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Video in email!

With HTML 5 video and audio elements offering a standard way to add video to HTML, the future of video in email is looking brighter. But what is video in email, and is now the time to jump on board?

By video in email we mean the ability to have an embedded video playing directly in the email.  The recipient doesn’t have to leave the email to view the content.  For brands and marketers this offers a greater chance of the recipient consuming the content and completing the call to action.

As for whether you should jump on board; it depends. Here are some things to consider:

  • Audience Reach: Will your audience be able to view the embedded video?

    Video in email won’t work for everyone – only Apple mail, iOS devices (when opened in the native mail client - iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), and outlook.com/Hotmail (in HTML 5 compliant web browsers) currently support video in email. If this is where your audience lives, then video is definitely something you should look in to. However, if your audience is more B2B and/or doesn’t use the above, then you need to hold off and look at other options.
  • Value: Will video add more value/information to your email?

    Assuming video in email is supported for a large part of your audience; should all your emails include video content? We don’t think so. It’s worth considering whether a video is really adding anything. If, for example, the video is demonstrating something, perhaps steps in a process, or different views of a new device, then it could be worth including. However, if it doesn’t add anything more than a static image and text explanation could, then it’s probably better to leave it out.
  • Technical Requirements: What are the important technical specifications?

    If embedded video is right for your needs then you’ll need to plan accordingly.  It’s recommended that you use three video formats (MP4, Ogg and WebM) to cover the main browsers’ requirements.  These video files will need to be hosted. You will also need to include fallback content for those within your audience who use mail clients which don’t support embedded video, this should be in the form of  a static image with a link to the hosted video. The image could be a still taken from the video with a play button added to the top to encourage people to click on it.


If after considering the above points you are interested in exploring video in emails further here are some brands that have already started: 

  • Sky used video in email to advertise its TV series: Game of Thrones.
  • HP shows more of the product with its Video Tours.
  • Bare Escentuals show you how to "get the look".
  • Here’s a collection of video in email examples from LiveClicker, check out Discovery Channel's email advertising its "Life" series.