FAQ: How Do I Use Video in Emails?

6 minutes to read

You have a brand spanking new video, and it’s really going to turn things around for you!  As soon as some people watch it, that is.  It’s absolutely critical that a video be a part of a larger digital marketing strategy, and often that strategy will include emails.  If you think about it, emails are a great vehicle for your video!  You’re using them every day and they are both easily automated and easily shared.  Video Brewery tells us that a properly used video in an email increases click-through rate by 96%!  Keep in mind, however, that emails are individual, personal messages, and a viewer who feels “cold-called” will feel even less compunction over deleting an email in disgust than they will over hanging up on a telemarketer, so making your marketing strategy user-friendly is paramount.

We’ve covered the subject before in our Marketing Minutes (which you can watch here on our site, or on our YouTube channel), but in this context, content relevance is what decides if a video belongs in your email at all.  This is why it is so incredibly important to get a viewer to your website or social media page where they can learn about your company and offerings at their leisure, where they can spend time and click around and get involved in a dialogue with you and get interested in having your content delivered to them.  This is where email can really shine, drawing people to your content where they can learn and engage with you.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Consider the viewer’s experience

You can’t force people to engage with something just because it’s put in front of them.

  • People don’t want to be forced to listen to a pitch or forced to load a video before they can read their email.
    You need to make sure that the viewer isn’t stuck waiting on the video to see their email and that the viewer doesn’t feel that they’ve been sent the email equivalent of a cold-call or a pop-up ad blocking the content of the message.  This means that we don’t recommend making the video the sole content unless it has been solicited by a blog subscription, e-newsletter, or similar.
  • The video is not alone.
    It belongs inside the text, supporting your point.  If you haven’t made a point yet, even if it’s just a single phrase or tagline from your blog, the viewer doesn’t even know why they should care.  Depending on the kind of video, it’s helpful to include a synopsis or transcript as well as a tagline and subject, so the viewer can quickly grasp what they will be learning.  The body of a simple but effective email might be formatted like this:How Do I Use Video in Emails
  • Consider formatting and platform idiosyncrasies.
    Protip – embed a silent video that doesn’t interrupt the user’s reading.  This also doesn’t have to be a video file if it’s short!  Using a .gif, .gifv, or .webm format will also reduce formatting and compatibility issues with email platforms.  Litmus helps us out with some great info about keeping HTML5 and CSS3 embedding flexible across older email platforms while taking advantage of the newer.  If your viewer doesn’t have a platform that supports embedding video, they should instead get a properly formatted thumbnail leading to the content.

2. The video must tie directly to your marketing goals.

The purpose of video marketing is to get users interested in your business.

  • Consider linking to a video that is actually embedded on your website or social media page.
    This method requires a hook: a sentence or thumbnail image that tells the viewer how the video being linked is relevant to their needs, and it neatly dodges many user experience issues related to embedded emails.
  • If you want your video embedded in the email, keep the video extremely short, 30-60 seconds.
    An uninvested viewer will click delete in seconds!  Wistia tells us that people click out of a 90-second video faster than a 30-second video with the same content.
    Just seeing that a video is bite-sized makes people much more willing to sit through the entire message; if they’re interested, they will come to you for the details!
    Make it easy and link to your resources alongside the video.
  • Keeping it short reduces load times and stuttering.
    This means less valuable viewer engagement wasted on blank space, and a better experience (The First Point Strikes Back!).

Notice how sharply the average number of viewers who watch even half of the video drops off once it exceeds 1-2 minutes, and don’t even think about 5+ minutes!

How Do I Use Video in Emails(source: Wistia)


3. The video should be relevant to the viewer’s needs

Your video must provide some kind of value to the viewer.

  • An unrelated video is an annoying waste of space that might even drive away a viewer.
    Imagine if you opened a letter from someone and a newspaper advertisement for their company also fell out.  You might look at it in your confusion, but you aren’t likely to be suddenly converted by an unexpected circular.  Now imagine that you solicited advice from someone and their response included the same newspaper clipping.  You will call that company first, and you’ll ask your friend for advice again when it works out.  When you use a video in an email, it must be relevant to the point of the email.
  • Your brand video doesn’t belong in the body of an email.
    It belongs in your signature because when people want to find out who you are, they naturally look at the email signature and boom, there’s your relevant brand video.  If the viewer knows who you are, your message isn’t cluttered by it, but it’s still there for future reference and for anyone who is forwarded that email.  (so easy for the user!  Return of the First Point!)


Here’s a microcosm of marketing that happens every day: Imagine a potential client emails two dentists asking for a quote on a Root Canal.

  1. The First Dentist sends an email to the client and includes at the top of the email an embedded brand video talking about the wide range of his experience.
  2. The Second Dentist sends an email with the same text, but instead of an autoplaying brand video, he includes a link to a 60-second blog post video he made about Root Canals: “Here is a video explaining the process of getting a Root Canal at my office.

Which dentist is getting the client?  It’s a no-brainer!  The one who sent relevant, user-friendly information that educates the client about their need established him/herself as an authority and an ally and sent the client to the website where he will see the other content he will need in the future including the brand video the First Dentist was so eager to show!

In summary:

Make sure the video supports the text of your email, rather than standing alone. Keep the video short, to reduce load times and maintain your viewer’s attention. Only include a video that is relevant to the needs of the person you are trying to reach. Finally, understand that the video is the gateway for your viewer to find out more about what you have to offer.

Now, stop putting video in your emails and start using video to improve your emails.

What strategies do you use to enhance your emails with video?