Animated GIFs in Email: A Noob-Friendly Guide (2023)

Summra Ahmad
Summra Ahmad

Last updated on

December 5, 2022

The email world is full of creativity, especially for special occasions. It means one thing for sure: getting animated! Including a GIF in email design is one of the biggest takeaways for a volume-heavy email. 

You may often see a GIF scrolling through social media, but the use of GIFs in emails is a welcome comeback. Using a GIF in an email will surely stand out and appear more appealing to the subscriber’s eye. Once a GIF is inserted in the email (the right way), they tend to become more attractive in meeting the campaign goals. However, an email GIF can be decorated to demonstrate the idea or a preview. 

In this article, we will discuss email GIFs in detail so you can understand how to use GIFs in email and create an outstanding email marketing campaign. 

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What is a GIF?

Graphics Interchange Format (pronounced as Jif) is an image format similar to PNG and JPEG. However, compared to other image formats, GIFs are not still images. They are animated! Short, soundless videos that keep repeating on a loop are what a GIF looks like.

They have been in use since the 80s and are now excessively used within emails.  

email gif

What is an email GIF?

An animated image embedded into emails adds the motions to the email design. These are the email GIF. These images are not to be confused with the video. Videos are attached to the emails, or a link is inserted to an outside source. 

If you want to show something in-motion, partially or fully animated images, an email GIF is used.  

Nowadays, GIFs have gained popularity more than ever in email marketing, thanks to the pop culture emblem. Unlike the clucky or too heavy to load GIFs, today’s GIFs are reasonably sized to suit the wireless connections better. 

Designers now have a better understanding of designing animation into websites and mobile-friendly emails.  

Why use GIFs in emails? 7 Benefits to consider 

Whether you use a GIF in the foreground or background, it can work for your email campaign. However, it is important to know when to use GIFs to maximum effect. As creative and fun as they may sound, GIFs can be burdensome if used incorrectly. 

email GIF benefits

Consider the following benefits you can utilize by embedding a GIF in an email. 

1. Higher ROI 

Dell is a popular name in the IT industry. In 2014, a study revealed that their Convertible Ultrabook email campaign was a huge success with the highest click-through rates. Want to know why? Dell embedded a GIF showing the product (the convertible laptop) displaying a rotating screen. 

It was enough to entice the subscribers. As an email marketer, you are familiar with creating personalized emails. Adding GIFs in emails is a proven way to improve the ROI by speeding up the sales funnel. It grabs the attention of the recipient. The compelling email copy is worth clicking on, and viola! They hit the CTA without any hesitation. 

2. Makes the product more humane 

Product advertising is not as simple as some might think. Products are the solutions that consumers are looking for. But even then, you need to sell it the right way. With a GIF, a product can appear more humane, increasing its appeal. 

For instance, when subscribers experience the product recommendations in a certain way, it becomes more appealing, showing their features or benefits. Take a look at the example below. An enticing offer is made in the example below with animated macaroons! 

product gif

3. Ideally attention-grabbing

Consumers love the idea of emails made for them. It certainly is true in the case of the BBC. Hitting a solid note to its subscribers, the BBC fulfills the customer’s attention by GIF in the email banner saying “Emails made for you.” 

It is a pretty classic example; it showcases subscribers' expectations of the subscribers once they have signed up for newsletters. The email GIF is attention-grabbing with the right touch of vibrant colors for the background and fonts. 

attention grabbing gif

4. Simplify a complex idea

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; they say it right. An animated picture is probably twice the worth! Using an animated GIF to illustrate a complex idea into a simple design is best to show your product. 

Baggu explored the reigns of animated GIFs with a next-level animation making subscribers scroll through the whole story. Very clever of them! 

Take a look at the animated GIF below. 

complex idea gif

5. Tease something new or coming soon

So do you have a product or a specific feature ready to debut? Or have a great offer coming out soon for a special occasion? Using a creative animated GIF may yet be the hidden weapon. When introducing a new offer on special occasions like Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Black Friday, a teaser is what the audience needs to stay hooked. 

