Effective email designs have the power to engage your readers, hold their attention for longer, and encourage them to take action. But what makes a design instantly eye-catching and memorable?
One answer to this question is GIFs. Over the past few years, adding GIFs to marketing emails has become an increasingly popular design choice.
This approach is effective for several reasons. The first being that most people don’t expect to see moving images in their emails!
Images are far more powerful than words alone and can convey concepts and your brand identity in a highly efficient way without boring your readers or demanding too much of their time. GIFs in emails grab attention, elicit emotion, and can communicate key ideas quickly and in a fun, interactive way.
Here’s what you need to know about using GIFs in your brand’s email designs, and how other brands have achieved success by using animated images in their campaigns.
Why Use GIFs?
GIFs aren’t just for memes and social media content. They certainly do command attention on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. But they can work just as well as a robust engagement tool in email designs.
People’s inboxes have become increasingly cluttered with huge volumes of emails flooding in daily. This increase in emails means that most are quickly scanned for important information, and then forgotten. Adding GIFs to your email designs is sure to catch your reader’s attention. This will persuade them to spend more time reading your emails and following your calls to action.
Of course, adding GIFs to your email designs needs to be done strategically to provide you with the engagement rates and ROI that you want to see. It’s no use finding random GIFs on a platform like Giphy, adding them to your mails, and hoping for the best.
You need to choose your GIFs in line with the needs, preferences, and demographics of your target audiences. These animated images should be relevant to your products and services or the topic of your email.
5 Notable Brands that Use GIFs in Their Email Designs
Music streaming giant Spotify has a reputation for using animated GIFs in both its emails and its streaming platform. Their bold, strong GIF designs combine perfectly with their simple yet punchy email content to grab readers’ attention and convey their fun, modern brand identity.
This sports brand has used GIFs in its content marketing emails to align its messages with its reputation as a brand that gets you moving! The company uses their own custom-made animated GIFs to add flair to their emails and showcase their latest products using short clips rather than stationary images.
Digital graphic design platform Canva uses GIFs in its emails to walk its users through their products and services, provide examples of how they can get put to use, and elaborate on their features interactively.
Movie and series streaming service Netflix showcases its latest and most popular shows and films in its emails by using animated GIF versions of the series’ promotional banners. The gorgeous animations pique readers’ interest in the featured shows and encourage them to see what else Netflix offers.
Uber uses subtle yet effective GIF images in their email campaigns to add motion to each mail and reinforce their reputation as a trusted ride-share provider. These small GIFs still engage Uber’s audiences without distracting them from each email’s core message.
Do Email Clients Support GIFs?
While some email clients support the use of GIFs, there are others that don’t. Certain versions of Outlook, for example, don’t support GIFs. This can make it challenging to add moving images to your email campaigns and you risk sending a blank box with a broken image link.
The desktop versions of Microsoft Outlook (2007-2016) unfortunately do not support the use of animated images. The 2019 version of Outlook allows you to add GIFs to your emails and will play them once for your recipients while giving them a play button to enable them to see it again. However, you will have no problem adding GIFs to your emails when using Outlook.com or the official Android or iOS Outlook app.
Some email developers have addressed challenges with Outlook GIF support by using code to create GIF fallbacks. These fallbacks display static images instead of animated ones. Here, it’s important to ensure that the first frames of your GIFs contain the most vital information, as that’s what desktop versions of Outlook will show to your recipients.
How to Use GIFs in Your Emails
There are plenty of unique ways to use GIFs in your email designs, and their use isn’t limited to simply beautifying a page. GIFs are a great way to bring static emails to life, and they can also fulfil the following purposes:
- Act as an alternative to videos in your emails
- Create eye-catching animated calls to action (CTAs)
- Show how products look or work using animations
- Create countdown timers to encourage readers to take advantage of
- limited specials, discounts or deals
- Send invoices via email in a unique and memorable format
- Add fun, novelty and humor to your email campaigns
- Draw attention to the most important aspects of your email
- Showcase numerous products or services in the same image
Computing company Dell found that when they added GIFs to one of their email campaigns, they experienced an instant 42% increase in clicks, along with a 109% rise in revenue. The email from 2014 serves as a powerful example of the benefits of adding GIFs to your emails to enhance your return on investment and keep your target audience engaged.
Best Practices for Using GIFs in Email Marketing
It’s clear that GIFs can be a smart addition to your email design. They enhance the impact of an email, and including them in your invoice template also adds marketing value. However, there are some golden rules to follow to ensure that your marketing emails come across as professional and easy to understand.
Here’s what you need to know to make the most of GIFs.
Keep Things Simple
Adding GIFs to every one of your marketing emails will eventually see your readers becoming bored with them and desensitized to their effects. Use GIFs in your emails strategically, and be selective about where and when you add them to ensure that they remain novel and exciting to your target audiences.
Keep Accessibility in Mind
Animated images that flash and change rapidly may negatively affect some groups of people, especially older readers, audiences with visual impairments, and those prone to seizures.
Ensure that your GIFs don’t move or flash too quickly to enable your readers to read important copy within the GIF and grab the gist without having to re-watch it too many times.
Use Fallbacks to Your Advantage
Whenever you add complicated elements to your digital marketing campaign, you risk that email not working correctly. There are plenty of ways that you can correct this, like using fallbacks to ensure that static images show up in place of your GIF if the animated version fails to work for any reason.
Use GIFs as Teasers
Video does not usually play in emails, so GIFs make a convenient replacement that is widely supported by email clients. If you wish to send videos via email, you can use GIFs to recreate the video in question and ignite your audience’s interest instead of using a static image.
Keep Size in Mind
This is an important rule for any graphics that you choose to add to your emails. Large files can be slow to load, and readers can quickly become impatient if they have to sit for a few minutes while waiting for your GIFs and images to load. Keep your GIF sizes as small as possible without compromising their visual quality for the best results. Ideally, the size of your animated image should be 0.5MB or less, with 300KB often cited as the optimal size.
You should also optimize the visual size of your GIFs so that they do not exceed the size of your email itself. The limit is usually around 600 px, which may vary according to the email design client you use to craft your marketing emails.
Many brands, including the likes of Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Adidas, have successfully used GIFs in their email designs to engage and thrill their subscribers and keep them opening future emails. You can achieve the same effects for your brand by using the best practices outlined above to add animated images to your own marketing emails.
Remember to ensure that your chosen GIFs are correctly sized, relevant to your target audience’s needs and preferences, and not too fast-playing to enhance accessibility. Use them as video alternatives, teasers, timers, and humorous additions to your emails to boost your click rates and get your emails noticed.