Link to a video in a MailChimp campaign

MailChimp is a popular email marketing service, letting you easily create newsletters to send to your users.

You can of course simply copy a text-link to a video’s preview page. However in this guide, we show how easy it is to make that link an image - a thumbnail - to take the viewer directly to that same preview page we provide within our enterprise video platform. This saves you from having to manually create that image (such as to make one that is a custom width, or that has a play button incorporated). You simply copy the snippet of code we provide.

The snippet of code is found within the ‘Share’ tab on the video details page (to get to that, simply click on the video’s thumbnail in the ‘Content’ library, scroll down the page, and click on ‘Share’). We call it the ‘Image link’.

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You can copy that snippet of code as it is. However you will see that next to it are options to customise it.

The first option is to change its width. We suggest a width of 320 for a traditional video thumbnail image, however you might want to make the image larger in your email marketing campaign. Simply pick the width you would like, for example 640.

The next option asks if you would like to include a play button:

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This incorporates a play button within the thumbnail image, saving you from having to manually create your own or have to edit any compicated CSS/style rules in the code to add one. It is often a good idea to include a play button to make it more obvious that the image is in fact a link to a video player, and not simply a static image, as it would otherwise appear to be.

The play button works best with a darker background to help it blend in. An example image without/with that play-button ticked is shown below. You can see the thumbnail with the play button is much more obviously a link to a video. The thumbnail without the play button appears to just be a normal image and is not obviously a link to a video.

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The final option lets you add a ‘mail merge’ tag. This is optional - even if you are using an email marketing system we already have a rule configured for (in this case, MailChimp). If you have sent emails before using an automated tool like MailChimp you are probably familiar with these: they essentially let you add a keyword of some kind within your email, and then the tool replaces that keyword with a particular value. These tags are most often used for an unsubscribe link and to add the recipient’s name to personalise the email.

(You can find out more about the MailChimp mail merge tags: http://kb.mailchimp.com/merge-tags/getting-started-with-merge-tags).

In our case, we want to pass the email address of the recipient along to the Vidbeo system, and so from that option in the Vidbeo admin panel, we pick MailChimp. What that does is append a value to the link which, when used in an email template, tells MailChimp to swap in its place the recipient’s email address. That way we can record in our analytics which recipient watched the video.

Having chosen our options, the snippet of code in that box will have updated to reflect our choices (we don’t need to click ‘Save changes’ - the code automatically updates). So if you now click on that box, the code turns blue and you can copy it ready to use in your email.

Over to MailChimp …

If you now sign in to MailChimp, you can use the snippet of code within your email. So in this case we will create a very simple email from scratch, just to illustrate the image link in action. So we will start a new regular email:

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Note: You will see an option when creating your email to use MailChimp’s own ‘video merge’ tags. You should not click that option when using one of our image links since we have already built that link. Their option is applicable for the likes of YouTube where their system ‘talks to’ YouTube’s system in order to extract the same image.

Similarly MailChimp has an option to ‘Auto-convert video’. Again, you should not tick this option. Since while it seems like you are including a video in your email, actually you are merely linking to one using our provided image (which tends to be more reliable, and also allows you to gather analytics which are not possible to retrieve when a video plays within the body of an email).

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So having created our campaign we are asked how to build the email. For this example we are just going for the most basic option: we will code our own, and type the code in the page. You can of course use our image link in your own template - this is just to illustrate the process:

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This lets us type in some code, and preview the results to the left. Hopefully you can just about read the text in the image below. You can see we have a very basic email, with an example heading, our image link to a video, and an unsubscribe link.

The key part is the ‘image link’, highlighted in purple.

So in your email code, you simply need to do the same: paste in that snippet of code you got from the Vidbeo admin panel (from that ‘Share’ tab earlier), just like we have done:

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As above, if it works correctly, you should see an image taken from your video appear in the preview panel. So in our case we used a frame from a common test video, the ‘Big Buck Bunny’, and indeed a frame has appeared. It appears at the chosen size (in our example we used the default 320), with a play button merged in (we picked that), and in this case with the MailChimp tag too - to pass along the recipient’s email address too.

The next page will give you a chance to confirm all is well:

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It looks good to us, so we send it.

Over to GMail …

A few seconds later our recipient gets the email. Here we are using GMail (of course your email would come from your email address - the key part is the image link to the video). So we can see our frame from the video appears, just like in the preview panel, at our chosen size, and with a play button merged in:

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In this case we also wanted to demonstrate using the MailChimp merge tag, which appended the recipient’s (viewer’s) email address to the link so we can see who watched it. So we can check that does indeed get added when we click the link (it gets specially formatted - known as URL-encoded - in order to not break a link):

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This viewer will then show within our internal analytics, in the views log. MailChimp also records the links clicked - and so you can see the merge-tag included from our example:

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Once you use a few image links in your own campaigns you will see how easy it is to customise and incorporate them. As always, if you have any questions about this email marketing option or our enterprise online video platform, please get in touch at support@vidbeo.com.

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