For a Friday sale, Brooklyn created an email GIF giving a hint of what to expect.  

teaser gif

6. To grab subscriber’s attention 

Email GIFs are inserted as foreground GIFs or background GIFs. 

A background GIF exists in the background; content is on the top. They offer a dynamic look to a static email without a doubt. However, to gain the subscriber’s attention, you can use foreground GIF embedded in the email body, just as Grammarly practiced. Their email copy encourages their subscribers to switch up to premium accounts at discounted offer.

Take a look at the GIF below.  

subscriber attention gif

7. Building curiosity for something new

Moo made a compelling offer with the Do It CTA saying “open the box,” showcasing a ring in the box! At Valentine's, a new collection launched, and what’s the perfect ay to build curiosity than giving a peek inside the ring box? 

curiosity gif

When to use GIFs in email?

It’s pretty interesting to use a GIF in the most creative way possible, right? But the big question is “WHEN.” 

You can use a GIF in any email campaign; there are no limitations. You can use GIFs in email in any of the following manners. 

1. Show off your products and services

A GIF doesn't necessarily have to be used only for decorative purposes. It can illustrate a product’s story in a simple, engaging way. 

The best way to show your product is to hire a spokesperson or a brand ambassador, right? We say in email marketing, a GIF is the best way to show off your products and services while showing how the product works. Ilia Cosmetic’s GIF email is a perfect example when you want to show how to apply makeup the right way. 

product based gif

2. Appealing animated CTAs

CTAs are a powerful antidote to increasing conversion rates. We all know that. The email button that persuades you to click on it and visit the website must be engaging enough to take the required action. Why not focus on creating a personalized email with an animated CTA? 

Sounds new to the ear? ‘Cause, it is! An animated CTA is surely eye-catching and appealing, as you can see below. 

CTA based GIF

3. Using as an alternative to video 

56.6% of marketers prefer to use animated GIFs in emails. Not to forget that videos are not always the right addition to the email. GIFs better convey the story without taking too much space. 

Take a look at the GIF below, it represents the tutorial view without having the need of the video, and conveys the message right way.

video alternative gif

4. Launch a new product  

When about to launch a new product, you want all eyes on you, don’t you? A GIF is the best way to grab the attention of the visitors and customers by showing the product or a certain feature. Instead of a stale image, spice things up with colors. 

Converse introduced their monochrome collection with a GIF embedded in the email. The example is simple, crafty, and reflects the available colors of the shoes. 

new product gif

How to embed a GIF in an email?

Now that you are (hopefully) convinced to use GIFs effectively for emails, you must be wondering how to add one? Embedding GIF is easier than you think. Before we move forward revealing the best practices, we have identified how a GIF is used in an email. 

In Gmail 

  1. Click on 'Upload' and then 'Insert photo in your Gmail account.' 
  2. Choose Inline to display your GIF in your e-mail.
  3. Click ‘Upload.’ 
  4. If a GIF is not saved on your computer, get the URL and paste it into the Web Address (URL) instead of uploading the file.
  5. Insert GIF in the email by dragging and dropping it into the compose box. 

In Outlook 

  1. Click on Home>New Email to create a new email.
  2. You need to select Insert>Pictures in the message window to insert a picture.
  3. Click on the 'insert' button to place the GIF in your email.
  4. Viewers can view the GIF in the browser. But it can be checked too in the following ways. 
  5. Double-click the GIF in the email.
  6. Choose Message > Actions > View in the browser from the message window.
  7. To view the animated GIF in Outlook, click 'Ok' in the pop-up box!

7  Best practices to use animated GIFs in email

When played correctly, the subscriber’s desire to click on the CTA increases by a whopping 80%. A GIF helps to visualize the story. Therefore, marketers can use multiple email templates to their best advantage to insert the GIF. However, we have locked the seven best ways to use GIFs in email. 

1. Pair GIFs with a CTA (Postable) 

A simple but the best way to insert a GIF is to use it with a CTA purposefully. it not only attracts and directs the recipient's attention toward the CTA but also encourages them to take the desired action to land on the intended page. 

