September 10, 2021 (Updated: May 5, 2023)
Including videos in your email marketing campaigns can make them feel more exciting and personal. They create a dynamic experience that’s different from plain text messages. Depending on the program you use, there are several ways to embed video in an email. Today we’re discussing the benefits of including videos in your emails and the steps to do so with topics like:
Here’s an email fast fact: not all email programs and clients support embeds. We get into why that is later in this article, but for now, we’re focusing on email programs that do support embedded videos and let you edit with HTML. In these cases, you can use the HTML5 embed code to play your videos within the body of the message. To do so, enter code view in the email composition window and use the proper tags and syntax to display your content.
If you’re sharing a video from YouTube or another hosting site, most offer copy and paste embed code that you can add right into the body of your email. If you need to construct the code yourself, use embed code tutorials online to get the components and syntax just right. Keep in mind that using this type of embed code in your messages may cause email clients to flag your content as spam. For this reason, we recommend using another strategy to share videos in your email, such as linking or uploading a video file into the attachments.
Gmail doesn’t let you do a true embed like you could with HTML, but it offers two different substitutes that let viewers watch your video without opening a new tab or leaving the email client:
With this option, Google lets you share a video uploaded to your Google Drive with your email correspondents. To do so, follow these steps:
When someone receives the email, they can access the thumbnail of the video at the bottom of the message. They’re able to click the “Play” arrow to bring up the video in a lightbox and watch it without leaving Gmail.
If your video is already out on a video hosting site like YouTube, you can share it similarly to how you shared a Google Drive upload. To share a YouTube video on Gmail:
Just like with the Google Drive link, when someone receives the email, they’ll see a thumbnail of the video at the bottom. They can click “Play” to open the video in a lightbox and watch it without opening a new tab.
MailChimp’s email builder offers two ways to share video content with subscribers. It’s also a useful tool for creating email newsletters, which may include videos as well. MailChimp offers a true embedding option from YouTube with its HTML code feature. Use these steps to include a video in your email:
Like with the HTML code, we don’t recommend using this option. We tried sending a test email from MailChimp using this method, and it got flagged as spam. We include this information here so you know you can do it even if it may not produce optimal results.
For a spam-free option, consider using MailChimp’s video block. This isn’t a true embedding method but allows you to include videos in the emails you send. Use these steps to add one to your content:
With this option, the video appears within the text of your email. When subscribers click to watch your video, a new tab opens automatically, and they can view the video on YouTube. You also have the option to upload a custom thumbnail in place of the pre-selected one from YouTube.
There are two ways you can get the embedded video look in Microsoft Outlook. They include:
To customize the thumbnail image of a video in Outlook, follow these steps:
As we mentioned before, some email clients flag embedded videos as spam in your content. But embedding and linking to video aren’t the same thing. Both methods have similar functions: they let you share files, audio, images, and video within another program or document. The differences happen in file storage and viewing.
One of the major differences between embedding and linking video in your emails comes from where the original file lives. Think of the storage locations as the difference between renting movies versus using a streaming service. Before streaming existed, if you wanted to watch a movie you didn’t own, you had to rent a physical copy and bring it home to watch. This approach is like linking. Another website owns or holds the physical video file, and you use a link to send your audience to the right content. Then to see the video, that person must leave your email and go to a website or an app.
Embedding video is like a streaming service. If you want to watch a movie using this method, you bring up the streaming website or app on your device, choose something to watch, and hit play. Embedding works the same way. The video file lives within the email code. Your audience doesn’t have to leave the email client to watch or otherwise access it.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using both linking and embedding within emails. One major benefit of embedding is that it makes it easy for readers to access your content seamlessly without opening additional windows or navigating away from your message. Linking can be beneficial, though, to keep your email file sizes smaller. Because an email program stores all the information for an embedded file in a message, the large sizes can make the sending and loading processes slower.
Today, many email clients—such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail—don’t offer true embedding within their programs. This is because of the growing number of viruses and malware that can attach to embedded files and spread via email. These clients may flag emails with embed code as spam, which prevents them from reaching inboxes. Luckily, there are creative ways to make your content appear embedded in these emails without actually storing all the file data, which can help you avoid sending emails that will get flagged.
Video content can lead to more subscriber engagement, like click-throughs and shares, from your emails. According to Biteable, adding video to emails can increase click-through rates by an average of 300%. Besides creating engagement and opportunities for revenue, video lets you get more personal with viewers in your emails. If you choose to feature yourself or company employees in the content, this humanizes your brand. Additionally, video formats give you more freedom to communicate with your tone, inflection, facial expressions, and body language.
Despite all the great benefits of using video in your email content, just sharing them within the text may not be enough to get people to click play. You can use other elements to entice them to watch, such as:
The thumbnail image of the video is the first thing people see when they access it. An interesting and inviting image can make people want to click the video and play it. It can also give people an idea of what they might see when they watch the video. There are many options you can use for a thumbnail, including a screenshot from your video or an animated GIF.
Video hosting sites like YouTube give you an option to choose or upload a thumbnail when you upload your videos. You can also use a thumbnail directly in your emails to link to a video hosted on another site.
Writing an engaging subject line helps encourage readers to open your email and interact with the content inside. Use the word “Video” somewhere in the subject line to let people know what they’ll find before they open the message. Other tips for making subject lines more interesting include using numerical statistics, emojis, or posing thoughts that spark the readers’ interest.
Want to learn more about how to create the best and most engaging subject lines for your content? Download our free eBook titled How To Create Effective Titles and Headlines. This guide teaches you helpful tips like how to brainstorm distinctive hooks for each topic and how to tailor headlines to match your audience.
Spammy language may keep readers from opening your email or interacting with attachments and links. Indicators of spam language usually include words about money or payment, claims that are too good to be true, and overuse of capitalization, exclamation points, and symbols. Instead, you might use enthusiastic but succinct language to describe the video’s purpose.
Why should people click on your video at all? In the subject line and the body text, tease the video content and explain the value. Share a call to action (CTA) before or after the video element like “Watch this video on X” to tell people exactly what you want them to do.
Embedding video into your email or mimicking video embeds can make your content stand out from traditional linked text. This can help your videos get the attention they deserve and help you reap the benefits of using dynamic content in your email marketing campaigns.
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