6 Pieces of Advice for Driving Video Traffic With Email Marketing

When video is done well, brands can draw in new audiences and build trust.

If you have room for one more goal this year, here it is: Make more marketing videos. And not just because videos are packed with SEO value or because (sadly) people don't take the time to read anymore.

As a medium, video affects us on intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional levels, which is difficult to do with other media. And when video is done well (i.e., tells a story instead of just selling a product), you can draw in new audiences and build trust in your brand.

But I'm an email marketing guy, so I'm always thinking instead about how to use email to drive traffic to all that great video content you're about to create. Here are six pieces of advice to set you on your way:

1. Before you go viral, go local.

I don't mean screen your marketing videos at your neighborhood cineplex, although it's not the worst idea I've had this week. My first piece of advice is to use email to put your video content in front of the people who are most familiar with your brand-the folks on your email list. These are the people who have already opted in to hear from you, so reward them with an early look at your latest content and invite them to share your video with others.

2. Know your surroundings.

Before you promote a video in your marketing email, think about where you've hosted that video. I always recommend linking out to the video with a thumbnail play image rather than embedding it in the email itself. It avoids running into the delivery and rendering problems in some email clients.

Whether you link to a YouTube video or something you've hosted on your own website is up to you, and it might depend on what you want to happen next. If you want viewers to share the video, YouTube makes it ridiculously easy. But the downside is they also serve up lots of other videos on the page, so your competitor might be listed there, or there might be an irresistible kitten video that steals your viewer's attention. If your goal is to move people down your marketing funnel, a landing page on your own site gives you total control on what else you want a viewer to be able to see and do.

3. Use a little brain science.

Like I said in my advice above, use a video thumbnail in your email, but don't *just* use any old video thumbnail. Be intentional about what image you use to entice the click, and remember that humans pay particular attention to images that convey danger, sex, and food. We're also hard-wired to connect on an emotional level with images of faces. Which reminds me of a tactical tip: If you use an image of person in your thumbnail, don't cover up his or her face with the play button. Not only does it look like you're censoring the person in your video, but you're missing out on an opportunity to connect with your viewers' primal brain.

4. Set (great) expectations

Every video needs a little context in order to convince potential viewers it's worth watching in the first place. When you're including video in marketing emails, your context-setting toolbox includes subject line, headline, thumb nail imagery, and caption text. Use these places to explain the value of the video content and to play up how short the video is, which is a big factor in whether people will take the time to watch. Don't veer into click bait territory, though over-promising can damage your brand's integrity.

5. Capture even more clicks with captions.

No matter how enticing your thumbnail image is, add some copy right below it that reinforces the content and has a linked word or phrase that also plays the video. That way, if people have images blocked, your video content is still accessible. Plus, at Emma, we've found that captions under images get a lot of action, and that's supported by the latest eye-tracking research.

6. Let your video shine.

Above all, if you're going to include a video in your marketing email, make that the whole point of the email. Don't stick a small thumbnail in a side column or tack it on the end of a long newsletter. Give your video top billing, and it'll show up in preview panes and display nicely on mobile devices. And since these days people's fingers move faster than their brains, you might get the click before a word of your email even gets read.

Video creation is on rise among B2B marketers, increasing by as much as 58 percent in 2014. While using email to drive traffic to video content is a no-brainer, these tips can help you get more of your audience watching and clicking.