Take a look at the example below. Postable came up with the best GIF practice by pairing it under a CTA. the animations are minimal and do not overemphasize the content, which works perfectly fine for their email. 

postable gif

2. Create personalized animated GIFs (Ann Taylor) 

Ever think of creating a GIF for the email? Personalized GIFs are an effective tactic for the brand to convey its message to the target audience. There are several ways to personalize an email GIF, but you can also use Veed, cloudApp or any similar software to design a quality GIF. 

Ann Taylor did a good job by intriguing its website visitor and customers with a surprise element for the season. The main email copy is animated, while the rest of the content is extremely minimal. However, it conveys the right message. 

Ann Taylor gif

3. Create a partially-animated GIF (Fossil) 

The popular notion is to embed a fully created GIF in the email. There’s another way to create GIF - partial animation! 

It's the best practice to avoid the GIF from being too heavy. A minimal or partial animation means you are not overdoing things with the email GIF. Fossil cleverly embedded a partially animated GIF in the background. The splash of colors and the pattern used in the GIF background matches the watchband emphasizing the product's unique look. 

Fossil gif

4. Pair GIF with the product (EverLane)

Do you know why people love EverLane? They can come up with unique marketing campaigns for their products. GIF can work wonders when associated with a product by a whopping  24x conversion rate.

 In this case, it might be true. The product (organic cotton tees) just keeps switching from one tee to another! Why scroll the page separately when you can show the latest arrivals with a GIF? This sort of animation works well to display various products in different colors, shapes, sizes, etc. 

EverLane gif

5. Explain the new feature with a GIF (Tumblr)

How easily do you want to illustrate the use of a feature? What's better than a GIF to spread the news about your product’s specific feature? Tumblr is a fine example explaining that users can now embed Tumblr posts on various platforms! 

The GIF accelerates the idea with a simple design and straightforwardly shows that users can do a lot with Tumblr posts. The subscribers can see the power of embedding Tumble posts and remain loyal to using the platform. 

Tumblr gif

6. Build anticipation with a GIF (Loft)

To make a big announcement or a special event, it's important to create anticipation before the main event or offer. A little animation spice things up for the email campaign making it more engaging and memorable. 

Loft did a good job of building anticipation with a slot-themed GIF for an upcoming sale. Instead of one offer, they opted for three secret offers. Take a look at the practice below. Quite out of the ordinary, don't you agree?

Loft gif

7. Use GIFs for teaser content (Netflix)

Brands in the entertainment industry can make the most out of teaser content. They have the margin to be more creative as they reveal a teaser for an upcoming season or movie.

To intrigue the curiosity and keep the subscriber continue watching their favorite or latest shows, Netflix created a banner with the popular Stranger Things! So even if a subscriber hadn’t visited the site to watch a show, let’s say in a week, the latest banner creates a certain appeal for those anxiously waiting for the new season. Keep ‘em on their toes; why not! 

Netflix gif

Best GIF Size and Dimensions for Emails

There is no hard and fast rule when creating a GIF. 

  • Uploads are limited to 15 seconds, although we recommend no more than 6 seconds.
  • There is a limit of 100MB for uploads. However, we recommend 8MB or less.
  • We recommend keeping the video resolution at 480p or 720p.
  • Media will appear on most small screens or messaging windows. 
  • Mobile apps optimize the content for size, resulting in sometimes subtle changes to the GIF's size and speed, so following our best practices is recommended!
  • The fewer frames we use, the better our chances of preserving your content during downsizing and reformatting. 200 frames or less is a good number. Even less than 100 works well! 

Where is the best place to find GIFs?

It’s not so easy to find a GIF contrary to popular belief. You know the feeling when writing the email for your campaign, and you can just use the GIF that would fit the cup. 

Google Images

Looking for a free source for GIFs? Google Images is the convenient option to go for. Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Enter the search time like yummy pancakes. 
  2. Click on the images. 
  3. Select tools. 
  4. In the sub-menu, select “Type” and choose “Animated.” 

