As you may have noticed I try to give some coverage on new technology and techniques in email marketing on a regular basis. Just recently the interview with Movable Ink for instance. Also the growing support for html5 by email clients is something covered regularly.
However, don’t be blinded by everything that is shiny and new. We humans have gotten into the habit of embracing all the next best things, regardless of whether they really are ‘ best’. It is driven in part by the frantic tempo of developments in the tech world, but also the consumerism fueled by the retail industry.
What I’m getting at is that all these new developments are nice, but people focussing on the new stuff sometimes neglect the tried and basic practices in email marketing. Just recently I saw a great example of a not so great welcome email, posted by Loren McDonald on Google+.
The contents of the email were just this: “Newsletter subscription success” – and that was the subject line as well. A huge opportunity lost to welcome a new subscriber properly. A welcome campaign should be part of one’s basic email marketing skills – be sure to check yours.
If you don’t have your basics right, don’t pick up that new and shiny email marketing technology just yet, regardless of how cool it is. Those basics are much more important than doing funky stuff with html5 in email or streaming live content.
Apparently as of now Chrome supports HTML5 in Hotmail the best: after some experimenting by video-in-email company BombBomb they have found that Chrome is the cool kid: controls for displaying/running the video are shown just fine. Other browsers that should be able to show it as well are Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 and the latest version of Safari.
Other notes on the workings:
BombBomb notes that Hotmail currently strips the <video> tag, which means you can only play the video by right-clicking it.
Here’s a handy dandy link about HTML5 and video, courtesy of Ros Hodgekiss as well. It’s an extensive page about video on the web – in particular about using HTML5, the video-tag and browser support info.
After Interactive Views I believe this is finally a step in the right direction for email clients. The odd thing is that coming from the same company there’s such a wide gap in support between Hotmail and the current Outlook version, 2010. The latter doesn’t even support some basic sets of HTML tags, while Hotmail now even supports HTML5 and all the goodies magic it allows. I think Microsoft should act quick and ramp up support in Outlook 2010 (or upcoming future editions of Outlook) for basic HTML tags as wel as HTML5, so the experience for everyone using those products will be the same across those different clients.
Furthermore current support seems to be best in Chrome, while it still is only the third browser in the market (although growing fast). Combined, IE and FF still have 71% of the market while Chrome has just over 20%. This means that using HTML5 (video) for Hotmail would have an email marketer first scan his list for email client -and- browser usage (where possible) to make sure what will work or not.
Nevertheless, supporting HTML5 is great to see coming from Hotmail: it’s an indication that the technology is on the move with the big guys, and with growing support it might finally be time for email marketers to give video in email a go for certain target groups.
Last night I came across this beautiful email promoting a new TV series called Game of Thrones: it containes a 15 sec video trailer of the series. The video is integrated using Liveclicker html5 email video tech and has an animated gif for when your webmail or email client does not support html5. Subject line: The wait is finally over…
Here’s a screenshot:
You can find the video here, and the animated gif looks like this:
The full version of the email can be found here, which is much longer than the email screenshot above.
You can guess why I think this is an email winner, right? Here’s my points:
- Using html5 video in email, -with- fallback to animated gif
- Snippet text is there: Catch this year’s must-see TV blockbuster
- Beautiful design of the complete email
- Nice balance between text and imagery
It’s good to see that new web technology is starting to have a presence: especially with html5 which imho still is one of the most crucial new developments for email marketing.
Last year in August I made a bet with Anna Yeaman that as of March 1st 2011 (which would be last week), at least one webmail provider (be it GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo or any other) would support HTML5 in their email clients. The reason I proposed this bet was that HTML5 was gaining quite some momentum and two of the biggest players in the industry (Google and Microsoft in this case) had both a browser (Internet Explorer and Chrome) and a webmail client (Hotmail and GMail) in the arena.
The bet was that I would send Anna some fine Belgian chocolate if one (any) provider didn’t get to support HTML5 email in their web clients by March 1st. Sadly, I lost: there is no HTML5 support so far in any webmail client (as of today 7th March 2011). Which means that when I’m in Belgium later this month I’ll have to visit a chocolatery and grab me some bonbons to send her way. D’oh!
Why would HTML5 support in webmail clients be such a big and cool thing? Maybe you’ve seen some examples and showcases already, but HTML5 could be just the thing many email marketers and designers have been waiting for. Being limited by Outlook 2007/2010′s incomplete HTML support (Word is not a valid HTML render engine) is bad enough as it is, but the webmail clients don’t make it easy either. Why is it that GMail after all these years doesn’t support CSS classes in an email? The list of non-standard email client behaviour goes on.
Other than Microsoft launching Active Views in December last year innovation in the world of email has been quite limited or even backwards in the case of Outlook 2007/2010. Email is getting more diversified among platforms, especially with the rise of mobile email usage introducing a host of new email clients and screen sizes to take into account. This also means the email experience is getting more condensed and more like fast food: quick bite sized glances on screens to update one’s email head, no extended look and read through the email. The future of email should be better than that.
With HTML5 email support built in web and offline mail clients the email experience could become more immersive and fun again, and also make a subscriber’s path more seamless from email to website. When one of the purposes of an email is to drive traffic to a company website, by all means make both channels as close and connected as possible to gain maximum effect. Email as a communications and marketing channel needs all the help it can get: I believe HTML5 can be one of the technological steps forward to finally welcome email into the 21st century.
Late last week the first version of Google Chrome 10 was released as beta. According to the post on the Chrome blog this is the fastest version ever of the company’s browser, posting an increase of an impressive 66% on the V8 benchmark compared to the previous version:
This is the first Chrome version that will utilize a computer’s GPU to accelerate video: through the use of this the load on the CPU should be a lot lower. The settings interface has been given a revamp as well, and the functionality of storing and syncing of passwords is expanded.
With the Firefox 4 Beta also available now, and recently the IE9 RC version too it seems the battle of the browsers is definitely heating up. With Chrome hovering at about 5% to 10% market share it seems it’s the only browser showing real growth currently, with Internet Explorer share declining below 60% and Firefox just hovering at the same 25% to 30%.