Using Animated GIFs in Emails 101

March 17, 2016 - By 

Email marketing is a fundamental marketing tool that is being used by businesses today. It’s a cost effective approach to reach out to a vast number of customers. The most highlighted advantages of relying on email marketing are its immediacy and low cost. With email marketing, it is possible to target the right customer at the right time. Thus, emails have become a primary medium for advertisements.


According to statistics, 8% glance through emails, 52% skim their emails and 40% read it. According to this data, recipient engagement is 13% compared to average. (Source: Litmus)


The introduction of animated GIFs can improve email engagement and consequently influence marketing. Currently animated GIFs are undergoing a renaissance. Over a period of last few years, the GIFs have evolved fine arts to incorporate funny pictures, informative quick videos and the like.

With the development of Web 2.0, people began to realize that animated GIFs could be used in many interesting ways. Therefore, featuring GIFs in the emails can be an effective marketing approach. Blogging and social network sites are commonly using animated GIFs nowadays. The latest trend of designing GIFs for email marketing is particularly relevant for branded goods and services. Moreover, GIFs are the only creative way by which moving images can be added in an email.


Emails that feature an animated GIF drew 12% more revenue than non-animated emails. (Source: Magdalena Georgieva)


A Short Overview of the Animated GIFs

GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. CompuServe introduced them in 1987. It is a bitmap image format, which has become increasingly popular on the Internet owing to its extensive software support and convenience. The bitmap format supports up to 8-bits/pixels for each picture.  This format also supports a separate palette with up to 256 colors for each structure. This format is suitable for simple images such as logos and graphics with dense colors.

GIF are compressed using LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch). The LZW technique was brought in use in 1985. With this compression method, the file size can be reduced without destroying the image quality and its details.

How To Use Animated GIFs?

First and foremost is to save animated images on your computer so you have your own copy and then follow the details below:

  1. Drag the cursor over the animated image.
  2. Right click and select “Save This Image.” To save it on your hard drive, left click and save.
  3. Just like you would place a usual image on the webpage, place the animation on it using a standard browser.
  4. When you place the animation on your webpage, make sure you mention the directory in the path with a proper format.

How To Use GIFs in Emails in 6 steps

The most common email program used worldwide is Microsoft Outlook Express. To start with:

  1. Writing an e-mail.
  2. Go to the “Insert” menu.
  3. Select “Picture”.
  4. At “Picture Source” click “Browse”.
  5. Look for “Desktop” option in the list that appears on the screen. Open it.
  6. Choose the animation you want to insert in your email.

You can add as many images you like and for each, the same 6 steps will be repeated. The same will work for Microsoft Outlook as well. It is better to run Outlook and open CD ROM in separate windows side by side. This will help you drag individual letters or images from one window to another, and then the same can be dropped in your e-mail without much hassle. However, you can only use the drag and drop facility if you have a compatible version of the program on your computer.

For other email programs, you can go to the “Help” menu and check for program documentation. Using the “Help” menu, you can learn about how to insert images in your email. Currently, several software programs offer the easy “drag and drop” option because it has made adding images and GIFs quick and convenient.

Key Benefits Of Using Animated GIFs

With the use of animated GIFs, we can breathe life into the images for websites. GIFs are not just attractive and fascinating for the viewers but they also highlight the message. In a highly competitive market, grabbing viewer attention is highly important for survival and growth. Using animated GIFs in emails with a call to action tab can make a notable difference to the advertising campaign.


Style campaign, an email-marketing agency discovered that it could increase the number of clicks by 26% with the use of GIFs. (Source: Campaign Monitor).


GIFs are not simply appealing and cool but highly useful in marketing these days. The following are some benefits of incorporating animated GIFs into your email marketing campaign.

  • Animated GIFs Are A Hybrid

It is very hard to bring peoples’ attention to something for longer than a minute as they come across several stimuli all the time. This is the very reason what makes online video marketing a daunting marketing channel to master. Videos have the power to demonstrate, and present valuable information to the viewer in the most effective manner. Sephora, a renowned make-up brand uses GIFs to give demos and tutorials. Animated GIFs therefore prove to be a hybrid. They offer the advantage of images and videos to a marketing medium.


Just like the above example, animated GIFs make still images look alive, making them seem more interactive and engaging. From the movement highlighted in the animated GIF, the message can be visually extracted without any distortion. Animated GIFs have a low entry barrier, which makes them accessible to many marketers out there.

  • Call-To-Action

Animated GIFs guide the viewer through a specific path by zooming in on a particular image. This sort of eye guidance is vital for a call-to-action that is a marketer’s top most preference.


Topshop used this GIF in the email to coax customers to avail the sale and clicking on “Shop Sale” looks very tempting.

  • GIFs Are More Sentimental And Impactful

GIFs mesmerize the watchers with elegance. They bring life to what may be ignored in a still image by picking up the moment that needs focus. This is extremely important when using a GIF for any purpose. GIFs are a creative and an innovative way of presenting important information to the viewers. These have the potential to engage with people and to bring inspiration, happiness and amusement. Keeping in view the marketing perspective, GIFs have immense power as they can move the viewers’ emotions to the marketer’s benefit. For example using a GIF for inviting people to a Christmas sale can be very effective.


For email marketers, getting their message across their target customers is a real challenge. Some emails go directly into the users junk mailbox while others clutter their inbox and eventually end up being deleted.  Designers of email advertisements have to be mindful of these facts and make sure that it is designed in a way that it invites attention to it and is free from any compatibility issues.

  • GIFs Can Visually Guide

GIFs are an excellent way of guiding through a process visually, especially when it comes to demonstrating how to use a certain gadget or app. Some of the mainstream companies that have already incorporated this in their emails are Litmus, Trello and Chimp Mail.

Here is how Campaign Monitor has used an explainer GIF for its user to explain the process.


  • GIFs Accelerate Excitement

GIFs in emails can be used as gimmicks as well. Such sudden picture movements instigate the senses which bring about the excitement level to increase. Subsequently, the customer’s desire to explore further and make a purchase also increases.


  • Show Variety In A Fun Way

Instead of bombarding an email with a tirade of pictures, a fun and quirky GIF will show all and any variety in the blink of an eye. The advantage is that many potential customers will never bother to scroll all the way to the end. Thus, a GIF helps reach a larger audience by involving customers who would otherwise ignore the long list.

Here is a fun way CREAM uses this strategy to introduce its customers to the different types of creams they have available.

Icecream tub

Another way to show variety has been done by Serena & Lily by dividing the GIF in 4 and incorporating different looks in each to form one cohesive whole. This is a unique and interesting way to attract customers who are impressed by the complete look.


  • GIFs Save Time

One of the key aspects of using GIFs is that they give information quickly. Reading content can be tiring and time consuming. A GIF on the other hand helps convey the same info in a short and effective way. This saves the viewer’s time making him/her keener on following the link than if they have to waste time reading up on the same.


Animated GIFs inserted in emails can prove to be a very beneficial marketing tool for advertisers. They can reach out to a wide number of people in a cost effective and an efficient manner. However, GIFs are not entirely effective even if there is the smallest design flaw. So the email marketers must bear in mind the potential fall outs and ensure that an ideal animated GIF is sent out to your prospective customers.

Tags: ,