Email Marketing: How Do I Properly Insert My Videos Into Text Messages?

Video Email Marketing Cover
Simple in theory. Tricky in practice: video email. | © Pixabay

What is the easiest, cheapest way to reach the maximum number of people with the minimum effort for marketing purposes? Email. And what is the most effective way to convey emotions and information? Right. With video. So put one and one together and the video email is ready to ship. But unfortunately often only in theory.

In practice, electronic delivery of moving images in the form of email presents significant challenges. We explain what to consider for successful marketing with video. This article, like all articles in this online magazine, can also be read on paper using the PRINT function.

You need to know

  • Moving images also achieve a higher level of attention in emails than photos or text alone.
  • There are three proven ways to include a video in an email (rather than attaching it): by embedding it, as a GIF animation, or cinemagraph.
  • The simplest form is embeeded videos in emails. Most mail programs support this way with HTML5.
  • A video that is sent by email (and not just as a link) should always be reduced to a reasonable file size.

Video Email Marketing: The Best of Both Worlds

A website that showcases products with video clips rather than just photos can increase conversion between 109% and 160% [1]. Similar is proven for almost any type of advertising message, how-to guide, or company presentation. It is therefore obvious to profit from the attractiveness of moving images with e-mail as well.

In the US, 82% of marketers prefer video emails to traditional static emails, regardless of whether they are designed with or photos [2]. Not because they like video (they don’t because it’s more expensive to produce than photos and graphics!), but because video emails have an ROI (return on investment, editor’s note) that is up to a factor of three higher than traditional emails [3].

Anyone who thinks email marketing is as outdated as the fax machine is making a mistake. The same applies to all those who reflexively keep coming back to the opinion that communication with moving images is only possible with a high budget. This does not apply to video emails, because GIFs and cinemagraphs can also be used for this channel. Learning can also be done from Instagram video creating. But we’ll get to that later. (Here are tips for shooting iPhone video).

[1-3] Source:

Four assumptions in advance

First, let’s make a series of assumptions so that this article keeps its focus:

  • Firstly, we assume that the basics of online marketing and approaching customers directly by email are known and mastered by the sender. That’s why we can get over content issues (content) here.
  • Second, let’s assume that the video to be included in the email was also professionally produced for this purpose. That’s why we don’t bother with the question of how such a video has to be designed. (For instructions on how to do this, see the post on social video).
  • Third, we’ll just leave out the simplest solution: sending a video as an attachment. Because we don’t deal with allowed mail sizes or spam filters and video formats here. And because experience teaches that this kind of electronic video distribution is about as attractive to the recipient as a bill from the dentist.
  • Fourthly, we are ignoring the increasingly important question here of who you are allowed to delight with a video email in the first place. More and more countries are legislating the answer. In Germany, for example, an e-mail may only be sent in direct marketing if the recipients give their express permission in advance. This also applies to existing customers. In addition, there must still be a closeness between the content of the marketing email and the interest of the customer.

Thanks to these four assumptions, only one question remains: how do I get my video to the man or woman by e-mail? A simple question to which there are no simple answers.

But three possibilities.

1Embedded Videos (Embedded Videos)

The computer language HTML 5 is the web standard today. Only: what is true for the web does not have to be true for email programs. Apple users, like Microsoft users, have no problem viewing a video embedded in HTML5 in their email applications. And that, nothing else, signifies the great privilege of this type of video email.

The user can click and watch the video directly in the email. No new window pops up, no link takes him to another world.

Because, hand on heart, who among us wants to see a customer walk through their front door only to find that the competition’s showroom is waiting behind their own door? This is the case with links to YouTube, for example. The world’s largest video platform like Facebook anything to keep customers in its own universe. HTML5 allows the marketing professional to do the same.

Nevertheless, it should be assumed that of emails sent in this way for marketing purposes with video, around 50% cannot be viewed [4]. [58%] . This is not altered by the fact that videos are viewed by the other half with a 40% success rate [5].

If an email client does not support HTML5, possibly for security reasons, the email will deliver a static replacement image or placeholder image if programmed and provided. Programs like Mailchimp offer this option by default. How to include a placeholder image in your own design can be read here.

[4-5] Source: Flimp Video Management

The HTML5 web standard is supported by [6].

E-mail programshows HTML5 videosfor % User
IOS (Apple)yes35.6 % (online)yes (except IE 8 Win13.6 %
Apple Mailyes11 %
Thunderbird 13yes01.3% (¨)
YahooNo, for Android: Replacement image(0%)
Outlook (Desk)No, replacement image(0%)
Remainingno HTML5 video(0%)

[6] Source:

Litmus Labs published research in October 2017 that analyzed the sending of 1.06 billion emails and looked at what email software was being used on the receiving end. According to this study, the distribution of email clients is as follows [7].

