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Video Email: A Marketer’s Secret Weapon to Engaging Audiences

How can we reach and engage our audiences most effectively and profitably? It’s an age-old question that embodies the very essence of what drives us all as marketers. We go where our audiences go. You can look at a few key milestones over the last decade as a testament to the importance of agile, omni-channel marketing.

Ten Years Ago—If you were a marketer who wanted to reach your audience, you had to build a website. Unfortunately, it was inevitable that your website would look horrible when rendered on mobile. A website wasn’t an adequate push medium, so it couldn’t work as a key driver of engagement, at least on its own. Two-way conversations between your brand and your customers simply weren’t available in real-time.

Eight Years Ago—Next, the solution was to go mobile, and “There’s an app for that!” took over. Generally, it’s a resource-intensive way to drive engagement: applications take too long to build, and every time Tim Cook gets on stage to release a new version of iOS, there’s a collective groan from millions of iOS developers around the world. Not to mention, 80 percent of newly acquired users go inactive after an install.

Five Years Ago—Facebook seemingly took the infrastructure worries away from marketers through tactful selling. “Don’t worry about building an app or a website, just use Facebook,” was a mantra adopted by thousands of companies who could opt out of bulky infrastructure costs. It seemed like a great idea—building a large audience of followers capable of seeing and interacting with your content.

But now in 2018, the economics of Facebook has changed. The organic reach we came to love has been drastically reduced to approximately 2 percent of your followers before you’re forced to pay the “Facebook tax.” And that number will likely continue dipping in the years to come. So what’s the answer then?

Enter: Video Email

And now, here we are—what we’ve gleaned from watching our audiences’ preferences evolve is a strong desire to consume immersive, visual content. From websites integrating parallax scrolling to auto-playing video feeds across social media, the inclination to consume by “watching” has captivated consumer demand. Thus, it only makes sense to include this interactivity into video email.

We already know the effectiveness of email marketing. Email is expected to eclipse 6 billion people by 2020, and it’s estimated that the channel achieves an ROI of $38 generated for every dollar spent. The engaging nature of video paired with the power of email is an incredible opportunity, but you need to do it right.

At the latest #emailgeeksSF meetup, co-hosted by Iterable and SparkPost, we shared the top five “must haves” to maximizing the impact of your next video email campaign.

1. Go easy on the eyes

Your audience doesn’t care if they’re watching an animated GIF or an HTML5 file. What they do care about is the quality, resolution and frame rate of the content. According to our research, the top three formats are animated PNG, animated GIF and MP4 video, but with the right technology, it’s easy to preview and select the best filetype for each recipient.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Based on data collected by Playable, the “sweet spot” for highly engaging video emails is a 6-10 second loop—the same duration that Google uses when showing a preview of a YouTube video in its search results. Attention spans are dwindling, so make sure to grab subscribers’ attention from the get-go.

3. Auto-play the action

Video in emails must autoplay for it to be effective. You’ve already made the initial ask of your subscribers to open your email—when you ask them to go a step further and click on your video to play, your engagement metrics are destined to plummet.

4. Silence your sends

PSA: Please mute your videos. Auto-playing content with audio is a jarring experience that nobody wants. Simply keep your videos clickable to make sure that your audience can turn the sound on easily when desired.

5. Close that captioning

Per above, muted content is the way to go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include subtitles to give your message context. Think about your own subtitle experiences—although you may not need to read the scrolling text, you’ll often catch yourself doing exactly that to gain added context.

By no means are we saying that websites, apps and social media platforms aren’t valuable; however, their power multiplies when used in tandem with a robust, omni-channel marketing strategy. By combining channels like video and email, you can maximize engagement and achieve higher ROI with each campaign.

Major brands are already seeing success with video email—from Warner Bros. revealing the latest movie trailers to ESPN live-streaming NBA games. If you want to boost audience engagement, then get started with video email with Playable.

Bob Hitching

Bob Hitching is CEO and Co-Founder of Playable, the pioneer and leader in video email marketing.

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