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Bring emails to life with video

Video in Costa Email

Whether it’s an ad for a new campaign, or a new product presentation. Maybe it’s just something you want to share about your business – video in emails can be worth more than 1000 words.

Inboxes are getting increasingly crowded. Keeping subscribers engaged is getting more difficult. Four weeks ago, we talked about using animated GIFs as a way to stand out in inboxes. But what about video?

Before you dismiss this as impossible and close the page, let me say this: You can have video in emails. And I’m going to tell you how.

What are the advantages of using video in emails?

The fact that we spend 29% of our time online watching videos shows that it can be a powerful tool for marketing. So why not combine it with the number one tool for marketing ROI?

Video is a good way of explaining something complex, particularly for new product launches. It can express the idea of your marketing campaign in a more engaging way for your subscribers as it appeals to more senses and involves movement. And with an average attention span of less than 8 seconds, you can get more of your message across than anyone could read in that time.

Costa used it to convey the cool and refreshing feeling of a cold drink from their new range. The newsletter was launched with the arrival of the sunny weather, increasing the impact of the video.

Why is video in email a big concern?

So far, the biggest problem with embedding video in emails is rendering. However, with mobile opens on the rise comes the possibility to render video right there and then on the phone. Also, the latest version of browsers will be able to display the video as well. Just be wary of using Flash video, it doesn’t work on most mobile platforms.

In B2B marketing, things get a bit more complicated because most businesses use Outlook as an email client. The reason why Outlook doesn’t work is because it uses Microsoft Word to render emails.

So can you have video in email?

Yes you can! Litmus have published a guide on how to code video in the background of emails using HTML5. This still won’t work in Outlook, though, but it will display the fallback option (i.e. a still frame from the video).

ve-logo-white-bg-by-liveclicker-3At Adestra, we partner with Live Clicker. Their Video Email application makes sure the email arrives safely in your customers’ inbox and identifies the email client to decide what to render. If it can, it will embed the video, if not, it will revert to a static image of the file and link to an outside source where the video can be seen. And you can decide which static frame to show as a preview.

My colleague Matt Gray talked about it in a previous post, detailing the email clients that support video and what happens if they don’t.

A successful example from the LSO

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) regularly integrate it into their emails to present content that can be enhanced through audio and video. One such example is from their latest newsletter where they present the various events and concerts that will take part in June. To showcase their chorus, they provided an interview with the Chorus Director in the form of a video.


For email clients which supported it (like mobile), the video could be played straight from the email. As an alternative, some email clients will show an animated GIF of the first frames of the video or just a still frame with the play button on it. Clicking on the image would link to the video on YouTube, but LSO decided to make it even clearer. So they included a direct link underneath the description. That way, even Outlook users who open emails with their images turned off would still know about the video.

Key takeaways:

  1. As email opens on mobile rise, rendering video is increasingly easier
  2. If emails can’t render the video in the email client, you can choose which frame should represent it
  3. Video can enhance the appeal of your business by captivating the audience like LSO did

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