How to Send a Video in an Email


You’ve just spent weeks, maybe months finalizing a video about your product, service, idea, or event. The piece weaves an engaging narrative with beautifully shot or animated visuals. Now you’re getting ready to send it to someone you want to take action; someone who will positively impact your organization. 

But chances are, your email will read and look something like this: 

“Take a look at our video:$Eew%JL:LAnlkjd;lskjs

Oy. Just look at that. What a mess of nonsensical characters!
Have you no shame?!

Kidding aside, it may seem like a small thing to fuss over. After all, you’re not greeting someone at the door of a movie theater: you’re sending someone a URL to a digital video file (which is likely hosted on a server you don’t even own.)

Little details add up in the minds of your clients and customers. Think of this moment like buying a diamond necklace. You would expect to carry it home in a beautiful box, but what if the clerk handed it to you wrapped in dirty newspaper? Considering that premium videos cost as much – if not far more – than a diamond necklace, your video deserves the same level of care as fine jewelry! You just have to wrap it in a different box.

It is not possible to embed and play videos inside an email. You will always be tasked with creatively sending a link that will take your viewers elsewhere to watch your video. As such, there are a lot of tiny creative decisions to consider when sending a video over email. Below are a few best practices for giving your video a premium, informative, thoughtful handoff over email.


We’ve already established that simply pasting a hyperlink in your email is bad form. But even dressing it up like this won’t cut it. If pictures tell a thousand words, then you shouldn’t link just text: link a picture, aka the video thumbnail.

Ask any professional YouTuber and they’ll tell you that their videos will often live or die based on the design of the thumbnail. It’s the elevator pitch for the video, even more than the title of the video itself. 

At Flow Video, we take care of this process for our clients and design all the thumbnails for their videos. But if you’re designing one your own, here are some things to consider:

  • DO faces, faces, faces. Humans are drawn to other humans and what they’re reacting to. We can’t help but click to learn more when there’s a face involved, so if you can include an image of a face from your video, and it’s indicative of the overall content, that’s probably your best first place to start when considering which thumbnail image to use. Which leads us to…
  • DON’T make the thumbnail your logo on a white background. This is the obvious first choice for many people, but it’s one of the worst options to choose. Not only does logo-on-a-white-background tell your audience almost nothing about your video, but there’s a chance the play button on the thumbnail will cover it up anyway. Which reminds us…
  • DO include a play button overtop your thumbnail image. Again, you can’t actually embed and play videos directly in an email, but including a play button provides a quick mental preparation for the viewer for what's about to happen, even if it takes them out of the email and into a new tab. As for what the button should actually look like, well…
  • DON’T forget to incorporate your brand in the thumbnail. If your brand’s logo and aesthetic are green, make the play button green! That line of thinking should extend to the rest of your thumbnail. Maybe you could include a colorful border around the frame, or perhaps some shape elements that are used on your website. You don’t want to cram too much in the frame, but even just one additional element beyond a still image from the video can go a long way in convincing viewers to hit “play.”

People may potentially only see the thumbnail from your video, so if that’s your one chance to make a visual impression, make it a good one.

But here’s another pro tip: don’t use a single, static image. Use a GIF!

VFA Still Image


Another fantastic way to get around not being able to play videos inside of emails is to use a GIF. This allows you to use several seconds from your video, or even a rapid montage that quickly shows off key, enticing moments from the video. The human eye is drawn to movement and color, making GIFs a superior way to attract attention and entice people to hit play.

Like static thumbnails, Flow also provides GIFs to all of our clients. Sometimes we design them ourselves using our typical post-production tools used to edit our videos. But a handy feature we’ve discovered recently comes from Vimeo.

On Vimeo, you can go into the settings of any video you upload and tap the “GIF” button. From there you can grab anywhere from 1 to 6 seconds of video and turn it into a GIF. Not only can you download the raw GIF file and place it wherever you’d like, but you can also get embed codes specifically for email (and even choose which email service you use, like Gmail or Outlook)! This also automatically places a play button overtop the GIF, as well as links it to the video in question. It’s extremely useful and efficient, and we’ve become kind of obsessed with it…

No matter what path you take, we think the most important advice is to package your video (whether it’s with an email, social media post, or however else it’s being sent into the world) with the same level of thought and care you put into making the video itself.

Devin Polaski

Former Creative Director

-About the author-

Devin Polaski

Devin has directed videos, animations, audio stories, and games for some of the world’s largest brands. His role is to help shape beautiful stories that solve big challenges. When he’s AFK he’s probably watering his plants or playing Tetris.