How to use video in email marketing

One of the first pieces of advice I learned as a freshly baked email marketer was that just by adding the word “video” in the email subject line, more people would open the email. Although that was a few years ago, video continues to be one of the most popular content formats.

Do you belong to the 83% of marketers that wish they could invest in video if only they had the resources, budget and time to do it? Let me tell you, video is a lot simpler than it might seem at first. It’s up to you how much time and budget you’d like to spend on video, but the following tips can definitely be done with a lower budget.

Why should you invest in video

People like video, it’s that simple. Just today, users will spend a billion hours watching videos on Youtube in total and in 2021, it’s estimated that one million video minutes will be streamed on the Internet every second. This is one of the reasons why we at eMarketeer include video content in close to every marketing campaign we’re doing; we know that to be relevant, we need to be where the readers are. And they’re on the Internet watching video. Notably, people do also expect to see more videos from brands and companies. This is your opportunity to shine.

Why video in email marketing?

By adding video to your marketing mix, you don’t just give the people what they want, but you can also expect these benefits from your video bonanza:

How to use video in email marketing

What stories to tell?

Educate, inspire, entertain; there are a bunch of different stories you could tell that work in email and that your recipients appreciate. But either way, Some alternatives are:

  • Customer testimonials: Inspire your readers by letting your best advocates share how they can use your product/service. These videos are also perfect to show in sales meetings.
  • Behind-the-scenes:  What’s it like at your office? What makes your teammates go to work every day? This is a category that allows you to be creative, show off your company culture with a behind-the-scenes story. Check out Zendesk’s take on how they show of their company. You notice that they went all in with camera work and scripts. In this example from Vistaprint, they let the team members do the talking.
  • Tutorials: Turn all your customers into a long-lasting relationship and make sure that they get the most out of your product or service with how-to guides and tutorials.
  • Tips: Share the knowledge you have as an expert in the field (not necessarily talking about your products). Educate and inspire.
  • Gifs: Right, not a video per se, but it’s another way to add some movement to your email.

I’m a big fan of having a representative from your company on camera, to really connect with the viewers.

How to get started with video in email marketing

Prepare with a script

First things first, so before you hit the studio, make sure you know what you want to say. No matter what video you’re doing, I suggest you write a script or at the very least an outline. Sure, you might be confident in what you want to say and in front of the camera, but my experience is that a script always wins in the long run. You can be confident that you don’t forget any important points that you wanted to share plus it saves a bunch of time when shooting the video while skipping a bunch of retakes. It also gives the presenter some time to practice before putting themselves in front of the camera.

Extra credit: When I write my scripts I always also write down a “visual script”; what imagery (B-roll), should go with each paragraph. It’s easier to perceive your message when you have images to go with it. For example, if the presenter talks about a football, have imagery that shows a football. With a script, you make sure that the video shoot runs smoothly and speed up the editing process a bit.

If you’re serious about video marketing, you should definitely invest in a good camera (DSLR) and microphone for the best quality and impression.

How long should your video be?

Your viewers’ attention span is short and their time is valuable. This is why it’s often said that your video should be as short as possible, under 90 seconds is great. As much as I believe in the power of keeping it short, I also believe that if your video is relevant to your viewers, they’ll stick around for a little bit longer than that.

This is my rule of thumb: Yes, always keep it as short as possible. Analyze each paragraph and be sure it really adds something to your story. If you need some extra time to get your message across, try it! If so, I usually aim for 2:30, but keep a look at the video reports and see if there’s a big difference in drop-off between your shorter vs longer videos.

Have more to say that can’t be covered under three minutes? Create a video series! Strong, short pieces on related topics that can work as a cliffhanger. Your viewers want to know what happens next and will wait (or sign up) for your next email.

Don’t forget about the call to action

Each one of your videos has a purpose. Whether it’s to get more subscribers, sign-ups, or downloads; make sure it’s clear in the video what you want the viewer to do. Incorporate it in the script and/or if you choose Youtube, use the ending screens and annotations they provide when uploading. They’re basically buttons that are added to your video that can showcase other videos or your “subscribe”-button.

Add the video to your email

If you want to add a video directly to your email, it requires some HTML-hacks. Namely, a standard called HTML5. But hold horses. Not every email clients support HTML5 and I for one would like to avoid the techy part. The easiest way to add your video is to use a media block, which you can find in eMarketeer’s email editor. Just add the video-link to the block and you’re all set. However, I use another little hack to add my videos to the emails. Here’s why: we always upload our videos on a video hosting site (like youtube or vimeo), which means that when we use that video link, we send off our email recipients to those sites to watch our video. Now, we marketers want our recipients to spend as much time on our content as possible. Hence, I suggest this little hack:

Embed your video to your own site or landing page. Create an image for your video and add a play-button to it so it looks like an image for a video. Put that image in your email and link that image to the page where you just uploaded your video. Then you’re in control as you drive traffic to your own site and content and not to someone else’s.

Another reason to embed the video on your site and link to it, as I mentioned previously, is the SEO boost.

About animated Gifs

You can still add some movement and life to your email by using animated GIFs. You could export the video clip directly as a GIF from your editing software or you just go online to sites like

Remember that size still matters. The larger the file is, the longer it takes to load which is a bother to recipients. Keep your GIF size at max a couple of hundred kb’s. Another important thing to consider when it comes to GIFs is that they’re not supported by all email clients. This means that instead of showing the animation, it will just load the first image of the GIF. Keep that in mind when makin your GIF.

Let me circle back to the concern we had in the beginning; the “misconception” that a video always requires a lot of resources, time and money. And sure, if you decide to go the route with a film crew, animators, editors and all that jazz, it’s gonna cost. But again, video in email marketing doesn’t have to get that complicated. Have someone from your company stand in front of the camera to tell a short but engaging story (or just a simple “welcome to our newsletter!”-message), and your recipients will be thrilled.

I’m looking forward to see what videos you use in your email marketing, let me know in the comments!

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Now, get ready – set – start the video shoot!

As Digital Marketing Manager, Josefine oversees strategies, production and processes for all content marketing efforts, including social media, email and blog. She also introduced videos into their content marketing strategy, in which she shares her best tips on different marketing topics.

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