Are video e-mails worth the trouble?

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Answer: Adopters of online video in the last year have been reporting stellar jumps in action—with both their Web sites and their newsletters—when using videos to get their messages across. Even the simplest of videos can engage site visitors and e-mail subscribers in a way that plain text and HTML are often unable to do.

If you choose video to help revive your e-mail messages, there are a few formats currently in use that you should consider:

  1. Automatic streaming video. This format launches the video as soon as the subject line is clicked; it’s also known as an e-mail message open. This format has its limitations. It only works well with some e-mail clients, and in some cases the video doesn’t begin streaming until the recipient guides their mouse over the e-mail thumbnail. Automatic streaming has the risk of being perceived as too intrusive by recipients.
  2. Click-to-play video. Instead of streaming the second they are opened, click-to-play e-mail videos begin playing as soon as the recipient clicks the “play” symbol on the video thumbnail image. One immediate advantage is that recipients maintain control from the beginning of the viewing experience; the video will not start playing until the recipient initiates it. He or she will then be able to advance the video, pause it, adjust the volume or click through to the sender’s site when it’s convenient for them.
  3. Attached videos. Attached videos are the least recommended format to use. Many e-mail services have a tendency to block images from rendering in e-mails, especially messages from first time e-mailers. Some service providers have even been known to block HTML e-mails in their entirety, although this practice has tapered off in the last few years; now, such providers simply block all images from rendering until the in-box owner gives permission.
Video e-mails, if delivered correctly, have the power of newness to revive an uninterested or inactive e-mail subscriber list. However, this newness will not last forever, and video e-mail recipients will still need relevant content that speaks directly to their needs.

Steve Delgado is the marketing director for Zeop Inc. (, developer of new video-sharing technology for Web sites and e-mail.

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