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Using GIFs in Emails: What, Why and How? [+Tips & Tricks]

Saffa Faisal

A picture is worth a thousand words. A GIF is worth 60,000 - equivalent to an average novel. 

GIFs have taken up the world of email marketing by storm. As of 2020, nearly 52% of marketers used GIFs in their marketing emails. But are using GIFs in emails an effective strategy, or is it something falsely hyped by Gen Z?

In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about using GIFs in emails. 

What are GIFs? 

A GIF (pronounced as jif) is essentially an image format, like PNG and JPEG. But what sets it apart is that it’s animated. GIFs are best described as short, soundless videos that continuously loop - no need to press play. 

Why Use GIFs in Emails? 4-Benefits

If you think GIFs are something silly and fun, you’re wrong....and right. GIFs are definitely amusing but are they silly? No! They’re anything but that. 

Read the benefits of using GIFs in emails below, and you might just become a convert. 

Why to use GIFs in email

They improve Return on Investment (ROI)

As an email marketer, your main aim is to make money (lots of it). Adding GIFs in email is a proven way of improving ROI. It even speeds up the conversion funnel. How? Pay close attention to what we’re going to say next. 

GIFs grab your audience’s attention and encourages them to read your email. Once you’ve got their attention locked in, your compelling email copy will motivate them to click on the call-to-action button. When the reader is on the landing page, they’ll explore your website and, hopefully, make a purchase. Hence, boosting the returns against your email campaign. 

We have a study to prove this! In 2014 (yes, still relevant), Dell executed a GIF-centered email campaign to launch their new Convertible Ultrabook. 

Example of Dell using GIFs in email

What they got in return? A 42% increase in click-through rate, a 103% rise in conversion rate, and a 109% boost in revenue. 

Pretty impressive, if we might say so ourselves. 

They are attention-grabbing 

Need we say more? 

When your audiences’ inboxes are filled with emails using vibrant imagery, persuasive copy, and enticing CTA buttons, it is GIFs that instantly catch their attention. 

Movement attracts more than static images. It delights your audience and builds curiosity as to what the email message entails. 

They make your brand humane 

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. 

Remember the last time you attended a party or a conference full of strangers? Remember how anxious you felt? Remember when searching for a familiar face, your eyes stumbled across a stranger giving you a warm and welcoming smile. Remember how reassuring that felt? 

GIFs do exactly that. They make your brand humane, give it personality, and increase your credibility in a crowd full of unknown companies. When your prospects view GIFs of your product line, product demonstrations, or product features, an instant trust factor is built. This added confidence encourages them to share their money, time, and personal information with you.

They are a great alternative to videos 

Videos are great for showing off your products or sharing customer testimonials. But they are bulky, costly to produce, and long enough to maintain one’s attention. GIFs take all the drawbacks of videos and converts them into its plus points. Is there anything GIFs can’t do?

When to Use GIFs in Emails? 5-Scenarios

“Okay, GIFs are great, but when do I use them?”

You can use them whenever and in whichever email campaign you desire. However, we’ll be discussing the most common ones, with brand examples, of course. 

You should use GIFs when; 

You want to launch a new collection

When launching a collection, you want all eyes on you. A GIF is a great way for a) grabbing your audience’s attention and b) showing your featured products. 

Example

Converse used a vibrant GIF to launch its Monochrome Collection. 

Gif in email used by Converse
You want to show how your product works 

Displaying how your product works is a great tactic to boost customer confidence within your brand. Once they see how a product functions, they become certain that there’s no scam and they can trust their money with you. 

Example

Refer to the GIF used by American Apparel in their email campaign. 

Example of Gif in email used by American Apparel
You want to explain a complicated idea 

As a viewer, would you rather read a paragraph explaining a complex idea or watch a short, fun GIF? 

GIFs are great when explaining a new or a complicated concept. Why? Because it doesn’t feel as if you’re teaching something. You can convey paragraphs worth of text through an animated series of pictures. 

Example

Nobody does this better than Kate Spade.

Example of Gif in email used by Kate Spade
You want to showcase your product line

Want to show off your product and what it can do? Nothing fits your purpose better than a GIF. 

Example

Canva shows its different templates in the GIF below;

Example of Gif in email used by Canva
You want to promote a limited-time offer 

A limited-time offer is meant to boost your sales quickly. And for that to happen, you need to grab your audience’s attention. A GIF within an email instantly highlights the benefit offered to your audience. 

