Consider HTML5 video email marketing for B2B audiences

Today, there are only four ways email marketers can use video in email: static images linked to Flash videos on landing pages, animated .GIF/.PNG videos, HTML5 video, and Goodmail’s CertifiedVideo service.  B2C marketers could have a video email bonanza, with all major webmail clients supporting animated .GIF video (Gmail, Windows Live Mail, Yahoo Mail, etc).  And with the emergence of the iPhone and iPad, HTML5 video is increasingly accessible for B2C emailers.

But what of the B2B marketers among us?  To say that video in email was difficult to achieve in the past for B2B marketers could be an understatement.  Consider the following:

1.  Outlook 2007 is a widely used B2B mail client; it doesn’t support either HTML5 video or animated .GIFs.

2.  CertifiedVideo only supports video in email at AOL (which isn’t used by many business email readers).

3.  And HTML5 video only covers the iPhone, iPad, Thunderbird, and a handful of other mail clients.

But wait – didn’t Apple just announce they sold 4.2 million iPads in the 3rd quarter of 2010?  And hasn’t Apple now sold over 65 MILLION iPhones to date (see below).

With the preceding stats in hand, I thought I’d test some assumptions as a B2B email marketer myself and see how much of our audience was capable of receiving HTML5 video directly in/from their built-in mail client.

Now, keep in mind that using one’s self as a case study should always be taken with a grain of salt.  After all, I’m in the online video industry, our company sells to a mostly sophisticated set of digital marketers and technologists.  Hence, you should take this post with the caveat, “your results may vary.”  Still, I think they’re likely to shock you (they certainly shocked me).

Below is a set of data from folks that opened an email campaign from yesterday, launched at 3PM Pacific Time, 6PM Eastern Time, that breaks down the email openers by the mail client in use.  The clients highlighted in red support HTML5 video in email.

What are the immediate takeaways that blew me away as a marketer?

1. The  iPhone was the 2ND MOST POPULAR client (keep in mind, some versions of Outlook may not self-report as Outlook, just IE).

2. In total, 19.8% of our openers are able to render HTML5 video in email.  Wow.

Effective email marketing is all about delivering relevant messages to the right people at the right time.  Segmenting by mail client can be extraordinarily powerful for B2B marketers seeking to deliver testimonial or product demonstration type videos that generally would function better as HTML5 videos than animated .GIF videos.

And now that I know who in our list can receive video directly in their email client, I have a built-in audience where I can deliver video in email, along with a high degree of confidence that the message received will truly show as video in email.

Until next time –

Happy Selling!