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 🙂


  1. Karin H.

    3/19/2009 10:57 am

    "make sure you turn off click tracking"

    The minute they solve that I would be interested. How else can you track if the video is watched? Perhaps it’s not and only aggravates your subscribers – you’ll never know.

    Like you say: too many obstacles. Nice to have – like the latest gadget – but truly effective or useful?

  2. Andrew Warner

    3/19/2009 2:37 pm

    Justin, the other issue is that many of us gmail users read our email on a mobile phone.

  3. Justin Premick

    3/20/2009 10:00 am


    I agree – that would be great!

    As Alex pointed out in his post, you can track views of the video – so if the video you put up was only publicized through your email, you could use total views as an approximation of clicks + in-email plays.


    Good point. This definitely isn’t ready for everyone to use just yet, but it’s encouraging to see steps in the right direction.

  4. Jaime

    3/21/2009 12:29 pm

    Hi Justin,

    This is a great post. I didn’t know about that and my buddy and I have been talking about this and wondering how to use video in a more effective way. Thanks for the heads up article.

  5. Alan Howarth

    3/22/2009 3:38 am

    Hi Guys

    If it’s a marketing video, why would you want to use YouTube? The idea of video email is to allow visitors, attracted by your video, to click through to your website, learn more and, hopefully, move to the next step in the sales cycle.

    Video email has a high view rate and, in my research, a incredibly high click through rate. YouTube offers too many distractions – I almost always click through to another vide, or two or three, and 20 minutes has gone, and I can’t remember why I went there – in marketing that’s a fail.

  6. Paul Broni

    3/23/2009 8:16 am

    "Video email has a high view rate…"

    I thought the whole problem was that video in email is not ready for prime time. Are you sending videos in emails?

  7. adam

    3/23/2009 8:34 am

    I feel it’s best to direct your audience to your website or blog. It brands you. Youtube I have to agree with Alan, it’s a lot of noise there and distraction.

    I found when I sent people to a blog to watch the video the response is higher. Much higher. You can maybe leverage by adding the video on youtube to go to your blog too.

    In essence, the key is to seperate oneself from the herd and show leadership by having your own blog, move the people there, so they see not just your video but other call of action moves.

    They can also see other work of yours which reveals more authority. I’ve even added my own photos on my blog showing me and branding me.

    Working great but I have only started using aweber so it’s going to be much easier.

  8. clare

    3/23/2009 6:38 pm

    Guys, get to it —–and hurry—-let me know when you do.

  9. Jeanette

    3/24/2009 12:25 am

    Alan and Adam,
    Thank you for the tip on directing people to a blog or website to view your video. I, too, get lost in viewing many videos when I go to YouTube.

    I’m new to Aweber and haven’t even set up a paid account yet, but I’m sure I will. I really like these features compared to a system I have used in the past.

  10. Edward Leyton

    3/24/2009 12:31 pm

    I had no idea that you could NOT video email so I put my youtube link on my last newsletter via aweber and got the highest CTR ever! And the tracking was turned on too! So what’s all this about video not working in email? I agree with the comments about Youtube being a distraction though.

  11. adam

    3/25/2009 9:01 am

    I agree Edward, putting a link on email to video really makes an amazing difference.

    I remember, how I emailed articles and the CTR were ok but man, when I also put a screen shot of a video and on that image says, "to watch video click here.." And hyper linked it..

    And left another link to video just in case..

    Wow. I had such a difference. I got tripple the response and from that alone, I got people asking for video Tutorials to download and they’ll pay.

    Imagine if can have a video in the email. Man, that be brillaint. It will surely come oneday. Just talk on camera, save, send and we’re away!

    I’m trying to stay away from youtube. I do put videos there anyway but, for my email list, I send them to a blog page or an empty white html page with video.

    I know when someone sends me a video and it’s on youtube, I go and watch, and then go somewhere else and watch a different video, and not click on the link they’ve sent.

    So they’ve lost me.

  12. Paul

    3/26/2009 9:48 pm

    Great post for us to keep abreast of developments and cool of Aweber to be discussing the competition .. Gmail etc .. thanx … I have just put up a tutorial on "video" image placement and viral twts on my blog for all to share , some very viral ideas which work , please share.

  13. Ray Frye

    4/6/2009 1:52 pm

    I really do think it’s a great step, it’s not like you have to go to YouTube to watch it, so that gets rid of all the statements of YouTube clutter. YouTube will play in the email and if you are an avid google user you already understand there are many ways to track especially if you break up your campaigns into regions.
    There are bad points I agree, but all it takes is to use all that google has to offer, it can’t be learned over night to use google to it’s potential takes a lot of time. In short if you are not familiar with how to use google Pub ID’s, Codes, feeds, burners, then no, using the video email option probably isn’t for you, now, maybe later.
    Wait until google launches their video blogs, which will react the same as blogs written, that will be a problem until they figure out how to make active links in video and still follow their new rules.

    But I have to give it to AWEBER email advertising/Marketing wouldn’t be the same without you!

  14. What is your email marketing data telling you? (Part 3 of 3) | Bronto Blog

    4/7/2009 9:24 am

    […] Finally, it helps to understand whether or not changes in email clients, like the new ability to view YouTube videos in Gmail, will really make a […]

  15. Alan Howarth

    4/8/2009 10:29 am

    As a video producer, email video and web video are keeping me busy at the moment, but one thing that needs to be clear in video email is monetization – video email can be very low cost (and look it) or be very high cost (and unprofitable) – either side of the right cost/results line can spell disaster.
    This one – – has been really successful.

    Video email can be very effective, precisely targeted and, the best thing, it goes right on your prospects desktop.

  16. Nobby

    5/7/2009 10:22 am

    On reading the comments, it is obvious that few are aware of this below. I am not affiliated with it in anyway and receive no benefit other than on passing on information. Although there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of action, so you have ask the question if the idea is really viable, even though it may seem good!

    If you haven’t already, check out an example of jiveSYSTEMS video email.

  17. Dickie Lim

    5/22/2009 10:34 pm

    Hi Justin,
    It?s really a marvelous idea of having a video email which everyone would like to have. But I?m sure in Asia some countries may still problem of downloading the video this maybe due ISP server in the particular country. Generally for Singapore and Malaysia should not be the problem. I would happy to test it out myself here.
    Have a great day!

  18. Tony Green, Realtor

    2/16/2011 9:36 am

    I really like the idea of video email if it were only easier. All of the comments stating a higher open/click through rate definitely has got my attention, and I would like to implement this in my real estate business. We get a lot of internet buyer leads and always looking for ways to engage them and convert them to clients. Anyone had experience with Eye Jot or Talk Fusion?

  19. Bobby Jonata

    3/20/2011 1:40 am

    Video email has a high view rate and, in my interest, a incredibly high click through rate. YouTube offers too many distractions.

  20. Eric

    2/28/2012 12:21 am

    After thinking of video in email, I came across this post. I really like the future forethought of this. We will see the full perfection of it very soon as progression is not an option, but inevitable.

  21. VM

    6/12/2012 2:51 am

    If you really want to make yourself known, allow users to be able to link to your videos.
    Viral marketing videos are the best way to make companies (and, subsequently, their products/services) known across quite vast Internet user communities. They carry a company’s name across the Web at far greater speeds than any other marketing tool in existence.
    Don’t forget to add such phrases as “Tell a friend” or “Visit our Web site” at the end of your video.