When to Use GIFs in Marketing Emails

Learning how to utilize GIFs in emails can bolster your email marketing campaigns. Read this to better understand when to use GIFs in marketing emails.

Whether you pronounce it a ‘gif’ or a ‘jif,’ the fact remains that animated GIFs are a big part of online conversations nowadays. No matter if you are sharing a laugh with your Twitter followers or telling stories in the family group chat, these short animations can be worth a thousand words. From an email GIF to a Discord GIF, these moving images hold their own in a variety of forms.

However, knowing when to use these images in email marketing can be a little tricky. The reason is simple: GIFs can breathe new life into any email, but this liveliness can often detract your audience’s attention from the meat of the matter. That is why it becomes important to determine those situations where this powerful visual tool can elevate your marketing, while also identifying those scenarios where it could disrupt your efforts.

To help you through this process, here is a lowdown on using GIFs in email marketing for maximum benefit. Read the full article to learn when to use GIFs in marketing emails.

What Are GIFs?

GIFs is an acronym of “graphics interchange format,” which is a specific file type for digital images. The GIF format was created in 1987 to reduce the file size of images while keeping their data intact. This technique resulted in an excellent image compression method, and made these images easily shareable without taking up too much bandwidth.

Due to a GIF’s ability to compress several frames of a video or animation into a single image file, it only took a few years for the GIF file type to gain popularity across the web. From sought after website owners to tech-savvy internet users, GIFs became a hot topic across various audiences, segments, and digital properties.

Today, GIFs are utilized across a number of social media, news media, instant messaging, and content creation platforms. Even if you cannot remember the brief history of GIFs at a moment’s notice, you may instantly be able to identify a GIF right when you see it. In fact, you might even use GIFs as reaction images on a daily basis without a second thought.

This quick rundown tells you exactly how GIFs helped shape the internet as we know it. But seeing that GIFs are often used for humor, visual cues, or pop culture references, learning when to use a GIF in email can be a highly nuanced matter. If you use GIFs at the wrong time or with unsuitable content, it can appear unprofessional, inappropriate, or just unfit for your target audience.

This makes it crucial for you to understand when exactly you should utilize GIFs as a marketing tool for your email campaigns. This not only helps you master one of the most popular forms of digital marketing, but also lets you strike a connection with your audience to boost engagement and conversions alike.

When Is It Appropriate to Use GIFs in Emails?

Whether you are exploring behavior-based marketing or trying demographic segmentation, email marketing stands out as an effective tool to reach your goals across different modalities of digital outreach. When used effectively, it can strengthen your connection with existing customers, enhance your engagement with potential clients, and increase your return on investment (ROI).

This means that you can use animated GIFs within your emails in a variety of approaches that include but are not limited to:

  • Newsletters
  • Promotional emails
  • Discount emails
  • Service announcement emails
  • Event invitation emails
  • Purchase or subscription reminder emails

Across these approaches, your ideal achievements are only possible if you are creating interesting content for your email marketing campaigns. Whether you are sending promotional emails, periodic newsletters, or development announcements, your textual and visual content has to be relevant, relatable, and high-quality.

Keeping this in mind, you need to be just as mindful of using GIFs in your email body as you might be about utilizing certain words within your marketing copy. Fortunately, the following tips can help you put together stellar email content with the help of different GIFs.

Best Practices for Using GIFs in Email Marketing

Don’t Cram Animated GIFs Where They Don’t Belong

Sometimes, a largely text-based email is more appropriate than an email that is filled with moving images. This especially holds true for announcement and update emails where text is more important than eye candy.

Keeping this in mind, you should always contextualize the GIFs that you are using within your overall content. If you have doubts about putting certain GIFs within a specific type of email, it’s often better to be safe than sorry and hold back from posting the GIF. This ensures that you are making GIFs work to your advantage, instead of them becoming a burden for your outreach.

Use Images That Are Easily Understandable

As an email marketer, it should be your priority to disseminate content that instantly strikes a chord with your audience. You can achieve this feat by using GIFs that are clear about what they are trying to depict. This includes images with coherent movements, bold captions, and famous pop culture moments.

This means that no matter how much you want to use a particular GIF from your favorite cult classic TV show, you should think twice about utilizing obscure references. This keeps your messaging interesting yet comprehensible at all times.

Design a Visually Appealing Layout

Using a GIF for email is pretty easy. But integrating it with the rest of your design is where you face the real challenge. If your GIF has a different color scheme than your layout or holds a caption that looks completely out of place from your actual message, it would be time to look for alternatives.

