Articles, Email Design

Everything you Need to Know About Using Gifs in Emails

With Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection cementing the death of open rates, marketers are more than ever turning to the next best thing to measure engagement…click-through rates. And what better way to boost your click-through rates than by using gifs to spice up your emails. 

They have the power to wow and captivate your audience but be warned, they can also be a giant waste of space and time if used incorrectly. So we’re giving you the ultimate guide on how to create and use gifs in email by sharing some handy tips, best practices and real-life examples for inspo!

Use them wisely

First things first, make sure your gifs are serving a purpose. More often than not we’ll come across emails with a gif thrown in to add a bit of humour. We recommend retiring these entertainment snacks to internal use – for things like G chat, Slack etc. Here are some compelling reasons why: 

1. They are a waste of space

Every time you use a gif, it fattens up your email size which means a slower load time. And if we’ve learnt anything about our subscribers, we know a smooth user experience is crucial.

2. They pose more of a distraction

Humorous gifs or memes usually pertain little relevance to your email and can often draw attention away from your main message, even leaving your subscribers a little confused.  

3. They may not be relatable 

Not everyone has the same humour as you. While you may find this a certain gif hilarious, your subscribers may not be able to relate.

How to use your gif effectively

Making a gif from scratch can be time-consuming, so make sure it works for you, not against you. The purpose of using a gif is to draw your subscribers’ attention to the all-important CTA. Here are some great examples of how brands use gifs to their advantage.

Teasing a big reveal

Our inboxes are inundated with promotional material day-in and day-out, so the challenge lies in creating brand memorability. If you want to create hype around your next flash sale or product release, use a branded gif to build the intrigue just like Baggu use this gif to showcase their new collection.

Simplify a complex idea

Instead of overwhelming your subscribers with paragraphs of information,  use a gif to serve as a simple and easy-to-follow tutorial. Dropbox uses this gif to demonstrate the easy navigation of their app in a more digestible format. 

Preview video content

Unfortunately, we don’t have the capabilities to autoplay videos in email, but we can create this illusion by transforming your video into a gif. Just add a static play button overlay to your gif and you’ve created the perfect clickbait machine. Take the example from The New York Times which immediately draws attention to the video content by giving subscribers a sneaky preview of what to expect in their latest trailer.

Telling a story

Bring your emails to life by letting your animated gifs do all the talking. Headspace’s promotional emails demonstrate how powerful the gif format is in getting people to read an entire message with a story-like methodology. The minimal copy and simplistic design keep the email looking clean and easily digestible.

Make sure you have the right audience

Unfortunately, not all modern mail clients accept gifs. Outlook 2007-2019 are hella fussy when it comes to using gifs in emails or any kind of interactive element for that matter. Often gifs will default to the first frame, so to avoid confusion make sure all important copy and CTAs are displayed on the first frame of your gif. Take the example by Linus below, the hero image displays as a static frame of the brand logo and new collection by default so subscribers aren’t confronted with a big empty black box. 

gif in email banner

So it’s time to jump into your email marketing software and sus out whether you’re sending your gifs to the right home. If you’re experimenting with interactive content now would be the perfect time to conduct Litmus inbox testing. Inbox testing allows you to test your email responsiveness across any device or server so you can make sure your emails land in your subscribers’ inbox and not the trash.  

Keep your file size down

Compression is the most common solution when your gif is looking a little on the fatter side. However, if you’re trying to compress a large file you will often end up sacrificing quality. So before you resort to this we have a couple of quick fixes before you go destroying your beautiful creation.

Don’t use every colour in the rainbow

The more colours you use the more weight your piling onto your gif. Gifs can only store a maximum of 256 colours so we recommend opting for animations over photographs.

You can also try overlaying your photo, video or animation with a single colour. This not only allows you to give a monochrome look to your gif that feels on-brand but it breeds smaller file sizes.

gif size  comparison
Source: Litmus

Use less frames

Use as few frames as possible by opting for cut over fade transitions. While fade transitions are smoother they require a significant amount of colour combinations. You can still create visually stunning and eye-grabbing gifs using the cut transition, like this email example from Tattly. 

Promotional email by Tattly using simple animations of tattoos
Source: Email Love

Keep it simple

There’s nothing worse than receiving an email that is loud, flashy and obnoxious. In fact, content that is flashing between 2 hz and 55 hz can harm subscribers with photosensitive epilepsy, plus it’s extremely difficult to read the copy before an animation changes. 

Sometimes a simple movement is all that is needed to create intrigue beyond a base level. We like this gif by Vimeo because it’s able to easily show the functionality of the product without overcomplicating the design. 

Product announcement email with a gif of the new feature
Source: Email Love

Believe it or not, you can create a gif from scratch without having to put yourself through design school. Creating movement in an otherwise static email is a surefire way to grab attention and encourage more interaction. Just remember if you decide to use gifs in emails use our inbox testing feature to make sure they are optimised for readability and deliverability across all devices and email servers. 

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