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September 18, 2019·7 min read

Video Email Marketing: How to Boost Your Sends with Video

Video improves open and click-through rates—making it the perfect addition to your marketing emails. Discover how to embed video in email, when to use it, and get best practices for success.

If you printed out all the emails sent each year, they’d stretch to Mars and back three times. And that’s not even counting texts or tweets.

People get more marketing and sales outreach from brands than ever, and without a unique angle, your chances of reaching them are about as remote as the red planet.

That’s why 87% of marketers rely on video.

What is Video Email Marketing?

Video in email is one of the best ways to boost your marketing conversions. Videos are intriguing, and they make the most common marketing channel on earth more engaging and effective. It’s easy to insert and track videos in email, especially with a video platform. But to get great outcomes, you’ll need to know the basics.

Benefits of Video in Email

Video gives you the best possible chance of breaking through to your audience. It makes complex topics simple, audiences crave it, and it builds a connection which fosters long-term loyalty. Video in email captures people’s imagination in a way that text just can’t—especially in B2B, where buyers want to see interesting things, but all too often, don’t.

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Video Email Marketing Statistics

That’s not all, either: Email marketing helps you build a library of videos that you can reuse over and over to achieve a similar lift across social media and your website.

graphic showing what it looks like to see a video in an email then be sent to a landing page

How to Add Video in Email

Saying video “in” email is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like video through email, because the best way to send videos these days is by emailing a thumbnail image that links back to the video on your site. There are a few reasons for this.

It’s Tough to Keep Up with Email Providers

Email clients like Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail each have their own quirks. Some don’t allow you to embed videos within emails directly, and it varies by device. For marketers who don’t care to remember that people using Gmail on their old Samsung device won’t see the video, linking saves a tremendous amount of time. It also ensures that your audience, no matter how they view your email, has the opportunity to watch your video.

pie chart showing the market share of different email clients

Email client market share data via Litmus.

Linking Lets You Gather Valuable Data

When visitors watch the video on your site, you get to capture all sorts of data that you wouldn’t have if you had simply embedded it. You’ll see how much of the video they watched, what parts they skipped or rewatched, and whether they shared it. You can use that data to personalize future emails, score the lead, or alert a sales rep.

How to Attach Videos to Your Emails

How to Add Video to Email with a Video Platform

Video platforms like Vidyard integrate to all the top email marketing tools like Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, Eloqua, and more. Simply upload your video and you’ll have the option to insert it when you create an email campaign.

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How to Add Video to Email Yourself

If you don’t have a video platform, it takes a little work. Take a screenshot of your video to use as a thumbnail. In a photo editing tool, add a triangular “Play” button to the screenshot so people will know it’s a video and want to click on it.

Upload your video to a video hosting site and save the public URL. Create a new email in your email software. Add the video thumbnail and link it to your video’s URL. Make sure the thumbnail file name says what’s in the video, just in case the thumbnail doesn’t load.

What Kinds of Emails Can You Put Videos In?

There’s lots of ways to start using video in email marketing, beyond standard campaign emails: Triggered emails, nurture emails, newsletters, and in your team’s email signatures. You can use videos to provide news roundups, advertise events, provide event follow-up, explain products, announce a new release, or offer a tutorial. Videos belong in any email where you want to increase opens and conversions.

For example:

  • Email blasts
  • Targeted emails
  • Event invites
  • Event follow-ups
  • Customer communications
  • Triggered emails
  • Nurture emails
  • Email signatures
  • Newsletters

The more personalized your videos, the better. In one study, personalized videos in email earned 16x higher click-to-opens and 4.5x higher click-throughs. If you’ve got a video marketing platform, you can personalize videos automatically—inserting each recipient’s company name or logo within the video itself.

10 Video in Email Best Practices

1. Use the Word ‘Video’ in the Subject Line

Adding the word “Video” to your subject line can increase opens 19%. Put it in brackets at the beginning or end of the subject line to make it extra clear. For example:

[Video] How to master the product experience

or

How to master the product experience [Video]

vs.

How to master the product experience

2. Place Your Video Below the Email Copy

Write a few words to introduce your video, if for no other reason than that an email without text will look like spam. The copy should convey your message on its own, just in case the video doesn’t show up on their device. (This can happen if their email client is set to not automatically download images.)

3. Enable Autoplay, But Turn the Sound Off

Autoplay can bother users who don’t know it’s coming, but email marketing is the big exception. When viewers click your thumbnail in the email, they’ll expect the video to play instantly. If they have to click again once it loads on your site, they’ll get frustrated. But do keep the sound off by default. Nobody wants to get blasted with noise in a quiet office.