This is where you can use your very own Creative Assistant tool to create positively stunning layouts that work seamlessly with your GIFs. This way, you can strike the ideal balance between visual excellence and effective messaging.

Keep Your Branding Intact

When you have a plethora of animated GIFs to choose from, you may want to take creative liberties with your marketing emails. But whatever you do, make sure that you don’t veer off course in the process, only to find yourself miles away from your brand identity.

Even when you find a set of GIFs that is too good to pass up, ensure that it stays in line with your branding. By turning to a specialized tool for email design, you can ensure coherence, consistency, and visual references for your audience across your campaigns.

What Are the Benefits of Using GIFs in Email Marketing?

There are several benefits to using GIFs within your email marketing campaigns. When you use this tool with a careful approach, it can boost your engagement, improve outreach, and enhance your email click-through rate (CTR).

Some of the most popular advantages for using GIFs within your email marketing include but are not limited to the following:

  • Evoking Emotions. Visual references and animated GIFs have the ability to evoke emotional responses from the viewer. If you use the right set of GIFs within your email campaign, you can build a connection between you and your audience that may not be possible through text alone.
  • Simplify Complex Concepts. Whether you are trying to create a quick tutorial for your services or planning to develop a short tour of your new website, you can simplify such complex concepts by explaining them through GIFs. As an email marketer, this makes it easier for you to create concise emails without compromising their overall purpose.
  • Saving Time. Many audience segments neither have the time nor the patience to read through lengthy emails, even when they come from a favorite provider. Using an email GIF set helps them save time, understand your message, and take the required actions for executing a conversion or connection with your business.
  • Increasing ROI. When you are able to connect with your audience, garner their interest, and relay your message in an ideal manner, it all contributes to increasing your overall ROI. In turn, you can get the most out of your marketing spend. Through consistent campaigns, you can continue to reap the rewards of this medium.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using GIFs in Email Marketing?

While using GIFs in email marketing can be a fun and effective approach, it has its drawbacks, too. By learning about them beforehand, you can steer clear of these disadvantages and make more informed decisions at every step of your campaign.

The drawbacks of using GIFs within email marketing approaches include the following:

  • More Time-consuming. Using plain old text and static images is a faster way to design emails than the usage of yet another type of media in the form of animated GIFs. With that being said, specialized tools can often reduce this timeframe, while still allowing you to create visually-rich emails. This goes a long way towards optimizing your email campaign.
  • Larger Email Size. GIFs are renowned for sporting a low file size. But if you use several of these animated images within your email, it can significantly add to the size of your email.
  • Hit or Miss. Designing your emails with GIFs can either work wonders for your campaign or have a negative impact. To increase your chances of creating highly appealing emails, you may have to take extensive feedback from audience surveys and trustworthy sources on your team.

How to Incorporate GIFs in Emails

You can incorporate GIFs in emails through multiple approaches. You can learn how to create a custom GIF or use popular GIF websites to source these images.

Some of the most popular options include the following:

  • Use your email client’s image uploader. This allows you to upload GIFs to your email body content while using the editing interface. This uses a point-and-click interface but still stands out as a taxing approach.
  • Use embedded links. You can also use the approach to insert your GIFs’ URLs into your email. In this practice, you have to enter GIF links while editing your email. This automatically loads the GIF through the given URL.
  • Use a purpose-built client. A specialized interface such as Mailchimp’s content studio can turn the process of uploading GIFs into a walk in the park. Through this tool, you can also adjust your GIFs’ positioning, and align them with the overall layout of your email.

When using third-party GIFs within your emails, make it a point to learn about their copyright license. This ensures that you can give credit to the right parties without inadvertently taking undue advantage of someone else’s work. This also helps you stay away from legal challenges and reputational damage for using unauthorized digital property in your business emails without permission.

Final Notes

GIFs are an excellent way to bring a sense of liveliness to otherwise drab, boring, and run-of-the-mill emails. But as you move forward with using them in your email campaigns, you have to make sure that you are following all best practices and utilizing all available tools at hand.

At Mailchimp, our purpose-built email marketing software and associated design tools allow you to use highly appealing, interesting, and educational GIFs within your emails. To see how Mailchimp solutions can help you enhance your marketing efforts and associated results, don’t hesitate to try out Mailchimp to manage your next email marketing campaign.

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