However, use “labeled for reuse” images to avoid copyright infringement. 

GIPHY

One of the most popular platforms for getting the best GIFs is GIPHY. The name precedes itself and is vastly used for popular apps like Slack and Twitter! 

You can get started by entering the search term in the search bar. Instead of using the pre-available GIF, you can create a new one using GIPHY. If you want, there are some other options to explore like Tenor or Reddit too. 

Creating your own GIF

Sometimes the available GIFs just won't do the trick. The good news is you can custom create a GIF - either do it yourself or get a designer hired to do the job.

In three simple ways, you can create a GIF: 

  • GIPHY GIF Maker - A simple interface is provided to upload the videos and uploads for editing, decorating, and downloading the GIFs. 
  • Photoshop - Use tutorials on Adobe to learn about the photos and frames to create animated GIFs. 
  • Screen recording GIF - Apps like GIPHY Capture, LICECap, Gifox, etc., allow users to create GIFs from their on-screen activity. 

What are the limitations of using a GIF in email marketing 

email gif limitations

1. Not all clients support GIFs 

Your subscribers may use Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013, which won't show the animation but just the first frame of your message. With that in mind, make sure this first frame includes the vital info of your message (an offer and a call to action). If a user doesn't see your GIF, they'll get your basic message anyway.

2. Some consider GIFs unprofessional 

Indeed, far from all users enjoy GIFs or emojis in emails, especially if they don't associate your serious brand with such "frivolity." As a responsible email marketer, you need to know the target audience inside out and understand if your brand voice and tone allow using informal communication with the audience.

Otherwise, they may view your GIF emails as poor quality content, which can destroy your brand reputation and lower your email sender score.

3. GIF is too slow to load! 

As already mentioned, size heavy and large GIFs affect load time and can fail to display correctly. Busy users won't spend time waiting for your GIFs to download, so make sure to optimize them before inserting them into emails:

  • Ensure the size is 0.5 MB or 1 MB maximum.
  • Limit the number of colors and frames.
  • Keep the width to 600px

4. GIF serves no purpose 

A meaningless GIF brings nothing but an adverse reaction from users. With no value, whether informative/educational or entertaining, this instrument becomes irrelevant and pointless to use in emails.

If you see that your marketing message is clear without GIFs and you can send it without animations, please do. GIFs aren't a universal remedy, and they won't save your email campaign if its content isn't of high quality and value itself.

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Which clients support GIFs? 

Support for GIFs is almost universal. Some clients with the older versions of Outlook (between 2007and 2016) don’t play GIFs. Want to hear the good news? The latest Outlook version does! 

As of today, here’s what the GIF support landscapes look like now. 

email clients that supports gif

Splash your emails with GIFs!

When used right, GIFs become an excellent instrument for email marketers. They help grab the users' attention, involve them in communication, demo your products rate the UTP (unique trade product), and motivate them to take your desired action.

Many brands use GIFs in email marketing, celebrating the growth of engagement and conversion. The trick is that they do in-depth research to make sure their audience will react positively, and they use GIFs with a purpose: to enhance their marketing message rather than distract users from it.

Use Mailmunch to easily embed the seamless GIFs in emails designs with no coding required and convert website visitors into loyal customers. 

FAQs 

Will GIF show up in email?

There’s no specific size or dimension for a GIF, but if the file size is too large, it will upload too slow and sometimes unable to upload entirely. So be careful with the number of frames added in a GIF and the file size. 

How many GIFs to add per email?

Too many GIFs can be a disaster and distract the recipient. One GIF per email is great to grab the attention. 

Can you add a link to a GIF?

Unsurprisingly, people may try clicking on the GIF itself! You can take advantage and insert a link to the GIF to direct them to the desired landing page.

Author Bio

Summra Ahmad

A bookworm and a pet nerd at heart, Summra works as Content Writer at Mailmunch. She loves to play with keywords, titles, and multiple niches for B2B and B2C markets. With her 3 years of experience in creative writing and content strategy, she fancies creating compelling stories that your customers will love, igniting results for your business.

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