How to Proficiently Use Animated GIFs in Your Email Marketing

Animated GIF from FulcrumTech's 2013 Holiday eCardIf you haven’t already embraced the use of animated GIFs in your email marketing, now is the time. GIFs provide a fast, easy, and efficient way to cut through the email inbox clutter and capture your prospects’ and customers’ attention. Do GIFs really work to help drive conversions? We answer that question, plus provide some practical tips for how to proficiently use them in your marketing emails. NOTE: the GIF at right is from our Holiday eCard.

What Is a GIF?

GIF is the acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, which was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. An animated GIF is a single file that includes a series of still image frames strung together and looped to appear animated, similar to a flipbook.

Although animated GIFs have been around for a while, they seem to be experiencing a renewed surge of popularity. From social media and blogs, to newsletters and promotional emails, GIFs are popping up all over. The popular social news and entertainment website BuzzFeed, for instance, is known for the funny and creative ways the company uses GIFs in its email newsletters and web content. Check out this link for “31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time” as a great example.

Why Use an Animated GIF Instead of a Static Image?

Animated GIFs can be used to simply attract a reader’s attention or to tell a story, to demonstrate how a product works, or to showcase different products in one small space. But when it comes to email marketing, do GIFs really work in driving more click-throughs and conversions? Here are two examples that show just how effective GIFs can be:

  • California-based retailer of eveningwear Dressed Up! realized a 26% higher click-through rate thanks to using an animated GIF versus a non-animated version of the same email.
  • Online retailer Bluefly, Inc. found that using GIFs in its promotional emails not only boosted the click-through rate by 5%, but also increased revenue by 12%.

Tips for Using Animated GIFs in Your Marketing Emails

The following are some of our top tips for optimizing the use of GIFs in your email marketing efforts:

  • Be sure the first frame stands on its own. Although most email clients support GIFs, a few versions of Outlook (2007, 2010, and 2013) display only the first frame of the animation. So if there’s critical information in your GIF – such as a call to action or offer – make sure it’s included in the first frame.
  • Limit the file size. You want to be sure the GIFs you use in your email marketing aren’t so large that they’re slow to load and play. In some cases, you can remove some frames, crop the image, or animate only part of the image to help minimize the size of a GIF. Testing across email clients and a variety of mobile, tablet, desktop, and laptop devices is the best way to be sure your GIFs aren’t too cumbersome.
  • Plan for blocked images. Since some email clients block images by default, test your email messages to be sure they look good when images are off. That’s where effective use of alt tags comes in to play.
  • Don’t overuse the GIF. GIFs can be engaging and entertaining. But like anything, if you overuse them in email promotions, your subscribers likely will tire of them. To see just how effective animated versus static images are with your organization’s target audience, run A/B tests to compare click-through and conversion rates.

How to Create Your Own Animated GIF

You may be surprised at how easy creating and inserting animated GIFs into your emails is. Check out the following GIF links for more do-it-yourself information:

GIFs are a great way to use movement or changing colors in an email to draw attention to something in your message, such as a call to action or a new product. How can you incorporate GIFs into your email marketing to successfully increase click-throughs and conversions? FulcrumTech can help. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and we’ll show you how.

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