Animated GIFs in email: GIF me more

Using animated GIFs in emails can quickly display brand’s personality, as well as make your email stand out in the inbox. Although it might be tempting to feature GIFs in your emails “purely to jazz them up, they can actually have numerous practical uses – especially for retailers.

Recent research by Experian showed that 52% of email marketers already use animated GIFs. So how can YOU use them?

Display multiple products or options

Inserting a GIF into your creative is a great way to display multiple product images or options in the limited space available. These campaigns by Kate Spade, and Cusp use this technique particularly well.

Imagine that each of those bags goes well with another outfit!

You can almost see this piece of art on your own wall. Especially as it is presented in a used environment.

You can easily view the spring lookbook for inspiration.

Add more information

GIFs are also great at giving the recipient more information about products by providing them with 360° views, how to guides and even instructionals – as seen in this campaign by FOOTASYLUM.

Use the prower of video with an animated GIF

Just like in B2C, there are plenty of ways B2B Marketers can use video, to build trust and, in acquisition phase, give product explaination. But did you know it is a great combo with animated GIFs?

GIFs can be used to make it appear as though you have a video embedded in your creative, something which has previously been made impossible due the stringent SPAM filters most email clients enlist. Indeed, GIF files are one of the only ways to insert moving images into an email creative given that a lot of email clients still offer poor video support. (although some have already given the green light to video in email).

This technique is easily achievable by creating your GIF preview clip with a play button in a consistent place in every frame. This image can then be linked to the video content on your website, which of course, supports video playback. Google+ has recently started using animated GIFs to preview all videos uploaded to the platform, as seen in the example below.

Add sparkle to you CTA

Finally, GIFs are great way to add sparkle to your main CTA. Animations can be added to a sale banner to draw the readers’ eye, or a sense of urgency can be added to any required actions by including a countdown clock in your creative. Another way is using interactive animation for CTAs or other graphic elements in your emails. Below are examples of how Kate Spade and Walmart achieved this in their emails.

Rules of the GIF thumb

However, before you rush off and get GIF-ing there are a couple of key guidelines to follow. As a general rule the smaller the GIF the better, preferably using files sized 100kb and under. This is to ensure that the images load quickly and capture the reader’s attention before they move on to the next message in their inbox – after all, email recipients do have a proven short attention span.

First frame first

While GIFs benefit from near universal support across most major email clients, they do encounter some problems in displaying on the notoriously difficult Outlook and Windows Mobile platforms. These email clients will only display the first frame of the GIF, so it’s a good idea to include the key information in the first shot so that your recipients can still clearly understand your message, even if that’s all they can see.

Over the years GIFs have become deeply ingrained in internet culture – they have stayed relevant because they are easy to use and create, and are very well supported by web browsers. Their debut was in 1987, when will they show up in your email newsletters?

Lisa Combes

Lisa Coombes is an Account Manager for Variant4 and has worked in digital marketing since leaving university, where she gained a degree in Psychology. With a proven background in social media, her current role sees her advising clients on how to best succeed with their email marketing.