Distribution of e-mail programs on device typesin % / trend
Apple iPhone28 % / + 1.4 %
Gmail17 % / – 0.5 %
Apple iPad12% / – 0.1 %
Outlook8 % / – 0.1 %
Apple Mail8 % / + 0.1 %
Google Android7 % / + 0.3 %
Outlook.com5 % / + 0.3 %
Yahoo! Mail4 % / –
Windows Live Mail2 % / –
AOL Mail1 % / –

[7] Source:

Support for HTML5 is steadily increasing. In the specific case, therefore, there is no way around weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. Some experts believe that the global breakthrough of marketing with video e-mail will only happen with HTML5 when 90% of all users can watch an embedded video. [8].

In practice, the following question arises when dealing with HTML5 and video email: can the number of possible users who do not get the video delivered be compensated by the higher number of those users who do get (a) get a video mail delivered and (b) compared to a static email.

If you want to bypass the bottleneck of email programs, you basically have two other alternatives.

2Create a video email with animated GIFs

The graphic format GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. The format has the ability to store multiple frames. Therefore it can also be used for animations. In addition, there are various free programs with which you can create GIF. Unlike embedded videos in HTML5, GIF currently has only one disadvantage: the file size (see second last paragraph of this chapter). GIFS can be played almost anywhere directly in the email program.

Likewise, there are programs, even free and online, that can convert any video format into the GIF format. Unfortunately, however, the GIF format has a weighty disadvantage! Converted videos become really big and bold with this program. Even if GIF can be compressed, the data volume of even a 10-second video makes professional use in marketing impossible.

But marketing people are creative, innovative people. With a GIF animation, a few frames are enough to create the impression of movement. For practical purposes, this means: do not convert the video to a GIF. But the marketing email targeted with a small animation. In extreme cases, this can be just a light reflex or a ball bouncing up and down. Animated play buttons combined with fallback images (placeholder images) are particularly efficient.

The only downer is that Outlook doesn’t like GIF either. With this format, the software only displays the first frame.

Therefore, if you use GIF animations, you must be careful that your animation does not start with a white or black fade. Although Microsoft has given Outlook users the command “View e-mail in browser”, only an absolute minority of users know and use it.

GIF has a younger sister. It is the extension of the well-known PNG graphics format. Animated PNG images are called Animated Portable Graphics, or APNG for short. Such files are recognizable in a video e-mail only by the movement, as the file extension has the format *.png.


The term cinemagraph stands for an animated sequence of images. Two characteristics are characteristic:

  1. the animation consists of an endless loop, whose beginning and end is not recognizable;
  2. which is why it usually combines static and animated parts of the image (which nicely also minimizes the file size).

A cinemagraph is technically created as a GIF or animated PNG. It therefore knows the same limits as video e-mail.

Practice Tip for Video Email

In practice, the use of three elements has proven itself in many cases for video e-mail and marketing. Their combination ensures that the recipient is most likely to click and watch the video.

  • the video is teased with a selected placeholder image in the email. IMPORTANT: the image MUST have a play button for it to be recognizable as a video link!
  • a small animated element in the teaser image attracts additional attention. Whether it’s a play button or a moving picture element, movement creates attention.
  • clicking on the image leads directly to the video on a landing page or website of the sender (YouTube is usually suboptimal as a linked page, unlike the examples below. Some keywords to consider are: Conversion, Brand World, Dwell Time).

Linking the placeholder image to a video on YouTube or Facebook is only permitted, because it makes sense, if the linked channel sufficiently reflects the sender’s brand world or products. In the majority of tasks, this is usually not the case.

Three examples of video email marketing

Works without HTML5: static placeholder image with play button, linked to page where the video can be seen.

Video Email: Example of static placeholder image and with link to webpage with video.

Beispiel für statisches Platzhalter-Bild

Combination of static image with animated play button, again with link to the page where the video can be viewed. The movement runs regardless of HTML5 support, as long as GIF animations are supported. Here also application types with a 3D animation offer themselves.

Video Email: Placeholder image (fallback image) with animation / with link to video

Video Email: Platzhalter Bild (Fallback Image) mit Animation / mit Link zu Video

Example of Cinemagram (infinite loop), requires support by e-mail program. Usually no linking; the cinemagraph is the video.

Marketing with Video Email: Cinemagram / Cinemagraph

Marketing mit Video Email: Cinemagramm / Cinemagraph

This article is originally written in English by the author. The article appears here exclusively and for the first time in German translation. | © Filmpuls – the magazine for filmmakers and video producers

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Carrie Duvan
About Carrie Duvan 18 Articles
Carrie Duvan hat am Aufbau einer Social Media Plattform mitgearbeitet und war Chief Web Officer (CWO) für ein internationales Agenturnetzwerk. Carrie ist glücklich ❤️ verheiratet und Mutter.

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