November 11, 2013

Can HTML5 Save E-mail Marketing?

For many marketers, e-mail campaigns are starting to lose their luster. Consumers just get too many of them, and most e-mail campaigns look the same. But some think a resurgence of successful e-mail campaigns could be on the horizon—thanks to HTML5.

“Imagine opening an email for a beach resort to the sound and sight of waves lapping on a beautiful white sand beach,” Stephen Hay, Asia Pacific regional director for CRM agency, ICLP, recently wrote in a blog post. “As you scroll down you’re greeted by the happy sounds of a beachside café, with a full cocktail menu revealed with a single click. Another click shows you the chef in action. At all times a great promotional offer and a call to action floats handily to the right of the screen.”

This is the promise of HTML5 when it comes to e-mail marketing.

With the deluge of digital content that now is standard with almost every consumer, eye-catching content and recommendations from others has become critically important. HTML5 and the multimedia it brings to e-mail might just be the way to resuscitate e-mail marketing. If videos, sound and interactivity can be embedded in e-mail, YouTube (NewsAlert) links might not be the only thing that goes viral.

“From an email marketing point of view, it offers a significantly richer media experience, video, audio, and greater interaction with the user,” Hay noted. “In fact, many of the things that Flash does for us, but Flash seems to be permanently in the doghouse with some people and it’s not recommended for email anyway.”

HTML5 and CSS3 taken together can dramatically improve the e-mail experience. What it can bring is the ability to stream video or audio as soon as someone opens an e-mail, greater direct interaction with customers, complex layouts with elements that float on the page, new layout approaches, and the ability to use animations and reveals.

The catch (and there always is a catch, isn’t there?), is that HTML5 is not yet supported by all e-mail clients. Outlook is the most notable laggard.

Of course, this will change with time; anyone who has been in the business long enough will remember how the web community waited with baited breath for the general adoption of HTML4, and that did eventually occur.

Marketers can still leverage HTML5 in e-mail today, however, provided that they ensure that their emails still function on e-mail clients that are not compliant with the new HTML standard.

“Critically, HTML5 is more commonly accepted in the mobile world, with it being fully compatible with iOS email clients and good, but not complete coverage, on Android (NewsAlert),” Hay added. “With the rapid move to mobile email access by consumers, this not only drives more immediate technical acceptance, but it cries out for more creative and engaging formats for email for people on the go or accessing their emails on smaller screens.”

So while e-mail marketing has seen its usefulness plummet recently, this could be a temporary issue thanks to HTML5.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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