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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).
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:
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:
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:
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.
To make a GIF out of a video on GIPHY:
GIPHY’s GIF Maker homepage
(This step is optional)
(This step is optional but highly encouraged)
Private GIFs cannot be shared and they can’t be seen by anyone but you when you are logged in.
To make a GIF from an 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.
(This step is optional but highly encouraged)
To get your emails GIF ready, we’ve included some instructions below for how to add GIFs to systeme.io, Gmail, and Outlook emails.
systeme.io’s newsletter email dashboard
The sender’s email address will automatically be filled out with the email account linked to your systeme.io account.
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:
If you want to add a GIF from your desktop:
You’ll be redirected to the "Image Information" tab, where you can add alternative text (alt-text) and adjust your GIF dimensions.
Once done, click “OK” and your email should look something like this:
With systeme.io, you can also turn your email GIFs into clickable link objects:
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:
Microsoft Outlook’s email template
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.
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:
Gmail’s email template
Click “Insert” to end the process here, or if you want to import a GIF:
Once you’ve added the proper copy, your email message should look similar to the example below, ready for any email client to love:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If you choose to add a GIF to an email, there are some things to keep in mind:
Take note: The first frame should always communicate your key message.
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).
There’s no limit to how large a GIF’s size can be, but the following sites have their own restrictions:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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