Do GIFs work in email

5 Brands That Are Using GIFs to Elevate Their Email Marketing

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This post was updated on March 13, 2019. It was originally published in October 2016.

As email marketers, we’re constantly asking ourselves what makes an email great. Witty copy? Stunning design? Eye-catching imagery? Sure, all these elements combine to create powerful email campaigns but nailing those elements down to an exact formula across industries is impossible.

Universally, great email all boils down to one element: engagement. The goal of email marketing is to establish and grow a relationship with your prospects, customers, or users, so holding their attention is key.

While static emails can engage in some ways, the growing popularity of animated GIFs in email shows that animations can draw and focus attention on your product in an incredibly powerful way.

Wait – Do GIFs Work in Email?

The answer is: yes…and no. GIF support has expanded across email clients in the last few years. In fact, even some versions of Outlook now support animated GIFs in email. Unfortunately, older versions of the platform (Office 2007-2013, specifically) do not support GIFs and instead, only show the first frame. Learn more about how to cope with Outlook users who can’t see GIFs.

It’s also important to note that GIFs can weigh down email size (or the loaded weight of the email once the subscriber opens it). A larger loaded weight can mean a slower download speed, and a slower download speed can mean lower subscriber engagement. Learn more about acceptable email download speeds.

In general, the smaller the GIF file size, the better. There tools like ezGIF you can use to help reduce the GIF file size before you insert the GIF into the email.

Ready to add GIFs to your email campaigns? Need some inspiration? Here are five brands have proven how effective – and fun – GIFs can be in email.

Nike

Nike is no stranger to using interactive, animated elements in an email. In this promotion for running tights, Nike uses a GIF to bring an interesting design element to the message. When we first open the email, it looks like a standard promotion, but within a few seconds the sweeping pattern changes catch our eye and keep us engaged.

Nike pattern GIF in email

Kate Spade

Kate Spade’s GIF game is masterful. The women’s accessory and clothing retailer primarily uses animated GIFs in email to demonstrate the multi-functionality of their products as well as different views of each look. This email quickly delivers the visual information that subscribers need before making an online purchase, all while allowing them to stay on the email instead of navigating away from your CTA. Kate Spade also gets a bonus for the fun copy and eye-catching tile design.

Kate Spade gif

Boden

Boden is another retailer that does an incredible job of centering their design on animated GIFs. In this email, the disappearing lemonade animation not only ties into the copy of “squeeze the last few drops,” but also conveys a sense of urgency around temporary sales.

Boden gif

Lyft

In this email about an update to their app, Lyft expertly uses animation to demonstrate the simplicity of their new user interface. The hero copy reads “Getting around is now easier than ever,” and the GIF delivers on this promise by demonstrating the simplicity of ordering a Lyft car with the app. This engaging GIF encourages the reader to go beyond the email and explore the app’s new offerings.

Below is the animated image in the email. You can check out the full email here.

Lyft gif

West Elm

This lighting sale email from West Elm is one of many great email campaigns from the home décor company. The otherwise simple email stands out with the on/off animation of their lamps. Plus, we love how the animation casts a literal spotlight on their copy.

West Elm gif

Using an Animated GIF in Email? Test Before You Send!

How do these brands ensure their email campaigns are powerful across platforms and devices? By testing their emails, of course! With Email on Acid’s email QA platform, you can preview your HTML across 70+ clients and devices and fix rendering issues before you send the campaign.

Keep in mind that when you test with Email on Acid, you won’t be able to see the GIFs in action, as our previews are static. Odds are the platform will grab them mid-animation, but rest assured this is perfectly normal. It means they’re animating just fine!

Email on Acid’s Campaign Precheck also includes a GIF tool in its image validation step, which helps you choose the frame you would like as the fallback image for Outlook users who cannot see the animation.

Sign up for a free Email on Acid trial and start upping your email marketing game with animated GIFs!

Start testing!

Author: Email on Acid

The Email on Acid blog is on a mission to share email best practices, industry news, and solutions to most annoying email client bugs. Plus, we like to have a little fun along the way. Learn how to join the party and contribute to our blog.

1 thought on “5 Brands That Are Using GIFs to Elevate Their Email Marketing”

  1. Great set of these, thanks Hannah – particularly like the way they all keep your attention with the different ‘moving parts’ (including Frank’s head/eyes & the text); for example, West Elm’s wouldn’t have been quite as effective if both lights had come on at the same time.

    PS I remember the Netflix one, sat watching it over and over countless time and still got freaked out by that look!

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