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Settling the Final Frontier of Video Content: Email

how to play video in email

Video content has become a ubiquitous part of the digital marketing landscape. It permeates our social feeds, enlivens our websites, delivers our advertisements, supports our experiences, and captivates our customers. But there’s one crucial digital channel that has resisted marketers’ best efforts to integrate video: email.

Can you embed a video in an email for your marketing campaigns? Lack of innovation in the email marketing space and technical limitations imposed by laggard email clients have generally prevented the streamlined ability to play video in email—at least until recently. Fortunately, new technology is finally opening up the doors for clever marketers to deliver real video right to their subscriber’s inboxes.

Why Marketers Want to Play Video in Email

Why should marketers be chomping at the bit at the opportunity to join video and email? Because it’s the perfect marriage of marketing’s greatest results-driver and engagement engine!

Out of all the established and emerging channels available, email continues to provide the best consistent ROI. It delivers an impressive $38 for every dollar invested. And marketers report email as by far their biggest driver of return on investment, according to email marketing research by Campaign Monitor.

play video in email

Email isn’t just a huge driver of upfront revenue; it’s also one of the best ways to cultivate long-term relationships, build loyalty, and gather invaluable data for use in other campaigns.

And best of all, it’s one of the most universally-used forms of digital communication: the number of email users worldwide is just shy of 4 billion people. That’s a lot of potential customers!

Video also brings some unique and powerful advantages to the table for marketers.

87% of consumers said they want to see more video from brands this year. Viewers retain about 95% of a message received via video, vs just 10% via just text. And when it comes to learning about new products and features, video is by far the preferred method:

can you embed a video in email?

Long story short: your audience wants video, and email is the perfect way to get it to them.

Keeping Your Audience Captivated

Marketers have developed a lot of ‘tricks’ over the years to deal with the difficulties of playing video in email for their subscribers.

There’s the classic ‘put a play button over a thumbnail image’ move, and the more modern ‘insert a moving image that teases the video’ strategy. Typically those features would link to an app or web page where the video can be played in full. These methods have their merit—but they come with a cost, too.

The problem with this approach to video is that it sends your audience away from your email, right after you put in all that work to craft the perfect subject line and design an amazing experience! And once they click away to view the video, you risk losing them to audience attrition and the multitude of distractions available online.

When possible, it’s often better to keep openers them within the controlled environment of your email, where you determine what content is available and the user’s next course of action should be. That’s part of what makes the ability to play video in email so valuable!

Leaping Marketers’ Highest Hurdle

There’s demand to get video in email from brands and customers alike. So what’s the holdup? Can you embed video in email, or not?

In most cases, it’s the email client—the app, software, or site people to send and receive their emails. Here’s the list of the most popular email clients as of February 2019, courtesy of emailclientmarketshare.com.

can you embed a video in email?

Though some of them support video, others simply will not render this content for various reasons. Traditionally this has resulted in a poor user experience and an ugly or broken email when video was inserted, deterring marketers from using video at any meaningful scale.

Fortunately this is changing. Through a combination of creativity and innovative technology, email marketers can finally include compelling, captivating video streams to entertain, inform, and persuade their mailing lists.

Getting around this obstacle required a simple, but elegant, solution. It involves formatting the email in such a way that it responds to the real-time context of the open: in this case, which client was used to open the email.

Design your emails so that they display the fully embedded video when they’re opened by clients that support video, or stand-in content like an animated gif or static thumbnail when viewed in clients that don’t.

Of course, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. This configuration requires advanced technical skills, backend support, and coding expertise.

The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out yourself; smart marketers can quickly adapt scalable video-in-email capabilities with an out-of-the-box solution that requires minimal resources. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today and see how it works!