Best Practices When Using Video for Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of many avenues to connect with your audience and generate business, but it’s one that virtually every brand utilizes in today’s day and age. And while there has always been chatter about email marketing becoming irrelevant in favor of more high-tech channels, the reality is that it’s a classic for a reason: it works and it’s a relatively simple, low-cost channel to optimize.

If you’re hoping to spice up your email marketing channels moving forward, incorporating video content is a no-brainer. Of the hundreds of emails many people receive in a day, only a handful are likely to include video. When you combine that ability to stand out from the crowd with video’s dynamic, attention-grabbing nature, it’s easy to see why companies have such great results from using videos in their email outreach.

With that end goal in mind, let’s take a closer look at the latest best practices to make the most of your video/email combination. 

The importance of incorporating video in your email marketing strategy
Source: Vimeo

Options for Incorporating Video in Email Content

The number one concern we hear about using video in email marketing is that it’s too difficult to figure out. Most major email providers (including Google and Outlook) don’t currently support a feature that allows for directly embedding your video, and it can be tough to find the right workaround for your needs.

Here’s a quick overview of your options—and don’t worry, they’re all simpler than you might think. 

Option 1: Use a Play Button on a Still Image

Arguably the most popular solution to “embedding” your video is to put a play button graphic on top of a still image of your video. Adding the play button makes the image look like a video, and your subscribers are likely to click “play” if they’re interested in the video’s topic.

On the back end, make sure the image is clickable and that it redirects to the full video, either on a landing page or on a hosting platform like YouTube or Vimeo. We use this option often at Lemonlight, and we can confirm that it leads to great results and improves email metrics. 

Option 2: Use a GIF

Your second option is to use a GIF to give the illusion of embedding the full video. If you have a really short video, you may be able to convert the entire thing to a GIF that can then be embedded as an image. If your content is longer, pick a few moments that feel the most eye-catching, and create a GIF that will serve as a teaser for the full content.

This option works well when you really want to emphasize the dynamic nature of the video content. Unlike option one, using a GIF will ensure that your content actually moves within the email, which can help it to stand out in a crowded inbox. 

Again, make sure the GIF is clickable and that the click redirects to the full version of the video. 

Option 3: Use a Third-Party Software Tool

Last but not least, there are third-party software tools that promise to embed full videos within your email outreach. If you go this route, make sure to test every email you send to make sure that it’s actually performing as intended. Many email providers do their best to block full videos within email content as an anti-spam protection, so you’ll want to preview the subscriber experience each time you prepare a new video-enabled email.  

Video Email Marketing Best Practices

Now that you know how to handle the video logistics, let’s talk about the best practices to maximize the value of your video email efforts. 

Keep It Short

Unless you have really good reason to include a longer video in your email, keep email videos on the shorter side. Presumably, your audience is going to be watching the video content as they’re working through their inbox, and they’re unlikely to want to spend more than a minute or two absorbing your message.

When in doubt, imagine being on the receiving end of the email during the busiest part of your workday. If you wouldn’t watch the full video, don’t expect your audience to watch it, either. 

Track Video and Email Metrics

Next, make sure to track both video and email metrics for every campaign you send out. For the video, you’ll want to watch metrics like watch time and video completion rate. You can use this information to deduce whether the video topic was relevant to your audience and whether there’s a particular part of the video when engagement drops off. 

On the email side, you’ll want to track all the standard metrics: open rates, click-through rates, and potentially even time spend viewing the email. Make sure to compare metrics between emails that contain videos and emails that don’t to see if you notice any trends. If your audience is like most, you should find that incorporating video leads to better email performance on average. 

Have a Clear CTA

It’s important that both your video and your email have a clear CTA to guide subscribers to take a specific action. By including your CTA in the video itself, you’ll ensure that viewers know what to do next even if they don’t refer back to the email after they finish the video. 

This is also a great way to gut check whether you’re choosing the right video for your email’s overall message. If the video’s CTA doesn’t align with the intended CTA for the email, your campaign concept may need to be realigned. 

Test Different Types of Email/Video Combinations

As you build out your video email marketing capabilities, don’t be afraid to try a variety of combinations of video types and email types. A company overview video mixed with a recruiting email may work well, and so might a product video within a promotional email. Mix and match your video and email content, and you may be surprised to unlock unconventional combinations that work well.  

Personalize Video Content for Specific Emails

Lastly, while all the options above work well for mass email outreach, don’t forget the power of using personalized video content within specific emails and one-on-one communication. 

If your sales teams and customer support teams often email individual people (as most do), you can use the same process above to “embed” video content that’s aimed directly at your one and only recipient. This is a great way to build relationships with your audience and deliver an experience that goes above and beyond the status quo.

Final Thoughts

The video and email marketing spaces are constantly evolving, and it’s possible we’ll see significant changes in coming years—including the ability to directly embed full videos within native email platforms. Whether that option becomes available or not, the tips above will help you take your email outreach to the next level. And if you need video content to use within your emails, our team is always here to help! 

Alexa Nizam

Alexa Nizam