Some brand messages are best shown, not told.
Audiences are tired of scrolling through walls of text and reading paragraphs-long emails—you need visuals to capture their attention, build an immediate connection, and make your words stronger.
For many marketing teams, GIFs have become a core way to engage audiences by drawing on brand-appropriate references and visuals. GIFs have become so widely used that some of the most popular GIFs have amassed more than 700 million views, proving that audiences love these short graphics.
To help your team understand how to use animated GIFs in emails, let’s explore the benefits of using animation for emails, where to find great GIFs, and tips to boost your chances of success.
Some marketers hesitate to use an animated GIF in email because emails were solely text-based for so long. But using GIFs in email strategically can drive immediate and lasting results your team can’t ignore.
The following are just a few ways that email animation and animated GIFs in emails can improve your email marketing results:
Once an email recipient opens your email, you want them to be instantly drawn to your content. A GIF provides movement that is so often missing from emails and can immediately capture your reader’s attention.
By using GIFs in your emails, you can increase the time that people engage with your email and ensure they read every section.
GIFs can communicate an incredible depth of emotion much faster than your text-based messages can. Be conscious about the GIFs you use and select ones that complement your brand’s personality and visual identity. Or, create custom GIFs for ultimate personalization and branding. GIFs can reinforce your brand identity and help you build a distinct personality faster—just don’t rely solely on GIFs to demonstrate your brand voice.
To build truly amazing experiences for your audience, you need to connect with them on a personal and emotional level. GIFs are an incredibly effective way to reinforce your message and draw your reader into your content by appealing to their emotions.
Over time, GIFs can make your communications more enjoyable for your readers and increase the likelihood that they’ll read the messages you send.
Despite the many great advantages of using GIFs in your email marketing, you need to be conscious of a few things to ensure your GIFs drive the intended results:
The most common issue marketers face when sending emails that include GIFs is the email size. GIFs can be very large files if the GIF is not optimized for the intended delivery channel.
Keep your GIFs to under 1MB, ideally 200KB or less if you can. This article explains how to reduce a GIF file size—if you create custom GIFs using Photoshop, lower the dithering to decrease your file size.
The only way to embed a GIF is to ensure the file ends in .gif, not .png, .jpg, .ai, etc. We share a handful of places to source your GIFs from below to ensure you don’t face any format issues.
If you are unsure if a file is in the correct format, inspect the image and look for the file format or document type.
Although GIFs are more widely accepted now than they were when they were first introduced in 1987, you may have challenges using animated GIFs in emails depending on your email client or platform.
If your emails fail to render a GIF properly, check with your mailbox provider to confirm that they support GIFs—a quick Google search of “does support GIFs” will get you an answer quickly.
It’s easier to add a GIF to a Gmail message than you might think, but it can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Adding a GIF to a Gmail email is a breeze with these three steps:
In the email interface, click “Insert Photo.” This is different from “Attach File,” which will not embed your GIF, but will instead attach it for download (as is commonly done with files).
Gmail allows you to add a GIF to your email either by selecting a .gif file from your device or by pasting the web URL of a GIF.
Outlook also makes it easy to add a GIF to your email:
With your email open you can click “Insert” and then choose “Picture From File.”
Browse your computer files and select the GIF(s) you’d like to include in your email.
The best way to create custom GIFs is to use Photoshop, but many marketers are unfamiliar with how to use Photoshop or don’t have access to it—which is perfectly OK! Most teams can effectively find and use GIFs through sites and tools like the following:
GIPHY is one of the most popular free ways to search, share, discover, and create GIFs. (It’s where we sourced the GIFs included in this post!) Plus, several social media sites directly integrate with GIPHY so you can effortlessly include GIFs in your social posts.
Search millions of user-generated GIFs on Gyfcat. You can even use its video-to-GIF creator to make a GIF up to 60 seconds.
Imgur was created to be “an image-hosting service that doesn’t suck” and has been used by millions of people since 2009. The site’s search capabilities help you quickly find relevant GIFs for any occasion.
Reaction GIFs is another common source for GIFs, including unique search functions with “I am feeling…” and “My answer is…” prompts to find the right GIFs to match your mood.
Reddit has more than 30 subreddits dedicated to reaction GIFs. Considering that Reddit can be viewed as an edgier community, please be aware that some of its subreddits are not safe for work—use your best discretion in selecting a brand-appropriate GIF for your email marketing.
Now that you understand the benefits of using GIFs in your email marketing and know places to find great GIFs for email, you’re almost ready to transform your strategy. But before you start adding GIFs to every marketing email you send, keep these three tips in mind:
GIFs can hurt your customer relationships if you don’t format them correctly. Before you send any email that includes a GIF, ensure you’ve formatted the GIF correctly and it displays how you intended.
If a GIF is too large or misplaced in the email, it can detract from the reader’s experience. We recommend you send a test email to a member of your team or preview your email to ensure the GIF appears how it should.
Ask yourself why you are including a GIF and what purpose it serves. Does the chosen GIF support the goal of your message?
While many emails can be elevated using GIFs, some messages are best sent without a GIF, such as difficult company news or if you’re following up with a customer about an outstanding invoice or payment.
Closely tied to ensuring your GIF is formatted correctly, test your email with different email clients to confirm that every email design element appears as intended in your recipient inbox.
Just kidding. But remember that by including GIFs in your email marketing, your team can better engage your readers, build a stronger relationship with them, and improve the results of your marketing efforts.
Remember that not every email should include a GIF, but sites including GIPHY, Gyfcat, and Imgur can help you find fun and engaging GIFs that can transform your emails.
If you’re looking for more ways to boost your email marketing success, download our ebook “30 Quick Tips to Grow Your Email List” so you can engage even more people with GIFs.