Businesses are seeing big results from adding GIF into their email marketing campaigns.
But how can you get the same successes?
This Email GIF Guide covers everything you need to know.
From the benefits of using animated GIFs, to the latest best practices.
And all with plenty of examples.
But first, a bit of GIFstory...
Animated GIFs turned 30 this year (2017), and GIF in email has been one of the biggest trends in email marketing.
They are also a great way to add interactive elements to email newsletters.
According to Google Trends, the term "animated GIFs" has been growing rapidly over the last 5 years;
It's not hard to see why email marketers have been using more and more email GIF in their campaigns.
In an A/B test using static image VS animated GIFs, Bluefly saw a 5% increase in click rate. As well as a 12% increase in dollars spent by customers who saw the email GIF.
Even more impressive still was a campaign by Dell to launch the Dell XPS 12 ultrabook. They saw a 42% increase in click rate and a 109% increase in revenue. Compared to other campaigns without animated GIF in email.
“I think animated GIFs are a good way for people to communicate what their main story is very quickly. People are visual learners.“ – Sierk, Dell
Aside from the results, it's now easier than ever to create GIFs, with more and more tools available.
Why put a GIF in an email?
We live in the attention economy.
People want relevance, and they want to see and understand that relevance in as short a time possible.
As marketers we need to capture that attention and guide it to a conversion.
Animated GIFs are a great way to do that.
There is no doubt that video is the best medium for getting across detailed information. But, it is very expensive to create, and you have to grab the viewer in the first 10 seconds or they will drop off.
Video is also currently only supported by 58% of email clients. So unless the reader clicks through, you've got a 1 in 2 chance of getting across more information than an image.
But animated GIFs are not just a replacement for video in email.
Adding GIF into an email brings it's own unique value and oppertunties.
Advantages that no other medium can offer.
How To Use Animated GIF In Email
Just because email marketers have seen results with GIFs, doesn't mean we should go crazy.
We can't expect to embed GIF in email without a plan and hope to see the same benefits.
Like any content you add to an email newsletter you need to know why you are adding it. We need to understand what value it will bring to the reader.
There needs to a purpose to put a GIF in an email. A clear advantage of using it over another content format.
The best approach to get this right starts with understanding your readers.
Balancing what they want, with what you want from them.
Start by asking yourself these questions;
- Why do my readers want to open this email?
- What are my readers interested in, what's relevant to them?
- What's the one key thing I want my readers to get from this email?
- What action do I need my readers to take from reading this email?
Then think about if an animated GIF is the best medium to tick the boxes. How you could use it to enhance the reader's experience? Will using a GIF increase the probability of you getting your one key thing?
Once you have the answer to those, here's some inspiration and best practices to help you to get your GIF right.
Embedding GIF in email is great for capturing peolpes attention. They are perfect if you want to highlight or draw attention to something.
But be careful, you can get it wrong;
It grabs your attention, but it also hurts your eyes!
Think about what you are wanting to draw the person's attention to. Then how you could best add a GIF in an email to do it.
Here is a great example from American Apparel.
It grabs your attention, and highlights the new colour range;
Bring products to life
Photojojo have a great example here. Using an animated GIF to show off two of their new products and how they work;
Relevant product placement
Nest have done a fantastic job with this. They have appealed to their target market by including them in the demo, and showed off its benefits. All in one clever GIF;
Explaining complex concepts
This is normally reserved for video. Yet Litmus have done a great job here. They get across the benefits of a complicated product in a clear way with this animated GIF;
Call to actions
One of the most common purposes for animated GIFs in email. When done well it instantly captures attention and draws your eye to the call to action.
Well demonstrated here by Ann Taylor Loft with this click to unwrap gift;
Got a flash sale or promotion on? This example from Kohls is a great use of using animated GIFs to create urgency;
Great marketing inspires emotion deep within us.
As Simon Sinek said; “people don't buy what you do they buy why you do it”.
People buy with emotions, and GIF in email is a great way to tap into that emotion. As seen here by Mr Porter;
Perfect if you are running a conference and want to give some airtime to the key sponsors.
Consider following Marketing United's lead with their logo slideshow in the footer;
This is generally making things more awesome by using an animated GIF, instead of a static image.
Here Nike bring the newsletter to life by turning this emotive image into an animated GIF;
It's what GIFs became famous for, and it definitely has it's time and place in your marketing.
Well placed animated GIFs add real personality and humour to your email newsletters.
In this example Bonobos bring in some humour whilst selling the products benefits;
All content is communication. But, as this example from Tiffany shows, you can animate text to tell even more of a story;
How to guides
Helping readers get to grasps with new features is easy with animated GIFs.
It also saves you having to create a video everytime you want to explain a couple of steps.
We use these a lot in our email communication with customers at the Publicate. Like this example for how to search for images and GIFs from your workspace;
Email GIF best practices
When using animated GIFs in email there are a few things to keep in mind;
- Make sure the first frame of the GIF looks good and is relevant. This will ensure that your newsletter always looks good. Even in the few email clients that don't support GIF. Like Outlook 2007-2013 (sigh).
- Use animation on GIFs intelligently and in a way that enhances the message. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
- Keep an eye on the file size for spam filters and email size. Ideally keep GIFs under 1MB per image. You can adjust the file size in tools like Ezgif, Gifgifs and Gifmaker.
- Use animated GIFs sparingly. If they are in all your campaigns they will lose their impact. Make it relevant.
- Don't use too many in one email newsletter. Sometimes it is appropriate, like when explaining how to use a new feature. But beware of diluting focus by drawing attention away from a single clear call to action.
Creating and finding animated GIFs
The best practices for creating email GIFs deserves it's own post, for sure.
But, here is a roundup of the best tools I've found so far. From free to paid and pro to novice. Full details are here with some helpful insight added to each one.
As with everything in marketing, the key is to do it well.
By that, I mean make it relevant and meaningful. When you are thinking how to send a GIF in email, remember it should build on your message.
Use well thought out and relevant animation to amplify your goal, not water it down.
- Start with understanding your readers and then how using animated GIFs could help.
- The list of examples in this post will set you up with some great inspiration. The possibilities are endless, remember to keep the goal in mind.
- Keep in mind the best practices of first frame counts, less is more and keep an eye on file size.
- Then get creating and adding GIF to your email newsletters.
If animated GIFs are done well, they provide a very engaging medium for your newsletters. As the results show, when you send a gif in an email you can achieve higher conversions. The key is to get the GIF right.
Got some examples to share? Add them in the comments…