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Article first published September 2011, updated April 2020

In 2011, one of our clients—Graphite—sent an email campaign that featured a “Play video” image within it. Instead of trying to bog down their email message, their marketing team decided to link to this “play video” image to move readers from the email to their website to learn more. Who knew this simple addition to their campaign would lead to such great results. Curious? Here’s the recap of the results:

“[Forty-six percent] of recipients opened the email, and from this group, 41% clicked through on the send day. We’ll probably see an additional 10% on both figures through the week. More importantly, however, is the high number of replies we received…”

Not bad. However, email marketing has since taken leaps and bounds into the future, and, while there are many online video platforms, such as YouTube, how do you know which video hosting services will work best for your brand?

While YouTube is a great platform for uploading and sharing videos, they don’t offer the same email marketing integrations as other services do, so you’ll be glad to know that our friends at Wistia, a premium video hosting service for businesses, have made it a snap to add similar “Play video” images to your email campaigns. What tops this off nicely is Wistia’s detailed reports, which allow you to determine who’s viewing your videos and where they’re being played.

How to display your video in an email

Including videos in your email marketing campaigns is not only a way to keep your subscribers interacting with your email content, but it can also improve several vital email marketing KPIs, including:

  • Boosting your open rates by 19%.
  • Boosting your click-through rates by approximately 65%.
  • Reducing your overall unsubscribes by nearly 26%.

Now, when it comes to displaying video in an email, it’s considered email best practice to link to your video instead of embedding it directly in your email content. This is because video files are exceptionally large, and it could result in your subscribers being unable to view the video or even open the email. It all depends on the email clients of each of your subscribers (Apple Mail, Outlook, and Gmail). So, while many marketing platforms, including Campaign Monitor, allow you to embed videos in an email, there’s no guarantee it’ll open.

So, if you’re looking to reap the benefits of including video in your email marketing campaigns, there are several other options worth trying, including:

  • Linking the video to a thumbnail (image) included within the email
  • Utilizing GIFs

 Video in email example

Source: Really Good Emails

Linking to your videos made easy, thanks to Wistia

Linking to your video by using a video thumbnail is a lot easier than you may think. In fact, one of our many integrations makes linking videos to thumbnails a breeze. That integration is Wistia—a leading video marketing software used by thousands of businesses worldwide.

Once you’ve gotten your Wistia account up and running, importing videos is a breeze. Included in these plans are oodles of ways to share and embed your video files, including email marketing integration.

Let’s say you’ve imported a video into a new Wistia project (which can contain one or more videos). The first thing you can do is set a “thumbnail,” which will be the static image displayed before the play button is clicked. You can either select a frame from your video or upload your own. In this case, we’ve selected a frame from the video:

Choosing your video thumbnail

Source: Wistia

Once you’ve set this first frame, click the “Embed’ link beneath the video, then the “email campaign link” tab. Select “Campaign Monitor” as your email provider, then customize the thumbnail as you see fit, by setting the dimensions of the image and/or the URL you wish to link to. Finally, copy the resulting video merge tags for use in your HTML email.

 Embedding customized video thumbnail in email

Source: Wistia

Note that Wistia provides a dynamically generated thumbnail image—if you select a new thumbnail, you’ll need to generate new video merge tags.

Now it’s simply a matter of adding these merge tags to your HTML email code. If all goes to plan, you should see the thumbnail/play button image when you preview your email:

Email preview

Source: Wistia

Once you send your email campaign out, each click-through and video play is tracked by Wistia using our [email] template tag. You can then export Wistia’s personalized reports and match email recipients with video plays:

Video viewer stats

Source: Wistia

Naturally, you’ll be able to view all clicks on the video link in your Campaign Monitor campaign reports, too.

A video hosting solution for businesses

Apart from great analytics, Wistia also provides loads of options when it comes to distributing and collaborating on hosted videos. There’s a lot to appeal to business users, from granting viewers permission to edit and share projects, to providing embed code and the ability to add comments to the video’s timeline. Email marketing integrations are included in each Wistia plan. Depending on the plan your brand chooses, those integrations increase.

For example:

  • The Free plan allows your brand with all standard features, along with A/B testing.
  • The Pro plan upgrade includes all standard features, A/B testing, the ability to add your personal branding to the video player, and the ability to upload 10 free videos, with the option to add unlimited additional videos for $0.25 each per month.
  • The Advanced plan upgrade allows 100 free videos (along with the option to add unlimited additional videos for $0.25 each per month), all standard features, one premium integration, A/B testing, personal branding on each video, and access to their reach and retarget tool with Facebook and Google integrations.

All Wistia plans come with a minimum 100Gb bandwidth a month, plus awesome app support.

To find out more about Wistia and view their pricing plans, visit their site.

When to use Wistia versus YouTube

While Wistia is an outstanding tool for sharing your brand’s videos with your subscribers, why should you consider it over other video sharing services, such as YouTube? There are several reasons you may want to use YouTube, some of which are as follows:

  • It’s the #2 most popular website worldwide
  • It’s free to use for uploading and sharing videos
  • You can use their basic analytics tool to see how well your videos are performing and who your audience is

While those are some great reasons to choose YouTube, a few things are missing for those looking to really use video marketing to their advantage, including:

  • Customizable video players
  • An in-depth analytics report
  • An aggregated view of a video’s overall performance with tools such as engagement graphs and heatmaps

Wistia not only offers these options, but also makes it simple to use with some of the most popular email marketing software clients, thanks to various integration options.

Wistia email integrations

Source: Wistia

Wrap up

Using videos can be a tricky subject. However, it’s one worth exploring if you’re looking for ways to keep your audience engaged with your brand’s email campaigns. Remember, there are many ways to incorporate videos into your campaigns:

  • Embedding videos in your email content
  • Linking to videos via a thumbnail
  • Using GIFs

Want to learn more about utilizing videos in email? Check out our guide today.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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