Video is a great tool for online marketing. It grabs audience attention and can deliver information in dynamic and exciting ways while requiring a minimal amount of effort on the part of the consumer. These reasons make it easy to understand why email marketers have been searching for a way to implement video effectively in email for years. Unfortunately, though many attempts have been made, even the most valiant efforts produced results that were unreliable at best. The technology hasn't been there, and some have wondered if video will ever have a place in email.
The hurdle is this: Traditional video embedding will not work in most email clients and on most mobile devices. One exception is that Apple Mail will run a video imbedded in email, but not on the mobile iOS. There are very few other instances where video works in email.
The best alternative to traditional embedding, and the method that we suggest, is to use a static image in the email that appears as the actual video player. When a user clicks on the image they will be taken to a video page where they can comfortably view it in their browser. Some marketers have chosen to have the image link to a web version duplication of the original email so the video can play in the proper context. Without testing though, it's hard to tell whether or not this method is worth the effort.
If you're desperate for something video-esque, a large gif can work in some situations, but this is not something we recommend. Long loading times can be an annoyance and increased email size can cause your email to trip more spam filters than usual.
Generally, we don't support putting much effort into trying to force a video into an email. Linking off to a video from an image works just fine and will save your team a lot of time and headaches. Actual video in email is something that, as it stands right now, should be avoided. But is there something coming that may change all that?
There may indeed be hope for email video. Increased support for HTML5 in email clients and on mobile devices may allow users to include fully playable video in their email. With HTML5 a marketer can even provide a reliable fallback of a static image for users whose device or email client doesn't support it. This may be a solution for marketers whose list is using modern devices and email browsers, but without having tested it directly, we can't fully recommend it. However, if you have the resources and the drive to try it yourself, it may just be the answer for you!
Let us know if you have had success or are planning to try an HTML5 video email campaign. We'd love to see what kind of results it produces!