Rich Media Email Marketing… a synopsis

December 31, 2006

So what IS rich media email?

Rich email is, frankly, something that never quite got off the ground. With the boom of Flash 5 years ago, people couldn’t wait to merge the cheap, easy and effective pros of email and email marketing with the new media that was Flash. The thinking was that response rates would go through the roof if emails could display immersive and interactive creative that engaged the viewer in ways static HTML couldn’t. The excitement was there, but the unfortunately the tech wasn’t.

Fast forward 5 years. The technology still isn’t there, and ‘skip intro’ is the most clicked link on the internet. Sure Flash sites are still popping up everywhere, but slowly and surely Flash is starting to lessen in it’s exposure and penetration on the web. People are simply growing tired of it, and designers/programmers are becoming pretty aggravated about changing a copy writer’s ‘them’ to ‘the’ by dismantling the entire Flash file for just 1 typo.

So, we’ve established that Flash in email isn’t happening. So what is? And what’s possible? Unfortunately, not much at this point. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s going to take a pretty bold move by one of the giants like Apple or Microsoft too announce that their upcoming email client is going to be rich media-enabled. But it’s unlikely. ISPs, email postmasters, SPAM, anti-virus softwares and just about everything else would have to follow suit, and it’s not unfathomable to imagine the backlash being so great that this idea is probably swirling around a thinktank in Redmond, CA but will never get off the ground. Not for a while anyways. Imagine the endless possibilities for viruses and trojans if an email client had javascript and flash enabled? Small rodents could be smuggled in the actionscript.

So it doesn’t look promising, Outlook 2007 is about to be launched and it’s very unlikely that this release will allow for anything different. But again, I can’t wait for the day that one of these major players wakes up the entire industry, and revolutionizes it in the process, by announcing plans for rich media in email. Imagine watching YouTube videos sent by a friend straight in your inbox? Even if you were offline, you could still view it once the content was downloaded from the exchange server. Imagine having a daily podcast to listen to from your city’s news provider? The ways that email marketing would forever be changed are endless, but it looks like we’re going to have to wait a little longer still for that day to come.

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