We’ve sent out a lot of email campaigns over the past few years – not as many as a major, thousand-employee company, but a lot of emails nonetheless. The messages range in topic and in content, and some perform with flying colors while others just sort of putter along. But we’re seeing some shocking evidence that topical relevance isn’t the only hook, line, and sinker of outstanding email marketing.

We decided to take a look at three types of our emails and compare them by medium: blog articles, videos, and personalized videos.

The results are… shall we say, blatant.

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(Email Titles simplified for clarification)

For those of you giving us the side-eye and wondering if we’re padding the data here – we’re not. The individual campaigns we’ve selected here were chosen because they represent the average result for their own medium. That means one or two of our video emails (represented here with a 30% open rate) have only achieved 24% open rates, for example… but others also gotten up to 44%, too. Our point? It doesn’t matter whether you want to compare the worst-performing email of each medium, or the best-performing email of each medium. No matter how you slice it, the final comparison between text, video, and personalized video messages is still astounding.

So what did these emails actually look like, and what set them apart?

1. The Blog Newsletter

For a lot of businesses, a typical email newsletter consists of text and of links to pages or articles on the corporate website. Topics can range from helpful tips to behind-the-scenes anecdotes. When we send out messages about our latest articles, we can get quite a few good opens; especially if the topic is eye-catching and relevant. Take a look at how we set up one of our blog newsletters last year, for example.

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Notice the nice big thumbnail at the beginning. Including an image is one habit that can give your clicks a major boost, if you don’t do it already.

Ordinary, text-only email newsletters are perfectly fine. Newsletters with a visual element are even better and can generate some nice traffic. I would hope that we’re preaching to the choir about this; if you’ve ever done any A/B testing with copy of any kind – even print – including pictures has always been a reliable way to increase reader interest.

And the thumbnail isn’t the only strategic addition. Even if we’re not planning to include a video into our emails, we still try to add as many images and brand standards as possible to make the message visually appealing: our company logo, a nice clear button leading to the blog, social media sharing options, and even a color scheme in the text based on our own branding. Every picture, logo, and button is also coded with the proper hyperlink. It’s not cluttered, and it’s not overwhelming.

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But, even with topical relevance and an eye-catching appearance, the standard blog newsletter still wound up with less-impressive responses than our other strategies.

OPEN RATE: 25%
CLICK-THROUGH RATE: 1.57%

2. The Video Newsletter

The next step above a basic newsletter employs one of our favorite words. You guessed it: video. But don’t start hyperventilating about coding or embedding or file sizes just yet!

We know that email management software varies. We’ve tried quite a few systems over the years, from Mailchimp to Sharpspring to Autopilot and beyond – and each program’s ability to send entire video files out to recipients isn’t always ideal or easy.

But video files don’t have to get attached to your emails at all. So relax.

You don’t have to have the video hosted and able to play inside your message as an embedded feature or attachment or anything like that. “But then what makes it a video newsletter if it doesn’t contain the actual video?” you might ask.

The answer’s so simple, in some ways it almost feels like cheating.

Just send them a link to the webpage where your video is located, and make sure that the image on display at the head of the email has a nice big play button in the middle.

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As long as the thumbnail has a hyperlink attached in order to take your viewers to the actual video, you’re golden!

Ideally, you should already be accustomed to attaching hyperlinks to images, buttons, or text in your emails. If you’re not, a few minutes of research should clear things up; it’s a skill that you should be using even in the most basic emails that you send. The same goes for software like Photoshop. Whether you create the thumbnail yourself with a screenshot or grab someone from the graphics department to do it for you, that play button and video take minimum effort and will definitely give your email message a boost.

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Play buttons are like mouse-magnets. Wouldn’t you rather click on the image on the right?

Now you’ve more than doubled your click-through rate, and you don’t have to worry about cramming the video file into your email somehow. Doesn’t that take a lot of weight off your shoulders?

OPEN RATE: 30%
CLICK-THROUGH RATE: 4.45%

3. The Personalized Video Newsletter

And now, for the créme de la créme; the holy grail; the “we’re-not-messing-around-here,” next level of email marketing that is not for the faint of heart. Personalized video. And if you haven’t haven’t seen one of these bad boys in your inbox, the concept is fairly simple.

The video and its thumbnail (and possibly also the email copy) have your name on display. As in, you. Jim Bob. Margaret. Luke Skywalker.

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Not bad, huh? Even without a play button directly on the thumbnail, that personalized element can grab audience attention like none other.

Aside from a spreadsheet of your email recipients, personalized video merely requires an experienced video marketing agency that can manage the heavy lifting.

In terms of adaptability, you don’t need to change your email management system to pull this off, because it’s all code-based. It doesn’t take any fancy new software. Your agency does the groundwork, plugs the equations into your email message, and you’re off to the races.

And as for deadlines, releasing a normal video campaign require several weeks (if not months) of preparation. The personalized element can add a few extra days to that timeline – but if it more than doubles your open rate, then isn’t it worth it?

OPEN RATE: 75%
CLICK-THROUGH RATE: 50%

What else is there to say? The numbers already speak for themselves… and they’re not just disconnected statistics on a chart. These are our email messages and our statistics. We’ve seen the open rates and click-throughs firsthand. We know the data because we watched it grow. And if you have questions about how any of it worked, then give us a call; we have a few individuals who will happily gush about the process with you.