Email marketers leave no stone unturned to differentiate their newsletters and campaigns in a crowded inbox. They use the copy, design, and images as their primary weapons to stand out and draw readers’ attention. Adding animation to the emails is recognized as one of the ways to increase subscriber’s engagement. Animated GIFs have gained massive popularity across the internet in recent years. With memes and promotional messages flooding across social media channels, GIFs are ruling the internet today. Email marketers have an underlying opportunity with the use of Animated GIFs. These GIFs can play an essential role as a storytelling tool in emails. GIFs can tell a story, show off multiple products, or highlight a specific area in the email. And, all of this could be achieved without waiting for video support inside email HTML.
What are GIFs?
GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It is an image format developed by CompuServe in 1987. Similar to how a flipbook works, GIFs rapidly display a series of images to produce the illusion of motion. Some of the first popular animated GIFs were simple things like waving flags and flames. By the early 2000s, GIFs started losing their charm; however, with the rise of Web 2.0 in the following years, GIFs made a solid comeback. Today, they are widely used across the web.
Animated GIFs in emails
Animated GIFs are supported by almost all major email clients. Yet, adding GIFs that work well on Microsoft Outlook is a tedious job. Outlook only displays the first frame of your animation. So, you need to ensure that the key message or information is featured on the first frame itself, else it will get lost. If we compare the use of animated GIFs against the use of videos and CSS3 animations in emails, it’s clearly evident that the support for animated GIFs is better.
There are two ways of using GIFs in your email campaigns. Either you use readymade GIFs or create custom new GIFS. There are many platforms available on the internet that provide readymade GIFs. Once the source image or video is selected, you can use programs like Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Gfycat, GIF Brewery, Instagiffer, GIF Animator, GIPHY, etc. to create the final output.
Saving a GIF
The key to using a GIF in an email is to keep the file size to a minimum. Online tools can be used to compress a GIF, but the best optimization is done through Photoshop. With Photoshop, you can dig into the individual frames of an animated GIF and trim them to reduce your file sizes. Cropping, removing unnecessary frames while maintaining the motion, and animating only some parts of the GIF are some of the ways to reduce the file size substantially.
Using GIFs in emails
After optimization, the GIF needs to be added to the email, and thankfully, it is the most straightforward job. GIFs can be included in your emails just like images, since they are also an image file format. <img src=”http://yourwebsite.com/path/to/awesome.gif” width=”100″ height=”100″ alt=”GIF with a hard G” border=”0″>
You can also use the popular web tool ‘GIPHY’ to add GIFs to your emails. When you add files to GIPHY and create your animated GIF, it automatically creates an embedded code, which you can put into your email templates.
Benefits of using Gifs
Easy consumption The most critical and challenging task for emails in today’s time is to grab readers’ attention. We all know that videos are more compelling than text, but the use of videos in emails has a lot of constraints. However, we cannot deny the fact that videos have incredible storytelling power. Therefore, GIFs stand out as a great alternative to videos, owing to its motion graphics. A GIF is a lively photograph, which means people engage with it quickly. GIFs are short, easily consumable, and have low entry barriers, which make them perfect for email marketing.
Animated GIFs act as a guide to the viewer’s eye along a specific path. As it zooms on specific parts of a larger picture, that part, which is alive, grabs the most attention; reader’s eyes instantly go to that part. Marketers are always on a look for methods to capture the attention of readers, and animated GIFs do precisely that. The eye guidance offered by GIFs is the perfect ingredient of a good call-to-action.
Picking the right moment to focus on when creating an animated GIF is a key creative decision. GIFs have tremendous potential to connect with the readers instantly. A well-crafted GIF can evoke emotions like joy, harmony, inspiration, trust, and more. This emotional impact creates a lot of value for the audience and broadens the reach of email campaigns.
Things to remember The industry best practices suggest that an email should not be more than 100 kb in size. Almost half of the emails across the world are opened on mobile devices, which gives us all the more reasons to keep the size of GIFs in emails as low as possible. Less is often more; keep your GIFs small, subtle, and concise. GIFs are one of the email marketing elements, not the only email marketing element. Don’t overdo GIFs. GIFs are ideal for short, snackable graphic stories and can also act as a good way of promoting multiple items. But, use it sparingly, as and when required. It is important to choose the right file formats for your emails. Ideally, emails should be designed in HTML text to lower the overall size. Images should be used in JPEG format and GIFs are used in .gif lossless compression format. GIFs are lighter than videos or Flash, and are widely supported by almost all popular email clients. Although, not all GIFs are naturally light in size and thus must be used only for simple graphics. It is important to choose the right file formats for your emails. Ideally, emails should be designed in HTML text to lower the overall size. Images should be used in JPEG format and GIFs are used in .gif lossless compression format. GIFs are lighter than videos or Flash, and are widely supported by almost all popular email clients. Although, not all GIFs are naturally light in size and thus must be used only for simple graphics.
Wrap up With the use of GIFs, your subscribers will be interacting with your emails more than ever. They are better than “regular” text in emails in many ways. Besides adding visual interest, GIFs are an excellent way to highlight products or create a clear call to action. Sure, they do require some extra efforts, but in the end, it’s all worth it.