Video embed: A how-to guide for emails

Video is an undeniably powerful marketing tool, but what’s the best way to embed a video in your email?

About 85 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool, according to Wyzowl’s latest video marketing survey

And the demand is there. About 85 percent of all internet users in the U.S. watch online videos monthly on any of their devices, while 54 percent of consumers want to see more video content from the brands or businesses they support.

With all that momentum behind video, it’s understandable that a business would want to get the most out of every video created, not only sharing it on social media channels but on one of the most traditional online marketing tools of all: email.

Emails with videos showed a 5.6 percent higher open rate and a 96 percent higher click-through rate as compared to emails without videos, according to GetResponse. Other research shows even higher rates.

But it’s easy to stumble when embedding your video into an email. Here is some guidance:

Understand the limits of video embedding

Such large email service providers as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook don’t support embedded videos.

That means that either your email recipients won’t be able to watch your video or your email will end up in spam (and not be seen at all). 

Despite that potential downside, it still is a possible method.

Option #1: Embedding the video

To embed your video in an email, you should use HTML5, which is the most up-to-date and robust version of HTML with several options for video.

Find out more about the basics of video and HTML.

You can use the following example HTML5 code, provided by Campaign Monitor:

<video width=”640″ height=”360″ poster=”https://www.campaignmonitor.com/assets/uploads/https://www.campaignmonitor.com/assets/uploads/fallback.jpg” controls=”controls”>
<source src=”http://mysite.com/videoname.mp4″ type=”video/mp4″ />
<a href=”http://mysite.com/”><img src=”https://www.campaignmonitor.com/assets/uploads/https://www.campaignmonitor.com/assets/uploads/fallback.jpg” width=”640″ height=”360″ /></a>
</video>

Keep in mind that this code to embed your video also includes the codes for adding a “fallback image,” which shows a backup image for recipients whose email doesn’t support video embedding. However, it does have to be both edited and tested before using it in a real email deployment.

Here is another example of HTML5 coding to embed a video in an email.

Only a portion of email services support embedded video content in emails. The rest will show the fallback image.

These are the email services who do support HTML5 embedded videos:

  • Apple Mail
  • Outlook for Mac
  • iOS 10+ (native client)
  • Samsung Galaxy (native client)
  • Thunderbird

These are the email services who will show a fallback image instead:

  • Android 4 (native client)
  • AOL Mail
  • Gmail (webmail, Android, iOS)
  • Lotus Notes
  • Outlook (2003-2016, Android, iOS, Outlook.com)
  • iOS 9 (native client)
  • Yahoo! (Mail, Android, iOS)

It may sound like the “fallback image,” while not ideal, covers your bases with those who can’t play the video within your email. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. It is possible that those users (a sizeable portion of your recipient list) could see either a static image with a link to the video or a broken image that won’t allow them to view the video at all.

And, of course, don’t forget about the spam flagging potential as well.

While there are pros to HTML5 embedding, there is a significant risk to user experience (and your ROI as well).

Option #2: Linking to the video with an image

A more common email marketing practice is to embed a static image with a play button superimposed on top of it. It looks like a video, but when users click it, they’ll be directed to wherever the video is located.

You can see some examples of this at ReallyGoodEmails.com.

To do this, you have to prepare your click-worthy video thumbnail image. This can be more of an art than a science, for sure. You can take a screengrab of the video itself or even design a graphic (both with the video play button included, of course). The goal is to avoid clickbait while also encouraging the user to click to watch. 

Of course, when it comes to the video play button, it can be animated to make it that much more eye-catching. Here’s an example

This can be expanded to the whole image being in motion as a GIF file that you’re embedding. Truly, the sky is the limit when it comes to the look and feel of the image you want to embed.

Keep in mind that while a majority of email clients support embedded GIFs, Windows Phone 7, Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013 don’t. Instead, these email clients will only show the first frame of the GIF. (Not a deal-breaker, but be aware of what that first frame looks like.) Also, try to keep your GIF file size as small as possible so that there’s not a long loading time when recipients open your email. Ideally, the size is 200KB to 250KB.

Then, you’ll want to link that image to the location of your video (whether it’s on your website, Facebook, YouTube, so on). 

A direct link is the best option. For example, use the direct link of your Facebook Live video rather than the link to your Facebook Page. The reason should be obvious: It’s a better user experience to go directly to the video you want to watch than a landing page where you have to search for the video.

Bonus points for making sure the video auto plays once users see it because it saves them from an additional click (and potentially having them bounce off).

The upside to using embedded images with links is that all email clients support it. 

In addition, if you’re hosting the video on your website, you now have your email recipients where you want them. This is where they can explore and find out more information about your business. Another benefit, if you’re hosting videos on your website, is the SEO (search engine optimization) value you can build over time with that (properly indexed content).

Find out more about video SEO.

Option #3: DailyStory offers automated video embeds

It’s worth mentioning that our automated marketing platform, DailyStory, offers easy, plug-and-play video email embeds for YouTube and Vimeo videos.

No matter what method you opt to use, videos and sharing your videos via email should be top of mind. This is especially true for your marketing strategy. Don’t get left behind.