Video for email Video for email

How to create email marketing-friendly videos to boost your sales

This is a guest post from Amir Shahzeidi, digital marketing manager at Uscreen, a live streaming and video monetization platform.

Email is a strong marketing channel for any business—quite possibly the strongest. It’s proven to generate an average ROI of $38 to $44 for every $1 spent, and continues to be a top choice for marketers in all markets.

But email’s power isn’t exactly a secret—your competition knows its value too. After all, they’re also looking for smarter ways to generate more revenue in less time. So how do you create emails that capture your audience’s attention and stand out from the crowd?

Here’s one solution you can implement: Video in email.

While video is still not all that widespread in email marketing, it could help you generate amazing results. A study by Forrester uncovered that video can boost click-through rates by as much as 300 percent. 

If you’re ready to start making email marketing-friendly videos that work for your brand, here are five tips on how to get started.

1. Plan out a video that’s short and concise

In Jeremy Miller’s 2015 book, Sticky Branding, he explains that to effectively sell your solution you must understand that only three percent of the buyers in your market are ready to buy. Your goal, therefore, becomes getting your product in front of that three percent.

Video sales messages are highly effective at the bottom of your video marketing funnel. They are used to convert ready-to-buy prospects. While video sales messages can vary in length, a lengthy educational video is rarely ever required—since your videos are going to target that three percent who already know your product is a potential solution to their problem, and are ready to buy. 

Instead of an introductory video that’s broad, lengthy, or both, focus on presenting a quick, strong case for your solutions, one that’s perfectly aligned with your buyer’s needs right now.

2. Create a video that’s structured and effective

Here’s an eight-step process you can use to create a structured, effective video for your email. Eight steps may seem like a lot when we just said to keep your video concise—but if you don’t linger too long on any of these steps or go off on extraneous tangents, you should still be in good shape.

1. Grab the viewer’s attention

Lead with a powerful statement that shocks or surprises your audience. This statement should be strong enough to make a viewer stop to pay attention to see what comes next. But don’t make an outrageous or unbelievable claim or you could lose viewers who feel like they’re watching an over-hyped commercial.

2. Identify a problem

Introduce a problem your viewer is familiar with and make sure it’s a valid one. The more specific and relatable the problem, the better. It shows that you really know what you’re talking about and your viewer will want to hear more about what you have to say.

3. Connect on an emotional level

Engage on an emotional level to get your viewer invested in the issue you’ve highlighted. Lean into the consequences (direct and indirect) associated with not addressing the problem. Don’t just gloss over them, really explain how the consequences affect your viewer. Use terms that they understand and are familiar with to make sure they understand what’s at risk.

(For more on this strategy, check out this summary of how Dollar Shave Club became the gold standard in viral video advertising by hitting their target audience in exactly the right way.)

4. Introduce your solution

Position your solution and show how your product takes care of the problem(s) introduced earlier. This is a critical component of creating an effective video as you’re closing open loops for the buyer. 

Take the time to draw correlations between pain points, features, and benefits. Buyers are always looking for value, and unless it’s spelled out, most will not see how your solution can really help. 

5. Establish credibility

Position your brand as an authority by sharing credentials like special industry awards or high-profile customers you’ve helped. But be careful not to appear as though you’re bragging. Instead, share your credentials as a reason for the viewers to trust in your knowledge.

If you have a startup or a business without any accolades, mention the cumulative industry experience your employees have. Things like specialization and a track record help instill a sense of confidence about your brand’s ability to deliver results. 

6. Provide proof

Share proof to motivate action. This can be in the form of stats, customer video testimonials, or before and after pictures. Just remember: Buyers want proof that’s relatable. For example, if you’re selling CRM software to small businesses, sharing a customer testimonial from a Fortune 100 firm won’t resonate with your viewer. 

Also, use real customer names where possible. Nameless and faceless quotes can often come off as made up—which can do more damage to your brand’s reputation and make you lose the sale to a competitor that appears to be more transparent.

7. Encourage action

Like all marketing content, you’ve got to introduce a call-to-action. If you don’t direct a customer to what happens next, it can water down your results. Your call-to-action can be more than just a buy button, too. You can introduce a discount or time limit/expiry date for your offer to create a sense of urgency. 

8. Summarize and encourage action again

This may seem redundant, but writing up a brief summary of your video is just as important as your call-to-action. Buyers often need to hear a message multiple times for it to stick. And when you consider that your video may be interrupted while the viewer is watching it, or that the viewer may become distracted, summarizing your pitch and encouraging action is essential. 

