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« Can we put a video in an email? » This question has been raised a lot over the years, and we still hear it from time to time. After all, video seems like a great way to improve the subscriber experience. But can are you actually putting a video in an email? And should you? It depends. Which seems like the perfect answer for anything email related. Email has so much to consider that each question raises more questions. So let’s dive into the pros and cons, how to simulate it, how to actually embed a real video in your email, and some examples you can take inspiration from.

The pros and cons: Do video emails work?

The first question I always ask is, « Why do you want to have a video? » Most marketers agree that video is powerful. 91% of consumers prefer interactive and visual content over traditional, text or static media according to our State of Email report. Yet less than 17% of email health survey respondents said they used an interactive element in their emails.

Video in graphic by e-mail - dark
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Increase engagement

People want to watch videos, which gives power to video. And even just the idea of the video is powerful:

  • Including the word « video » in your subject line can increase open rates by up to 19%. (Backlinko)
  • Click-through rates increased by almost 41% when Wistia included a video thumbnail in their email.
  • You can reduce your churn rates with video up to 26%. (Campaign monitor)

It is quite impressive.

But stay, Why do you want to include a video? Videos can be an effective way to:

  • Show how your products or services work
  • Put a face or a voice on your brand
  • Surprise and delight your audience

What is the purpose of your email? If you just want to increase engagement, video can help. But you need to make sure that the video content you send is the content that your subscribers are interested in. And does this format make sense for your post?

Wistia’s test spanned multiple emails, and their 40.83% increase in click-through rate was only for one of their emails. Other tests showed a significantly smaller increase compared to non-video email.

Don’t just add a video to add sake to a video. Make sure you have good video content that meets a need of your subscribers. And make sure your audience can even read your video in their emails.

Consider email client support

Unfortunately, support for embedded video is limited. This is what email client support currently looks like:

Desktop clients

Web mail clients

Mobile clients

Outlook 2000-2003

Gmail

IOS Mail

Outlook 2007-2019

G Suite

Gmail

Outlook for Mac ✓ *

Yahoo! Mail

Gmail IMAP

Apple Mail

AOL

Samsung Mail

Windows 10 Mail

Outlook.com

Outlook

Office 365

Office 365

Yahoo

Thunderbird

Comcast

AOL

Orange.fr

SFR.fr

* supported with limitations

As you can see, it is in many places where video is not supported. The best video to email support is on iOS, Apple Mail, Samsung Mail, and Thunderbird. We tested it in Outlook for Mac with varying results:

  • In the Outlook 2016 for Mac desktop email client, the video appeared with the controls, but did not play the video unless you right clicked and chose play. It is not intuitive and can cause friction for your subscribers.
  • In the desktop Outlook client with Office365 on Mac, the fallback solution appeared.

We currently have no way to target Outlook for Mac, but you can do one of the following two things. You can insert instructions into the poster image – the image you create for your followers to see while the video loads. Or you can add the autoplay = « autoplay » attribute to make the video play automatically. But I don’t recommend the latter as it’s intrusive and can be a shocking experience, especially for those with high volume.

Take note of the size and hosting of the video file

Another thing to consider is the video itself. The size of the file and where it is hosted are major factors that will determine whether the video will even play in your emails.

For your email video, we recommend that you do not exceed a file size of 1MB due to the extended load times which are detrimental to your subscriber’s experience. Larger files take longer to load and require more from your subscribers’ data plans. Keep your followers engaged by limiting the size of your files.

You should also keep in mind or you host the video. YouTube or other video hosting platform will not work. You need to host the video yourself and then link directly to the video file. This can cause issues if you are looking to follow video views. But, you can also work with third party email video companies to host and embed video if you want to track video engagement.

To integrate or not to integrate?

Limited email client support and video file constraints are just a few of the complications of video in emails. Due to these restrictions …

We recommend that you use embedded video more as a gradual enhancement and only if you have a video with a sufficiently small file size.

Otherwise, use a static thumbnail of the video with a play button on it. Or create a fake video using an animated GIF or animated CSS that looks like a play when followers hover over the thumbnail image.

Find out more pros and cons of email video before you make the decision to embed real video in your email or simulate it.

How to embed a video in an email

So you’ve got your video, you’ve thought about all the limitations of embedding a video in an email, and you’ve decided to go for it. All you have to do is know how to do it.

1. Create and upload your video file

Create your video and optimize the file size to keep it under 1MB. Then upload it and get the URL of the video file. You will need this for the src attribute of the HTML video tag.

2. Create and upload the poster image of your video

A poster image is the image people will see while your video is uploading. The best practice is to use a still image from your video and place a play arrow on it to let people know it’s a video. You can also use this image to leave instructions on how to play the video.

3. Configure your HTML video tag

Important attributes to include in the HTML video tag are:

  • The src attribute: Enter the URL of the video file you are embedding.
  • The poster attribute: This is the image that will be displayed while the video is downloading.
  • The width and height attributes: Specify the height and width of your video.
  • Controls: This tells the email client to display the video controls. Not all email clients support this, but it’s good to include those that do.

The content between the video tags is what will be displayed if the video tag is not supported. It can be text or an image, but in either case, we recommend that you link to your video so that your followers can still enjoy the video experience.

Here is an example of what the HTML video tag looks like:

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

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