How To Use Animated GIFs In Your Email Campaigns
Done correctly, animated GIFs can be a simple but effective way to make a standard email template come to life.
As all good email marketers know, catching the eye of your customers is the secret to success. But there’s a fine line between attention-grabbing and annoying, and it’s one that the animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) – essentially an image that moves – can easily cross.
Nonetheless, whether it’s a moving banner or a jazzed-up button, GIFs are a great way to stand out and encourage interaction from your customers, generating more clicks as a result.
Here are five things to consider when weaving a GIF into your email campaigns.
1. Check Email Client Compatibility
While most desktop, web and mobile email clients support animated GIFs, not all of them do (we’re looking at you, Outlook…). Check which clients are most popular among your subscribers before you get started, just to be sure.
2. Think About Your First Frame
For subscribers using Outlook 2007-13 (and any other email clients that are anti-fun), the first frame is all they’re going to get – so design it wisely. It should work just as a static banner would, requiring no context to make complete sense – like this example we did for one of our pub company clients:
3. Run A/B Split Tests
Not sure whether the excitement of animation in their inbox is too much for your audience? There’s a reason split-testing is an email marketer’s best friend. First, test a static image against an animated GIF to see how they perform. But don’t stop there – if you get good results, why not dig deeper and test animated banners vs. buttons, or subtle animations vs. something a bit brasher? You can use the insights to better plan future campaigns.
An eye-catching CTA from Bella Italia
4. Don’t Replace Text With Images
That said, don’t feel tempted to turn your entire email into one hot flashing mess just because your split-testing showed your customers liked GIFs. You’re still going to need text and a call to action – if there’s a problem loading images, or they’re blocked by the email client, you’ll still want the message to get through. And it’s an obvious one, but remember your alt text, otherwise you might end up in the dreaded spam folder…
While it’s a great GIF, it won’t tell you much if it fails to load
5. Quick Loading Is Key
When planning your epic animations, don’t forget that bigger files mean longer load times – and longer load times mean your customer has already moved on to their next unread email, making your moving masterpiece entirely redundant. Your load time should be two seconds, max – otherwise you risk losing your subscribers’ interest.
‘Listen to the ball, Hark’ – from Virgin Trains
With Facebook embracing the mighty GIF, moving images are becoming a normal part of many brands’ social strategies – but when done right, they can do wonders for email engagement, too.
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