Previously, I wrote a blog post discussing the current support for various video formats across different email clients (you can find that article here). Some time has passed since that post, but unfortunately not much has changed to make things easier on marketers. Since this is still a topic that many of our customers have expressed interest in, I wanted to follow up with a few options and workarounds to get email recipients more engaged with your video content.
1. HTML 5 Video Tag
HTML 5’s video tag is one of the more widely supported video options across email clients, but that isn’t saying too much. Apple Mail, some versions of iOS and Outlook.com support HTML 5 video, so this might be an option if your customers are predominantly users of Apple devices (if you’re a ClickDimensions customer, you can see which platforms are used to open your emails in the Clients tab of your email send’s email statistics). It is also worth noting that currently the video tag only supports three video formats: MP4, WebM and Ogg. The video file must also be accessible outside of your own network to be viewable by your recipients.
Here is an example of what the HTML would look like:
<video poster=”http://clickdimensions.com/uploads/placeholder.jpg” controls=”controls”>
<source src=”http://clickdimensions.com/videofilename.mp4″ type=”video/mp4″ />
In this example, a video tag references a video located at the source URL, clickdimensions.com/videofilename.mp4. It also references the image placeholder.jpg to use as a placeholder image until the recipient plays the video or if video playback isn’t supported by the recipient’s email client.
If you are interested in trying this option, you can learn more about the HTML 5 video tag here.
2. Video Screenshots
The simplest solution is to place a screenshot of the video into the email body that serves as a hyperlink to the actual video on a hosting platform, such as YouTube or Vimeo.
Beyond the simplicity of the implementation, a benefit of this option is that you can easily keep track of every email recipient who accesses your video by looking at the Click email events that they generate in ClickDimensions.
Depending upon the content that you wanted to display in your video, a GIF could either serve as a tantalizing teaser to drive recipients to the real thing, or they can take the place of the whole video if the message can be streamlined and presented effectively without audio.
Some benefits of using GIFs in lieu of videos are their smaller file size, the ability to convey more information than a static image and that the eye is naturally attracted to motion, so a recipient who opens your email may be more likely to spend time looking at it when spotting the GIF than they would have been otherwise.
On the other hand, some email clients, particularly Microsoft Outlook, do not support GIFs, so you will need to make sure that the first frame of the GIF provides sufficient detail to make up for the lack of animation. Also, it is easy to overdo it with GIFs and move into the realm of gaudy or obnoxious, so you will need to determine how to present your material in a way that is eye catching, but tasteful.
4. Animated Play Icons
This option is a compromise between using a video screenshot as a link and using a GIF. In this case, the GIF is used exclusively to draw attention to the screenshot and encourage recipients to click on it rather than being used to convey information. This will require a bit more time to set up than just placing an image in the email since you will still need to create a GIF, and it may not have as much of a positive impact of using an informative GIF, but it also avoids the possibility of going overboard with animation and scaring off recipients.