Video-Enhanced Email Designed for Profit

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Animated gifs in emails can help increase click-throughs—or they can be sold as advertising and generate revenue.

What if people opened your email and saw a video playing? OK, an animated gif to be precise, but with a click-through to a full video. And what if you could change that gif and that video dynamically throughout the day? Considering that one study has video ad spending growing at a 70% clip this year and another has nine out of 10 smartphone users watching video ads to completion, would it be wrong to expect higher engagement rates?

No, not at all, according to Rachel Cooley, an email specialist at Edmunds.com who recently started adding gifs to the emails the marketing team sends to the site's 2.5 million subscribers. The result: a 30% increase in click-through rates. Cooley uses a range of video content, from self-help loops on how to change your wiper blades to rotating images of car models Edmunds is promoting. Upon open, the autoplay unit runs on a loop for up to seven seconds within the email , the user can click through to a video or a landing page.

“Our goals are retention and to move [recipients] onto our site where we can help them with their car purchase,” Cooley says. “It's really easy to use and it's not expensive. I experiment with different types of video content and can change it frequently.”

Edmunds creates the emails with technology provided by PowerInbox, which claims to have the only such solution that will serve muted autoplay videos on desktop, tablets, or cell phones. Publishers such as ABC and Hearst also have been testing the video service, which PowerInbox is rolling out this week. Popularity for the technology among publishers is the answer to the question: What if you could sell video advertising inside your emails and turn them into profit centers?

“That's what's really new here. The publisher can monetize the video real estate on their emails with advertising,” says PowerInbox CEO Jeff Kupietzky. “You could go through an ad network and match the content of the ad with that of the email.”

The autoplay video units run either as an advertising component in RevenueStripe, PowerInbox's email content recommendation solution, or as a dynamic element in DynamicMail, the company's email personalization solution. RevenueStripe matches content to users based on device, time, location, and user click behavior.

Another publisher who's used the system reports an experience similar to Edmunds'. “The emails with autoplay ads are showing a 3.3x lift in click-through rates compared to our static ads,” says Denis Roussel, advertising director at OuterBuzz.com. “In the same way that video is leading ad monetization on websites and in apps, this does it in emails.”

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