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Animate Your Email Marketing

GIFs or “Graphic Interchange Format” images are making a comeback in email marketing. These animations can be placed in the body of your message and will play repeatedly while the email is open. Any illustration can be turned into a motion graphic, but that’s only the beginning. A GIF can be a slide show of photos or a product demonstration. A video converted to a GIF can look like a movie clip; a seemingly still photo can suddenly move. If the viewer is not expecting it, the surprise can be riveting.

Like any good illustration, a GIF is more than just a decoration. If all it does is attract attention, it has not accomplished its goal: delivering and reinforcing your message, and getting it remembered. A GIF is a way of providing narrative, a short progression to an animated punchline adding humor, surprise, metaphor, explanation or emphasis.

Here are some simple guidelines:


Make it relevant. Be sure the image is consistent with your message. It should attract attention without being a distraction. Keep it short. A 5-second animation is long enough. Loop it. Be sure it is set to play continuously. Make the first frame independent. Microsoft Outlook will only display the first frame of your GIF. Be sure that frame works by itself. It can be a duplicate of the last frame. Get the timing right. If your animation builds to a conclusion, linger on the last frame before looping back to the beginning.


Use clip art. Do I really need to say this? Nothing says low budget quite like a pulsating starburst. Overwhelm your email. The GIF is an equal partner to your text. Keep it simple. Make the file size too large. Opinions vary, but smaller is better. Constant Contact has a stingy 350KB cap but many email GIFs are over 1MB and some approach 2MB.

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Muck Rack Daily, a daily email for journalists, uses a newsletter format with what appear to be video clips. These are actually short GIF loops. Subscribe here:

Business 2 Community recently published 11 Tips To Make Your Email Marketing Successful This Year. Here is tip #6:

Use GIF Images In The Newsletter’s Body Section Bring a little bit of life and humor to your campaign by adding animated images to the body copy of your newsletter. Using Graphic Interchange Format was a practice in the early years, to add some livelihood to the web page. Nowadays, they are being used by email marketers to make their newsletters more engaging. You can use GIF images in your mail to make a demonstration of some of your products or how your service works.

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