Video in email? I’m not a fan

Video in email

Got your attention there? An email developer who doesn't like video?

Except, that's not what I said... I'm not a fan of video IN email.

Video in email seems to be the big, hot, sexy thing that every client wants at the moment. (Except half the time, they don't actually have a video to put in - but that's a different issue.) What I'm talking about is embedding a video actually in the email vs linking from your email to a video on a website, whether that's YouTube or otherwise.

Ages ago I read a really interesting study on video in email, but I can't for the life of me find it now, so maybe I just dreamed it. Either way, it still holds true...

As part of the study, a number of normal people (ie not marketers) were sent an email, and asked about their reaction to it. However, as far as they were aware they were being asked about the content, the subject matter, rather than the email itself. Part of this email was a video. Except for some, it wasn't  - it was a link to a video, done as an image, with a play button etc. You know the drill.

After they've read the email, they're asked questions. And some of those questions are to do with the video. Reactions from people who received the email with video embedded were the same as those who received the email with an image linking to it. And people who received the link, said that they watched the video IN the email.

Result: Joe and Jane Bloggs on the street don't notice these details. They receive an email, they click the big play button, they watch a video. End of story.

So for me, faffing and fiddling about with fallbacks etc, or paying exorbitant amounts of money to a company who can do it for you, when at the end of the day it doesn't even work everywhere, is just too much of a waste of time. And effort. And money.

One such company, told me that having a video in my email would increase my open rates. When I queried this, as in "how do the recipients know it's in there for it to affect whether they open it?", expecting them to say you had to declare it in the subject line (not ideal) or that, maybe it affected open rates of subsequent emails (yeah, ok). Instead, the guy backtracks and says "Oh no, sorry, I meant click rates". Oh really Mr Video-in-email? And if you have a nice styled up image looking like a video, how does your average user know the difference before they've actually clicked on it? Or how does that rate compare to an animated gif as the linked image? Or are you just saying that having ANY of these things vs not having them, increases click rate? In which case, I can increase the click rate for zero pounds and zero pence.

So yes, for me a nicely styled image, or even better an animated gif with a few frames of the video is preferable. Your end result is basically the same, and you've taken a lot less time to get there.

What do you generally do? Have your say on my Twitter Poll.

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