Video in Email? Here is What You Need to Know

How to use video in email

Video is becoming one of the most important content formats online for many reasons, it’s easier to consume for users, it offers many opportunities for great distribution, it allows your brand to be more human, it’s a great way to implement storytelling in your content strategy.

On the other hand, we have email, still the most effective communication vehicle to date and probably the biggest driver of ROI.

The question now is, should you use video in your email marketing campaigns?

Why you should consider using video in emails

According to research conducted by Email Monks and GetResponse (I’m including 2 infographics below in this post), the use of video in email marketing is showing very promising results:

  • 55% increase in click-through rates
  • 44% more time spent reading emails
  • 41% more email sharing and forwarding
  • 24% increase in conversion rates

And Email Monks says video email offers a return 280% higher than traditional email.

But, how do you include video in your email marketing?

There are 3 options:

Plays inside the actual email

Embedding a video means it will play right inside the email, the user never leaves the inbox, which is convenient.

This is accomplished with the use of HTML5, and one thing you have to consider is that only 58% of the recipients will be able to play the video, the other 42% will see a fallback image. This is because this is a technology that is not yet compatible with all email clients.

Email clients that support video:

  • iOS devices
  • Apple Mail
  • Thunderbird 13

Email clients that do NOT support video:

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Outlook

According to Litmus, Gmail opens increased 243% from November 2013 to February 2014, and it’s by far the biggest player in webmail. Gmail not supporting video is something you’ll have to consider carefully.

Gmail is the main email client in webmail

Using a GIF

Yes, GIFs are all the rage at the moment. People seem to love them and brands use them as a great storytelling weapon in their marketing efforts.

Here is the GIF used by Buffer in a recent email campaign to cleverly demonstrate how their new app Daily works.

Buffer using a GIF in an email campaign

Another reason to use GIFs is to indicate that you are linking to a video. You can even use one of the many GIF generator tools that turn your video into a GIF.

But other than that, it’s pretty much the same as using a static image, it’s purpose is to link to a video at a different location.

The good thing about GIFs is that it is supported by more email clients. Here is a list of the email clients (Desktop, Web and Mobile) that support GIFs (Source: Litmus)

Email clients that support GIFs (Source: Litmus)

Here are some tools you can use to create a GIF from a video:

Static Image

And the last option is using a static image with a link to the video location, this is safer of course because most email clients support images. Here is an example from a recent campaign I sent, which is nothing but a screenshot of the YouTube video player, linking to the blog post.

Video in email - Using a static image with a link

When you link out of the inbox, you can send that traffic to:

  • A page on your website, a blog post page or a landing page
  • Or a video sharing network like YouTube or Vimeo

Which method should you use?

  • 29% of successful marketers link to a video landing page
  • 23% use the video embed method
  • 21% link to a video sharing network like YouTube

I think this is the best process at the moment:

  • Use a static image or GIF in your email to link out of the inbox
  • Send the traffic to your own web property, not a network

And here are my reasons why:

  • I don’t want to send out anything only part of my subscribers or followers are going to be able to experience as I intended
  • You have no control of the email client on your recipient’s computer. You have no idea of their settings
  • You don’t know how many distractions are sharing the screen with your video
  • You can’t optimize for conversion if you are inside your recipient’s inbox or if you are on YouTube

You should always aim to send your prospect to a property you own and have full control of, where you can eliminate distractions, add calls-to-action, add or remove the sidebar if you want… you get the picture.

If you are sending traffic to a landing page, you can set the video to auto play as soon as the user lands on the page. Under any other circumstances auto-play will not be cool, but remember, this person is expecting a video to start playing.

Does your Email Service Provider support video embeds?

It would be crazy to do step-by-step tutorials for each one of the email service providers, so I’m using this part of the post as a resources section to provide links to different services:

  • MailChimp – Looks like the more solid option when it comes to embedding video
  • GetResponse
  • Aweber – Recommends to use the static image method and doesn’t support embeds
  • Emma
  • Campaign Monitor – Also recommends to stay away from embeds

And here is how to embed Wistia videos in your emails.

Wanna get a bit more technical?

Here are some more resources, these are tutorials on how to deal with HTML5 embeds and other technical stuff…

Infographic by Email Monks

Video in email can help you win opens, click-throughs and conversions
Source:Video Email Infographic

Infographic by GetResponse

Video in email to boost opens, clicks and sales

Source: GetResponse

How about you?

Have you tried experimenting with video in your email campaigns? Is this something you might consider using in the near future?

  • Austin Atwood

    Great info Francisco. Recently we started testing a concept we learned from Bamboo HR called video voicemails. The idea is that you would call a prospect and leave a voicemail if they didn’t answer. Then, you send a followup email with a video version of the voicemail. We got great results from it! I did a small case study on our findings which can be found at ,but my filming skills don’t give the concept justice. If you like the concept I would check out Bamboo HR’s versions. They posted a few of their examples on a post we did on wistia which was the bomb

  • That sounds good, I’ll make sure to check it out. Thanks Austin!

  • Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz

    Great article Francisco! Happy to see that our GetResponse infographic could be of aid 🙂

  • Nice insight over topic! It is clear up write up and step by step to attain for proper usage. Thanks much

    Dean Winchester Jacket

  • There is a platform called that enables a normal HTML template to became into a video email template. You only have to upload your video and your HTML, then Viwomail creates a new HTML compatible with every device, OS, navigator… Viwomail detects the technology of final users and delivers real embedded video, GIF or an image with a play icon, the best option regarding their technology. All is automatic and recipient always have a positive experience. It’s worth a try!

  • Thanks for the great infographics. A lot of my clients at use video in email…one of them has seen his open rate grow 3X.

  • Great Information and interesting infographics. We do the same practice at EDM Expert

  • Aerona

    Thanks for sharing! I really like this infographic from GetResponse 🙂