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In email marketing, the overall average open rate sits around 16.97%, with a click-through rate of 10.29%.


If you’d like to improve these numbers for your email marketing campaigns, GIFs might be the answer.


In this post, we’ll teach you how to embed GIFs in email, the benefits, and possible risks (with solutions).


Ready?


Let’s begin.

1. The benefits of using animated GIFs in emails

Email isn’t dying any time soon, especially not if 93% of B2B marketers think it’s one of the most important methods to distribute content.


If you’re looking for a way to tell a story through your email content, then adding GIFs to your email campaigns is an absolute must.


The perfect GIF:

  • Provides a lot of information in a small space
  • Helps keep users entertained and interested in your emails
  • Evokes an emotion in your readers

Not only does an animated GIF draw attention, but it can also be a fun way to showcase your products while remaining space-efficient.


GIFs can break down complicated concepts into a few frames of fluid messaging, such as showing viewers how to do something.


They are more engaging than pictures and cheaper than advertising video content:

  • A GIF artist would cost you between $100-$1,000
  • A 60-second video would cost, on average, around $7,900
Source: Wyzowl.com

Source: Wyzowl.com

Another benefit of using an animated GIF file in your email campaign's design is that it helps communicate your brand to millennials.


Because millennials live in a digital world with constant connectivity to social media, GIFs are perfect for speaking their language and drawing attention to your brand.


Depending on what you do, the average human attention span is roughly 8 seconds, which means that a 3 to 5-second GIF in your email body is perfect to keep users hooked.


A good example is this GIF from Loft:

Source: Business2Community.com

This GIF is short and makes users curious to know what the full discount is.


By offering the answer once you click on it, this GIF has been effectively turned into a CTA button.


Now that you know the benefits of putting a GIF into an email, let’s look at how exactly to make one.

2. How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

To make a GIF out of a video on GIPHY:

  • Go to the GIF Maker
  • Select “Choose File” under “GIF”
  • Choose a video from your files
  • To add an online video, enter its URL into the “Any URL” bar. Videos must be under 100MB and less than 15 seconds long
GIPHY’s GIF Maker homepage

GIPHY’s GIF Maker homepage

  • Use the purple sliders to select the start time and duration of your GIF
  • Select “Continue to Decorate” once you’re done
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

(This step is optional)

  • Customize your GIF with a caption, stickers, filters or draw on it (make sure it's in "Classic" mode)
  • Once done, select “Continue to Upload”
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

(This step is optional but highly encouraged)

  • Add tags to your GIF (press Enter after each word, no # needed)
  • Add an image URL to give credit to the source (where applicable)
  • Select to make your GIF Public or Private

Private GIFs cannot be shared and they can’t be seen by anyone but you when you are logged in.

  • Once you’re done, press “Upload to GIPHY” to finish
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY
  • If you would like to share your GIF to other platforms, simply select “Share” next to your GIF
 How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

To make a GIF from an image:

  • Go to the GIF Maker
  • Select “Choose File” under “GIF”
  • Choose an image from your files
  • To add an online image, enter its URL under the “Any URL” bar
  • Click “Add more images” if you’d like to create a slideshow GIF with multiple images
  • Customize it with a caption, stickers, filters or draw on it (this step is optional)
  • Once done, select “Continue to Upload”
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY
  • Select “Browse Files” [1] to add more images or insert their URL under the “Add More Files” bar
  • Drag and drop images to change their order and the way they’ll appear in your slideshow
  • Use the purple slider to change the length of time still images will appear in your slideshow before going to the next image

This duration only applies to stills as GIFs will always play all the way through once before changing.


The max duration for the total GIF is 15 seconds, meaning the more images you add, the shorter the duration each image will appear.

  • Select “Continue to Decorate” [2] once you’re done
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

(This step is optional but highly encouraged)

  • Add tags to your GIF (press Enter after each word, no # needed)
  • Add an image URL to give credit to the source (where applicable)
  • Select to make it Public or Private
  • Once you’re done, press “Upload to GIPHY” to finish
How to make an animated GIF using GIPHY

(GIF sources from YouTube and Reader’s Digest.)

