Video in Email Doubles CTR for Ragan Communications [Case Study]

Video in Email Doubles CTR for Ragan Communications [Case Study]

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Ragan Communications and Marketing Sherpa recently released a case study that looked at the effectiveness of their video email marketing campaign which had an interesting data point in it, the fact that the video emails had double the clickthrough rate as two other types of marketing emails they were sending.

Now, taking a single data point and extrapolating it to anything can leave massive room for inaccuracies, misinformation, etc. So while reading this, I want you to remember that this is just a single data point and therefore cannot be extrapolated out to make any kind of broad generalized statements about video email marketing, your business or anyone’s business aside from Ragan Communications. However, by informing everyone of this case study perhaps we can start to assemble a series of data points about video email marketing and then start compiling and analyzing for a broader snapshot of the industry. So study your cases and send me the results and I’ll do the compiling and analyzing.

The Ragan Email Study

Ragan used three different types of email marketing and then looked at the results for them. The three were;

  1. Text only email
  2. Email with design element (graphics, etc)
  3. Email with video thumbnail linking out to external dedicated page with video (example below).

The video emails had a promotion in them, a discount on something, a free this or that when signing up for a seminar or trade show, etc.  It isn’t clear whether or not this same incentive was reflected in the other emails so to me, this is enough of a variable to completely influence the results in a way that makes them unreliable. Offering something for free is usually going to increase the click through rate, provided you’re not sending spam and you are targeting your audience correctly. Of course, the open rates were very similar so it’s possible that the subject line contained promotional copy in each, or none.  In the case study they didn’t state anything about offering something or having some sort of exclusive deal in the other forms of email, so we just don’t know.

We have talked in the past about scripted content versus unscripted. Each has its own pros and cons, in the Ragan case the CEO wanted an “off-the-cuff” style video and so they tossed out the script. For them it seems to have worked but that might not be the case for everyone.

In terms of the video emails themselves, they found a formula that seemed to work well enough for them. Several short paragraphs with the video thumbnail and a call to action, go watch the video. Clicking the thumbnail sends them to a dedicated landing page for instant video viewing.

The added benefit I see to this method is that you get some tangential analytics as well. Plus, if you are using Google Analytics and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) link tagging you could track the specific campaign email that sent the user to the page, etc.

Here’s a link builder from Google for you to use and some basic info on the UTM tags is below.

Campaign Source (utm_source)Required. Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or other source.
Campaign Medium (utm_medium)Required. Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.
Campaign Term (utm_term)Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.
Campaign Content (utm_content)Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.
Examplesutm_content=logolink orutm_content=textlink
Campaign Name (utm_campaign)Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.

 Email Newsletter Campaign Results

The Ragan results aren’t astounding. The average open rate for each of the three types of emails they sent were extremely similar. The click through rate did double for the video emails, but again, those were offering some other incentive that appears to have not been in the other emails. The rise in CTR could be at least partly attributed to the promotions and not the actual video itself. Hence why I said we need more data points to even consider these results as valid. Obviously, they were valid for Ragan, but without controlling all of the variables it makes the results nearly impossible to recreate.

Video emails

  • Average open rate: 7.7%
  • Average CTR: 0.51%

Emails with a design element

  • Average open rate: 7.09%
  • Average CTR: 0.29%

Text-only emails:

  • Average open rate: 7.87%
  • Average CTR: 0.25%

The other thing that they didn’t try to track accurately was the effect the video emails had on conversions. In the case study they stated,

“We measure the orders from each specific email promotion, but it’s something that we take with a grain of salt because there is just so much overlap between our different marketing channels.”

But with today’s metrics, analytics and technology, this shouldn’t have been an issue. It could have been as simple as offering a particular discount code for each avenue of marketing, or correctly utilizing the UTM tags or any number of other tracking possibilities. So while we see that CTR went up, we don’t know what the ROI on the video email marketing really is because they did not track any kind of uplift for their event registrations, etc. A pity, that would have been far more telling itself than the CTR alone is.

My Email Marketing Tips

Aside from the UTM tracking I suggested I might like to also see some A/B testing of two different videos, two different email layouts, etc. It’s nice to see a comparison to text and graphic emails, but it would also be nice to see the effect of video placement in the email, thumbnail choice, etc. Plus, you might find, partway through the campaign, that one is working far better than another and simply switch over to that for the rest of the campaign. Also, ROI tracking, conversion uplift, common metrics for marketing success would be great additions to start forming an overall snapshot of how video email marketing is actually impacting real life businesses and we might also be able to build a nice set of best practices based on those real world results as compared to theoretical “well this should work because of X, Y and Z.”

Answer below: What tips do you have for video email marketing?


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