Complete Guide to Using Video in Email Marketing

None of us likes to be welcomed by a never-ending list of emails in our inbox first thing in the morning. Right as we are waiting for our morning coffee to kick in, going through lengthy, unwanted emails can have a counterproductive effect.

Just like caffeine, adding videos to your emails gives an extra jolt to your marketing campaigns. Videos make emails a delight to consume and give a whole new dimension to the phrase “actions speak louder than words.”

However, video email marketing is still quite a delicacy in the marketing world. The fact that the major email service providers like Gmail and Outlook still don’t fully support videos in 2020 is mind-boggling.

Still, marketers around the globe swear by the power of video content and insist on employing videos in their email marketing however possible.


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While we keep our fingers crossed for appropriate features and updates to be launched in this regard, there are still ways we can work around this problem.

This blog post offers you tips on how to send a video through email along with best practices and types of video content you can use to boost your email marketing efforts.


Tips to integrate videos in your email marketing campaign


1. Linked images with a play icon

This is the easiest and widely adopted practice to include videos in your emails. Simply screenshot or take a static image from your original video, add a (fake) play button on it, and embed the image in your email with a link to your original video.

When your readers click on the image, it will take them to your video hosted on YouTube, Vimeo or the like.

To avoid making your audience click two times to get to the video, just add ?play at the end of your video URL. This will auto-play the video in your host as soon as your reader clicks the linked image.

One of the benefits to manually link your videos is that it can generate a lot of statistical insights. You can gauge click-through rate, the time spent on the video, heat maps and more. This can help you get a better sense of your reader’s preferences and ultimately lead to an optimized email experience.


2. Merge tags

Another similar, but an even more convenient, method is to use merge tags. Email marketing platform Mailchimp provides this feature to help automate the process of video linking.

By using the unique video ID and the name of your video host, you can quickly create a linked thumbnail of your video within an email. The thumbnail will have an overlay of a play button on it so your subscribers know what to do.

Mailchimp also offers other features so you can customize how your video appears in the campaign. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how you can use merge tags within Mailchimp.

Email marketing service Campaign Monitor has partnered with video hosting service Wistia to offer a similar feature. This duo flaunts in-depth analytics as a perk. Learn how you can make use of their offering here.


3. Animated GIFs

GIFs are a gift that keeps on giving. They’re funny, relatable, and convey the exact meaning or emotion when words tend to fail you.

GIFs are especially popular among millennials who use them as a mode of communication. A survey conducted by GIF hosting platform Tenor showed that two-thirds of millennials preferred GIFs to words while communicating.



So if you want to avoid the hassle of embedding a YouTube video in your email, consider adding a GIF as an alternative. Having been around since 1987, GIFs are widely supported by different types of platforms and service providers. This way you can ensure that your subscribers are not having issues in viewing your email content.

However, be sure to add your main information in the first frame as some versions of certain email service providers only display the first frame of a GIF.

Imgflip is a free tool you can use to create GIF thumbnails for your videos.


4. Cinemagraphs

Adding cinemagraph is an attractive way to add some action into your email. It is a merger of a GIF and a static image. In a cinemagraph, only one element is moving on loop while others remain static. For instance, you can use an animated play button element combined with a linked static image of your video to prompt the audience to click.

Not only this, cinemagraphs yield 5.6 times higher click-through rates than static images. Use tools like Flixel to make use of this creative feature in your email marketing campaigns.


5. Embedding via HTML5

If you want to go a more sophisticated route HTML5 is the way to go. It, however, is a path less trodden as it requires coding expertise and not all email platforms support it. Gmail and Android devices do not yet display videos embedded via HTML5 and will display your fallback image (assuming you have one set up).

HTML5 is supported by iOS devices. Email service providers that support HTML5 are Outlook, Apple Mail, iPhone Mail, and iPad Mail. These allow your subscribers to watch your videos within the email.

As a caution, and to ensure that your subscribers get the best experience, only use HTML5 to embed videos in your emails if you’re sure that a large number of your subscribers use supported email platforms.

Here’s a detailed how-to guide on embedding HTML5 video in email by Email on Acid.


Best practices for integrating videos in email campaigns


1. Optimize for SEO

If you’re a marketer, increasing your search engine ranking should be the goal of all your efforts. Host your videos on popular services like YouTube and Vimeo as they get more traffic and visibility.

Consider using separate landing pages for videos to increase your website’s authority by correctly indexing your videos.

If your company has a video going viral on social media, consider sending it out as part of an email campaign as well. Viral videos boost your SEO like magic.

Read more: Why You Shouldn’t Be Hell Bent on Creating Viral Videos


2. Optimize video for consumption

While integrating videos in your emails keep in mind that your subscribers read emails in a variety of settings.

Add captions to the videos so they can easily be consumed in professional settings. Always keep the default sound-on feature off so as not to overwhelm your audience.

According to Invesp, 75% of smartphone owners open emails in their devices. So keep in mind the device and screen type your audience typically uses. The same study states that 70% of consumers delete emails that are not mobile responsive. That’s a lot of your effort gone to waste if you’re not careful.

