Including video in emails

There’s no doubt that using video engages your subscribers. It’s attention grabbing and adds a new dimension to your message that can generate more interest than text alone.

The millions of training, product, presentation, tutorial and demonstration videos out there testify to this.

But should you embed videos in your email campaigns?

Most Email Service Providers (ESP’s) have the facility to do this. The technology does exist and ESP’s aren't technically speaking against you using video, but as with most things, just because you can doesn't mean you should!

Why we wouldn't recommend using video in emails just yet:
  • You need the technical know-how to add the necessary code to your email which embeds video.
  • Very few email readers that will allow a video to play in an email.
  • The code used to embed the video will mean your email is more likely to get caught in filters and not even make it to your subscriber's inbox.
  • Video can take time to download, or as mentioned above, not work at all. In this time your subscribers could become frustrated and bored and delete your email without seeing your video content or clicking on other links.
  • You won't gain valuable click-through information that you would by recipients needing to click to view the video.
What you can do instead:
  • Use an image of the first frame of your video and use that as a clickable image link to the video online (your own web page or a page on your YouTube channel etc).
  • Make sure the image has a "Play" button/icon included to make it as clear as you can that clicking will enable you to view the video.
  • Double your chances of a click by including a text link as well, such as "Follow this link to view our video" (never worry about stating the obvious with hyperlink wording!)
As images aren't embedded in your email when using NewZapp, using this method of linking from a static image, instead of embedding video, means your email is "lighter" (smaller in file size) and easier to deliver.

Want to be a little more adventurous?

If you have the resources, try an animated gif as your image link, with some movement that reinforces the topic or just to get attention!

Points to remember with animated gifs:
  • If well made, animated gifs are usually relatively small in file size (KB), but keep an eye on this in case you drift towards the "slow to load" zone that we wanted to avoid by not embedding video in the first place.
  • Not all email clients will let the animation play. For example Outlook 2007-2013 and Lotus Notes will only show the first frame of your animated gif instead.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons of the time you'd be investing in making an animated gif, by checking what proportion of your database use Outlook 2007-2013 or Lotus Notes. Check the Client data of a previous campaign. If it's a really high percentage then you may decide to use a non-animated image to link from.
  • If you do go ahead, make sure that whoever is making your animated gif is aware that some email readers wont see the animation so that they can put the most important part of your message in the first frame.

As a summary - providing links to view your video will give you best chance of deliverability to the inbox, and a much clearer understanding of who is interested in seeing the video, thanks to the click data in NewZapp LIVE! Reports.

Recommended additional reading: 
An introduction to common email rendering issues and how to deal with them