Example

Loft killed two birds with a stone through the following GIF. Not only is the promotion mentioned, but readers are encouraged to interact with the GIF to reveal the exact discount.

Gif in email used by Loft

Do Email Clients Support GIFs? 

There has been a rumor spread in the email marketing world that email clients don’t support GIFs. The truth is that email providers have come a long way. 

All email clients support GIFs, excluding the 2007 to 2013 versions of Outlook. In these versions, a GIF won’t look like itself but rather a static image of its first frame. Is that a problem? As long as the first frame covers the main message, you’re good to go. 

To take it a step ahead, you can send an email survey to know which email client your audience majorly uses. If a meager percentage uses the specified versions of Outlook, then you should continue adding GIFs confidently.

How to Add GIFs in Emails? A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding GIFs in emails is no rocket science. By following the below-mentioned steps, you’ll be a GIF pro in no time.

Step 1: Create or Download GIFs 

How to source gifs for emails

To add a GIF within an email, you need to have one. You can source them through the following ways: 

  • Use an online GIF maker to animate a series of pictures or convert a Youtube video into a GIF. 
  • Download through websites that feature a vast library of GIFs, like Giphy, Gfycat, and Tenor. Make sure you’re aware of their copyright policies before you include their GIFs in your emails. 
  • Create from scratch through softwares, like Adobe Animate. We recommend making your own GIFs as this keeps your brand style consistent and saves you from any copyright issues. 

Step 2: Include them in Email Design 

Once you have the GIF sourced, you’re now ready to add it into your email design. With Unlayer’s email editor, even a five-year-old can become a master in adding GIFs. 

For our busy email marketers, you can view Unlayer’s 400+ templates, some of which already include animated elements. 

Those who want to add their own GIFs can follow the easy steps below; 

  1. Choose a pre-existing template or start from scratch 
  2. Click on your desired content block or create a new one.
  3. Drag the GIF on the image panel or upload the file.

And you’re done! You can also view these steps in the GIF below.  

How to add Gifs in Unlayer's email editor

Step 3: Download or Export to your Preferred ESP

Once you’ve completed designing your email, Unlayer lets you download the template in zip format, as PDF, and export it to your preferred email service provider, including Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Hubspot, and Gmail.

Using GIFs in Email: Best-Kept Tips and Tricks 

Not all GIFs guarantee you an increase in conversions. This is why we disclose all the best-kept secrets about using GIFs in emails below.

Keep it Light 

If the GIF added is heavy, it could take longer for the email to load. In worst-case scenarios, email clients might not support it if the GIF is too heavy in size. 

Ideal size for gifs in emails

We recommend keeping the GIF size between 200 to 250kb. You can also use a compressor tool to reduce the size of the GIF added. 

Purpose Over Everything 

GIFs in emails will only work if it reinforces the message communicated. Don’t add GIFs for the sake of adding them - only include them when they have a purpose to fulfill. 

Putting unnecessary GIFs in emails will not only confuse your audience but frustrate them as well. The secret is to make or source a GIF that revolves around the message you want to convey. 

Don’t Overdo It 

Just like with anything, don’t overdo GIFs. We know they are fun and a delight to the eyes, but too many GIFs in an email will cause it to load slower. Additionally, they might be distracting. Your audience won’t be able to pay attention to the message when their eyes are consistently diverted towards the moving pictures. 

We suggest using 1 GIF in a shorter email and up to 3 GIFs in longer email newsletters. 

Design Still Matters

The GIF you add in your email should complement the overall email’s aesthetic. It should also be synonymous with your brand style. If all your brand efforts are minimalistic, then including a flashy GIF doesn’t make sense.

This is why we recommend making your own GIFs. You can ensure harmony between colors and design when you create them yourself. 

Following these best practices for adding gifs in your emails will yield the finest results for your email marketing campaigns;

Tips and Tricks for using gifs in emails

Conclusion 

Including GIFs in emails are a proven way of increasing conversions and revenue. This article summarized everything you could possibly need to know about adding GIFs in emails. So give your brand a personality and grab the attention of your target audience by adding fun (but relevant) GIFs. 

Use Unlayer to seamlessly add GIFs in your email design to attract and convert your audience. Start designing for free now

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