How to Create and Insert Animated GIFs in Email Newsletters

and • 7 minutes READ

The web is teeming with websites where videos, CSS dynamic effects, and WebGL-powered animations run the show, but what about the email newsletters and GIF images? In most cases, they are created with HTML and CSS, looking almost like a mini version of a landing page. The situation is drastically different.

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All the technologies listed above are good when it comes to web pages, but when it comes to email newsletters, they are useless.

  • Videos are widely unsupported by email readers unless subscribers use Apple Mail, iOS 10+ Native Client, Samsung Galaxy Native, or Thunderbird.
  • CSS dynamic effects are highly recommended as an alternative to JavaScript-driven effects but lack proper user mail agent support.
  • JavaScript is forbidden, so no WebGL whatsoever.

What should you do if you are sick and tired of static email newsletters and want to add some dynamic zest to the experience? The answer may be surprising: Use GIFs.

Lego email gif

Lego Email Gif

Loisa Email Gif

Loisa Email Gif

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How to Insert and Use Animated GIFs in Email Newsletters

Nasty Gal The Blackout Sale

GIFs are with us, like forever. Being widely overused by popular entertainment portals, GIFs are mostly associated with cats, celebrities, and some ridiculous situations. However, they still have serious potential that becomes an advantage in email newsletters.

Animated GIFs in Email Newsletters

GIFs seem to be the only way to enhance email newsletters with some action. As a regular image format like JPEG or PNG, it works almost in every email client. And if it does not work, the email will still show the first frame so subscribers won’t be confused.

Animated GIFs are used to:

  • Create a sense of intrigue
  • Add an element of delight
  • Trigger interest
  • Add humor
  • Visually support a message
  • Make the newsletter inviting and friendly

With GIFs, the scope of use depends on your imagination. GIFs are great for adding diversity and enriching the user experience of your email campaign. Recent studies show they can increase the chances of getting a better click-through rate.

Kate Spade Newsletter

Kate Spade Newsletter

Sidia Email Newsletter Gif

What’s more, it is incredibly easy to incorporate them into a newsletter, especially if you are using an online HTML builder like Postcards. Its intuitive interface lets you add GIFs in seconds without writing a single line of code. A small tutorial that will show you how to add GIFs and make your email newsletter look professional and engaging.

However, you can’t just blindly rely on GIFs for every occasion. You may end up with a decline in subscription rate or, worse, an increase in the unsubscribe rate.

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When to use GIFs

First, make sure that you correctly define a targeted audience. Check these things:

  • Support of email clients
  • Age of the audience
  • Audience preferences

When you are ready, unleash the power hidden inside every little looped animation. Use them to:

  • Show new features using visual cues instead of lists
  • Show interactions to engage customers
  • Illustrate difficult ideas to make complex concepts look simple
  • Promote products in an unobtrusive manner
  • Keep interest
  • Simply engage customers

GIFs can be the right choice.

Benefits of Inserting Animated GIFs in Emails

#1. GIFs Increase Email Engagement

Animated GIFs in emails can significantly boost engagement. They add a dynamic element to what would otherwise be a static medium.

This visual appeal can encourage recipients to spend more time looking at the email content, potentially increasing the likelihood of them taking the desired action, such as clicking a link or making a purchase.

#2. Conveys Your Messages In a Better Way

GIFs are excellent for conveying ideas or messages that are difficult to express with text or still images alone.

They can demonstrate how a product works, show different features, or convey emotions and reactions, making the email content more relatable and easier to understand.

#3. Get the Opportunity to Showcasing Your Product or Service

Unlike static images, GIFs can depict movement and functionality, providing a clearer understanding of what’s being offered.

For example, a GIF can show how a piece of software works or the various features of a gadget, giving potential customers a better insight into the product.

#4. Making the Readers Curious About Upcoming Products

By offering a dynamic, visual sneak peek, GIFs can tease key features or hint at new offerings in a way that static images or text cannot. This visual stimulation creates anticipation and excitement as the readers get a glimpse of what’s to come without revealing too much.

#5. GIFs Might Connect Better with Your Audience

GIFs can add a touch of personality and humor to emails, fostering a more emotional connection with the audience.

They can convey emotions or reactions that resonate with the recipient, making the email feel more personal and less formal.

This emotional engagement can be particularly beneficial in strengthening brand identity and customer relationships.

Pitfalls of Using GIFs in Email Newsletters

Much like anything else, GIFs have limitations and pitfalls. There are several issues that you need to take into account.

Before sending an email newsletter packed with GIFs, make sure that your subscribers have an opportunity to enjoy them. First, consider the support of email clients. The good news is that most email readers, starting with Outlook and ending with Apple Mail, support GIFs. Some exceptions, such as Outlook 2007-2013, will still show the first frame.

