Using Animated GIFs For Animation In Email

February 14th, 2012 by Adam Q. Holden-Bache

Although animation has been abandoned by many email marketers, reconsider using it in your campaigns. When used properly, animation can help you highlight key messages, enhance your creative and entertain your readers. Consider these reasons for using animation in your email campaigns:

  • Draw attention Animation draws your reader’s eye to important parts of your message.
  • Add appeal Animation can make your messages more visually interesting.
  • Deliver more content in less space Animation can help you pack a large message into a small area.
  • Emphasize Animation can accentuate your offer or promotion.

When displaying animation, it’s recommended to use animated GIFs because most email clients do not support Flash. Animated GIFs display properly in most email software with the exception of the more recent Outlook products. Here’s the list:

Animated GIF support in email
Desktop email clients
AOL Yes
Apple Mail Yes
Entourage 2008 Yes
Lotus Notes Yes
Outlook Express Yes
Outlook 2000 Yes
Outlook 2003 Yes
Outlook 2007 No
Outlook 2010 No
Thunderbird Yes
Web-based email clients
AOL Mail Yes
Gmail Yes
Live Hotmail Yes
Yahoo Mail Yes
Yahoo Classic Yes
Comcast Yes
AT&T Webmail Yes
Verizon Webmail Yes
Earthlink Webmail Yes
Mobile email clients
iPhone, iPad and iTouch Yes
Android Yes
Blackberry Yes

When using animated GIFs, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Make sure the first frame of the GIF displays a complete message by itself, in case the rest of the animation does not play in the recipient’s software
  2. Keep file sizes small to minimize risks with spam filters and to allow the message to load faster.
  3. Allow the animation to cycle several times so readers can see the whole animation, but have it remain static after several loops or about 30 seconds.
  4. Consider how your email will display without the animated GIF in case the recipient blocks images in his or her emails.
  5. Don’t overuse animation, as it could create a visual mess. Use it only for the most important parts of your message or to deliver specific content, such as product features or a call to action.

When used properly, animation can help your email generate additional interest which can lead to better campaign results. Even though animated GIFs have been around for a while, they’re still a viable option. Definitely consider giving them a test or using them in your email marketing campaigns.