Case Study Follow-Up: Flash and E-Mail

I received numerous questions regarding the recent case study on Rollerblade’s email marketing campaign. As always, I invite you to discuss columns in ClickZ’s Reader Feedback section. But many readers requested more details about this particular campaign, so I asked Anthony Campisi, president of ANNODYNE iNTERACTIVE, which ran the campaign, for additional details.

Christian wrote: “We’re in the planning stages of our first Flash email campaign. I hope you can help with an execution question. Did Rollerblade imbed this Flash in the email message, or was an HTML message created that linked to the Flash piece?”

John had a related query: “How was ANNODYNE able to distribute the email with the Flash embedded, given all the security restrictions most email clients have on ActiveX and JavaScript controls within emails? Also, how do they handle non-Flash enabled or text-only email clients? My team currently gets around this by using a static HTML email with a Flash-enhanced landing page. It’s kinda clunky, so I’m interested in hearing if there are alternatives.”

Campisi’s reply: “We embedded Flash in the email and provided a ghosted image on the server for individuals who couldn’t view the Flash. [They could” access the alternate link and view the demo on the Web.”

Dorian wrote: “Do you have a percentage figure on email clients that can handle rich media and a percentage of people on those clients? Are you nervous about Outlook 2003, which defaults to not display [HTML” images that are served from a server in real time?”

Campisi: “We do not have specific figures on the number of email clients or people who cannot receive Flash emails. We recognize a few email clients do not display Flash, for example Microsoft’s Entourage for Mac. Our experience and testing have shown that rich media emails are effective. An important best practice is to always include a text version as well as an alternate link to provide recipients with a number of ways to view the piece in its original format.”

My input: ClickZ’s sister site IAR published an interesting article on the new Microsoft Outlook 2003. It addresses the way Outlook handles images and links in HTML messages and provides some insight on open rates. I highly recommend you read it.

Janine wrote: “I’m wondering if Rollerblade did any testing on compatibility with email clients, and, if so, how they determined their customer base was compatible with Flash requirements? I’ve read using rich media in email can cause compatibility issues and therefore narrow your reach, especially with new spam filter technology.”

Campisi: “Not only did we test on a variety of browsers and connection speeds, we also included a multipart text message and alternate link to minimize, if not eliminate, any difficulties that the recipient may encounter in viewing the email.”

My input: As most of you know, it’s wise to test any campaign on a wide variety of browsers and speeds. ’Nuff said.

Michael wrote: “What problems do users who open these emails run into in terms of download time? Do a lot of customers use high-speed Internet connections? Does dial-up access affect the CTR? How do they obtain information on the connection a user has? Do they survey? Isn’t a download of a Flash component required for the user to view the rich email? What effect would the component download have?”

Campisi: “ANNODYNE iNTERACTIVE and Rollerblade felt the house list was ’mature’ enough to test rich media. A number of HTML campaigns had been sent prior, and the list had been scrubbed for bad addresses and individuals who were no longer interested in receiving information via email. Rollerblade wanted to push the envelope a little with the rich media. The campaign was a test in and of itself to see how recipients would receive the piece and react. Record direct response results proved us right.”

Kevin wrote: “As the email marketing manager for a movie studio, I’ve always wanted to be able to do more rich media email. As such a huge percentage of our list is composed of addresses from Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL — which don’t allow Flash directly in the email — we no longer send it. Have you come across ways to deliver rich media to these domains or identified any vendors with a way to deliver any type of rich media experience to them?”

Campisi: “My best suggestion would be to continue producing rich media content for its interactivity and emotional delivery but offer different paths to it. If your email list can only receive text, then offer concise textual content to entice the recipient to click through to the [Web-based” rich media promotion.”

Now that we’ve answered some of your questions, it’s back to more case studies for you to ponder. Watch this space for new ones through the end of the year. Happy Halloween!

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Strategies is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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