Embedding Video in Emails – Challenges and Workarounds

Email Marketing

With every passing year, the way customers consume information is changing, and marketers need to employ improved and innovative techniques to grab their attention and keep them engaged. Marketers nowadays have been harnessing various tactics such as hyper-personalization, visually attractive design, improved segmentation, customer loyalty rewards and much more to give a better experience to their subscribers and retain them.

Today we shall be focusing on one such tactic that is gradually picking up pace – Embedded Videos that play right inside your emails.

Current Scenario

You must be wondering as to why should you include a video in your marketing campaign and secondly, why should it be embedded in your email and not in your landing page (although brands have managed to increase conversions by 80% by including video in a landing page.)

By 2017, online video will account for 74% of all online traffic and as per Wowmakers, 52% of marketers believe that video is effective for brand awareness. Moreover, almost 50% of customers, before visiting a store, look for videos related to a product or service. So, including a video in your marketing strategy can be a good choice especially if you belong to the e-commerce, retail or travel industry. (We shall throw light on the applications in a while.)

Now, having the video on a dedicated landing page is an excellent fallback strategy but there is a huge risk of your subscribers not clicking the CTA or even bouncing back from the page before viewing the video. But before we jump onto the counter-argument of video not rendering in the subscribers’ device, let’s see which all email clients currently support embedded video in emails.


Earlier, Apple stopped video playback support in iOS 8 but thankfully it was resumed in iOS 9.

Currently, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple iOS 10 onwards, Samsung Native client and Outlook for Mac support video playback when embedded in an email.

Thus, by properly identifying the email clients used by your subscribers, segmenting and providing appropriate fallback support to the non-supporting email clients, you can ensure that your subscribers shall never have a broken experience.

Fallbacks & Workarounds

For the non-supporting email clients, you only have two options:

  • Include a “View Online” link.
  • Redirect the subscriber to the dedicated landing page, which has the video on autoplay.

To redirect the subscriber to the landing page, you either use:

  • Animated GIF: One of the best fallbacks to an embedded video is an animated GIF that shall hint on what the subscribers shall expect to see when they click on the GIF.
  • Static Image with a ‘Play’ button in the middle: The second best option is to have a static image with a play button in the middle for the subscriber to understand that by clicking on the image, they shall be redirected to the landing page.

As per a research by Socialmouths, 23% marketers embed videos in their email.

Best Practices for Using Videos in Emails

  • Using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%. It evokes anticipation.
  • Do not rely only on the video because, those who can’t view the video in their email will be pissed off and disengage. Also, owing to skewed text-to-image ratio, your email could be considered as spam because spam filters cannot read images.
  • Even though people love watching videos, nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer videos under 60 seconds.
  • Nothing is more irritating than a video that autoplays once you open an email as it consumes unwanted data every time. Ensure that the video only plays on user interaction.
  • Have a clear and direct Call-to-Action (CTA) that will nudge subscribers to click.

ESPs that support:

  • MailChimp: MailChimp offers video merge tags
  • BombBomb
  • TailoredMail
  • Constant Contact: Only supports image linking to hosted video
  • Aweber: Only supports image linking to hosted video
  • Infusionsoft: Supports only linking of youtube videos

Applications of Videos in Emails

1. Transforming Cold Emails to Generate Leads

The intention of a cold email is to touch base with a prospective customer. The email copy needs to be personalized and needs to connect. This can also be conveyed using a personal video message.

For Global Mission, to collect donations for one of the campaigns, an A/B testing email campaign was conducted.

The sample size was fixed at 2800 subscribers each and the Time and Date of send, Subject line, Design, Content, List size were kept constant in both emails.

Email ‘Sample A’ was a text heavy copy encouraging the subscribers to help their cause with donations.

In Email ‘Sample B’, founder Eric Thurman has a one-to-one interaction with the subscribers in an embedded video, urging them to donate.

As you can see, there is a 43% increase in the open rate and 114% increase in the conversion rate on implementing an embedded video.

2. Product Demos

As stated earlier, almost 50% of online users refer to product videos before making a purchase. Zumba sent a personalized message, which garnered 40% open rate and 21% CTR.

3. Tutorials or Feature Demonstration

In the following email, Audient has a video explaining the functioning of their product.


4. Pulling Subscribers to Your YouTube Channel or Facebook Page

Facebook has jumped onto the video marketing bandwagon recently and YouTube has been a popular video hosting service. But unless your subscribers are following you on either of the social media platforms, you are losing out on them. You can include a short teaser of the video in your emails, and encourage your subscribers to visit your YouTube or Facebook page.

5. Customer Testimonials or Case Studies

Customers trust your products (eventually buy them) when they hear reviews from other customers. The views of existing customers can be collated into a short video, and this can be used to build-up customer interest in your products/services.

Wrapping Up

Video Marketing and Email Marketing are two different marketing domains that have been drawing in customers since very long. Even though many brands have gradually adopted embedding videos in their marketing emails, if email client compatibility is ironed out, the scope of subscriber engagement can be greatly improved.

Author Bio

Kevin is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks – one of the fastest growing Email design and coding companies, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free master email templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage with fellow marketers. He frequently blogs for EmailMonks Email Marketing Blog. Connect with him on Twitter.


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