Put Some Action in Your Call To Action with animated GIFs

There are so many elements of creating a good email. A good domain and sender reputation enable you to get through the sea of spam. Good subject lines get your subscribers to nibble. However, it is the call to action that ultimately is the conduit from email to the site; it can either make or break the effectiveness of your email.

Therefore, it is imperative to have a strong call to action in email marketing.

Effectively Using Split Testing Tools

I’ve seen plenty of email marketers focus a tremendous amount of time on the subject line leaving the call to action an afterthought. And it’s not entirely their fault. Email marketing service providers can be partially blamed. While they have done a great job on simplifying A/B subject line split tests, it isn’t easy to run a “call to action” split test.

On most email marketing platforms you will have to run a content split test and swipe out version A’s call to action with version B. But when I’ve spoken to people they admit that when they use this feature they go for “night” and “day” approach, i.e., two totally different pieces of content.

Now, email split testing two entirely different pieces of copy is a perfectly fine way to test emails, but let’s also use these testing tools to help us drive our engagement rates. And if we’re going to do that, then let’s pause for a moment and put some action into your call to action. Delving into this topic, I believe one of the most effective ways to improve click-through rates is by including animated GIFs in your emails.

Animated GIFs – or “GIFts” as I jokingly call them — is a true godsend to email marketers because they can make your emails pop! I have found that using a GIF when highlighting a particular video is the most effective, but a timely GIF with a little bit of pep can also delight and create a “loyalty” moment with your subscribers.

Like all good things, GIFs also have the potential to create an eyesore and give your subscribers a massive headache. To help you out, here are 3 examples of how you can maximize your efforts and ensure your GIFs pack added value to your email marketing efforts.

#1 When it Comes to Email Marketing, Play it Safe Smart

Adding a play button overlay is an easy way to show your subscribers that the call to action leads to a video. But kick it up a notch. Don’t just play it safe; be smart and give your play button the subtle movement it needs to become a proper click magnet.

Either a gentle up-and-down, in-and-out motion or a fade-in, fade-out motion. Whichever style you choose, you can bet this will catch your subscribers’ attention and show them that you’ve got something to share with them on the other side of the email.

#2 Make the GIF Endless

Looping in GIFs is the standard, but be careful about where you cut your GIF. If there’s a motion, e.g., someone paddling in a canoe, you can make the person paddle forever by carefully matching up the last frame with the first one.

When marketers fail to be attentive to the details and just cut it randomly they are likely to give their subscribers a migraine.

Don’t do this.

Go the extra mile and start delighting your subscribers instead. Depending on what you are selling, you can have a lot of fun with this. Always remember, catching people’s attention is the first step to creating a successful call to action. So when your GIF “unexpectedly” loops forever with an “endless” motion will catch your readers’ attention and give them a good reason to click.

I’ve personally seen that this technique raised click through rates by 12% when testing it versus a static JPEG.

#3 Be Smooth

As the adage goes, a picture tells a thousand words. . Well, if the saying was about a smooth moving six second GIF, then that’s good enough for 180,000 words! (Seriously. Check out the Idea Rocket article on how this number is calculated.) Nevertheless, going back to the previous point, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a GIF that just randomly cuts off, goes too fast, or ends abruptly.

To counter this, I always recommend being smooth. That’s right. Pick out the right points of a movie to turn into a GIF, and don’t be afraid to use scenes that come from different points in the video. Hollywood does this all the time – it’s called a trailer!

And Here’s a Bonus Point

Finally, for more engaging email marketing campaigns, think about adding in subtitles. That is if your GIF is going over speaking points, of course. And if so, not only is it wise to add in subtitles but an advanced move is to slow it down.

And that’s just science talking because hearing is faster than vision. True, it will sound awkward when your graphics person is listening to the clip before turning it into a GIF, but once it’s looping without any sound, your mind will be able to process the information and not think twice about that you slowed down the speed.

All this will help contribute to a better call to action, higher click through rates, and ultimately increase conversions.

Shmuel Herschberg

Shmuel Herschberg is a seasoned digital marketing executive, who lives and breathes email marketing. He is the founder of Shyn Media, a boutique agency that offers creative marketing automation, content strategy, and digital media services.

Mr. Herschberg possesses a unique blend of technological awareness coupled with strategic thinking and customer psychology. This enables him to translate customer needs into actionable, winning strategies. He is the author of numerous articles that probe a wide-range of viewpoints relating to digital marketing, with an emphasis on the latest trends in email marketing.