What’s the best way to include video in an e-mail?

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Including a video in your e-mail campaign is a smart thing to do. E-mails that have a video component have click-through rates (CTR) that are two to three times higher than those without video, according to a May 2009 study by David Daniels of Forrester Research, “Assessing Video Email Opportunities.” What’s more, recipients tend to be more engaged with e-mails containing video.

How the video is delivered in the e-mail has been the subject of debate. Should the video be embedded in the e-mail or should recipients click on a thumbnail of the video that redirects them to a separate landing page to view the video?

Those who prefer embedded video like to keep recipients within the original e-mail instead of redirecting them away from it. Those who prefer the thumbnail concept point to the fact that adding additional HTML coding to the e-mail—the code needed to embed the video—will flag spam filters and almost assuredly get the e-mail blocked. In addition, for recipients who accept only text-format messages, the video won’t show up.

The thumbnail concept also offers an additional opportunity for marketers that the embedded concept doesn’t. The separate landing page can become its own marketing effort. In addition to the video, it can contain additional videos, marketing information, links, a survey, photos, etc.

While there are some services that can certify video deliverability, there is an added cost and no user control over when the video plays.

Most people are used to the concept of linking to content, so the thumbnail concept doesn’t appear to have many barriers. Until the technology exists to embed video in the e-mail while ensuring deliverability, thumbnails that redirect to a well-designed landing page are a great option.

Carissa Newton is director of marketing for Delivra (, an e-mail marketing software and services company.

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