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Animated GIFs in Email: Three Great Examples and Five Quick Tips

by Emily Konouchi  |  
November 27, 2013
  |  7,953 views

Animated GIFs pervade my RSS reader and make up at least 98.7% of every BuzzFeed list; they have even become currency in many company chat rooms and email messages.

Thoughtful, eye-catching animation in email has the ability to complement a marketing message rather than distract from it.

At Emma (where I work), we compiled content on how to effectively use GIFs in email marketing, including three customer examples. So here are three ways Emma customers have used animated GIFs to make their email campaigns pop.

1. Tell a story

When Los Angeles designer Paul Marra moved his showroom to a new location, he used Emma to get the word out to his clients. The animated GIF tells the whole story, from the trail on the map to the "We've moved!" banner to the new address listing. It's lighthearted, stylish, and inviting.


See the GIF in action:


2. Draw attention to the most important thing


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Emily Konouchi is director of content and communications at Emma, an email marketing software and services provider that helps organizations of all sizes get more from their marketing. She is also the director Emma’s communal dishwasher-emptying efforts, but only when she has writer’s block.

Twitter: @emikonouchi

Google+: Emily Konouchi

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  • by Cathy Wed Nov 27, 2013 via web

    Emily, nice article - to the point and great examples. What animated .gif creators do you recommend using?

  • by Ed Wed Nov 27, 2013 via web

    I love gifs, but was frustrated that Microsoft Outlook didn't support this. So unless the receiver opened up the browser version of the email, the gif didn't work and simply looked like a still jpg (first frame). Has something changed?

  • by Peter Medvin Wed Nov 27, 2013 via web

    What is the best email service for integrating GIFs? Thanks.

  • by Cash One Sun Dec 1, 2013 via web

    Hello, Its a nice article and really impressive. Its great idea to add some value with the mails. Such gifts will boost the sale of the product, Thanks for sharing such a creative and innovative idea.

  • by David Sun Dec 1, 2013 via web

    As Ed commented, MS Outlook doesn't support animated GIFs and it holds about 20% of the email clients share. So I'd be careful using GIFs with messages and stories that wouldn't be seen by customers. Showing more products is fine, telling a story would be risky - in the examples above, about 20% of Paul Mara's recipients saw only a bird looking at a map.
    So, if one wants to use animated GIFs in an email, the best practice is to put the message in the first image.

  • by mfmorris36@gmail.com Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    Thanks for sharing. Good examples.

  • by Emily Konouchi Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    @Cathy Thanks for saying so! We use Photoshop to create simple animated gifs, but AfterEffects can be used to build something more fluid, like the Paul Marra example. You'll find plenty of free services and tutorials in a "How to create an animated gif" Google search, but I don't have personal experience with them. Maybe other readers can chime in!

  • by Emily Konouchi Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    @Ed You're right -- Microsoft Outlook 2007 and 2010 only display the first frame of an animated gif. And @David makes a great point about relying too heavily on the gif to carry the story. According to Litmus, Outlook currently holds the #2 spot in email client market share, so it's worth the extra effort to cater your animated gif to that audience or ensure you have enough supporting content to get your message across without animation.

  • by Emily Konouchi Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    @Peter Why, Emma, of course! Okay, I'm biased, but Emma's email marketing service supports animated gifs, includes a bunch of other must-have features like responsive templates, mobile preview and subject line split testing, and has top-notch customer service. You can check out Emma for yourself at http://myemma.com/get-started/request-trial

  • by Arienne Holland Tue Dec 3, 2013 via web

    Emily, I'm so happy to read good, specific tips about using animated GIFs in emails. Your advice to use them to draw attention to the most important thing is spot on, and I haven't heard anyone else talk about how animated GIFs can tell a story.

    While I disagree that animated GIFs in email are a good way to show off multiple products a point of view that I explained on Raven's blog: http://raventools.com/blog/animated-gifs-in-emails/ I also appreciate that you emphasize simplicity, testing and file size.

    Compatibility is also an issue, so David and Ed make great points. Think of your first frame as a standalone illustration that conveys all information necessary then build your animation from there.

    But. BUT. *cough* Flash websites? Do those even exist anymore? If so, WHY? ;)

    Hello from Raven's offices in the Gulch :)

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