Moving images are among the most attention-grabbing elements in email marketing. Animated GIFs offer the advantage that they are easy to implement and can be displayed in most email clients. In the article Choosing the Right Image Formats for Marketing Emails we already discussed the GIF format for displaying images.

Images draw more attention than text, and moving images are in turn more eye-catching than static ones. According to ComScore’s VideoMetrix study, video content in emails increases click-through rates by over 90 percent in some cases. However, outdated display capabilities of e-mail clients and restrictions of many free e-mail providers pose a hurdle – especially when it comes to Flash and Java integration. The use of the GIF format for displaying moving image content is less problematic.

Apple announces an event in a GIF.Image source: Litmus[/caption]

Possible uses of GIFs in email marketing

The uses of GIFs in email marketing are many. Here are some examples:

  • Attract attention: Use GIFs to catch the customer’s attention. Refer to a call-to-action or guide them through the rest of the email. GIFs are perfect for first “capturing” the customer’s attention and then directing them down the desired path.
  • Showcase products: Show off your products in a GIF showing an all-around view or hands-on use by real users.
  • Explanations: Use GIFs for short tutorials to explain your products and services, such as the step-by-step activation of a new software feature.
  • Announcements: Announce new products or special events in a GIF. For example, use calendar animations, timers or “reveal” effects, or short graphic hints to build excitement.
  • Video teasers: Use GIFs as fallbacks for clients that can’t display video. This gives the client a taste of the actual video that will play when they click on the GIF on a landing page or video portal.
  • Surprise effect: Design your GIFs so that the animation only starts after a few seconds. The customer will initially think they are seeing a static image and will be surprised by the animation that starts. This only works for very short emails where the customer does not scroll down quickly.

ILIA shows the use of the product in practice as a GIF. Image source: Litmus

Practical implementation

GIF is actually not a “real” video format but an image format. However, it offers the possibility of storing several images in a file and displaying them one after the other, giving the impression of a moving image. These sequences can be displayed not only once but can be set to repeat infinitely. A tutorial on how to create an animated GIF in Photoshop can be found here.

Animated GIFs can be displayed in almost all popular email clients, Outlook supports animated GIFs only with Office 365. Older Outlook versions display only the first image. Therefore, you should make sure that this image is already meaningful, so that the GIF works without animation.

Animated GIFs in internal email marketing

Use internal GIFs for your internal email marketing as well, for example to explain the next steps of onbarding to new employees, to announce internal events or to give employees surprises for special occasions, maybe for birthdays or anniversaries of company affiliation.