Video email marketing: how to embed video in email

Video is an incredibly powerful medium. We spend almost three times longer on web pages with video than on pages without video. Email is also an amazing marketing channel. Email gets more customer engagement than almost any other type of marketing.

It makes perfect sense to combine the attention-getting power of video with the customer engagement rates of email. Combining video and email is also simpler than you might expect.

Create a quick video with Biteable, plug it into one of your best emails, and get mind-blowing results in a matter of minutes.

Since it’s such a good idea, here’s why and how to embed video in your emails.

Why video is incredible for email marketing

Well-crafted video captures attention and imagination in a way text can’t. It puts us in the same room as the other person and mimics face-to-face interaction. That makes videos feel more personal. So much so that most people would rather watch a video than read a long email.

People also remember information better when it’s presented in a video. (That might sound far out, but we proved it with our video statistics research.)

And if you think that’s great news, try this one on for size: adding video to emails increases click-through rates by an average of 300%.

When you combine the power of video with the ability to deliver videos directly to customers via email, you get a heavy-hitting — and profitable — marketing tool.

Why embed videos in your emails?

But it’s not all sunshine and virtual roses. It’s best to embed your promo video directly into your email. Otherwise, your video ends up looking like any other text with a clickable link. That strategy won’t get your video nearly as much attention as it deserves.

Unfortunately, most major email providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo don’t support embedded video. This means there is a chance the embedded videos in your email will get flagged as spam and never reach your inboxes.

Also, if your video is embedded incorrectly, there is a chance it won’t play at all. This could cause video to hurt your email marketing performance more than it helps.

How to embed video in email the right way

Here’s the good news: there is a way to embed video in your emails without getting penalized by email service providers.

Meet the two-step image+link workaround. This simple solution gives you the benefits of video without the email deliverability issues.

The image+link method works because your video doesn’t get sent as part of your email. Instead, it is embedded as a clickable link. This relieves deliverability issues because links usually don’t trigger spam filters. You get all of the benefits of embedded video without any of the drawbacks.

Step 1: Create an impactful thumbnail image

First, you need to create a thumbnail for your video. This thumbnail acts as a play button that email recipients can click to play your video.

There are tons of ways to create a compelling video thumbnail, but here are the quick and dirty best practices.

  • Start with a screenshot from your video. Start with a screenshot, then use a graphic creation tool like Snappa or Canva to overlay text and build out your thumbnail.

  • Add a play button image. The Wistia team ran a series of A/B tests and found that a thumbnail that resembles a video (play button and all) performs better than a pure video screenshot.

  • Use text in your thumbnail image. A quick snippet of text gives even more context for your video and ensures viewers start watching it with the right expectations.

  • Create a thumbnail template. A consistent thumbnail layout creates a brand for your videos and makes them readily identifiable, even among a slew of other thumbnails.

  • Make a high-contrast thumbnail. Your thumbnail image is usually pretty small. Using a high-contrast image makes it legible. The most foolproof way to do this is to use a bright background with dark text.

  • Set realistic expectations. Always use thumbnails that accurately represent what is in your video. Avoid using an outrageous thumbnail just to get people to click. This diminishes trust in the long run; it isn’t worth it.

Your end result will look something like this:

It’s also a good idea to create a thumbnail that is sized correctly for YouTube, Vimeo, or where you’ll host your video. This creates less work for you when it comes time to upload your video to the hosting site.

Step 2: Upload your video

You need to upload your video to a hosting site so you can link to it in your email. Youtube is a great option because it gets a huge amount of traffic every day and you might end up getting organic traffic on your video. Two birds with one stone.

Youtube is a quick and easy option. If you create your video with Biteable, you can even upload your video directly to YouTube.

However, other video hosting platforms like Vimeo and Floatplane work just fine, too. Whatever platform you choose, make sure you copy the video’s URL (the direct link back to the video). You’ll need that in the next step.

Finally, insert your thumbnail into your email and link the image to your video.

Each email provider has its own intricacies around creating clickable links. So check for specific instructions based on the service you use. However, the process goes like this, generally speaking:

  • 1. Insert your thumbnail into your email just like any other image.
  • 2. Select the image.
  • 3. Click the “add link” button.
  • 4. Make sure you select the option to link to a web address, if that’s required in your email software.
  • 5. Copy your video’s URL into the field for the link.
  • 6. Save the changes.

Once your thumbnail is set up to link to your video, it’s time to test.

Step 4: Support your video with text

Although your thumbnail and the allure of a video has a lot of power, you’ll get even more clicks if you add a short bit of text that encourages people to watch your video.

Add a few sentences to your email that tell people why they should watch your video and add a call-to-action that prompts them to click. Let your audience know how your video will help them achieve their goals. Be clear about what they should do after they’ve watched your video.

But keep the text short. The star of your email is your video; the big message should go there.

Step 5: Send a test email

This step is pretty simple. Just send yourself a test email and double-check to make sure your link works. The last thing you want is to use your customers as your quality control team.

Why this alternative to embedded video works

Embedding videos in email this way may not produce a totally seamless experience, since the video doesn’t play directly in the recipient’s inbox. However, this method offers a few things that the direct play method doesn’t.

More control over the viewer experience.

Since your video plays outside the recipient’s inbox, you can house your video on a custom landing page where you have complete control over the messaging, call-to-action, and other links on the page.

Obviously, this takes a bit more work than simply uploading the video to YouTube. But it gives you far more control over the end-user experience and eliminates all of the other distractions in the user’s email inbox.

Access to better analytics.

Your email marketing program tracks key actions like open rates and click-through rates.

Guiding the viewer to a separate page creates even more trackable actions and gives you more data for optimizing your emails. You’ll be able to see exactly how many people watch your video and how many take the next step in the process once they watch. If people never leave their inbox, it’s much more difficult to quantify their actions.

Fewer email deliverability issues.

A video that plays in the inbox doesn’t guarantee that your emails will get marked as spam or blocked. But it does make it more likely.

Spam filters are generally wary of any non-standard email content, including emails that retrieve large files and pull them into the inbox. If you embed a video directly, you have to do a lot more work to ensure that your email lands in the inbox rather than the spam folder.

But how do I get them to open and click?

One of the biggest challenges in email marketing is getting people to open your email in the first place. If the recipient never opens your email, they’ll never watch your video. Here’s what you can do to get people to open your emails:

Use the word “video” in the subject line. As we discussed earlier, adding the word “video” to your email subject line increases open rates. It also tells people exactly what’s in your email. That way, they know what to expect.

Be clear about what viewers will get from your video. Use a subject line that states very clearly what your video is about.

Even more than that, make sure your subject line clearly communicates the benefit of watching your video. What will viewers learn? How will your video make your viewer’s life better? People are much more likely to open and click if there’s something in it for them.

Tell people exactly what’s going to happen when they click your thumbnail. Make sure people know that the video will not play right in their inbox. Write a bit of copy to clarify. This can be as simple as a caption that says “Click here to play the entire video.”

Always deliver on your promise. The content of your email should deliver on the promise you made in the subject line. It might be tempting to use an outrageous or clickbait type subject line to boost open rates. But this tactic will cause your click-through rates and conversion rates to plummet.

Improve your emails with video

Video is an incredibly powerful form of content. It gets higher engagement rates across the board and often makes people drop what they’re doing to watch it.

Simply adding video to your emails will cause an uptick in your email performance. However, video quality matters.

Fortunately, Biteable has tons of templates to help you create compelling videos and a mountain of stock footage and animations to make your videos visually stunning.

It’s everything you need to create videos that achieve any goal, so you can crush it with video and email.

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