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Using GIFs in E-Mail Marketing

Here are five tips to getting it right.

by Rebecca Kowalewicz, VP Digital

Wondering how to use GIFs in e-mail marketing? You’ve come to the right place. GIFs can be a powerful way to grab attention and enhance your e-mail marketing messages. They can make almost any e-mail pop with even the simplest animations and help keep your campaigns fresh and exciting for readers.

Here are five tips on how to use GIFs in e-mail marketing to capture your recipients’ attention.

#1: Ensure the first frame of your GIF can tell the whole story. In the rare circumstance that an e-mail recipient is unable to view a GIF or an e-mail platform does not support its play, your GIF may display as a static image, pulling from the first frame of your file.

So it’s important to consider what the first frame displays and compare that to the messaging in your e-mail. Does that single frame reflect your message? Does it carry the story? Or does it make your reader scratch her head and track down to the unsub button?

#2: Keep your file size down. Most e-mail platforms only support certain GIF sizes. Pushing your file to the max size for upload doesn’t equate to higher quality.

The optimized size for GIFs in e-mails is around 1MB. Smaller file sizes will lead to faster loading times. The last thing you want is your recipient to open your e-mail and have to wait for it to load. We recommend keeping your file under 1MB to ensure your GIF loads immediately upon opening.

#3: Try to stick to flat colors. Using full-size photos and gradients in your GIF will add extra weight to your file size because of the various colors and shades it contains. A GIF can only support a max of 256 colors. While that might sound like plenty, when you make use of full-size photos or gradients, your color limit is quickly exhausted.

This will force the software you’re using to create the GIF to “fill in the blanks” with similar colors, which often leads to an animation that appears blurry or low quality. It’s better to stick to flat colors so your GIF will look clean, sharp, and professional.

#4: Utilize your products. GIFs can be great for featuring physical products. And while a product image may seem to negate the ground we covered in the last section, there are exceptions that can work, well…exceptionally! Clipping out the background of a product image and placing it on a solid background or a background with minimal effects can be an eye-catching animation while supporting the copy in your e-mail.

If your product is intangible, you can still animate type and create zippy headlines to capture the attention of your reader and plug your services.

#5: Keep it short. Sometimes, simpler is better. And that’s what GIFs are great for. Not only will limiting the frames in your GIF reduce the overall weight and file size, but it will also capture your readers’ attention while encouraging them to move through the e-mail. A GIF should be an accessory to the copy and overall messaging in your e-mail. You want to entice the reader to read and to click, not fixate on too long of an animation.

We recommend sticking to one GIF per e-mail. After all, you want it to enhance your message, not distract from it. Having more than one GIF in an e-mail may also affect its load time. And you want your e-mails to load as quickly as possible.

Digital Digest