HTML5 Video In Email: What Is Now Possible?

Email marketers all have face the simple fact: You can spend hours putting together the most elaborate copy or promotion and impressive email design in the world but you’ll always ultimately be limited by the email client in which your recipient opens it.

Over the years, email clients have restricted the boundaries of what rich content can be delivered and displayed to recipients. With bandwidth a key driver over the years, consumer demand for a rich content experience has greatly increased. As a result we’re now starting to see the first few instances of email clients rendering video in browser.

Could this be a big leap forward or is it destined to remain a niche offering, only embraced by a few email clients?

The natural next step from active views

Mid-July saw a lot of chatter regarding Hotmail’s move into this area, allowing its users to embed and read any video in their emails. Reports vary as to whether this was a standard (but poorly announced) rollout or somebody hit the wrong button but either way, it continues the brand’s streak of progress in this area.

We thought it might be interesting to do some testing across various email clients to get a feel for who may jump on this bandwagons and what considerations email marketers must keep in mind in this area.

How to implement video on Hotmail

Currently, if you’re going to put together an email including video for Hotmail, and want to make sure you get maximum compatibility, you’re going to need to link to 3 video files from within a <video> tag.

That means creating the video in MP4, OGG and webM formats – a vital step to ensure compatibility.

Then you simply embed the code for the video wherever you want it to show up in your email:

<video width=”200″ poster=”fallbackimage.png” controls=”autoplay”>
<source src=”//″ type=”video/mp4″ />
<source src=”//” type=”video/webm” />
<source src=”//” type=”video/ogg” />

<!– Fallback if HTML5 video is not supported –>
<a href=””><img border=”0″ src=”fallbackimage.png” label=”Fallback Image” width=”200″></a>

So far, so easy then.

But as always when you’re pushing the envelope in email marketing, there are a few more things to consider.

For example, we wouldn’t recommend using autoplay – there’s nothing more aggravating in the world of multi-tabbed browsers than having audio start to kick off and having to search through all your open windows for the source of the din.

Instead, you might want to take the YouTube approach and run this with a visual first frame that requires clicking to play. What’s more, this is more likely to segue nicely in with any current video strategy, which traditionally will include such a picture that links to the full video playing on either your site or YouTube itself (this way you get to message of those who clicked and fully engaged with your video content).

How can I generate this code?


Head to the video for everybody generator, which will kindly generate the code for you. And you simply just place it within your html code of your email.

So get stuck in and see what’s possible. You can bet that the major providers will continue to push the boundaries with technologies like this and we’ll keep you posted as updates continue to roll in.

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