Video Works for E-mail too

If streaming video can increase visitor engagement and conversion rates, then it stands to reason that embedding videos in e-mail should increase reader engagement and click-through rates. And it does — except for one snafu: Technically, few ISPs support e-mails with embedded video.

For instance, only AOL and two smaller ISPs support Goodmail’s CertifiedVideo platform, which is pretty much the gold standard for embedding streaming video in e-mail. Videos embedded using the platform won’t be viewed by recipients who use any other ISP for their e-mail. There are two effective alternatives: You can embed animated GIFs — which, according to a Goodmail spokesperson, are almost indistinguishable from streaming video on the part of consumers. Or you can include in your e-mail a link to a video hosted on your own server.

The American Ceramic Society (ACS) has opted for the latter approach. Every Friday its Ceramic Arts Daily e-newsletter, which is sent to more than 60,000 opt-in subscribers, includes a link to a 5- to 10-minute instructional video. Most of these videos are excerpts from the DVDs that ACS produces and sells.

ACS also includes video clips when promoting specific products in its standalone marketing e-mails. Thanks in large part to these videos, sales of ACS’s books, magazines and DVDs have soared by more than 200%, to “well over $5 million,” according to Charlie Spahr, CEO/president of the Ceramic Publications Co., the ACS division responsible for the group’s print and digital products. The videos “seem to have really taken off,” Spahr says. “It’s easy to see why. For our audience, the how-to aspect is important. You can describe it, you can have photos — but it’s another level when you have another person demoing it live, especially when it’s an expert.” The videos have become so popular, ACS just acquired a second server dedicated to them.