3. How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

To get your emails GIF ready, we’ve included some instructions below for how to add GIFs to systeme.io, Gmail, and Outlook emails.

3.1. How to embed a GIF in systeme.io

To get started, you’ll need to have a systeme.io account:

  • Log in and select “Emails” [1] on the top menu bar
  • Select “Create a newsletter” [2] (this process also works if you want to create an email marketing campaign)
systeme.io’s newsletter email dashboard

systeme.io’s newsletter email dashboard

  • Fill in your subject text [1], followed by the name of the sender [2] (your business or personal name)

The sender’s email address will automatically be filled out with the email account linked to your systeme.io account.

  • Select the “Classic editor” [3] option and click “Create” [4]
How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

From here you’ll be taken to a blank page in the email creator (we’ve added some generic plain text for the body).


You can either drag and drop any saved animated GIFs from your desktop or if you’re using an online source:

  • Click on the image icon [1]
  • Fill in the GIF URL [2]
  • Make any width, height, and alignment adjustments (optional)
  • Press “OK” [3]
How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

If you want to add a GIF from your desktop:

  • Select the image icon
  • Click on “Upload” [1]
  • Go to “Choose file” and select the GIF you want to embed [2]
  • Press “Send to server” [3]

You’ll be redirected to the "Image Information" tab, where you can add alternative text (alt-text) and adjust your GIF dimensions.

How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

Once done, click “OK” and your email should look something like this:

How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

With systeme.io, you can also turn your email GIFs into clickable link objects:

  • Select the embedded GIF [1]
  • Click the link icon [2]
  • In the “Link” box, select the type of link you want
  • Add the URL of the page you want to link to (for example, one of your landing pages)
  • Press “OK”
How to embed a GIF file on different email platforms

3.2. How to embed a GIF in Outlook

Adding a GIF in Outlook works a little different from systeme.io, but it’s still pretty simple.


To insert a GIF into an email, you have to have the GIF saved on your device:

  • Start a new email message
  • Select the image icon
Microsoft Outlook’s email template

Microsoft Outlook’s email template

  • Find the saved GIF
  • Double click to insert it (or select it and press “Open”)
How to embed a GIF in Outlook
  • To change the size of your GIF, right-click on the GIF and select the “Size” option
  • Hit send once you’re happy with your new email

You can also drag and drop the animated GIF directly from your computer, but this may not work if you drag and drop it from a website.


Outlook is known to have issues with animated GIFs. Occasionally, your GIFs could look like still images instead of looping animations.


The only way to fix this is to repeat the process a few times or to use a different GIF file.

3.3. How to embed a GIF in Gmail

Gmail allows you to drag and drop any GIF into an email message, whether it’s from different websites or as a saved file on your computer.


To add a GIF:

  • Click the image icon at the bottom of the Compose window
Gmail’s email template

Gmail’s email template

  • Select “Upload”
  • Either drag and drop the GIF you want or click “Choose photos to upload” and choose a GIF from one of your albums
  • Make sure “Inline” is selected, otherwise your GIF will be sent as an attachment
How to embed a GIF in Gmail

Click “Insert” to end the process here, or if you want to import a GIF:

  • Select “Web Address (URL)” [1]
  • Paste the GIF URL [2]
  • Select “Insert” [3]
How to embed a GIF in Gmail

Once you’ve added the proper copy, your email message should look similar to the example below, ready for any email client to love:

How to embed a GIF in Gmail

These processes also work for any dynamic or static images and online pictures. Video files can only be added as attachments.


Now that you’ve learned how to put GIFs in emails, let’s look at how these could potentially hinder your marketing campaigns.

4. What to look out for when embedding GIFs (with solutions)

Although GIFs carry a lot of benefits for any email marketing campaign, there are some roadblocks to look out for to prevent all your efforts from going to waste.

4.1. Your email clients don’t support GIFs

This is quite a common problem. Except for Microsoft Outlook’s 2007-2013 versions, all other email providers support GIFs in one way or another.

