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!

In the first article in this two-part series, we look at the challenges related to embedding video in email while providing tips and tricks to pull it off. Stay tuned for our next article, where we offer real-world examples and specific client successes.

How to Embed Video in Email (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

Adding video to email can be a game-changing experience for marketers. Online video is extremely popular today and can be one of the best ways to reach millennials or any other consumer looking for faster, more engaging content.

It is effective, too. Research from Campaign Monitor shows that adding video to email can lead to open rate increases of 19% and click-through rate increases of 50% or more. Additionally, a Forrester research report highlighted the fact that embedding video in an email can boost click-through rates 200-300%. Such exponential results can be very appealing for marketing teams achieving single-digit increases using traditional email marketing methods.

These findings lead to one important question: Why aren’t more marketing teams doing more to send video through email campaigns?

Why aren’t we embedding video today?

The likely answer is probably related to the fact that the majority of marketers still think it’s too difficult. In the past, there were many technical constraints and other hoops that production teams had to jump through to get it done. Most notable is the fact that a typical mass email goes to recipients using many different email clients. Some can open embedded video inline, yet others cannot.

This represents a dilemma that requires some creative thinking. For example, email producers had to hard code media queries into HTML to attempt to determine which clients would receive the email. Yet this strategy was really a watered-down approach that was intended to create a lowest common denominator experience for the highest number of clients. But this was a far cry from easily creating jaw-dropping, memorable email experiences that consumers en masse would love (and respond to).

How to embed video

Ready for the good news? All of this has changed in the last few years, and now there are better ways to send a video through email. It’s worth the effort: When done well video can instantly communicate your message, exceed recipients’ expectations, and appeal to users who prefer video. All of this helps your brand stand apart as a leader and a viable business partner.

What is the best way to add video? If you’re comfortable with HTML, you may want to try adding it yourself. But before you do, remember the challenge described above: some of your recipients’ email clients won’t support the ability to play the video right in the inbox. Many of them will, and those that don’t will offer a static image as a graceful fallback image, but you should still use caution.

If you choose not to attempt embedding video in HTML, there are also a few different tricks you can use without actually doing it.

  1. Use a play button: Using a play button on top of a static image is a great way to link to video content that is hosted on YouTube or Vimeo. All you have to do is to link the image to the hosted version of your video.
  2. Animated GIFs: Another popular way to create the illusion of video in email is to use animated GIFs. While not technically a video, animated GIFs can still be used effectively to create better emails—and motivate recipients to take the right action.
  3. Animating the play button: This is actually a hybrid approach where you would link a static image but use an animated GIF to draw attention to the play button.
Liveclicker’s approach

There are other approaches, too. For example, Liveclicker’s RealTime Email technology and advanced email experiences work with nearly every email client. Our LiveVideo element uses moment-of-open technology to identify the specific level of video support in each email client and displays the appropriate embedded video, animated GIF, or static image.

On average, 40% of all RealTime Email recipients can view video inline or full screen – leaving 52% with animation and a tiny 3% with a static image linked to the video. Liveclicker provides moment-of-open personalization to deliver the best possible experience for just about any recipient.

Stella & Dot embedded video

How to get started

The best way to see if video in email is right for you is to try it. Testing a video in an email campaign can be as simple as creating a one-off video and segmenting a small portion of email subscribers to test its validity and overall success.

Here are a few video ideas for a pilot program:

Get started with video in email

Online video is one of the most popular types of content and accounts for approximately 50% of all media consumed on the Internet. If you’re looking for a new way to get ahead, beat the competition, and give your prospects a highly engaging experience, try using video in your next email campaign. Your subscribers will appreciate it, and chances are good that it will generate positive new results.

We hope this article was helpful as you begin to consider the best ways to add video to email marketing campaigns. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we look at real-life examples of Liveclicker clients who are actually using video today.