Rich media, like Flash and video, is immensely popular in Web-based communications. If a picture is worth a thousand words, isn't animation worth, well, something significantly larger? Rich media--usually defined as a combination of graphics, audio, video and animation--can be a great way to pique interest and deliver content in a limited amount of screen real estate. And for email marketers working with precious "above the fold" space to get a recipient action, that's a good thing.
We get a lot of questions about whether to include rich media in email messages. And while my knee-jerk response is an emphatic "no," there are a lot of ways to include different content in your emails without including it in your emails. Confused? Let me explain.
As you may know, there are a lot of different rules about designing for email as opposed to the Web. Every inbox provider renders a little bit differently, so it's best to make sure you render consistently for as much of your audience as you can. This is one of the biggest challenges with pushing the envelope with different media types.
Now back to my point: You can include this media without including it, and have the same effect and layout. Creative use of screenshots makes a great stand-in substitute. Having an alternate image that makes the recipient "click to play" in a new window serves two purposes. First, you've incented a recipient action--congratulations! Second, you're closer to driving a conversion, because the recipient is already on your landing page or Web site.
Use rich media wisely, and you can be enhancing your return on your next email campaign.