Another thing to consider is size and weight. In a world with numerous spam filters and people unwilling to wait for a page to load more than 3 to 5 seconds, the size of the GIF plays a crucial role. If it slows down the newsletter performance, subscribers will likely turn it down.

Other pitfalls of using GIFs:

  • As an image format, it can be blocked by spam filters.
  • It won’t start to play until it is fully loaded; if subscribers have a slow internet connection, it can cause problems.
  • GIFs are widely overused; stick to one or two in your email because a large number can easily kill the entire experience.
  • It can be inappropriate for the audience; exercise caution with GIFs since some people may consider this style offensive.
  • Slow down the performance; static email newsletters are faster and more efficient than those that contain animations.
  • Abrupt transitions or coloring can cause some people to experience difficulties in perceiving GIFs.

These obstacles are not insurmountable. You can efficiently deal with them on your own.

How to Overcome Obstacles

If you want your GIF to benefit your email marketing campaign, here is some advice to stick to.

  • Know your audience. If a GIF is not appropriate, then do not use it.
  • Do A/B tests first. Sometimes, your vision of the situation can be misleading.
  • Use one or two GIFs at a time. Overusing is bad.
  • Do not overdo it. Pick only vital frames. GIFs are not videos; remember that. The animation should take several seconds, not a minute or more.
  • Make it as lightweight as possible. Here, you must deal with several change layers, not the whole scene.
  • Stick to the point. There is no time to beat around the bush; include only the key aspects.
  • Focus on the first frame. Since some versions of Outlook refuse to show GIFs and display only the first frame, make it informative.
  • Make the most out of ALTs. Since this is an image format, there will be subscribers who do not want to see images in their inbox. ALT is your lifesaver if an image display goes wrong.
  • Not big, not small. The standard width of an email newsletter is 600px. The layout is responsive and will shrink on mobile devices.
  • Ditch the idea of creating a retina version. It will crash and burn in your user’s mailbox.
  • Go for custom GIF files. If you do not have time or money, you should be careful with the choice. With free GIFs, there is a big chance your audience has already seen it a million times.

3 Simple Steps to Create GIFs

Email Gifs

Runtastic Email

Jimmy Choo Email Gif

Jimmy Choo Email Gif

Creating a GIF for your next email newsletter doesn’t take much time and money. There are so many tools out there that will help you to build one.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe After Effects
  • GIF Brewery
  • PhotoScape
  • Microsoft GIF Animator
  • Instagiffer
  • GIF Animator
  • GifApp
  • Picasion
  • Giphy
  • COM and more

Some options are premium software, but others are free to use.

Step 1: Choose one that fits you best.

Step 2: Focus on an idea. Choose only things that will help convey the message and get to the point. Do not include a CTA inside since it can get lost if the image is blocked. Place it somewhere nearby or connect your GIF to the video or landing page via a link tag.

Step 3: Optimize the result. Decrease size, play with color, animate only the part of the scene, and experiment with the quality of an image.

How to Add GIFs to an Email Newsletter

Add GIFs to an Email Newsletter

Adding a GIF to an email body is a piece of cake. If you are not a tech-savvy person, you are most likely using a marketing platform or online HTML email newsletter builder like Postcards. If so, use the handy drag-and-drop interface to add GIFs by clicking the “Upload” or “Change image” buttons. In the panel, you can change the size and add backlinks and ALT.

If you are familiar with coding, then <img> tag is your friend. Being a regular image format, GIF does not differ from any other formats, such as JPEG or PNG. Do not forget to add “alt” and style it to make it work consistently across numerous devices.

Wrapping Up

GIFs in email marketing can be a powerful tool in email marketing. They can bring diversity to the design, enrich the user experience, reinforce the message, increase CTR, and separate your email newsletter from others. And with all that, they work well across numerous email readers. Of course, there are some pitfalls, yet they can be easily overcome.

Nataly Birch

Nataly is an exceptional web designer and developer with a master's degree in computer science. She is highly skilled in helping clients establish a strong online presence and achieve their digital marketing goals across various sectors, including email design, email marketing, and web development. Nataly remains at the forefront of the industry by staying updated with the latest trends through continuous learning.

Posts by Nataly Birch
Andrian Valeanu

Andrian is a skilled web designer, email marketer, and SEO expert with over 20 years of experience. He founded Designmodo, a reputable company specializing in website and email building. Andrian shares his knowledge through guest lectures, interviews, and online publications, and is a respected voice in the industry.

Posts by Andrian Valeanu
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