Animated GIFs in Your Email Marketing

Is it appropriate to use animated GIFs in emails?  The number of marketers using animation in emails has declined in recent years but has recently experienced a resurgence.  For good reason. Many recent split tests have shown that  emails containing animated GIFs give better results, in terms of engagement and conversions, compared to the same emails without animation. And this is a good reason to rethink the idea of using animation in email marketing.

The Benefits of Using Animation in Your Email Marketing

One advantage of using animated GIFs is the attention factor. Animation engages readers visually and draws their eye to the page. With so many people skimming emails before deciding whether to read, anything you can do to distinguish your correspondence from the bulk of emails works in your favor. Animation grabs attention and makes your email correspondence stand out.

Strategically-placed GIFs can be used to draw your reader’s eye to points you want to emphasize or highlight your call to action and encourage readers to scroll down the page. They can also be used to demonstrate benefits and features of products. Unlike video, GIFs have a small file size that makes them practical to use in emails. Animation can give your email more personality and eye appeal and can be used to spread cheer around the holidays and put your customers in a buying mood.

Tips for Using Animated GIFs in Emails

For best results, be conservative with animated GIFs in emails. Don’t overdo it or you’ll confuse and alienate your readers. Animation also increases the size of a file, especially if you use complicated, colorful images. Make sure each animation you use in an email has an objective and a purpose. Don’t use them simply to entertain. Each animation increases the time it takes for the message to load. Readers will quickly become impatient and move on if a message loads too slowly.

When designing GIFs, limit the number of colors you use in each frame and minimize the number of frames to reduce the file size and the time it takes for the email to load. If your email message loads too slowly, your reader may send it to the trash bin.

Not all animated GIFs display the same in different email software programs. In fact, Outlook Express 2007 doesn’t support GIF images at all; it will display only the first frame of the gif. Plus, some people turn off images to allow their emails to load faster. This means a blank space will show up in place of your carefully constructed GIF. Make sure readers can understand your message even if the GIFs don’t display properly. Don’t count on animation to do all the work.

You can build animated GIFs using different softwares and applications. There are dozens of free and paid solutions out there. For best results we recommend to build them with PhotoShop and Gimp.

Here below a good example of animated GIF included in a Urban Outfitters email (image source The Retail Email Blog)

Using animated GIFs in your emails can make your correspondence more eye-catching and engaging. They can also be used to draw a reader’s eyes to certain points and to demonstrate product features – but use them sparingly.

Too much animation is distracting and can turn readers off. To see how they perform, do a split test and see if animation works for you.