It seems like animated GIFs are everywhere these days. In blog posts, on social media, in text messages from your friends—it’s a GIF-y world out there. And they’re becoming increasingly popular in email, too.
We’re big fans of GIFs in a show-don’t-tell sorta way, but they’re also great for conveying complex emotions and filling the void that is a general lack of video support in email. In a world where eyes are drawn to moving pictures but need information quickly, GIFs are here to provide.
There are a lot of opinions and resources out there on how to GIF in email (including this awesome post from our friends at Litmus). So what’s the best way to use them in your campaigns? We have some ideas:
As a standalone communication
GIFs are being seen as more and more of a legitimate form of communication. In fact, when a reporter asked Google about their entrance into the video game streaming market in 2015, a representative responded with a GIF as the company’s official statement. Whether you want to express frustration, excitement, or how badly you need a cup of coffee, there’s a reaction GIF for any situation.
To explain a concept visually/draw attention to key information
An email packed with info may cause readers to skim and overlook important details. Use GIFs to make pieces of information stand out—or to help explain concepts. When we redesigned Mailchimp’s dashboard in 2013, for example, we used several GIFs in an email to show the changes to our users. Breaking up this information with short, digestible visuals helped our users understand the concepts and get them used to the new dashboard without spending a ton of time reading.
As an alternative to video
Most email clients don’t offer great support for video. Currently, videos only render in Apple Mail, Thunderbird, iOS10’s native client, and Samsung Galaxy’s native client. On top of poor support, video files can be huge and slow to load if subscribers are using a poor connection, which can disengage the viewer. Making subscribers download large files isn’t a great idea, either, because it can send users over their data plans if they’re not on WiFi. That’s where GIFs come in: They can be used as an alternative to provide short previews of your video content that then link to the full video. Spark did this in a campaign showing off their smartwatch functionality: