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Video email marketing: A match made in heaven

by Kate Lindemann  |  February 18, 2021

6 min. read
Man operating video equipment in a filming studio with purple lighting.

These days, brands are (wisely) investing in video marketing. In fact, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool – in most cases to build a YouTube presence, spice up a website and make a splash on social media.

But what about email? For many companies, it’s a major marketing channel with untapped potential when it comes to video.

Email campaigns mean more eyes on your video content, and adding video to email marketing is a great way to mix things up and keep subscribers engaged.

Want to help your video email marketing reach its full potential? In this article, we’ll show you:

  • How to use video in email marketing
  • What types of video content work well in email campaigns
  • Why video email marketing is worth the effort

Hand holding a smartphone displaying a video marketing email.

What makes video and email marketing such a powerful combination?

There are several reasons video and email work well together.

For one, all the benefits of email marketing apply to video email marketing too: It’s direct, it’s easy to measure and you can incorporate video content into any email cadence.

But there’s also a simpler answer: People like videos.

69% of consumers say they would rather watch a video to learn about a new product or service. Only 18% would rather read a text. Video email marketing combines the two, giving both groups their preferred format.

Woman in red shirt lying on a sofa watching a video on her phone.
Emails with video get 64% more clicks on average.

Given all that, it’s no surprise emails with videos perform better. Campaign Monitor crunched the numbers and found that emails with videos get 19% more opens and 64% more clicks.

The boost in clicks is impressive, but it makes sense. When people see a play button, they want to click it.

But why more opens?

In short: Video stands out. While email video marketing is highly effective, not many brands are doing it. The word “video” in a subject line is still novel enough to make an impression. People get curious and want to check it out.

Can you embed video in an email?

First things first: How do you get the video into the email? It’s not as simple as it might seem. Because many email providers won’t display videos, you can’t embed them directly in the email.

Instead, you’ll need to host the video somewhere else – like on your website or YouTube channel – and link to it in the email.

Video of a chef pan roasting lamb from a marketing email.

Fortunately, there are ways to reproduce the effect of an embedded video without actually embedding it. Simply select a thumbnail from your video, overlay a play button and embed the image in your email.

The play button makes it clear it’s a video, and linking the image means readers can still click to watch, just as they would if it were a video player.

If you’re using an email marketing tool like Mailchimp, they’ll do this for you. Simply select a video content block when you’re creating your email and follow the instructions provided.

You can also easily do it yourself. There are simple browser-based tools that will add a play button to any image. Just add the resulting file to the email and link to the video.

Screenshot of a web tool with different play button options to superimpose over an image.

What types of video are a good fit for email marketing?

Email marketing can be used to amplify the reach of any type of video you produce as part of your marketing strategy. However, it pays to be selective and pick videos that provide the most value to your audience.

Need some ideas to get started? Here are six versatile ideas for great video email marketing content.

1. New product announcements

You’re probably already using your mailing list to inform customers of new and exciting products. Video can bring those products to life far better than photos and text alone.

Video offers a 360-degree view, shows moving parts in action and makes it easy for customers to imagine themselves owning or using the item you’re showing off.

Still from a product video showing the Sonos Play 1 against a white background.

2. Guides and tutorials

Video is also a great format for informational or educational content. By combining visuals, narration and text, you can cater to lots of different learning styles.

Showing is usually better than telling. A software company, for example, might email video tutorials to new customers to help them hit the ground running.

Still from an Adobe Photoshop video tutorial.

3. Customer success stories

Customer success stories can be a powerful marketing tool. Showcasing a real-life example gives the story a protagonist customers can identify with, and the video format brings it to life.

This video showing how chocolatier Godiva uses Canto to manage their digital assets is one of our most popular pieces of content. Seeing Canto in action makes it easy for people interested in digital asset management to see how it could benefit them.

Still from a video showing Canto and Godiva logos with Godiva chocolates.

4. A look behind the scenes

Customers like to buy products from brands they know and trust, and video is a great way to offer a look inside your company.

For example, glasses manufacturer Warby Parker created this video to offer a behind-the-scenes look at their design and manufacturing process. Videos like these help people feel like they know your brand, and feel confident in what they’re buying.

Still from a video showing plastic hardening in the Warby Parker factory.

5. Industry insights

With years of experience, your brand can provide plenty of industry insights customers will find useful. This is a great way to build your brand, highlight expertise and engage your mailing list in a way that doesn’t make people feel marketed to.

This REI video introduces outdoor enthusiasts to the world of snowshoe running. While it doesn’t advertise any particular snowshoes, it establishes the brand as a source of expertise and encourages customers to learn more about the sport. In a well-timed winter email campaign, this video could inspire quite a few of REI’s subscribers to take up snowshoeing – and buy the equipment they need from REI.

Video still showing REI logo over a snowshoeing scene.

6. A personal message

Video is also a great medium for a company’s leadership to speak straight to customers. While a written statement can seem distant and impersonal, video creates a personal connection. This is especially important for sensitive topics.

This email with a video message from American Airlines’ CEO puts a human face to the company as they outline their response to COVID-19.

Screenshot from an American Airlines email, including a video message from their CEO.

Bonus tip: Joke links in emails are risky

Humor and memes are a great way to connect with customers, and email marketing is no exception. But there’s one video you shouldn’t link to in your emails.

Rick Astley dancing in the Never Gonna Give You Up music video.

It’s not Rick Astley himself you need to steer clear of, but misleading links in general.

That’s because attempts at deception are a major red flag to email providers that can ding your sender reputation. These systems exist to protect consumers by making sure phishing emails end up in the spam folder.

Getting labeled a spammer or phisher could have long-term consequences and harm your email deliverability* well into the future.

It’s possible some email clients have some kind of Rick Astley exception built into their algorithms, but you don’t want to risk it. Save the Rickrolling for other channels. Or use an accurate anchor text, but where’s the fun in that?

*This is really a link to an article about email deliverability, I promise!

Let’s recap

Video marketing and email marketing are a match made in heaven with untapped potential for many brands. With a little creativity and a thumbnail mock-up, you can use email to help your videos reach a wider audience while also using video to spice up your email campaigns.

Most importantly, videos provide customers with a meaningful way to engage with your brand in the format they prefer.