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August 10, 2023·7 min read

Video Email Marketing: How to Use Embedded Video to Boost Sends

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.

Collectively, we send millions of emails every year. If you printed them out and stacked them up, they’d reach all the way to Mars (probably).

And brands only contribute to the inbox avalanche with an absolute deluge of (often low-quality) ads and pitches.

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

That’s why more and more marketers have started to rely on video messaging.

Video is rocket fuel for your email marketing.

Adding video to your email sends is a sure-fire way to launch your metrics into the stratosphere. It improves email opens, click-throughs, and conversions. Plus, it captures and keeps your recipients’ attention.

Wondering how to start using video in email marketing? Don’t worry—boosting your sends with video is easier than you might think. You can do a few simple things to ensure your messages land successfully.

Whether you go with a feature video at the top of your email, add video partway through your message, or even use it as a background header, it’s sure to have an impact.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of video email marketing, find out how to add a video to your message, discover tips for doing it well, and see examples of brands who nailed it.

  1. Contents
  2. What is Video Email Marketing?
  3. Getting Started with Video Email Marketing
  4. Video Email Marketing Benefits
  5. How to Add Video in Email
  6. How to Attach Videos to Your Emails
  7. What Kinds of Emails Can You Put Videos In?
  8. 10 Best Practices for How to Use Video in Email Marketing
  9. Video in Email Marketing Examples
  10. How to Pick the Right Video Email Marketing Software
  11. Bonus: Video Marketing Templates to Try

What is Video Email Marketing?

Video email marketing is exactly what it sounds like: Adding video to your email sends to help them stand out in inboxes.

Email has long been a mainstay marketing channel, often one of a brand’s biggest. It’s endured through endless predictions calling for the end of email. Why? Because it’s an incredibly powerful owned channel. And video amplifies email’s natural power.

Using 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 a rich media format that makes your emails hard to resist.

The term “video email marketing” makes it sound a bit like something completely separate from plain ol’ email marketing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Video is a complement to email, a value-add add-on that viewers love. You can use it on pretty much any kind of email you want.

Getting Started with Video Email Marketing

Wondering where to start? The easy answer is, video can go anywhere and everywhere. Promotional sends? Check. Triggers? Uh-huh. Newsletters? You betcha. Nurtures? Absolutely! It’s all about testing to see where it works best for you.

Before we carry on, it’s important to note that, for the most part, using video in email means adding an engaging thumbnail with an irresistible play button to your message. Very few email clients support actual video playback within emails, so you entice readers to click play with an eye-catching visual. Then, when they click, they go to the video (or, more commonly, the page it’s hosted on) to watch. Inserting and tracking videos in email is easy, especially with a video marketing platform.

However you plan to use it, email should be an important part of your organization’s overall video marketing strategy. But to get great outcomes, you’ll need to know the basics.

Video Email Marketing Benefits

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 that 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.

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.

How to Add Video in Email

So can you play a video in an email? Not quite. 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 two reasons for this:

#1: 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 has the opportunity to watch your video no matter how they view your email.

Chart showing email client marketshare in 2023 featured in Vidyard's guide to video email marketing.

Email client market share data via Litmus.

#2: 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

As we said above, adding video to your email sends takes a little extra legwork, but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s how to send a video through email.

How to Add Video to Email with a Video Platform

If you’re using an enterprise video platform (more on how to pick one in a later section), it can integrate with all the top email marketing automation tools, like HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On, Eloqua, and more. Simply upload your video to the platform, and you’ll have the option to embed your video in an email when you create an email campaign.

Can You Embed a Video in Outlook or Gmail?

Yes, you can! But if you don’t have a video platform, it takes a little work.

Here’s how. First, 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 are 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-ups, explain products, announce a new release, or offer a tutorial. Use video emails wherever you want to increase opens and conversions.

Best Email Types Suited for Video

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

10 Best Practices for How to Use Video in Email Marketing

1. Try Using the Word ‘Video’ in the Subject Line

When you A/B test your subject lines, try adding the word “video” and see what impact it has on open rates. 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]

2. Design Your Emails to Place the Video Below the Copy

An email without text can look like spam. Write a few words to introduce your video, then link the video. 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, or if a company filter catches the email.)

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. They’ll get frustrated if they have to click again once it loads on your site. (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=1” to the end of the URL, like this: https://video.vidyard.com/watch/t6rxuZhNgAyybFGYW7CMLR?autoplay=1

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. It makes your video content more accessible.

5. Make a GIF from Video for an Animated Thumbnail

Animated thumbnails or GIFs can attract even more clicks than images, and with a video platform, they’re easy to insert. Not every email client supports them—for example, some older clients only show the first frame—but the vast majority do.

GIF thumbnails are a popular way to send videos. You may also hear people talk about cinemagraphs, which are a variant of a GIF where just one part of the image plays in an endless loop. For email marketing purposes, 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’re using a video platform, it usually does 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, a good proportion of videos are still viewed on a desktop computer where large screens and low-resolution videos will look grainy. If you’re in B2C, viewers are more likely 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

8. Get the Sales Team Using Video Emails

Now that marketers own the entire funnel, it’s time for us to help our friends in sales. Video emails sent by your sales team can increase reply rates by 26%.

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 (now Terminus). “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 Your Video Emails and Measure 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 samples of video emails from brands. Click on each image thumbnail to see the full-sized email.

Here’s another great example of video email marketing with stellar results.

Igloo Software Boosted Email CTR 189% Using Video Emails

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.

How to Pick the Right Video Email Marketing Software

If you want to start sending videos in emails, you need to pick the right platform. General-use video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo can get the job done, but choosing one that’s built explicitly for B2B and marketing can make all the difference.

Yeah, it’s plug time. Vidyard, our video platform, is designed with marketers in mind. You can host and organize your video content—but every platform lets you do that. Here’s the real difference: You can add calls to action right inside your videos, as well as analyze video performance to identify individual viewers and get up-to-the-minute feedback on how your content is doing. Plus, you can customize your videos’ sharing page to mirror your branding.

Bonus: Video Marketing Templates to Try

Congrats! You’ve got everything you need to get started with video email marketing. Well…except for, you know, actual videos.

If you haven’t created your own videos yet, it’s time to get going. Not sure what kinds of videos to make? Check out our video marketing template library to get inspired.

This post was originally published on September 18, 2019. It was updated on August 10, 2023.

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.