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It seems today that although the written word is still powerful, the spoken/visual word is more so. With smart phones, 3G connections and our fast paced lifestyles, we seek media sources that will give us instant gratification and video clips do just this! According to Nielsen, this year viewers have streamed 28% more videos and spent 45% more time watching videos compared to last year. Also comScore reported last year that the average US Internet user watches 186 videos every month! Video is definitely the way forward to drive engagement.

Email marketers have jumped on the bandwagon and are now including video content in their emails. Adestra MessageFocus Support Team often get a lot of enquiries from people who now think it is possible to play a video directly in an email inbox. Although possible in some, it’s not possible in all email clients, so to help you,  we have drawn up what is possible and what we recommend as best practice to ensure marketers can use this channel effectively.

The facts:
With all the web opportunities that come from improved HTML5 browser support and the development of email clients, for example, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail, then surely video in email is possible now? Let’s remind ourselves that HTML for email is still a simple old thing. Good web design uses CSS for layout, email design has to rely on tables. A lot of the smart new functionality that is available using Javascript and HTML5 / Flash on the web is simply removed by email clients. So, it is not possible to simply insert a video in the same manner as you would on a website.

So what is possible?
In the last few months there has been a lot of discussion about how Hotmail has started to support HTML5 video in email with capable browsers. Our tests using a code technique devised by “Video for Everybody” has shown video playing in Hotmail running in Firefox, Chrome, Opera and IE9. We should also note here that Gmail allows you to enable the display of YouTube videos within email, but only if you enable this feature  in Google Labs. Since Google own YouTube, it is likely that this will be enabled by default one day.

We recommend:
If you have a considerable amount of Hotmail and Gmail data, you need to consider whether it would be worth splitting it up. You can then send variations of the email with HTML that support the browsers making it possible for Hotmail and Gmail to view the emails within their inbox.

For all the rest Adestra’s Production Team recommends you have a “play button” image of the video which redirects the reader to a web page containing the video. The image could be a screengrab of the video with some sort of “Play >” graphic or icon. Clicking on the “play button” image of the video redirects the reader to a web page containing the video.

Watch this space:
It is still early days for playing video directly in email, but we expect more email clients will choose to support HTML5 <video> format in the future. We can’t wait, as the increase that video content brings to open and clicks is outstanding. Still, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be taking advantage of this media channel already – but ensure that you are doing it correctly.