Ayswarrya G
Ayswarrya G 26 May 2016
Categories B2B, B2C, Email & eCRM

How To Use Video In Email Marketing Campaigns: Embedding, GIFs, or Linking

Have you watched the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video? It emotionally appeals to women all over the world to embrace their beauty - "You're more beautiful than you think." This video got more than 66 million total views, making it one of the most viral ad videos of all time.

Have you watched the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video? It sends a powerful message saying "you're more beautiful than you think" by comparing two portraits of the same woman drawn by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora: one based on the descriptions given by the woman, and the other based on a stranger’s observations. A captivating video with a strong message, that engages you at an emotional level.

The results? The video got more than 66 million total views, making it one of the most viral ad videos of all time.


How did it get so viral? Because of the level at which the video engaged the emotions of women worldwide. Such is the power of a video – get the right content filmed as a good quality video and distribute it to the right audience, and get mind-blowing results out of it.

A video is a tool that’s versatile as it seamlessly integrates with all sorts of marketing campaigns – email, blog, social media, etc. The above example proves that video works miracles for your marketing campaign, which is why you should employ the power of video to your email marketing campaigns too.

How to Use Video in Email Marketing?

There are three ways of using video in your next email campaign:

  1. Embedding using HTML5
  2. Using GIFs
  3. Linking a video to a static image

We’re going to examine each of these techniques.

01. Embedding Using HTML5

Wouldn’t it be great to receive an email containing a video and watching the video right from your inbox, without having to navigate to any other page? This is possible using a technique called embedding videos to your email using HTML5. HTML5 uses the <video> tag to embed the video directly into your email without any deliverability issues.

Although this seems to be an ideal option, the problem lies with email client support for HTML5 videos. According to most recent statistics, the following email clients support HTML5:

  • iOS devices
  • Apple Mail
  • Thunderbird 24

In the case of all other email clients, including Gmail and Yahoo, the video would be displayed as a fallback image. Now, Gmail is one of the biggest email clients with a gigantic user base, which is why the HTML5 technique is a bit risky.

If you wish to embed an HTML5 video in email, check out this comprehensive guide by Email on AcidA How-To Guide to Embedding HTML5 Video in Email.

My advice: Research your target audience and see what email client they use? If a majority of them use iOS devices, then you can consider using this technique. On the other hand, if they use Gmail, you should probably stay away from this technique and consider the other two options of using video in email marketing.

Litmus did it in the most innovative manner ever by providing live updates of tweets in its email here. Although it worked only on Mac clients, it’s still an exemplary piece of email.


02. Using GIFs

A GIF, Graphics Interchange Format, is a highly popular image format that’s supported across most browsers and email clients. These days, animated GIFs – a series of still image frames coded into a single file – are all the rage, and rightly so, as they have an emotional impact. As mentioned in the example of the Dove campaign, emotions are powerful, and evoking the right emotions in your audience is the key to high engagement and conversions.

Brands such as HubSpot, Buffer, and Slack use GIFs in their communications – emails, social media posts, blog content, etc. all the time.

To create your own animated GIF, all you need is Photoshop and some basic design skills. Litmus has created this awesome guide on creating animated GIFs using Photoshop -  A Guide to Animated GIFs in Email.

Don’t have Photoshop? Try Make a GIF and GIF Ninja. Alternatively, you could pick a pre-existing GIF on Giphy or Buffer’s GIF Mood Board.

My advice: Use GIFs when you’re offering a glimpse of your company culture. Animated GIFs inject some personality and help share your company culture in a fun, lighthearted way. Another situation when you could use GIFs is when you have to present data. Animating data and statistics is a great way of visualizing an otherwise dull piece of content.

Trello gets it right in its email on reaching 10 million users. It’s a simple but wonderful email with a catchy CTA that drives traffic to their website.


03. Linking a Video to a Static Image

Last but not the least, you could include a static image of your video and link it to the location of the original video.

In this method, the marketer adds an image of the video within the email. When the user clicks on the image, they’re redirected to the landing page or social media channel where the original video plays.

This is a safe method since almost all email clients support images. It is also quite effective since  using this method, you can drive traffic to your website or social media channels. A primary reason why this method would get more results is because it reduces distractions and hands over the controls to you. You have no control of the email client on your recipient’s computer or mobile device. On the other hand, you have complete control over your website and social media channels. This, ultimately, helps you optimize for conversion. All you need is an enticing thumbnail and an attractive CTA. Wistia has a great post on choosing the right thumbnail. Check it out here – 5 common thumbnail mistakes (and how you can fix them).

My advice: Go with linking a video to a static image. It’s safer, accessible across browsers and email clients, and gives you a degree of control over how your subscribers view your video. You can use this method for a whole range of content such as product demos, walkthroughs, tutorials, customer testimonials, etc.

Twitter hits the bull's eye by sharing visual video content instead of any written content. Why don’t you try this strategy for your next email campaign?


So there you have it – three methods of including video in email marketing and our insights on when and how to use them.

No matter what method you choose, one thing you must bear in mind is to test out these methods as well as using videos in email campaigns to see what works for you. Share your email campaign with friends, colleagues, etc. and ask for their feedback. Also, test subject lines and email text to make sure it doesn’t get classified as SPAM.

That’s it. So what are you waiting for? Get started with video in email marketing campaigns right now! To help you get started, I'm providing you with two email templates for using video in email. These templates are optimized for mobiles and have been tested using Litmus.


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