The elusive video in email – tips for making it happen

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As a consultant, one of the most common questions I will get from clients is “can I embed a video directly in my email.” The answer, “It depends.” 

Every marketer wants to create engaging content that will nurture and encourage interaction with their company and brand. In email marketing, that is becoming more and more prevalent especially in the wake of increased cookie blocking and the implications of the Apple Protection Policy. We need to be able to nurture our audience and be able to measure those interactions. Video has historically been a go-to medium for web as it’s entertaining for visitors and trackable for analysts. So obviously, email marketers want in. 

| 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool (wyzowl.com)

But with video not being able to be consumed directly in the email itself, most avoid using it. But that doesn’t have to be the case!  Below, we’ll run through some of the things to take into consideration before embedding video and then best practices to get the job done.

What are the drawbacks of embedding directly in email?

Email client support

The majority of email clients do not support embedded video in email. The clients that do:

  • Desktop Clients:
    • Apple Mail
    • Outlook for Mac (limitations)
    • Thunderbird
  • Webmail Clients
    • Outlook.com (with limitations)
  • Mobile Clients
    • iOS Mail
    • Outlook (with limitations)
    • Samsung Mail

Most marketing automation platforms attempt to be able to identify the client that contacts are using but it is not always 100% accurate and designing email for specific use cases can be more time consuming then it may be worth. Your best bet is to build an email that will work across clients (more to come on that). 

Deliverability concerns

File size in emails can make an impact on its ability to hit inboxes and load quickly. Many ISPs’ algorithms will mark emails with large file sizes as spam automatically so it is important to compress image and video file sizes to under 1 MB. Larger file sizes will extend load times which impacts the customer experience.

Best Practices for using Video in email

Using a static video image 

What I generally recommend to clients is to skip the hassle of worrying about an embedded video rendering and going with the old standby of using a static image from the video with a play button placed on top. This gives your audience a clear call-to-action and a promise of what is to come when they click through. 

Static Image

The video can be hosted on a landing page within your MAP, on your company website, YouTube, etc. and then place the link to where the video is hosted directly behind the image in your email.

TIP: You’ll always want to keep video engagement reporting in mind when deciding how to host your video. Most MAPs like Oracle Eloqua, Adobe Marketo, and Pardot support video file types for file storage but you will lose the video tracking. Your best bet is to use a video hosting service like YouTube, Vidyard, or Brightcove as examples. These tools also integrate directly with most MAPs.

Use MAP integrations

Some marketing automation platforms like Oracle Eloqua have in-app integrations with providers like YouTube to make the embedding of videos in email more seamless. Eloqua’s email Design Editor allows users to add a static video preview image with links in your email. All you have to do is provide the Vimeo or YouTube source URL and Eloqua will place the poster image of the video with a play button where you intended in the email. Learn more here

Create a faux video with GIFs

Last but not least, is the option to use an animated GIF as a quasi-video. This process is essentially the same as the static image option, just a little more fun. The animation can seem as if the video is playing, mimicking the look and feel of a real video, and give your audience a preview of the content. Plus, people love GIFs.

The elusive video in email – tips for making it happen

Not all email clients support animated GIFs, though the number is much lower than with video. You’ll want to make sure that the first and last frames of the GIF is the video image with play button overlayed so that anyone who receives the email will have a good user experience regardless if their email client supports the animation and where the animation ends. 

Email clients that support animated GIFs:

  • Gmail
  • Gmail App
  • Apple Mail
  • iOS Mails for iPhone and iPad
  • Samsung Mail
  • Outlook for Mac

I hope these tips encourage you and your team to try video in email. To let us know your experience or if you have any questions reach out to us at [email protected].

Resources: wyzowl.com (2021). https://www.wyzowl.com/video-marketing-statistics/

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