VIDEO IN EMAIL: THE WHAT, WHY, AND HOW - Best Practices When Incorporating Video in Email (Part 2)

In PART 1 of this blog series, we discussed what important questions we need to consider before adding videos to emails and how to get started. In part 2, we'll share best practices to keep in mind to ensure a smooth user experience.

One of the major deterrents for marketers when it comes to incorporating video in their email campaigns is the likelihood of something not going according to plan. While there are some risks when including videos in email, those pertain largely to rendering and can easily be mitigated with the help of what are called “Fallbacks”.

Even if you embed a video in your email most web clients won’t play it in the email body. In fact, iOS clients and devices are the only ones that consistently play video in the body of an email. The latest versions of Outlook.com are also exceptions to the general rule but the fact remains that all other clients, including Gmail, Yahoo, Lotus Notes, older version of Outlook, and devices with Android operating system play either an animation (known as GIF) or provide a static image in place of the video. Since there are two scenarios marketers should account for when incorporating video in email, there are also two types of fallbacks that brands should put in place to ensure that the subscriber experience is optimal in either scenario. The first type of fallback is animated GIF and the second is a static image

Animated GIF: This is a series of screen shots from the video which can be enhanced with a simple play button laid over the GIF; this creates the impression of a video playback. Typically, GIFs plays 5-to-10-second animations in the inbox in place of the video. While most clients support animations and will play them without an issue, older versions of Outlook (2007, 2010, 2013) will only display static images. That’s where the second type of fallback comes in.

Static Image: When a client does not support video playback in emails and cannot render animations, there is a third option for brands to make the video content work while maintaining positive user experience – a static image.  This image should always contain a play button to immediately communicate its purpose. So, if a subscriber uses Outlook 2007, 2010, or 2013, she will see the static image fallback but her experience will not be affected because an embedded video and a static image would look essentially the same in the body of an email. However the video plays (in the body of the email or in a landing page), to a subscriber, it would look like that’s how the video was supposed to appear and not like a web client precluded an auto play.

Thus, using a series of fallbacks takes care of the biggest challenge when it comes to video in email – rendering. Fallback options keep the user experience intact and are easy to implement and test.

While video in email is still a relatively new practice, brands should not be afraid to adopt it if they’ve considered their industry and audience, and have clearly defined the scope and goals of video-in-email campaigns. The right video campaign can elicit a significant increase in customer engagement, build brand loyalty, and encourage conversion, so marketers should really look into this to help them propel their marketing programs forward.

Look out for part 3 next week, when we explore another important best practice to help make your video-in-email campaigns a success. 

Author Bio

Afton McCann

Afton brings over 6 years of design experience helping major brands promote themselves in the digital world. At Yesmail, she leads the creative vision of the Marriott Rewards email program and is passionate about designs that drives results. An Iowa native and graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Afton resides outside of Boulder, CO where she lives a very active life full of mountain exploration, sports, and drumming.