Video Content – The New Black of Email Marketing

Colin Osing   November 15, 204

As an email marketer, you are probably bombarded with studies and statistics that highlight the benefit of using video in your email campaigns. While it is interesting to look at numbers, it is also important to know why it makes sense from a behavioral perspective. To set the context let us start with a few case studies that emphasize the impact of video in the email marketing efforts made by these companies:

  • Clothing retailer Express added video to their email blasts and saw its conversion rates go up 33%. More importantly, revenues increased by 55%
  • Bare Escentuals doubled click-through rates by embedding video in emails promoting cosmetic products
  • Zumba Fitness was able to drive a click through rate of 50% (highest promotional email CTR) by including a personalized video

Not sold? Can’t tell it’s the new black yet? Let’s look at it from a more scientific perspective.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Your goal in sending a marketing email is to influence the recipient to click through, right? Measuring success using this metric is pretty straight-forward, but there’s another way to look at it.

You want the recipient to decide to take a specific action, i.e. click through to the next stage in the selling process. It isn’t the click-through that you’re after, it’s the decision to click-through.

Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, explains 2 theories of decision-making: either we are rational beings who carefully weigh pluses and minuses to come to a reasoned decision or we are emotional beings who operate from gut feel.

Lehrer summarizes the current understanding about this issue:

It turns out that we weren’t designed to be rational or logical or even particularly deliberate. Instead, our mind holds a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotion.

Our challenge as email marketers is to navigate the “messy network” that is the consumer’s mind? Two strategies come to mind: 1) Make the message easy to digest and, 2) Create a strong emotional response. As luck would have it video does both!

Video is Easier to Digest than Text

The human brain is built to process images and we use our eyes both for reading text and viewing video. So why does one work better than the other?

Dr. Stephen Kosslyn, Dept. of Psychology at Harvard, has researched how the human brain processes text compared to visual forms of communication, including video. Here’s the scoop on text:

Asking people to read text requires a lot of processing effort. The brain first must compare letters and word-forms with shapes stored in memory. Then it gauges how the words fit together in the context of sentences, and so forth. All considered, reading is a lot of mental work.

Don’t know about you, but reading Dr. Kosslyn’s explanation of why reading requires a lot of mental work was a lot of mental work.

For a quick demonstration, look at each half of the following figure for a few seconds.  Which message is easier to digest?

Video Content   The New Black of Email Marketing image txtvsbaby 600x268

Reading about infant sleep studies provides the information but little emotional response. In contrast, showing an image of a baby sleeping (or a video) soundly elicits a visceral reaction—perfect for conveying that emotional content quickly and easily in that short time which the recipient decides whether to keep reading your email—or click away.

You Really Should Be Using Video in Your Email Campaigns

To sum it up, text alone won’t do the job of persuading potential customers to take the action that you want them to take. Adding video to your emails doesn’t make for sure-fire success, but it does make your message more emotional and easier to digest, which ultimately affects decision making.

Of course, you need compelling video content to influence viewers to make the right decision—and that’s a subject for another time.

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