For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

5 things you need to know about adding video to your email marketing

Expert advice from SnapShot Interactive
This guest post was written by Aaron Williams of digital agency (and Emma customer) SnapShot Interactive.


Are you thinking of using video in your next email campaign? If so, here are a few practical tips and food for thought as you move forward. 

1. Know when to write, say, or show.

Including video in your email means that you have the unique opportunity to include text, sound, and imagery all in one place. Think about what you want to say and where you want to say it:

  • Use the sound of the video to tell a story that will compel your viewer to take action. Voice-over, interviews, and scripted content can all tell great stories. Use that to hook your audience.
  • Use the visuals of the video to evoke emotion or break down complex topics. If your video is an interview of someone’s personal experience, the perfect image at the right time in their story can tug at the heart. If you’re trying to get something complex across, use the visuals to make it easier to understand.
  • Use the text of the email to bring attention to your "call to action.” Make it hard to miss what action you want them to take. This also covers you in the event that your viewer doesn’t watch the video; they still know what you want them to do.

2. Repetition is repetitive

Your audience is smart, and can hear and watch at the same time, so avoid the “see-say” temptation: the voice-over saying the exact same thing as the animated text in the video, or the footage matching word-for-word what an interviewee is talking about. This is unnecessary and boring, and you miss out on an opportunity to enhance your story. Split your sound and visuals so that one is complex and information-filled, and the other is simple, either calling attention to key points or adding information that augments the narrative.

3. Keep it short and relevant

It’s hard to keep your audience’s attention. Make it easier for them by whittling your story down to the most compelling elements. A concise, 30-second piece is usually far more effective than a long, information-filled, 5-minute video. If your audience wants more information, they will find it.

If you really do need a fair amount of time to tell your story, 2–3 minutes is the sweet spot for keeping an audience’s attention. If you’re going to make your video longer than that, it had better be extraordinarily captivating.

4. Quality matters

If you want people to watch, make it look good. There’s a simple hierarchy to follow on what matters most when it comes to quality:

Aaron Williams is a producer and director with SnapShot Interactive

  • Audio - Believe it or not, story isn’t king. If you have an amazingly compelling story and the audio stinks, no one is going to be able to tolerate watching it. Abstract visuals and shaky camera can be an "artistic choice.” Bad audio is never acceptable, and makes viewers run for the hills.
  • Story - If your sound is solid, a compelling story does the hard work of drawing the audience in and making your case. A simple static shot of a person in a chair telling a compelling story can work wonders.
  • Visuals - It may be last in the hierarchy, but visuals provide the needed punch and excitement, so don’t skimp here; just make sure your other bases are covered first.

5. Know the strengths & weaknesses of video

Video is an effective way of spreading your message, but it’s not always the best way. Sometimes a picture or a well-written paragraph can do the trick. Knowing the format’s strengths and weaknesses helps you decide when you should incorporate video into your email campaign.

Video has two major strengths:

  • Conveying emotion through a story: You can write out your story in the body of an email, but when your audience hears someone tell their experience firsthand, it connects with your audience in a way that a written paragraph has a hard time outdoing. If you have an emotional story to share, video is the way to go.
  • Explaining complex topics in a simple way: Sometimes it’s much easier to show than to tell. Complex, information-based subjects often lend themselves well to infographic style animations, where they can be broken down visually in a way that simplifies them for your audience.

Video has two major drawbacks:

  • Video uses up a lot of your audience’s time: What’s faster - reading a paragraph in an email, or clicking on a thumbnail, waiting for a browser to open, loading a page, loading a video, and watching that video? Video takes up a lot of your audience’s (valuable) time, so if you’re going to use it, make sure your message is worth their time. This leads us to the next weakness…
  • Not everyone will watch the video: Some people just won’t take the time to watch your video - no matter how awesome it is. Make sure your email has the bare-bones information that your audience needs to know in case they never click on the video. Sure, it’s their loss if they don’t watch it, but you don’t want the entire email to be worthless if they don’t.

The technical stuff

Here are a few more practical considerations when using video in an email campaign:

  • Make sure your video service uses multiple nitrates to adapt to your viewers’ internet speeds. YouTube and Vimeo both do this, so with Emma’s video content block feature, you’re good to go.
  • Make sure your video service provides a mobile-friendly presentation. Most people check email on their smartphones, so remove a barrier and make it easy to watch the video there as well.
  • If you have text in the video, be aware of your font choices. Don’t make text too small, too narrow, or too thin to read easily on a phone. Everything doesn’t have to be huge, but do make sure it’s legible.
  • Avoid putting a date in your video. This limits its use for later campaigns or on your website after the date passes. Save yourself some hassle and put dates in the body of the email.