  • Solution: Make sure the first frame in your GIF communicates the entire message

Because unsupported GIFs will only appear as still images, an easy fix is to make sure the first frame tells your email clients everything they need to know.


You can also send out an email survey to know which email client your audience uses.


Research this data to see if all your recipients can see your GIFs and plan accordingly.


For example, if only a small percentage use the specified versions of Outlook, then you can continue adding GIFs confidently.

4.2. The GIF doesn’t load fast

This happens when a GIF’s file size is too large, which will lead to slow email downloads and can also eat up mobile data for recipients on their phones.


Very frustrating!

  • Solution: Keep your GIF size as close to 1MB as possible. Lower is better

Some ways to do this include lowering the number of colors and frames your GIF uses and keeping the width between 550-600px (standard newsletter size).


For a detailed look at how to optimize your GIF sizes, click here.

4.3. Your recipients think GIFs are unprofessional

This is more a matter of opinion rather than an issue with your GIF format.


Based on the age bracket that you market to, you might find that older users are more likely to see GIFs as unprofessional, cheap, or annoying.


This could lower your email sender score and deliverability.

  • Solution: Ask your audience if they mind GIFs in your emails

Send out a survey to find out how GIFs make your recipients feel.


If the majority are against GIFs, focus on different means to advertise your products or services.


If they like GIFs, then you’re good to go!

4.4. Your recipients struggle to access your GIFs

Although this problem is rarer compared to the others, unfortunately, not everyone can have a great time interacting with animated GIFs.


Content flashing rates between 5 Hz and 30 Hz can harm users with photosensitive epilepsy.


Visually impaired users may also struggle to read or view the content on a GIF before the animation changes.


Users with screen readers can also struggle to comprehend the contents of your GIFs if you don’t provide alt-text.

  • Solution: Limit the usage of flashing colors and add alt-text to all your animated GIFs

Also, set timed delays on your email GIFs, especially those showcasing products.


Every problem has a solution, and now that you’ve learned these, let’s move on to understand some of the best practices to add a GIF to an email campaign.

5. Best practices for embedding GIFs

If you choose to add a GIF to an email, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your GIF serves its intended purpose and isn’t a filler — If your message is clear without it, scrap it
  • Let your GIF act as your email’s CTA and link it to the correct landing page
  • Include alt-text in any email GIFs or pictures
  • Use no more than 2 GIFs in an email

Take note: The first frame should always communicate your key message.

6. FAQs for embedding GIFs

  • Do embedded GIFs affect page speed?

Yes, but it depends on the size of the GIF.


If your GIF is more than 5MB, you can expect your pages to load slower (especially if you have more than 1 GIF on a page).

  • What are the GIF size limits?

There’s no limit to how large a GIF’s size can be, but the following sites have their own restrictions:

  • Imgur — 200 MB
  • GIPHY — 100 MB
  • Twitter — 15 MB (5 MB on a mobile device)
  • Facebook — 8 MB
  • Tumblr — 3 MB + Max 540 pixels
  • Instagram — Uses GIPHY’s GIFs
  • What's the difference between a GIF and a video?

A GIF works as a sequence of lower-quality images that are played in a loop in quick succession.


A video consists of (normally) high-quality frames that are broken into chunks and can include sound.


The frame rate is typically far higher than a GIF, which translates to smoother motion and higher quality.

  • Where can I find downloadable GIFs?

Here are some of the best GIF sites to find GIFs:

Make sure you’re aware of their copyright policies before you include their GIFs in your emails.

  • Is it “gif” or “jif”?

Steve Wilhite, the creator of the GIF, had an interview with the New York Times, in which he stated:


“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”


You can read the detailed article on the matter here.

7. Conclusion

The 2 most important things to remember when making a GIF is to have it show the full message on the first frame and to keep the size small.


For all your email needs, turn to systeme.io.


We offer unlimited email sends, automated email sequences, in-depth email statistics, and customer segmentation.


Not to mention our boatload of additional features — everything your business needs to grow, for free!


And while you’re deciding whether or not it’s “Gif” or “Jif”, sign up with systeme.io!


We promise it’s much easier than winning this age-old debate!

Other posts about email marketing:

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