How to use video in ecommerce email marketing

There isn’t a marketer around who would debate that video is taking over the internet.  By 2020, 80% of global consumer internet consumption will be video content. While internet video traffic is expected soar, most brands still haven’t even touched it. According to Kantar Media, only 24% of brands are using online video to market to consumers.

As an ecommerce marketer, you know that email is the foundation of a successful ecommerce shop – so why hasn’t everyone made the leap to incorporate video into ecommerce email marketing? For many, jumping into video can seem like a huge black box. The number of unknowns can feel overwhelming – like where to begin, the cost, and of course, time.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Below I’ll walk you through some easy ways to get started creating (and promoting) video in your email marketing.

The biggest hurdle to using video in email

From a compatibility standpoint, video and email are in a relationship that could be best described as “it’s complicated.” Some of the biggest email clients like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, still can’t play embedded videos in email. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause to promote a video within your email. There are a few easy workarounds for this issue.

Use a static still shot (that looks like a video thumbnail)

You’ve likely seen this used before in an email, an image that has been doctored to resemble a video thumbnail. This method is straightforward and effective because without even reading the text of the email the recipient gets the message – “click me!” The science behind crafting a compelling video thumbnail isn’t terribly complicated, an interesting image or smiling face generally performs better than text.

Email from BeardBrand

Try an animated GIF (looping single shot or multiple shots)

Using an animated GIF with a looping single shot or multiple shots can give the appearance of a functional video in an email and help push the reader by being an eye catching call to action.

Link in text

It sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re linking to a 3rd party video or using a video as a reference, a link in the body text can be a great way to help those who might not be in the loop or to provide a bit of a tease.

Unsure which option is right for you? Try an A/B test to determine which options your audience responds to best.

Make it simple: start small

A lot of people feel like videos should only be used to “go big” or “go viral”.

Frankly, that’s a load of BS.

If you start with a smaller budget video (or even no budget), and choose an area to focus on, you’ll have more room to experiment. Ultimately, you’ll be able to try new things and see how your audience is responding to video content without blowing through your entire marketing budget.

Start by picking a goal related to any number of KPIs, like these:

  • Raise click-through-rates
  • Improve conversions on abandoned carts
  • Longer time on site

All of these are great goals to have in mind when deciding how to tackle video because they can be measured with data you already track, and go beyond the age-old crutch of measuring success by view count alone.

4 ways to get started

Once you’ve decided what KPI you’ll measure comes the fun part, what to create!

Product demonstrations or sneak peek

Email from Prep Obsessed

This sneak peek video from women’s retailer, Prep Obsessed, gives shoppers an idea of what they might expect when they purchase a mystery mailer. The video is a great way to convince someone who is on the fence to purchase, and compelling because it reveals the mystery behind the mailer for two other purchasers. This is a great example of a video that didn’t require a big budget or fancy editing to get the job done.

Product launch/announcements

Email from Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is known for their marketing videos. In fact, they’re one of the prime examples of early adopters to video marketing. Since their original video, they’ve been able to craft other entertaining videos to promote new products, like body wash, that they know their audience will love.

They really swung for the fences with “massive hero” video. If you’re just getting started you (and with a smaller budget) a simple talking head video might also work well for a product announcement video.

Feature an interview with employees, customers, or contest winner

Email from Minted

Interviews are a great way to give context or add a human touch to your product or service. This video from Minted shows the reaction of a contest winner for their annual holiday photo card challenge.

Make a how-to Video

Email from KeySmart


Have a complicated product? Send purchasers a quick how-to video to cut down on any confusions, returns, and support requests.

Don’t take our word for it, here’s our data

While Klaviyo isn’t an ecommerce business, we have been experimenting with video content on our site and in our email newsletter. The results have been pretty compelling.

For our most recent video, Spam Court, we found that the average time on page was a whopping five minutes and thirty-three seconds, for a minute and forty-five-second video. For the month of January, video content drove the most traffic to our blog compared with numerous other types of written content. With results like that, it’s definitely something we’ll continue to explore.

Tools we recommend

Image Editing: Photoshop, Pixlr

Graphic Design: Canva,

For making GIFs:,,

Video hosting: Vimeo, YouTube, Wistia

Are you interested in using video for your email marketing? Have questions, thoughts, or ideas? Leave them in the comments below.


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