Videos are a highly shared media form in today’s world. It’s easy to share videos across social media platforms, but embedding a video to share in an email can be frustrating – pasting a YouTube video link in Gmail, for example, only adds a thumbnail of the video to the bottom of the email. These thumbnails are cut off from view if the email is long, and they can’t be embedded at specific places in the email.

In this article, I’ll show you how to embed a video in an email at the place of your choice to make it enticing and clickable. This is what it will look like:

Video embedded in Gmail

Placing the clip where you want within the email makes for a more effective call-to-action and streamlines the reader’s experience.

There are three main steps to embedding the video:

  1. Add a play button image to your video clip
  2. Convert the video clip to a GIF
  3. Insert the GIF in your email and hyperlink the original video link

Step 1: Host Your Full Video Online

Unfortunately, you won't be able to embed your full video directly into an email. Instead, you need to put the full video online and link from the email to the full video. If your video is already on YouTube, you can skip to Step 2.

The first step is to make sure your email recipients can access the full video online. Upload the full video to Kapwing (go to Kapwing.com, upload, and click "Publish"), YouTube, Vimeo, Imgur, or another video hosting site.

Step 2: Design a GIF to Embed in the Email

To entice your email recipients to watch the full video, insert a GIF of part of the video into an email with a play button overlay. This will show the email readers a teaser of the action in the video and get them to click to see more.

To make the embeddable GIF with a play button, start by opening Kapwing’s homepage and clicking “Get Started.” Kapwing’s Studio is a free platform to adjust the visual layout of videos, images, and GIFs.

First, upload or paste the link to the video you’re trying to embed. In this example, I pasted the video’s YouTube link directly in the box.

Video Uploaded to Studio

Trim the video by clicking “Trim” on the right side when the video is selected, then move the ends of the purple bar to indicate the section you want to use. I recommend choosing a section that is shorter than 10 seconds to make sure the GIF is high quality and high resolution. The clip that results will act as the preview that will be embedded in your email.

Video Trimmer in Studio

Add a play button image over the video by clicking “Images” in the Menu bar at the bottom. Search for the play button you want, then insert it. Tip: add a .png image for a seamless appearance with the video clip.

Image Search in Studio

Resize the play button image by dragging the purple dots around the image. When it looks the way you want, click “Publish” to process the clip. Because the video you just created is still an .mp4 file, it needs to be converted to a GIF in the next step to become embeddable.

Play button overlay on video

Step 3: Convert the video clip to a GIF

Click the Settings button in the upper right corner of the screen to change the output type from MP4 to GIF.

Settings button in Kapwing Studio

On the left sidebar, choose to convert to the “gif” format. Then click “Publish” to finish.

Change "Output File" to GIF

In your email, upload/insert the GIF file, then hyperlink the original video’s link to the GIF. This way, if someone clicks on the embedded GIF it will take them directly to the video.

Hyperlinking the GIF in Gmail can be a little bit tricky; Gmail doesn't make it easy to link to a URL from an inline GIF. But it is possible! First, you need to highlight or select the GIF in the email body. After inserting the GIF, click to the side of the GIF and drag the cursor over it so the image turns blue.

Once you've selected the GIF, click the hyperlink button at the bottom of the email.

The GIF automatically gets a random broken hyperlink that is it's file name. But you can change the URL. Click back on the GIF, where a pop-up box should give you the option to “Change.”

Clicking “Change” will present a screen where you can add the link to the video in the “Web address” box. Paste the URL of the full video from Step 1 here.

And that’s it! You’ve embedded a video into your email in a much more clickable and enticing way. Note that images are not always displayed when you send an email, so I also recommend a text link that says "Watch full video here."

If you ever want to make other edits or share the video with other people, just sign in and go to your Kapwing Workspace to find the video in your library. This will allow you to download the video again, share it with your friends, or return to the Studio to make further edits!

For more ideas, tutorials, and features, check back in at the Kapwing Resources page or our YouTube channel!