Six Must Haves for Successful Email Video Campaigns

picture of video thumbnails

Integrating video into email campaigns has become an increasingly popular way for dealers to engage with consumers during one of their top three lifetime purchases. By tapping into the emotional aspect of buying a car, video can easily generate the excitement and provide the compelling visuals that go along with a new car launch or special holiday promotion. Busy consumers on the go without the time or interest in reading long paragraphs are often more receptive to watching a short video on their laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

And video integrated email marketing campaigns are shown to be very effective. For example, we recently deployed an email campaign for the launch of a new vehicle. The email contained a very impressive video about the new vehicle along links to various destinations on the dealer’s website. We found that 35 percent of the people that opened the email watched the video. Providing compelling content is important, because you are facing stiff competition for your customers’ atention and time. These recipients decided that the email copy and images were sufficiently tantalizing for them to also commit to watching a video about the vehicle. Getting buyers to commit to engage with a video directly leads to more sales and builds a greater affinity to your dealership.

But auto marketers need to follow some basic rules of thumb to make sure videos open properly, are engaging, generate excitement, and have a clear call to action. Here are our best practices for email/video integration:

Videos must be:


Avoid showcasing videos that only talk about an incentive or a special offer. A customer can easily read about your low APR within seconds. Why squander their valuable time by making them sit through a video? We’ve seen much higher engagement on well-made and entertaining OEM videos. These can be vehicle fly throughs that take you inside the car, a demo of the sports car on the racetrack, or other approaches that trigger an emotional response. When you’re looking for good video content, try to pick videos from the OEM that are created specifically for online campaigns, so that they aren’t the same ones consumers have already seen a thousand times on television.


Make sure the video is focused on the product you are trying to sell. This may seem obvious, but sometimes dealers get caught up with trying to show too many things in one video—less is more. Pick the vehicle that is most exciting to your consumers. You need to create a tight focus for the consumer and not distract them with too much to look at. This will make it easier to provide a specific call to action (see last tip).


People are busy and have short attention spans. Whether they are viewing the video at home, at work, at school, or on the train, they have neither the time nor the patience to watch a long promotional video. Pick short videos (under a minute) to ensure they will watch the whole thing before tuning out.


You need to make sure videos can be opened (and don’t crash). The easiest way to do this is to make it appear like the video will play directly in the email. Put the play button in front of the image in the email. When a consumer clicks, have it take them to a landing page that will flawlessly play the full video (this could be a page on your website that contains an embedded YouTube video). While HTML5 now allows video to play directly in email, it won’t be viewable for at least half of your email recipients.

Quickly loadable

When it comes to resolution, find a balance in middle. High definition will take too long to load, while low resolution may cause graphics to look blurry or grainy. The loading time is most important. Consumers will not wait more than a second or two for a video to load. This is especially important for consumers who tend to open emails and watch videos on their mobile devices; streaming video on a 3G network, or sometimes even a 4G network, can be slow. While resolution is important, having the video load quickly is really the top priority.


Yes, videos are entertaining, but like all marketing techniques, they need an end goal. Video can trigger strong emotions, and build affinity for a vehicle or brand. Your job as a marketer is to not only get them excited with the video, but when the video is over, make sure there is a clear call to action, e.g., a link to set up an appointment to take a test drive, check out inventory in stock, or get more information from the dealer. While the consumer is still on an emotional high, you want to get them to take that first step in the purchase lifecycle.

We at Outsell are big proponents in doing everything possible to make sure your email campaigns are personal, relevant, compelling and contain a direct call to action. Advances in technology and consumer interest in visual marketing has made video a very powerful way to connect and engage with your consumers. Following some of the basic guidelines above should ensure your video email campaigns connect with consumers and drive traffic to your store.

Craig Vore, insights manager of strategy and optimization at Outsell (

Michael Bowen

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