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video email marketing rabbit hole of distractions by Tom Prather

So you want to start using video in email campaigns? That's great news as people primarily would rather watch videos than reading. So much so that Syndacast says using video in an email campaign boosts click-through rates by 65%. That's huge! But here's the deal... It's not just a matter of sticking a video on an email and sitting back watching your sales shoot through the roof.

So, here are three simple steps to help you avoid the video email rabbit hole.


By and large, embedding videos in emails is a thing of the future. So the trick is to provide the illusion of video. The best way to do this is to create an engaging thumbnail of the video. You know what that is right? It's a graphic using a frame of a video with a play button on it. You can either do this in Photoshop or any graphic design program. Some third party video distribution companies will do it for you. (Don't worry we"ll cover this topic later...) The thumbnail will be inserted in your email as a picture and linked to the domain name (URL) of the hosted video.

Thus, giving the illusion that the video resides on the email. If done correctly, it is seamless. Clicking on the thumbnail redirects the viewer to a new website, and the video should be loaded automatically, in most cases, not realizing being redirected.


You have the thumbnail created, and it matches the style of the rest of the campaign but now where do you put it? That's a great question. Most people make the mistake of burying it deep down in the email. With this method, you are hoping the viewer is intrigued enough to make down that far. My view is if the stats prove videos boost click-through rates then place the video in first or second position from the top.

In the example below, A.C. Moore created a thumbnail, but they located it in the eleventh position, thus limiting visibility. There was a total of 16 slides in the email campaign which, in my opinion, is content overload. So to expect a viewer to find the click-through secret weapon is a stretch.


Everything is in place and ready to go, now you just need to link up the video. Easy right? Well, think again. First, what do you want the viewer to do after watching the video? If it is to engage with your product or service, then the video needs to be hosted on your website. I realize the first thought is to use YouTube. But here me out! YouTube is a rabbit hole for your viewer's attention span. Once directed to YouTube from the email they will be sitting a the buffet of distraction and forgetting why they were there in the first place. Distraction in inevitable, but shouldn't you distract them with items on your website?

Secondly, housing your branding messages on YouTube is exposing the potential client to your competitors and content you may not wish to be associated with your brand via related video suggestions and pre-roll advertisements.

As you can see, A.C. Moore customers had other off topic viewing options and additional ads for other brands.

That's why I recommend using a third party video hosting solution. I get it; YouTube is free. But video hosting companies like Wistia, Vimeo, and vzaar offer free entry level plans* and then start as low as $25 a month. These hosting solutions do not include pre-roll advertising, no suggested videos and can be embedded anywhere. A bonus is to leverage your email marketing analytics with the video analytics to track viewer engagement and discover your hot leads.

TIP: *Start with a free account and rotate the three included videos, so you don't max out.

And remember, the cost of losing a customer is more expensive than the small monthly cost of owning your own privately branded video hosting platform.

If you have any further questions, please comment below or email me directly at If you found this article useful, please share it with a friend.

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