FeedBlitz is a service for publishers that automatically creates and sends emails of your RSS feed to your subscribers. Back in March, the service added support for Animoto embeds in emails. We spoke to FeedBlitz Founder and CEO Phil Hollows to learn more.
The need for a video solution in email
In a study released this month, Animoto found that consumers are 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to videos and more than half of consumers have watched a company video that came through email. FeedBlitz’s Hollows explains: “Video, in general, provides more engaging content for publishers and bloggers. Enabling those videos to be visible and clickable in an email makes that engagement possible to your most committed and loyal audience: email subscribers.”
In a 2010 blog post on Better Video in Emails, Hollows wrote, “Video in email has long been a source of frustration. The vast majority of client email software will not run embedded videos as they pose a security risk. The videos don’t display, and for bloggers and emailers making use of embedded video it is a source of aggravation when sent to email clients.”
To solve this issue, FeedBlitz first began automatically generating thumbnail images, linking back to the original post, whenever a video is embedded in said post. Today, FeedBlitz automatically generates thumbnails for embedded videos from YouTube, MetaCafe, Dailymotion, Vimeo, Yahoo, Blip.tv, Hulu, Wistia, and, most recently, Animoto.
Adding support for Animoto
In March of this year, Hollows decided to start supporting Animoto video embeds in email after he embedded the following video in a blog post to introduce a new Feedblitz feature called SmartForms.
He wanted to leverage the power of video to promote the new feature in the automated email that would go out to his subscribers. To do this effectively, he added Animoto to the list of supported video platforms for all FeedBlitz customers. You can click here to see how the thumbnail appeared in email.
Feedblitz leveraged the Animoto oEmbed API to get additional video details. By simply passing the Animoto video URL to the API, Hollows was able to retrieve the video thumbnail and then include that in his emails. The embed API also provided details about the thumbnail size, video URL, as well as embedded video details that could be used by Feedblitz.
Hollows told us, “This is a real win for us. Not only will emails look better, but it’s a great feature add, and a great marketing tool for the company.” FeedBlitz, like Animoto, is used by a large number of small businesses – it’s exciting to be able to support the businesses that are using both platforms.
Best practices for including video in email
When thinking about adding video to an email, your initial inclination may be to try to embed the full video in the email itself. However, the majority of email clients won’t support video embeds. In a knowledge base article, Hollows explains, “The reason for this is that most modern email software treats active components in HTML email as potentially hostile (i.e. a virus or some other malware). They don’t ‘know’ that the active component is a harmless video player. As a result, erring on the side of caution, almost all email software programs and webmail services will simply remove the video player before they display the email to the recipient.”
But even for customers with email clients that do support video embeds that play within emails themselves, embedding videos may not be the most ideal solution. Why? Playing a video in an email still requires a user to click. Once they’ve finished watching the video they’ll have to click somewhere else in the email to get more information, make a purchase, visit your website, or take whatever action you’d like them to take. You can cut out extra clicks when customers initial click takes them to a single destination where they can watch your video and get more information.
So how should you set up your email to get the most clickthroughs to your video? You could simply include a link, but when that link is paired with something visual you’ll get much better results. Here are some tips:
- Choose the most visually-appealing thumbnail from your video (a service like FeedBlitz will choose the thumbnail that you’ve set with your hosting service)
- When including an image, make sure to add a hyperlink to the image itself
- If you’re designing the email yourself, add a play button to your image
- Use an animated GIF featuring a few seconds from your video to add an element of motion and capture readers’ attention (note: when using animated GIFs, keep the file size to a minimum)
- Include text indicating that clicking through will take readers to a video
Have you used video in your email strategy? How did it affect open rates and clickthroughs? Share your experience with us in the comments below.