Email is more popular than ever, and one of the best tools for engaging customers and prospects is through email newsletters. Services like Mailchimp make managing an email newsletter really easy and cheap to do, letting anyone design professional looking email newsletters and send regular campaigns to a list of recipients.
But one thing that has always been difficult is integrating video into an email campaign. Unlike images, video files are usually too large to be sent as an email attachment, and many email clients (like Microsoft Outlook) have limited support for embedded videos. But these newsletters can be far more effective with the addition of video content, improving your click-through rate and the amount of time your audience spends engaging with your brand.
Additionally, a 2010 study from Forbes and Google reported that 75% of top executives watch online video at work, preferring to watch a video rather than read text. If you’re trying to reach business leaders you need to make sure your content is in a format that engages them, and video appears to be the answer.
So what can you do to create a successful email campaign focussed around video? Here are six top tips to help you get the most out of using video in your email marketing.
1. Think about your audience
Before you do anything else, the very first step in crafting a video-based campaign is thinking about your audience and their circumstances when they receive your campaign.
If your list is primarily comprised of business professionals then it’s probably safe to assume that many of your recipients will be opening emails on a desktop computer at an office, whereas consumer audiences are more likely to be using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, possibly at home or while doing other activities, like travelling or looking after their children (if they have them).
By profiling your audience you can think about your entire campaign from start to end with a specific type of person in mind, including the suitability of the video you’re building your campaign around. For example, a consumer focussed video might need to be shorter and include subtitles, given that the recipient might not have much time to engage with your content.
The last thing you want to do is create a really interesting email that receives a lot of clicks, but directs all of your traffic to a video that doesn’t work. If the video isn’t going to work you might need to rethink your approach.
Need help with your video?If you need help crafting a video for your mailing list audience, why not get in touch? We’ve got plenty of experience producing videos for business and consumer focussed marketing campaigns.
2. Prepare your landing page
Because video files can’t be embedded directly into emails, you’ll need to create a landing page for your video. This is the place that your audience will be directed to from your email, so you’ll need to think carefully about where you’re sending that traffic.
In most cases we’d argue against sending your viewers directly to YouTube or a similar social media site unless you’re specifically trying to build an audience there. These websites are designed to pull traffic into their systems and keep it there; You lose a lot of control over your audience’s journey if you rely on these platforms alone.
Our suggestion would be to create a page on your website and embed the video there, and create some big “calls to action” that make it clear what you want to your viewers to do once the video stops.
You’ll need to prepare this page before you design your email so you know where you’re sending your audience. You’ll need the URL for the web page during the next step.
Bonus TipIf you can, make sure your video auto plays. It’s one less click that someone needs to make to get to your content.
3. Design your email campaign
Now that your video and your landing page are ready to go, it’s time to design your email campaign. Since you can’t embed your video directly into the email itself, you’ll need to create a link to the landing page you’ve just created and put it somewhere within the email.
You can create this link any way you’d like; either as a simple text link, as a button, or by adding a link to an image. Just make sure your link stands out so people know to click on it!
For best results, our suggestion is to use a thumbnail from your video and use that as your link. We’d also recommend super-imposing a play button over the thumbnail so that people know you’re linking to a video.
4. Test your email
With your email complete, you’ll need to test it before you send it out to your entire mailing list. It would be sensible to send yourself a test email first, which will let you check that your links go to the right place and that the content looks correct in a real email client.
Don’t forget to test your email on both a desktop and a smartphone to make sure your email, landing page and video work correctly on a smaller (or bigger) screen.
Also, make sure you check for any typos or similar small mistakes. It can often help to send a test email to a colleague or two for feedback and to help you fix any glaring issues you might have missed.
5. Send your email
Now it’s time for the big moment; It’s time to send your email.
Depending on which email campaign service you’re using, you might have different tools available for sending your email. Most if not all will let you schedule your email for a future date, which can be helpful for preparing campaigns in bulk. Some will also give you advice on the best time to send your email, or let you send it at a specific time regardless of time zone. (For example, you can send the email at 8AM regardless of where the recipient is.)
6. Measure the results
Before you can kick back and relax (or, realistically, start planning your next campaign), you should measure the results of your campaign. We usually recommend checking back a day or two after you’ve sent the email, just to make sure you get a full picture of how it performed.
First of all, you should check any stats or reports that your email campaign service provides. Usually this will include your campaign’s open rate (the number of people who looked at your email) and click rate (the number of times a link was clicked). By looking at your campaign’s click rate, you should be able to see how many people took an interest in the video you shared. If your open rate is very high but your click rate is very low, you might need to work on how you present the video next time. Perhaps it wasn’t clear that you were sharing a video, or maybe the blurb for the video wasn’t exciting enough to gain interest.
Once you’ve found out how many people have clicked through to watch your video, you should look at how many times your video was played.
Most video hosting platforms, including YouTube and Vimeo, will give you a play count number that you can look at. Others, such as Wistia, will give you more detailed analytics, including how many people watched your video all the way to the end. If you want some help working out where to put your video, check out our article that compares some of the most popular video hosting options.
If you’re not interested in using a video hosting service, you might be able to get similar information from web analytics services like Google Analytics which can be embedded into your website.
With these two sets of data – your click rate and your video play count – you should now be able to see how many people followed through and watched your video. If your click through rate is higher than your video’s play count, perhaps something went wrong with your landing page. This could be a technical issue, or maybe the landing page simply didn’t live up to the expectations set out in the email. Again, this gives you another data point to work on for future campaigns.
Email marketing, and all marketing for that fact, is an iterative process that takes time to perfect. And even when you’ve mastered it, it’s still a case of trial and error. Some campaigns will perform really well, and some might be duds. But if you keep on working on it, you can see great results. At least we think so!
This article was originally published on 29th January 2014.
It was last updated on 28th January 2020.