(Reprinted by permission from Virtual Insurance newsletter Nov 2 2001 issue,
Marketers have used video, sound, and animation to emotionally appeal to customers for
decades. Video email not only couples these benefits with true 1 to 1 messaging capabilities, but also
carries with it many complexities.
In fact, launching a video email campaign can be a gut wrenching experience. There are at
least 144 different combinations of variables that affect how a user will view the media being presented.
Not being able to see the richest content possible may mean the difference between an experience that drives
ROI and one that damages your brand.
Before launching a video email program, these five steps will guide you around the hazards
inherent in any rich media email campaign.
Test the content yourself with every
computer, media player, platform, email address, security setting, and Internet bandwidth
that you have available. The ability to view video email in its richest form depends on
the combination of variables present on the recipient’s computer. It is important to
understand the quality of an experience for those recipients with less than an optimal
Streaming video is not the same as
television broadcasting. Re-purposing of television commercials for Internet streaming can
be very effective depending on the original production and editing of the commercial. But,
quick transitions, fast movement, fades, and low lighting can result in poor quality
streaming video for dial up Internet users. You don’t need to limit your video to
“talking heads” but don’t assume that just any content is suitable for streaming.
Utilize designers with daily experience in
rich media. Along with the benefits of rich media come complexities in design, tracking,
and coding. For example, designers that have worked with rich media email in the past
month should be able to design to take advantage of AOL’s recent release of 7.0, Microsoft
XP, and various security patch releases.
Whenever possible, have the video play in
preview pane. If your customers have Outlook 2000 or Windows XP, they will not be able to
view the video in the preview pane if your solution is based on a java applet or involves
any kind of scripting. Because of past security vulnerabilities, Microsoft is becoming
more and more security conscious in its email clients. In Windows XP, scripting is
disabled in the preview pane as well as when the message is opened.
Offer a solution that can be viewed by any
media player unless you are certain that all of your customers have a particular media
player loaded. There’s nothing worse than sending someone a message that they can’t see
unless they download a plug-in of your choice. But, if you know that all of your
recipients have the current version of a particular media player, save yourself the
encoding cost and serve only streams for that player. Ideally, you want your solution to
deliver the right content without the recipient having to tell you what their available
bandwidth or available media players are.
Due to its ability to interact with the viewer at an emotional level, video email has wonderful
applications including investor relations, product demos, training, marketing promotions, and market research.
Taking these five steps will help ensure that your video email campaign will bring you the response that you
want and avoid the reaction that you don’t.