As we waited for the crowd to stream into his session at Bronto Summit 2017, Jerome Furniture’s Scott Perry gave me a 30-second tutorial on the company’s augmented reality app. He scanned the front of the room into his iPad and then added a picture of one of the company’s sofas to the room with a quick swipe. We were able to walk around the virtual sofa, move it to different parts of the room and even zoom in to take a closer look at its texture. It was quite easy to determine that the sofa’s lovely gray fabric wasn’t a good fit for the room’s gold-toned carpet.
The app is just one of the many marketing techniques Perry deploys for Southern Calif.-based Jerome’s Furniture and one that he joked with the audience gives him “street cred with millennials.” I was drawn to his talk because I wanted to know how marketers are using video and virtual reality to sell products and encourage customers to engage with the brand. In addition to Perry’s session, we were treated to a powerful keynote presentation by Rebecca Minkoff CEO and co-founder Uri Minkoff, who focused, in part, on the brand’s interactive dressing rooms. And for the commerce marketer interested in using visual techniques to boost email, PowerInbox CEO’s Jeff Kupietzky offered many actionable ideas. His company uses dynamic animations, geo-targeting and real-time content to grab readers’ attention for companies such as the NFL and HBO. But Kupietzky focused his talk on ideas that can be adapted by smaller firms with more limited budgets. He referenced the Dollar Shave Club’s early use of a particularly silly seven-second video video loop that helped propel that online company to success. He pointed out that interactive content makes us feel involved in the process rather than a passive observer. Aside from including consumers, such content, specifically the use of video in emails, can actually increase ROI by nearly 300%. He also shared that the Cisco Visual Networking Index predicts that video traffic will make up 82% of consumer internet traffic by 2020 – up from 68% in 2015.
With this trend toward the interactive, Kupietzky offered several tips for making your emails come alive:
Don’t worry about creating content that can be read on every device. Instead of coding your email for the most restrictive device and eliminating some of the potential unique experiences, go with content that works on most devices. “The experiences will work where they work,” Kupietzky says. Do, however, keep in mind that more than half of emails are opened on mobile devices. In terms of support, he believes clients shouldn’t ask "Where does it not work?" but rather "If it works on enough devices, will that improve my overall engagement and conversion? If a video can play in 60 or 70% of devices, it will add to the overall campaign.”
It doesn’t always have to be video. Kupietzky gave examples of many alternatives to video, such as carousels and countdown clocks. Using multiple static images to create an animation effect can also work. Our recent lookbook from the holidays details how some of these techniques were used during last year’s holiday season.
You don’t need to create the content from scratch. It’s likely that you already have art and video assets floating around your company that can be repurposed for an email. Taking an excerpt from a customer testimonial or a longer video that your company uses on YouTube could work.
Opt for autoplay. If you’re using video, set it to play automatically but without the sound. It’s terribly awkward when you open an email in the office and the sound comes blasting on.
Save the details for a landing page. It’s ideal to incorporate the full version of the content on an accompanying landing page to allow users to buy something or otherwise engage with you.
Avoid interactive components in your hero image. Remember: Any kind of moving image tends to draw in a reader, so the interactive piece can be smaller.
Take advantage of your social channels. For commerce marketers interested in using feeds from Twitter or Instagram – a great option for pulling in user-generated content – only use official hashtags, and put a plan in place to avoid pulling in inappropriate content.
As with any strategy, measure your results. Time spent in the email is a particularly key measure. Checking the unsubscribes following a visually-enriched email is another. And, of course, the granddaddy of them all is conversion – though it need not be conversion from a specific product featured in the video or carousel. Kupietzky says you should view the success of visual emails by conversion from the email. If people spend more time with the message because of the movement, they are likely to check out the static parts of the message as well. Despite thinking of myself as more of a word person, it made me recognize how much more likely I am to engage in content if it’s visual and interactive. I definitely pay much more attention to social media posts with video – OK, mostly those that feature cute animals.
Seriously, if you want to sell me something, just add a video clip with sea otters. And inspired by the Jerome’s app, I downloaded an app from a national paint company as I’m preparing to repaint a room. It didn’t work quite as well as theirs, but it was better than what I’ve used in the past. There are so many new technologies out there to make shopping a more fun and interactive experience. It’s all about what’s best for your brand and your target audience. I’m excited to see what comes next!