The Surprising Way One Startup Increased Email Click-Through Rates By 300%

Kristen Craft
Kristen Craft / Published March 27, 2014

In the early days of Wistia, we shied away from using video in our marketing efforts. We were self-conscious about being on camera, worried we’d end up looking too scrappy (read: small or even unprofessional). We also didn’t know what kind of information to put into a video or where to share it. But we’re a company that does video hosting, sharing, and analytics, so it felt a little funny for us to avoid using video. We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone and started making inroads with our video skills.

We found that the videos we’d made were worth the effort. Customers and potential customers really liked seeing information conveyed through video. It's a richer, more concise way for people to learn about you, your company, or your product. It gives your site visitors a taste of your personality or company culture, helping them develop a connection with your brand.

But the real win came when we began sharing video through our existing channels, including email or social. Having a video on our site was a good start, but it’s a gamble that people were going to actually find it.

In 2011, we began sharing more than half of our videos by email. This addition to our strategy had a positive impact on our open rates and email subscriber list. When we’ve sent emails featuring video, we’ve seen a 300% increase in click-through rate, compared to emails without video. We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in other important areas, like engagement and interaction. The following chart is a comparison of the average number of tweets that have followed email campaigns with and without video, the former yielding 4x more sharing on Twitter.

Increased Tweets with content featuring video in email

Prepare Your Video for Email

1.Create a compelling video.

The key here is to teach, not sell. People don't want to watch a video about why your product or company is so great. They want useful information about something they find difficult. Think of areas where you possess expertise, and consider how this expertise aligns with your customers' needs. And keep your videos short: people like content that's snappy and to the point. Shorter is better! Try to keep all videos to 2 minutes or less. If you have more content than you can cover in 2 minutes, break it up into multiple videos.

The following graph summarizes millions of Wistia data points (collected between 2009-2012) that help us calculate optimal video length.

2. Put your video on a landing page.

Make sure the video is easy to find (use a large video embed of at least 600 pixels wide, and keep it above the fold). Video is great for inspiring people to take action, so harness this power by including a call-to-action at the end of the video! Try going with soft CTAs, like "sign up to receive more of our content in the future" with an email address form. However, there are plenty of more direct video CTAs that work, like "visit our online store" or "check out our event schedule." If you need a hand creating your landing pages, check out options like Unbounce.


3. Embed a thumbnail image in the email itself, and direct your audience to the landing page when they click.

For the best user experience, autoplay the video on the email landing page, (since people are essentially opting in to view it when they click the thumbnail; an automatic play is what they are expecting to see). Make sure you pick a compelling thumbnail from the video. Stills of faces work especially well. Last but not least, don't pack your email with multiple CTAs. Asking people to watch your video is CTA enough. Including additional CTAs will only add confusion.

Three Metrics to Measure to Gauge Success

After you've sent out your snazzy new email, take a look at the email and video statistics: what's working? What isn't? This data will help you create better emails and videos the next time around.


Above: These sample analytics are from a video we made about shooting video using just an iPhone. The blue area on the graph shows the percentage of people still watching at certain points in the video. The area in orange shows the number of rewatches for any given part of the video.

1. Playrate

Obviously, you want this number to be as high as possible. This is a good indication of how compelling your video was to visitors. It gives you a sense of whether you chose an appealing topic, how well you crafted the title of the video, and whether you chose a good thumbnail image.

2. Average engagement rate

This number tells you—on average, across the entire audience—what percentage of the video your viewers have watched. Because it suggests how interesting or useful your video was to your audience, you want the number as high as possible. You can also determine what your audience likes best by seeing which parts of the video they re-watch.

3. New email signups

A really great video will drive new email signups. Some people will choose to sign up, so that they get alerts about future great content; some people will forward the content to friends, and those friends will subscribe. Pay attention to which content brings new audience members into the fold, so that you can use this information to make similarly engaging content in the future.

Three Emails to Use as Examples

1. Litmus


We love seeing the Litmus trend report emails because they offer such amazing data and use video to share their data. The thumbnail images are always fun and friendly, making us want to hit play.

2. Dyn


The Dyn newsletters always offer helpful, educational material in video format. We like the way they give you a taste for each video in the description below. And they add a touch of fun with their colors and background images.

3. RunKeeper


The RunKeeper emails use video to both educate and inspire. We like the way that this one celebrates all runners’ accomplishments and helps them stay motivated. The design is clean and simple, offer a clear call to action: watch our video.

Video in Your Email Marketing

Have you tried video in your email marketing? If so, what's worked best for you? If not, check out Wistia for a free Wistia XL account, which will equip you to run a campaign like one of the examples above.

You might also enjoy this article: "How Kissmetrics Increased Webinar Sign-Up Rates by 1,000%"

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