GIFs, otherwise known as the Graphics Interchange Format, is an image comprising of a series of frames played in sequence to become a short video clip. Recent years have seen GIFs popularity skyrocket due to their wide support across the web and their ability to stay culturally relevant due to their ease of creation.
GIF files can be inserted in most places that you are able to place an image, such as on websites, chat forums and even in emails. In fact they are one of the only way to insert moving images into an email creative, given the poor video support to be found across popular email clients. Used in the right way GIFs can describe feelings, make you laugh or highlight the CTA in your marketing emails.
Using a GIF in an email is a really good way bring your personality to your recipients and make your message pop out to your user against the many marketing messages they receive to their inbox daily. Although it can be tempting to add a GIF here and there to your emails without thinking it through too much, GIFs are a powerful tool to bring attention to key parts of your email and should be used as such.
GIFs are particularly efficient at displaying multiple product images and options using limited space, as seen in these campaigns by Kate Spade, Art.com and Cusp.
They are also great at giving more information about a product such as 360° views and instructionals. Here are two great examples from FOOTASYLUM and Lands’ End.
You can even make it appear like you have a video embedded in your email, something which had previously been made impossible by SPAM filters. All you have to do is create a GIF containing a video preview, with a play button in a consistent place in every frame. The user can then click through to view the video. Below is how Style Campaign achieved this in one of their emails.
Lastly, GIFs are perfect for adding a twinkle to your CTA, such as animating a sale banner to draw the reader’s attention to it, or adding a sense of urgency to purchase behaviour with a countdown clock. These have been used particularly well by Kate Spade and Walmart.
There are a few general guidelines you should follow while using GIFs in your email campaigns. Firstly the smaller the GIF the better, preferably using files below 100kb. This is to ensure it loads quickly for the recipient and captures their attention before they move on to the next email in their inbox.
Secondly, while GIFs have near universal support across all of the major email clients, bear in mind that they won’t play in the notoriously difficult Outlook 2007, 2010 and Windows Mobile 7. In these instances only the first frame of the GIF will display, so it’s a wise idea to keep all of your key details in this frame to ensure that your recipient will still understand your message even if that’s all that they can view.
GIFs are fully supported by Variant4 and can be uploaded and hosted by us as per usual using the Image Manager, and then inserted into campaigns in the same way that you would add a regular still image. So what are you waiting for? Happy GIF-ing!