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How to use Video in Email Automation to Boost Open Rates

2 mins read

Want to know how to boost your email open rates by 19 percent, click-through rates (CTR) by 65 percent and reduce unsubscribes by 26 percent? Of course you do. The answer is by incorporating video into your email marketing campaign. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked.

David the video guy being a flirt

How to add videos to your emails to boost click-through rates

The importance of video probably isn’t new to you. You might have noticed a shift in recent years from written content to videos from your favourite brands, especially on social media and their websites. Cisco reckons that 82 percent of all internet traffic will be from video by 2021, so it’s really now or never if you don’t want to get left behind.

Although many organisations are adopting video into their sales process or as part of their main marketing campaigns, there still aren’t many that have added them to their automated emails.

So, what’s the best way of adding videos to your marketing emails? Well, to start with, you can’t actually do it, they won’t autoplay and in fact, you can’t have them play in the email at all.

Still with me? It seems as though videos in emails are a bit of a non-starter, so how are they being used and having such a positive impact on open rates?

A static image with a play button on it

A great way of using video in marketing emails is not with video but with an image. We all know what a typical play button looks like, so all you need to do is take a still image from your video, put the ‘button’ over the top and add it to the email.

Here's one we (David) made earlier...


Make the image a link to your video hosting site of choice and you’re good to go. One option is to send them to YouTube or Vidyard but we’d recommend creating a landing page.

They won’t mind being taken directly to your website as long as the video they expected to see is immediately available. If it’s difficult to find or missing altogether, they’ll feel conned and will leave as quickly as they arrived.

The advantage of your landing page over YouTube is that they’ll be able to scroll down and find more information about you, rather than be distracted by cat videos in the recommended section.

Tip: Make sure that the image you choose is enticing enough to make users click on it to watch your video. 

Animated GIFs

When is a video not a video? When it’s a GIF. Again, we’re technically not using a video but the viewer won’t realise that. A GIF will work in a marketing email whereas a video won’t, so this is a bit of a workaround to achieve the same results.

bodenGIF Credit

Everyone loves an animated GIF and it’s a great way of grabbing someone’s attention and showing off a product or brand in a creative way.

Tip: A perfectly placed GIF can do wonders for your CTR but keep your target audience in mind. Do they want to see a GIF? Do they know what a GIF is?

Embed your videos

So, you know how I said that actually having videos in your emails isn’t doable? Well, that’s sort of not true. The ever-improving technical capabilities of email inboxes mean that some would be able to play your videos like you want them to.

HubSpot, for example, have recently introduced video embedding to their emails but the issue is whether or not the video will work for your recipients. Not all email clients support video playback so it could look like you’ve sent a broken link or a static image.

A broken video can undo all your hard work and ruin someone’s impression of you which is obviously worth keeping in mind. You’ll have to decide whether or not to run the risk of your video being a big success for some of your subscribers, but a fail for others.

Keep an eye on what’s working and what Isn’t

Like with any aspect of your marketing campaign, analysis is key. Add videos to some of your emails but not others and see what effect that has on your KPIs. Put ‘video’ in the subject line of your email and see if that gives open rates a boost.

After some trial and error (or, AB testing), you should have a good idea of what your audience wants to see when it comes to video. Even if someone doesn’t convert into a customer, you’ve still provided valuable content to them and ensured your email doesn’t stay as unread.

Video needs to be your main focus

Convincing your team that video needs to be their primary focus can be tricky, especially if it’s something you’ve never thought about before.

Remember it doesn't have to be Oscar worthy, but make an impact with personalised and authentic videos. By adopting a video first approach can help you make better connections, improve efficiencies and so much more.

To see how video can transform your business and reap the benefits, hit the link below: