Last week the SharpSpring Mail + blog highlighted the importance of including images in your email for a lasting impression, but imagine if you came across an email with an image that danced across the screen, changed shapes and had sound playing.

Now THAT’s an email I would send to all my friends!

Those of you wondering how a regular image could possibly do this are in for disappointment: it can’t. Those of you who immediately thought ‘video’ get full marks and those of you who thought of a .gif image should be teaching the class!

Class is in session: read on to find out how you can incorporate video into your email.

Videos have a special place in modern marketing. Every marketing team should be making them to reach their target market due to its versatility and ease of consumption for the consumer.

One only needs to consider the following facts to understand the impact video has had on the marketing world:

  • 183.8 million Americans (85%) watched 48.7 billion online videos in January 2014  and viewed nearly 26.9 billion video ads (comScore 2014)
  • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network (YouTube 2014)
  • Video ads accounted for 35.6 percent of all videos viewed and 4.5 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online (comScore 2014)

But what if marketers could recycle their promotional videos for email?

Email Videos in the Past

Before we dive right into it, it helps to take a look at the past in order to figure out where we’re going.

A multitude of email clients and web-based email clients actually supported video in email in the past. The problem came about when people started to abuse this and started sending spam via videos in email.

Because it was deemed too difficult to identify relevant content in a video versus spam, spam filters soon started blocking any email that contained a video. As time went on, the email clients themselves stopped supporting any kind of basic video.

What are your Options?

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news.

In email, there are other ways to get your readers to watch a moving image through their email – namely intelligent linking and using .gif images. Each come with their own share of compatibility challenges and advantages.

Intelligent Linking

People around the world have gotten used to the idea that a play icon on an image symbolises a video. Usually you’d click on the image to start loading the video – that’s where the intelligence comes in!

Create a simple image of what your video is about or use a still from the video itself, overlay the play button and tempt your reader to watch the video in your email’s copy. Finally, don’t forget to actually link the image to where you have uploaded the video – on YouTube, Vimeo or anywhere you like!

The Ups

  • You can change the video at anytime in case of errors.
  • You can display the link in alt text meaning the video will still be viewable if images are turned off
  • You can drive traffic to a site of your choice
  • You can increase video quality and not have to worry about email loadtime or being marked as spam
  • You can recycle marketing videos for your emails

The Downs

  • Hosting your video on public sites like YouTube could cause users to bounce away from your call to action
  • Reliance on other sites for responsive design and mobile optimization
  • If you host the video yourself, you have to optimize your mail and the video landing page

.Gif Images

These small, animated images are the closest you’ll come to legitimate videos in email without any tricks.

The only reliable email client that plays most embedded videos is Apple Mail. The rest completely reject videos – except in the form of the humble .gif.

Simply insert the .gif image as you would any other image and you’re done. Just keep in mind that Outlook 2007+ and Windows Mobile 5 do not even support .gifs, but the majority of email clients today do.

The Ups

  • Simple to implement
  • Not resource intensive
  • Usually loads without user action

The Downs

  • Can be completely image blocked
  • No sound
  • Lower quality

Videos in Email Conclusion

Videos can accomplish great things in email marketing if given the chance. All you need to know is a way to get around the constraints like using an external site to host the video, or use a .gif and play by the email client rules.

The rest is up to you and your creativity!


  • Author: maryka.burger

  • Maryka has worked across multiple industries ranging from hard news journalism to digital tech companies and advertising. She is an expert at building online presence, and offers a wealth of knowledge on digital marketing, social media and automation trends to agencies and digital start-ups.