E-mail marketing truths and lies: Using video in e-mails

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If you listen to conventional wisdom, your e-mail messages should be text-only, with very little formatting or images involved. Many marketers believe that most e-mail clients disable images, audio and video, so it’s not worth planning a campaign around a snazzy rich media component. Not so, said Jacob Leffler, marketing director of MediaSauce, a Carmel, Ind.-based public relations firm. Leffler provides a little of the truth—and fiction—about using video in your e-mail marketing message.

Truth: Video and audio files can boost click-through rates.

MediaSauce was launched in 2002 as a one-man agency. Today, it has 35 employees and its revenue has consistently grown more than 200% year over year. The surprising part is that the company did this without spending a dime on traditional advertising. Instead, it exclusively used rich media-enabled e-mail campaigns in conjunction with ExactTarget’s e-mail technology to garner prospects and help turn them into customers.

Research bears out MediaSauce’s experience: Research firm Dynamic Logic found that ads using audio and video achieve greater brand awareness than other formats by 10 percentage points.

Lie: People won’t click through for video.

Try to send someone a Flash animation or downloadable video clip. The majority of e-mail clients can’t handle Flash, and the majority of corporate e-mail servers strip out or disable executable files. MediaSauce avoids problems by creating a simple, text-based e-mail that clearly spells out what’s behind the clicks—an engaging video-based message. The video resides on a landing page, so prospects never have to download anything. They do have to click through, though, and overwhelmingly, they are.

For example, in the fall MediaSauce used a video invitation for an event, a party celebrating its move into new space. The invitation, which went out to clients and prospects, Leffler said, was a simple e-mail containing a photo of the CEO and a link to the animation- and audio-driven message. The message had a 68.1% open rate and a 44.9% click-through rate. Even more impressive, it had a 25% conversion rate. A reminder video, which was sent right before the event, garnered a 62.7% open rate and 34.2% click-through rate, Leffler said.

“The promise of video makes an e-mail fun and engaging,” he said. “It humanizes and personalizes a communication that would otherwise be a bunch of boring text. A Wall Street Journal poll found that 99.7% of all C-level executives have broadband access. We’re delivering media that capitalizes on that technology.”


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