Always add alt-text to your video thumbnails in case your images or GIFs don’t load properly.


3. Keep spam alerts at bay

Make sure that your static or animated thumbnails do not exceed the 2.7 MB limit. Emails with larger images may end up in the spam folder.

Use a 60/40 text to image ratio in emails to avoid coming off as spam and ensure seamless deliverability.


4. Be upfront with your subscribers

An industry-wide best practice is to use the word ‘video’ in your email subject line so that your subscribers know they’re not dealing with mundane text only.

Using the word video in the subject line increases open rates by 19%, click-through rate by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 25%. Those are some serious stats to justify video integration in emails!


video in email benefit


5. Keep in mind the buyer’s journey

We mentioned unwanted emails at the beginning, avoid being where you’re not needed as a rule. Make sure the content that reaches your subscribers is coherent with their buyer’s journey.


benefits of using video


A good practice is to create separate videos for each stage of your customer lifecycle so that they find value in your videos. Content created and used with intent leads to better results. Here’s a guide on different types of videos you can create for your buyer’s journey.


6. Always test your emails

There’s nothing more off-putting than broken links and images that don’t load properly in an email. Always send a test email to yourself and some of your peers to gauge user experience across different browsers and devices.

A/B testing certain features can also do wonders for conversion rates. Experiment with different subject lines, call-to-actions, thumbnail placements and more. Find out which features or practices work better for your subscribers and incorporate them in future email campaigns.


7. Use images that grab attention

The images used as thumbnails should be eye-grabbing and set the right precedent for the video. HubSpot claims that 65% of users prefer emails to contain images as compared to text.

However, catchy images that are misleading can hurt your credibility and decrease future open rates.

Here’s our guide on how to create thumbnails that drive clicks.


8. Include appropriate CTAs

The placement of a video within your email should be purposeful. To make proper use of your videos, always put an enticing call-to-action in your video. An overwhelming 95.9% of Wistia’s customers put a CTA at the end of their videos. However, the 4% mid-roll CTAs had a much better conversion rate.

Again, A/B test different CTA placements within videos to see what works best for you.


9. Use video as an accessory

While using videos in emails is an exciting marketing technique, it should not take focus away from the goal of your email.

Your email should make complete sense even if your images and videos don’t display.

Always use videos to complement your textual content. The primary goal of your campaign should be to make the audience take action using the CTAs placed within the email. Make your textual content compelling enough that readers come back to it after watching the video.


10. Create a video series

Avoid sending long videos and emails. Instead, create a series of short and engaging videos to send over multiple emails. Product information and how-to videos can typically be spread over a campaign.

This builds up anticipation and gives your subscribers something to look forward to.


11. Use videos in email signatures

To sign off in style and to add a little marketing push you can always add a video to your email signature. This is not just for the marketing team though. Members from different departments of your organization can have a relevant video embedded in their email signature.

Here’s a short how-to video on how you can do that.



Now that we’ve simplified how to email a video for you, you must be wondering what kind of videos should be added to email campaigns? Here’s a summary:

Types of videos for email marketing campaigns


1. Thought leadership

Thought leadership videos prove your expertise in a field by demonstrating your knowledge on the subject. They reinforce what your business stands for and how your goals are aligned with your audience’s needs.

Make short videos to address your audience’s pain points or showcase your product team answering some frequently asked questions. Your subscribers would love to have such informative content delivered directly to their inboxes.


2. Personalized videos

Personalized emails make your subscribers feel special. Personalized videos prove to them that you are willing to put in the extra effort to delight your customers. Consider creating custom welcome, onboarding, and follow-up videos to deliver via emails.


3. Event updates

Your loyal subscribers would love to keep up with your activities whether internal or external. Make them feel a part of the family by sending them short event recap videos. These can include CSR events, company culture activities, and webinars.

Read more: How to Make Engaging Culture Videos


4. Product information

Your subscribers expect some degree of exclusivity when they sign up for your emails. Make sure that information regarding your new and current products reaches their inboxes first.

Create and send videos for product teasers, demos, and how-tos to your subscribers. This is a great way to convert prospects as 90% of viewers claim that product videos help them in the decision-making process.

Sending exclusive offers via videos in emails also makes your subscribers feel loved and nurtures long-lasting relationships.


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5. Newsletter

Does your monthly newsletter only rely on text and images? Spruce it up by adding some video content. Videos regarding industry trends, updates or breakthroughs make for good newsletter content.

You can also rely on videos from industry stakeholders and influencers to provide a more wholesome package.

And that’s it! You’re up to speed with the process of integrating videos to your email campaigns. You can now complement your subscribers’ early morning caffeine buzz and catalyze your marketing efforts.

If you are having trouble creating engaging videos for your email marketing campaign, consider partnering with a video creation agency. Such a service can help you maintain consistent brand identity across campaigns and skyrocket your conversion rates through compelling video content.

Posted by Komal Munawar

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