New Way to Send Video Emails?
If you could send a “silent video email” to subscribers, would you?
Our suggestion, then, was to put a picture of the video in your email and encourage subscribers to click on it to play the video.
This is a useful way to drive traffic to your video, but it’s not quite a video email – after all, there’s no movement to grab the reader’s attention. It uses a static image just like other HTML emails do.
Recently, someone took the idea of video email a step further and created an email marketing campaign that used video in a way that I hadn’t thought feasible – and it displayed properly in nearly all major email programs!
Here’s how she did it…
“Silent Video Email” Uses Animated GIF
Take a look at this email created for the movie “Twilight” (link opens in new window).
That video trailer playing on the left-hand side? It not only works on the web page, but it works in all major email clients except Outlook 2007 (which only displays the first frame of the trailer).
In other words, it works in:
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- And More
Pretty cool, no?
How’d They Do That?
The email uses an animated GIF to simulate video.
GIFs have been used before in numerous email campaigns, but I’ve never seen one used on this kind of scale – most tend to be just a couple of frames and are often used to create small moving icons.
Anna was kind enough to post a detailed write-up of how she made the GIF. I’ve included my “Cliffs Notes” version below, but her write-up includes a lot of useful suggestions on frame rates, dimensions, colors, and other technical details that can help you create a high-quality animation.
- Record or capture video
- Convert video file to GIF
- Upload GIF to your website
- Put GIF into your email just like any other image
- Add remaining email content
- Test and send your email!
A Few Things to Consider When Using This Tactic
- This tactic can be useful not only for “normal” videos, but for any situation where animation might be helpful.
Two quick examples of this: a 360-degree rotating view of a product and a “slideshow” of different rooms in a house for sale.
- You don’t get any sound in the email with this method.
So if your original video has sound, and that sound adds meaning/value to the video, link the image to a page of your website where your subscribers can go watch the video with sound.
- If someone has images turned off, they’re not going to see the animation.
Encourage subscribers to turn on images. Also, provide a text link to an online version of the video.
- Keep the video short and the file size small. The image in Anna’s example was over 2MB, which is pretty big, especially for subscribers on slow Internet connections.
You want your image to load quickly, right?
Tools That Can Help You Create Animated GIFs
Note: I have not used any of these solutions yet to create animated GIFs from video. Neither I nor AWeber endorse any of these solutions in particular. I Googled most of them. Please use your best judgment in deciding whether any of these are a good fit for you.
- Pro Motion – the software Anna used to create her GIF. Software download for Windows. Cost: $78.
- VidGIF – software download for Windows. Cost: $29.95.
- GIF Ninja – web-based video to GIF converter. Free. (But remember that when you use an online converter, you’re uploading your video to someone else’s site. If you’re not comfortable with that, don’t do it.)
- VTubeTools – web-based video to GIF converter. Free.
I’m sure there are other tools out there that can do this as well, but hopefully that’s a good starting point.
Other Discussions of Using Animation as Video
You can read a couple other discussions about this email, and about video email in general, at:
What Do You Think?
Will you be trying animation in your own email marketing campaigns? Why/why not?
What pros/cons do you see to using animation as a “silent video” like this? What tips might you offer to make it as effective a tactic as possible?