Video In Email: One Step Closer To Reality?

Video CameraMaybe.

As you may have discovered, sending video email by embedding a video in the message body doesn’t work. The best practice has been to insert a clickable screenshot of the video (perhaps an animated image that looks like a video).

While this is still the case, it looks like at least one major email provider is getting closer to making video in email a reality…

Gmail Adds YouTube In-Email Video Preview

Gmail just announced a new “Labs” feature allowing users to preview YouTube videos in emails.

Now, as Alex at Return on Subscriber explains, this doesn’t mean you can embed YouTube videos directly in your emails.

BUT, it does mean that if you put a YouTube link in your email, Gmail users may be able to view it at the end of your message.

Alex has a nice write-up of the feature and the tests he ran on it. Here are my takeaways:

  1. It’s only for Gmail, and only for YouTube (not other video sites that you might be using instead)
  2. It only works for links that point right to YouTube – so if you want to use it with a message you send through AWeber, make sure you turn off click tracking.
  3. Gmail users have to turn on YouTube previews (under “Settings” > “Labs”) to preview the videos.

Sounds Like a Lot of Obstacles – Can You Really Use This to Send Video Emails (Now)?

For most people, probably not yet. The fact that it’s only Gmail, and only YouTube, and only for people who have turned on the YouTube previews in Labs means most of us can’t reach more than a tiny fraction of our subscribers like this just yet.

BUT… if you have a lot of Gmail-using subscribers, or a tech-savvy audience in general, you might try pointing out to them that they can do this, and position it as a benefit (“view the latest episode/get a sneak peek of the latest product directly in your email”).

This could work if you already use a lot of video in your marketing anyway, as it would be a logical extension of what you’re already sending subscribers.

The biggest thing to take away from this is that at least one major email provider is moving toward video in email. Hopefully others are too, even if we haven’t heard about it. Yet :)