We have recently started using tools such as LiveClicker and VidYard to stream videos in our SPARK email newsletter and we're seeing great results. This prompted me to wonder, what about audio streaming in your email marketing? I would normally link to a landing page and play the audio from there to provide a more consistent and reliable user experience. I would've said the same about video before I saw the results of opens and clicks on our embedded video emails. With new technologies and defensive design, times are changing.

I've been playing with the HTML5 <audio> tag in email and so far it has provided a good experience for me in various email clients.

Let's say that a band is promoting a new album and knows that if they can get people to listen to one song, they will love it. Ideally, we want this song to be one simple click away in an email. When you can create immediate gratification with a single click, subscribers tend to respond positively. Like video, you need to offer a fallback option when the audio doesn't work as seamlessly due to limitations of the email client.

Let's take a look at embedded audio in action.

Here is a simple example email: http://extg.co/PcAFBx

To the right is how the email appears in Mac Outlook. When a subscriber clicks the play button, the audio immediately plays inside Outlook without breaking the user experience and taking them away from your email. It keeps the focus on your CTA to "listen to the full album." This works seamlessly in Mac Outlook, but it likely won't work for every email client.

In Gmail, the embedded audio HTML5 has a slightly different user experience. Gmail will show your subscribers this next version. Subscribers must click the link to open the audio file in a new window and play the song. Even though it opens up a new window to play the audio, it's not a bad experience if you just want to get someone's aural attention. The key is to test this audio feature in your main email clients to determine what will be the best solution for your emails.

To make this all happen, we upload the mp3 file and embed it in the email with the basic HTML5 <audio> tag as seen below:

You can be the judge of whether or not this is something to test with your audience. If you have a voice-over message or audio file that you want users to hear, this may be a tactic to use.