Just don’t drag it out. Write a short paragraph that identifies the problem, highlights your solution, instructs the buyer on how they can take action. 

3. Include the word “video” in the subject line

You need to generate interest in the content of your email to get a subscriber to open it. And the word “video” creates that interest—merely having “video” in your subject has been proven to boost open rates by as much as 13 percent.

Regardless of what email subject line content strategy you use (e.g., urgency, scarcity, humor, directness, etc.), make sure it’s clear that the email contains a video.

Beardbrand uses "video" in its subject line.

4. Make copy and video work together

You got the open and now it’s time to move your reader through your email. Like every piece of good content you produce, your email copy has to speak directly to your buyer. 

So how do you engage your buyer on a personal level?

The first rule of copywriting is that people hate to be sold to but love to buy. The second is that people buy based on emotion and justify with logic.

The only way to engage a buyer in a meaningful way is by leaning into their emotions. If you’re not sure which emotions to stir, go back to persona research and establish what your buyer’s pain points, as well as dreams and aspirations, are when it comes to finding a solution like yours.

One of the most effective techniques for stirring emotions is to introduce a problem, agitate the problem (show the consequences of not addressing the problem), present your solution, and make an offer.

Copywriters recognize this as the problem, agitate, solution, offer (PASO) technique. When used with video, the goal is to let your copy introduce the problem and drive your reader to the video to do the rest.

Why does this work? When you position your video directly below strong copy, people are more likely to expect to watch something interesting, helpful, or valuable. The PASO technique creates a setting where the reader will want to see how to solve the problem you’ve just introduced.

Make sure to edit your copy down—get it to the essentials and let the video do the rest. When you introduce engaging videos, your goal is to make the video do the heavy lifting, whether you’re selling fitness programs or software as a service. This means crafting just enough copy to position the video to be watched.

Here’s an example from Incase that employs the techniques described above. The copy introduces a problem: How can their target customer carry around so much stuff without their bag getting too bulky? The video will answer that question by showing you their minimalist backpack in action.

Incase uses copy and video.

5. Use an animated GIF thumbnail

Video support in email is more robust than ever thanks to the rise of HTML5—but it’s still not 100 percent universal, and customers aren’t fully accustomed yet to watching videos inside of their emails. So if you’re worried about cross-platform video support or just have a short piece of a video that you want to automatically play to make sure it’s seen, using an animated GIF as a “thumbnail” can be a good compromise.

GIFs are dynamic and immediately catch the reader’s eye. In fact, they’re so effective that 56.6 percent of marketers use them in email.

If you choose to incorporate GIFs, here are two tips for picking or creating one that’s effective:

  • Create intrigue. Show the reader something that captures their attention. This could be your product in the silhouette or the first few seconds of the video.
  • Illustrate an action or result. Give your reader a glimpse at one of the most valuable sections of your video. For example, if you’re trying to get eyes to an online demo, showing a few steps of how to perform a mission-critical task will work well.

Here’s an email from Speks that uses an animated GIF thumbnail to show off a key section of a video—and drive readers toward clicking to see more.

Speks uses a GIF thumbnail for their video.

Key takeaways

Video is an incredibly powerful sales tool, so pairing it with email, which is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, only makes sense. Together, they generate impressive results, making it possible to drive significantly more sales. 

But it’s important to make smart, well-constructed videos that work for the email medium—and then to showcase them properly to your subscribers. 

  • Keep your videos short and concise. Your video needs to convert ready-to-buy prospects. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy educational video aimed at the general public—it’s the closer, not the tour guide.
  • Create a video that’s structured and effective. Follow this eight-step process you can follow when you’re putting together your video. Start by grabbing the viewer’s attention, identify a problem in their life, and connect with them emotionally… introduce your solution and share proof of why you’re the right brand to provide that solution… and finally, encourage the viewer to take action.
  • Promote the video in your subject line. The use of the word “video” in an email subject line can boost open rates as much as 13 percent.
  • Make the copy and video work together. Make sure your copy engages your customer and quickly drives them to watch the video. One effective technique is to introduce a problem with your copy and present a solution with your video.
  • Use an animated GIF thumbnail. If you’re worried about cross-browser support or want to showcase an important piece of your video, use an animated GIF thumbnail in your email to make sure your customers see what your video is offering.