Sending a video by email is actually pretty easy once you mentally digest a fundamental truth that many email marketers had to learn the hard way: You can’t play a video inside your actual email message. Instead it has to be a video thumbnail image inside the email body on which your recipient clicks. Asking an email program like Outlook to render HTML elements like Flash is like Jerry Seinfeld trying to do the roommate switch-easy to imagine…never gonna happen.

But when you think about it, the “new browser window” method actually opens up a world of new possibilities in terms of how to email videos. For example, if your video has been uploaded to your YouTube account the viewer will get the benefit of seeing other videos you may have available. Now if the video you are sending is NOT intended for public viewing you’ve got a couple of choices:

1) Mark your video as “Private” or “Unlisted” in YouTube.
2) Host your video on its own unique page.

The problem with sharing videos on YouTube, even the private ones, is that your recipient has to sit through a commercial before viewing your video and the experience generally won’t seem very business-like. It’s YouTube’s world. You’re just meeting in it.

The benefit of hosting your video on its own page is that you can customize the page to look any way you want or even contain extra functionality, such as a form your recipient may need to fill out or a specific picture you want them to see.

Hosting video on a website requires some kind of video player software to be installed on the hosting domain. Once the source video itself has been uploaded to a live web server (.flv and .mp4 are the most common formats), you should think of the player software as the “doorway” that allows the user to see your video.

If all that seems like too much, there are a variety of affordable services out there that allow you to create, upload, privately email and even track the usage of emailed videos. We happen to be one of them! You can get a personalized video demo that teaches you how to send video in an email by clicking here and a free version of Covideo by clicking here.

If not, here are the three components you’ll need to set up in order to email a video hosted by you:

1) Video player software on your site. There are several excellent video player software programs available for under $100.00. To install the software on your site you’ll need to upload the files provided by the software company into the root folder of  your website. This group of files will include  an XML file you’ll want to edit in a text editor such as Notepad in order to customize the look and feel of your player. Then, you’ll need to install  two snippets of HTML code onto every page on which your video will play. One snippet will go between the header tags and basically reference the Javascript file you just uploaded to your root folder. The other snippet will go between your body tags and actually play the video.

2) A JPEG or GIF image that will serve as the video’s preview image. The easiest way to create a video thumbnail image is to play your video in Windows Media Player (or some other comparable program), pause the video on the frame you want to use, grab a screenshot of that paused image. Your newly created JPEG image can then be uploaded anywhere you like. Just be sure you have the exact URL handy and that it can be successfully viewed in a browswer.

3) The actual video file. The FLV format (or Flash) is the most commonly used format for web video. There are several free video convertor programs available for download that will convert your original video source file (MP4, Quicktime etc) into an FLV file. Once this conversion is done, upload the FLV file to any web folder you like, copy the URL and make sure it can be successfully viewed in a browser.

4) Correctly configured HTML code. Once you have a URL for both your video and your preview file, you’ll need to update the snippet of HTML of code mentioned above in item #1 and check the page to make sure the video is playing correctly.

Once your video is set up on your landing page the way you like it, you’re ready to add that video to an outgoing email using a simple technique we’ve found to be both appealing to recipients and friendly to SPAM blockers.

1) Insert your video’s preview image into your new email as an image file.

2)  Add a hyperlink to the inserted image which points to your new video page.

3) Add text above or below the video such as “Click to Play Video” or “Click to Watch Video”. Our software automatically uses the first frame of your video as a default preview image and overlays a “Play” button over the thunbnail which we’ve found to be very engaging. But unless you want to take the extra time to edit your image in a program such as Illustrator and add your own “Play” button, we recommend communicating that with text.

You’re now ready to send your video via email!

You’d be surprised how often salespeople, technical teams, pastors, veterinarian, car salesmen and CEOs decide that the message they’re trying to communicate is so important it needs to be done via video and it needs to be sent in an email. In our years of experience with this technology we’ve found the methods listed above to be the best way to send video via email. We hope you found this article helpful.


Jason Price is the president and co-founder of Covideo provides video email software that helps companies build relationships quickly and reinforce their brands more effectively with easy-to-make video emails that truly communicate.

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