Monday, October 11, 2010

The Battle For Your Inbox – Is Video Email the Next Wave?

As email inboxes become more and more crowded, email marketers are being challenged to find new ways to increase open rates, engagement time and response rates. According to a 2010 study by GetResponse, email marketers are actively looking for new ways to integrate social media tools more effectively into their email programs as a way to break through the clutter.

Over 90% of respondents said that they planned to integrate social media into their email campaigns by adding sign-up forms on Facebook and other social media sites and through adding share options through their email messages. That same study predicted a dramatic increase in the use of video in their email marketing program, with over 80% of respondents indicating they would begin or expand their use of video emails this year.

The GetResponse conclusions on the growth of video were recently corroborated by a report released last month by the Web Video Marketing Council. The WVMC study identified these key findings on emerging trends and perceptions that will influence the increased adoption of video email marketing:

Online video is already being used by 73% of survey participants for marketing, and half are using video in conjunction with their email. In addition, 24% of respondents are considering the use of video in their email marketing programs.

There is a strong belief among marketers in the study that video increases email click thru rates. A large majority of marketers (73%) believe that integrating video with email marketing will increase click thru rates. Only 6% of respondents did not think that video would have a positive impact on click thru rates. The overwhelming positive perception indicates that more marketers are likely to include video with email marketing in the future.

Those same marketers believe that video also increases conversion rates and leads to increased customer purchases. Almost three-fourths of the marketers surveyed (73%) feel that video based email marketing is more likely to generate higher conversion and purchase rates than static content. Only 5% of marketers thought that video with email would make no difference or have a negative impact on conversion and purchase rates.

Most marketers in the survey believe that video email marketing is a wave of the future. Nearly all of the marketers surveyed indicated that video based email marketing was the wave of the future (52%) or were intrigued by the opportunity (44%). Only 4% of marketers did not think that video email marketing works.

Wayne Wall, CEO of Flimp Media (a co-sponsor of the study) agrees that video is a wave of the future. He offers this opinion of the future of incorporating video into online marketing programs, "The adoption of rich media web technologies will radically change the way corporations market, sell and communicate. In the next three years we will witness a broad shift from static text and graphic print and web content to engaging audiovisual and multimedia content, more viewer interactivity, and instant activity reporting and results measurement. As broadband makes web video available to a global audience, as well as a conduit for richer interactive marketing experiences, consumption of rich media content will reshape the direct marketing and communications industries as we know them today."

Despite this overwhelming belief in the potential power of video email, these same study respondents recognize that there are barriers and challenges to widespread implementation. Almost 80% said their email service provider does not offer a video marketing solution or they weren’t aware if they did.

They felt that ease of implementation and high cost of producing video assets were the primary challenges associated with using video for email marketing. Cost and availability of video content are likely related since video production can be expensive. The study concludes that as the cost of online video development decreases, more marketers will likely participate in video based marketing.

An interesting side note to the question of barriers and challenges is that 13% of marketers surveyed were concerned about the receptivity of consumers to video email marketing. This is something that should be studied in more detail as it will certainly impact how marketers approach video as a part of an integrated web marketing program.

A final finding from the study is that current practice is primarily limited to linking to a video landing page. However, most felt that embedding a video player in an email message would be a more effective way to use video with email when the technology becomes available.

My conclusion is that online video is a fast-growing digital marketing channel that should be looked at carefully by almost every marketer who wants to implement a truly integrated web marketing effort. These two studies indicate that many marketers are confident that video will grow and prove beneficial to their email efforts.

What about your clients? Are they using video in their web marketing programs? Is this an area that you can lead your client to build value as a partner?

What about your agency? Are you using video as part of your business development emails?

Are you catching the wave?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Microsoft hits a home run with Office 2010 viral campaign

At a recent Puget Sound American Marketing Association luncheon, Jerry Hayek, Group Marketing Manager at Microsoft and Brian Donaldson, Group Account Director at Wunderman, gave a packed house an overview of the Office 2010 launch campaign. Jerry started the presentation with an overview of the challenges of introducing a new version of a product that is already in use by 80% of the world’s businesses. Their introductory program elements were, for the most part, what you would expect from a seasoned marketer with experience in launching new products – online and offline advertising, large scale events in 15 major cities, etc.

The real surprise of the presentation came in the form of an unexpected, and I daresay brilliantly clever, use of viral marketing to “influence the influencers”, i.e. developers, technical decision makers, and other IT professionals.

Responding to the challenge to find a way to speak to an important audience that is currently enamored with Google apps, iPads, Android and other sexier topics than Office 2010, Wunderman created a fictional company – The Allure Bays Corp. (ABC), complete with web site, YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter account. The company name originates from a broken-English Internet meme from 2000 "All your base are belong to us" (an inside joke reference that few outside of the technical sphere would understand and appreciate). But that’s okay, I’m not their target. And that’s what makes the campaign such a hit in my opinion.

The fake company's website is loaded with satirical videos that contain pop culture references and Easter Eggs (a new term for me, but one the tech audience knows well – Easter Eggs are hidden clues and content) that speak to the tech audience in a way that says “we get it”. A Twitter account was created to provide a venue for the tech audience to show off their skills to each other in deciphering clues and identifying the Easter Eggs hidden in the site and on the videos.

But Allure Bays is not just about a fun, clever game. Inside the videos are important messages about collaborating and communicating – two principal features of Office 2010.

A review of comments on their YouTube channel shows a mixed reaction among a notoriously difficult audience to reach and impress, but the majority of comments I read were positive. One of the responses to the Allure Bays campaign cited by Donaldson in the presentation described the campaign as "What happens when the marketing people at MS take acid and watch LOST? Allure Bays Corp."

Whether you like, or even understand the campaign, isn’t the point here since most of us aren’t in the target group for this element of the launch campaign. The marketing lesson, in my mind, is that this is a brilliant example of: (a) knowing your marketing situation and your target audience – how do you get an important tech audience to even notice, much less get excited about a new version of Office, (b) speaking to a highly, defined, technical target in a way they might listen to and appreciate, and (c) stepping way outside of the box in your execution.

There are a lot of sexy topics for techies to chat about, and I daresay that Microsoft Office isn't one of them. What is so interesting about this campaign is that it breaks through the clutter and makes Office 2010 a water cooler topic, love it or hate it. Hats off to Wunderman. And to the MS guy who fought it through the system.

If you want to see what MediaPost has to say about the campaign, visit their MediaCreativity blog at

I like this campaign. And I must admit I was surprised to discover that Microsoft has a sense of humor? The important lesson from this is that sometimes you have to adapt your style to speak to an audience in a way they will understand and appreciate. My hats off to Microsoft and to Wunderman for giving us a great case study on how to use viral marketing to make an otherwise routine introduction special!