On the surface, directly embedding videos into your emails seems to make a lot of sense. Instead of dropping a clickable video thumbnail and forcing someone to take action and click to view the whole thing, wouldn’t it be easier if the email recipient could simply access the video content within the email itself?
Well, not exactly.
Embedding video may help create a slightly more seamless experience for email marketing purposes, but the long-term business ramifications can be costly. The decision to embed video in an email can even reduce website traffic and content engagement.
“We don’t subscribe to many absolutes, but let’s be clear: If you really want to get the most out of your video email marketing efforts, you should not embed video in an email.”
We don’t subscribe to many absolutes, but let’s be clear: If you really want to get the most out of your video email marketing efforts, you should not embed video in an email. Pretty bold statement, right? Don’t worry — we’re not in the business of dropping spicy takes and not offering additional context to back them up. Here’s what you need to know about why embedding video in your emails is a no-go.
There’s a reason why open rates and click-through rates are so important to marketers who run email campaigns — they’re jump-off points. They’re not the last step in an email recipient’s journey but the very beginning of it. And you can’t have those jump-off points that lead to your website or other company pages if you’re embedding video directly in your emails.
Getting people to watch your videos is great, but as a business, you need more than that. You want those same viewers to actually engage and interact with your brand — not just add up vanity views that lead to nothing. What’s the point of all those hours you spent crafting the perfect subject line and picking the right product screenshots for your email if a user just watches your video and deletes the email?
“You want your video subscribers to actually engage and interact with your brand — not just add up vanity views that lead to nothing.”
When your video is on its own landing page, you have more control over your viewer’s next action. They can leave a comment, ask a question, or start a discussion immediately after watching. They can explore other content on your site and consider signing up for an account. They can even share your content — and the people they share it with can embark on their own brand new journey. This keeps the cycle going.
You also want to give B2B professionals clear next steps. If you embed a video in your email and just expect the user to go to your website afterward, you’re creating more work for them. Sending them straight to your landing page to watch the video will allow you to make any associated resources and information clear.
Some people claim that we should make everything as easy as possible for our audience, and that would mean just including the full video and not a thumbnail. In reality — especially if people check email on a desktop — we’re talking about one extra click. Just one! That’s a tiny bit of extra work, weighted against the outsized benefits of bringing a user to your site.
To get a better understanding of how subtle the difference is between embedded and non-embedded videos, here is a screencast of us receiving an email with a video embedded in it:
And here’s the same email using a thumbnail linking to a landing page:
As you can see, the two desktop experiences are pretty similar. In the embedded version, you click the play button, and the video plays. In the non-embedded version, a new window quickly pops up as soon as you hit the play button on the static image.
Though it’s fair to say that the user experience on mobile and desktop is a little faster with embedded video in an email, it’s not enough of a difference to truly impact the user. If a user isn’t willing to wait the few extra seconds it takes to get to your site and click a second play button, chances are they probably weren’t that interested in the video to begin with.
This is especially true when you consider an audience of B2B professionals. If they’re interested in your product, they’re going to want to visit your website for more information no matter what — so why not give them a little nudge in the right direction by guiding them right to your site?
No matter who your email provider is (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc.), we all know the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of email. As emails flood in throughout the day, especially for B2B professionals, that full video you decided to embed will likely be seen once — when the person opens the email — and never again.
Linking the video directly to your website makes it a permanent resource. You can easily add the video to whatever page it’s most appropriate for. It could live on your homepage, blog, or even a help center page. Where the video is distributed on your site is ultimately up to you, but the fact that it permanently resides there makes it easier for people to watch later on.
The goal is to create a full-on content library that people can count on as a trusted resource. Website visitors will have a reason to come back if they know that new video content is consistently coming in. When they do return, they’re more likely to stick around and consume more videos and other types of content from your business.
And we’d be remiss not to mention the SEO benefits you get by hosting video on your website. If someone really loves your video but can only access it in an email, how are they going to link to it on their own website or through social media channels? You might as well tell them, “Hey, so we’ve got this great video here, but we don’t want anyone else knowing about it but you!” Sure, that might seem cool in a secret club kind of way — but it’s also a surefire way to get zero SEO traction with your video.
Let’s be honest: Video can really steal the show sometimes. If you embed a video in your email, it’s basically like having a giant neon sign that reads, “Watch me! Pay attention to me!” If email subscribers want the video, that’s a win — but if engaging with the video comes at the cost of the primary goal of the email, it’s definitely not.
“If email subscribers want the video, that’s a win — but if engaging with the video comes at the cost of the primary goal of the email, it’s definitely not.”
In many cases, the video component of emails you send might not even be your primary CTA. In fact, you might want subscribers to do something completely different. Maybe the video shares information about a new eBook you just launched, and the CTA button for the book is just below it. If you embed the full video, people may miss or ignore the CTA. An embedded video can overpower the other CTAs within the email, and people will simply watch without taking your desired action.
Of course, something similar could be said for a non-embedded video as well. The key difference is the non-embedded video that leads to your site can also serve as the perfect spot for your desired CTA.
In that case, because the email recipient has already taken the step of coming to your site to watch the video, there’s a better chance they’ll actively seek out the CTA button if they like what they see. Instead of passively watching the video in an email, they’re already more invested by coming to your site and actively becoming part of your sales funnel.
We hope we’ve convinced you that putting video on your website rather than in emails translates to a better chance of generating more customers.
Even though the ability to embed video in email is a cool technology, we prefer our audience to always consume the full content on our site instead of in an email client. This gives us more opportunities for user engagement, allows us to build out our content library, and ultimately avoids confusion around what actions we want people to take.