Pro Tip: To set a Vidyard-hosted video to autoplay, simply add “?autoplay=2” to the end of the URL, like this: https://video.vidyard.com/watch/t6rxuZhNgAyybFGYW7CMLR?autoplay=2

4. Include Video Captions

Most videos these days are watched with the sound off, especially by people at work who don’t have headphones in and don’t want to disrupt those around them. Make sure your video has captions so that even viewers watching on silent get the message.

5. Use an Animated Thumbnail

Animated thumbnails attract even more clicks than images, and with a video platform, they’re easy to insert. Not every email client supports them—Outlook 2007, 2010, 2014, and Windows 7 phones only show the first frame—but the vast majority do.

In 2018, over half (57%) of email marketers that sent videos said they sometimes used GIF thumbnails, according to Litmus. You may hear people talk about cinemagraphs too, which are a slight variant on a GIF where just one part of the image plays in an endless loop. For the purposes of email marketing, you can treat them as the same thing.

See the difference between an anchor link to a video, an image thumbnail, a GIF thumbnail, and a cinemagraph thumbnail below.

6. Reduce Your Thumbnail File Size

Large files from unknown senders can trigger spam filters. While there’s no specific pixel size to shoot for, Litmus found that well-optimized emails typically don’t contain more than 2.7MB of images. If your thumbnail is larger than that, adjust the size or compress it with a free tool like TinyPNG. (If you have a video platform, it’ll do this automatically.)

7. Film Your Video to Fit the Medium

Before you film your video, know where and how it’s going to be viewed. For instance, if you’re in B2B, know that 87% of videos in business are viewed on a desktop computer where screens are large and a low-resolution video will look grainy. If you’re in B2C, it’s more likely viewers are watching on a smartphone where it may be hard to read text on the screen.

When filming your video, consider:

  • Device and screen size
  • Viewing time of day
  • Viewing location and context

Read The Complete Guide to Video Production

8. Get the Sales Team Using Video

Now that marketers own the entire funnel, it’s time for us to help our friends in sales. Personalized sales videos can increase salespeople’s connect rates by 400%.

9. Embed Videos in Your Team’s Email Signatures

Make every email your company sends a marketing email by adding a video to employee email signatures.

“We all spend a LOT of time in our email,” says Justin Keller, VP of Marketing at Sigstr. “Most of the space in those emails is under-utilized real estate. If you combine the personalization potential of one-to-one email with something like a bright banner ad or video, you’ve got the potential for serious engagement.”

screenshot showing video in an email signature

10. A/B Test and Measure Your Results

Video in email is a best practice, but situations and audiences vary. Use A/B tests to see what converts better: Video or no video, static thumbnail or animated thumbnail, more text or less text, and so on. Record your results in a test log so your teammates can build upon your knowledge.

Video in Email Marketing Examples

The screenshots below are actual examples of video in emails from brands. Click on each image thumbnail to see the full-sized email.

The following are a few examples of videos featured in email marketing—all cases where teams increased their opens, clicks, list growth, and revenue with video in email.

Marketo Increased Click-Throughs 144% with Personalized Videos in Email

Marketo uses video in email to guide buyers along their journey. If someone watches part of a video on their website but doesn’t finish, Marketo automatically emails that video to them. Personalizing these videos increased click-throughs 144%.

PortoBay Hotels Drives 22,000 Email Opt-Ins

When GDPR went into effect, the marketing team at PortoBay Hotels and Resorts needed a way to politely ask subscribers to opt in to further communication. They used personalized video to differentiate themselves and drive 28% higher opens, 11% more clicks, and 22,000 opt-ins.

Igloo Software Boosted Email CTR 189%

The digital workplace provider Igloo Software wanted to broadcast its team culture and personality to the world without a global presence. They used Vidyard to create 200 videos in 90 days and sent them in email, which beyond improving their brand image, nearly doubled their email click-throughs.

Amnesty International Earned an 83% Click-Through Rate

The team at Amnesty International used video in email to engage donors and elicit an emotional reaction—something that’s difficult when donors are spread across the world. The team added personalized touches to the videos and 75% of donors watched the whole way through.

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Chris Gillespie

Chris Gillespie

Chris Gillespie is the writer and founder behind Find A Way Media which helps great businesses create killer marketing content. Based in Brooklyn, Chris spent years selling SaaS technology solutions and now helps those companies craft their content marketing strategies.

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