconds.

What difference can a video in an email make?  Well, for one, your email will stand out compared to your competitors.  The numbers of emails sent with videos are still being benchmarked.  It is a good time to stay on top of the market.  Secondly, the engagement level will be through the roof, you are now not only asking them to read and to click, but to interact, and to watch your content.  Your content may speak to them on a more intimate level, and may cause them to convert sooner.  A picture says a thousand words, but a video doesn’t even have to speak, it can show.  Of course, your reputation is on the line here and this must be done well in order to work.  It doesn’t eliminate the best practices of email marketing either, like using a strong subject line and having interesting content and targeting the right group with the right message.  As an added bonus, people have been pressing the play button for years and you are reintroducing them to their favorite “gateway to entertainment” in a new medium.  Of course they will want to cure their curiosity and click on it and see what it is all about.

What are some of the ways it is currently being used?
1.    Virtual tours of the product being sold from an aesthetic point of view
2.    Customer testimonials
3.    Brand engagement
4.    Video demonstrations on product uses

What are some of the road blocks?
1.    The video may not be compatible with everyone’s email  (if you’re doing b2b marketing to predominantly outlook users, use a static image with a link as outlook doesn’t support video in email)
2.    The video may render poorly and turn your customers off (load slowly, audio staccato)
3.    The customer may be irritated by the attempt at more personal engagement
4.    It may not be mobile friendly (you may lose a chunk of your recipients from mobile)

The important thing to takeaway is that this can work for your email campaigns, increase CTR and conversion, BUT, you have to make sure it works well technically first and is aimed at the customers that will see additional value in your video.