The From Line
With the exception of GoodMail's Certified Video service, LiveClicker is the only technology I have seen that allows marketers to easily bring full motion picture to email (excluding sound). I liked LiveClicker's technology so much that I decided to partner them. This partnership will allow Gold Lasso's clients easily leverage true video in email technology exchanging the simulated video control click-through image for something that's truly engaging.
The best thing about the technology is that video plays directly in the inbox and is compatible with most email clients.
You can read more about the partnership here.
If you're interested in learning more about how LiveClicker works with Gold Lasso's eLoop please contact your service or sales rep.
Gmail YouTube Capabilities
Gmail recently announced a new "Labs" feature allowing users to preview YouTube videos in emails. This technology is currently only for Gmail users, and is limited to YouTube videos, but it stands as significant progress in the move towards true video embedding. Many marketers are experimenting with Gmail-only campaigns, segmenting their lists for gmail.com subscribers and embedding short video clips as part of the campaign.
GoodMail Systems CertifiedVideo
GoodMail Systems has also found a way to insert and play videos from email messages. The CertifiedVideo platform enables qualified senders to incorporate rich video and audio content directly in email messaging, without additional mouse clicks and pop?ups. CertifiedVideo is based on Goodmail's core CertifiedEmail technology with the addition of a new CertifiedVideo tokenclass. Senders' messages are delivered directly to the inbox and ISP restrictions are lifted, enabling video to be instantly viewed by recipients. CertifiedVideo supports streaming and progressive download of .SWF and .FLV files, playable in Adobe Flash Player. I met with Peter Horan, GoodMail's CEO, a few weeks ago at the Email Insider Summit in Captiva Island, Fla. He seemed very enthusiastic about the beta testing that was completed with select clients and was eager to roll it out to the rest of us. If you qualify for GoodMail services, you should definitely take a look at CertifiedVideo.
For those of you who do not have a lot of Gmail addresses and can't qualify for CertifiedVideo, there's still some hope for you. Below are two additional tricks that work but are not as optimal as the above solutions.
The simplest alternative to embedding video is to insert a text link to the video from your email. The video then opens in an external browser. While this approach is straightforward and uncomplicated, it lacks the obvious visual draw and speed of an embedded video or a related image. For this reason, the best practice for most marketers has been to insert a clickable screen shot or animated image of the video (discussed below).
Link with Image/Animated GIF
Simulating video with images typically generates more visual interest. How it works: once the video is loaded to your referring Web site, a screenshot is taken. HTML is coded to display this screenshot image when the email is opened, linking it to the eb page where the video resides. Because images will render across all email platforms, this approach is considered a safe and alternative to embedding. Unfortunately, images also get blocked. Animated GIFs no longer run properly, as they are also blocked because spammers used to bypass filters. Marketers have a few options to bypass this obstacle, including the addition of a text link below the image and using alt attributes in the HTML code. While using images to simulate video is an industry best?practice, this approach has its limitations.
What the Future May Bring
If none of the above sounds appealing to you, don't despair. It is my intuition that email as a delivery mechanism for video will become so important in the coming year or so that inbox providers will make it much easier for marketers to do. After all, they're going to have to continue pumping out new tricks to compete with social media for ad dollars. And what better way to keep someone glued to their inbox than an old rerun of "Welcome Back Kotter" (for me at least). As Vinnie Barbarino would say, "up your nose with a rubber hose," social media.
Every January email marketing pundits try to make predictions of what the industry will bring for the upcoming year. They range from the career conservative to off-the-wall reckless. Some self-serving predictions blur the line between editorial and advertising so much that only a New Year's hangover can help you tell the difference between the two. Even though the accuracy of annual email marketing conjectures can be debated, almost all have some sort of truth to them. With that being said, below are my four bold predictions for 2009 prefaced by the fact that I have a short-term 50% accuracy rate and an 80% long-term rate. So I'm usually right, eventually.
The price per email for the middle and enterprise marketplaces will drop.
Commercial email and the ESPs used to send them are both commodities. In a depressed economy, most commodity prices fall, especially ones with excess supply. Technologically speaking, with few exceptions, there's no difference between the commercial email you and your competitor send even if you use a more expensive ESP. It's true that more expensive ESPs tend to provide better feature sets and customer service -- however, feature and service parity have been achieved in the Soho market and are rapidly becoming reality in the middle and enterprise marketplaces. Therefore, I predict that customers using middle and enterprise market ESPs will squeeze hard during the contract renewal process in 2009, forcing the industry average price per email down. No rocket science here!
Commercial email volume will increase exponentially, forcing down email's lofty ROI.
Based on my above assumption, simple economics suggests that any high-demand commodity with an infinite supply and falling price will be over-consumed. Unlike traditional business models, the overconsumption of commercial email will cause a positive relationship between falling prices and ROI. The reason for this positive relationship is simple. As consumers receive more commercial email, marketing messages are lost in the clutter, making the medium less effective, and challenging marketers to come up with new ways to grab consumer attention. Hence my next prediction....
The demand to stream video via email will increase.
All savvy email marketers know that it's impossible to stream video via email as a result of enhanced anti-spam technology. What was once considered an advanced email marketing trick in 2002 quickly fizzled as inbox providers rushed to put anti-rendering measures in to curb the onslaught of spam, thus destroying many early ESPs' video-via-email business models. However, increased bandwidth and the fanfare of YouTube and similar video Web sites have resurrected the demand for video via email, prompting companies such as GoodMail to develop solutions that will keep both ISP and marketer happy. The catch is that not every marketer will qualify for GoodMail's certified video service -- creating two sets of have and have-not marketers, and forcing the have-nots to simulate video players with still images encouraging click-thoughs to a video-enabled landing page.
Social networking sites will become the new inbox providers.
I made the above prediction in January of '08 and was off the mark, but I'm going to continue to stick with it in '09, as I'm confident it will come to fruition (any year now). I laugh every time I hear someone claim that social networking will kill email marketing. It's true that social networking has cut into email's market share of consumers' personal communication, but this phenomenon will be short-lived as social networking sites rush to become the new inbox providers. The reason for my confidence is that social networking sites have yet to live up to financial expectations, forcing them to find other avenues to monetize their traffic. This has already started the early adoption of traditional ad models, allowing social networking sites to nibble at Yahoo, MSN and Google's market share. With the adoption of a traditional ad model comes inbox services, as email is one of the largest consumers of Internet time. If MySpace, FaceBook and the like want to sell more ad space, they will need to guarantee activities with proven performance.
Do you think my predictions makes sense for 2009 -- or are they completely off the mark? I guess we'll have to wait until next year to find out. In the meantime, if you have any additional insights you would like to share, please comment below.