Animated GIFs are increasingly being chosen by marketers to bring email communications to life. But how to use them in a fun, useful and different way than usual? Here are 15 ideas (plus a bonus) to experiment with right away.
We see them more and more often in the inbox, giving a touch of vitality and joy to email messages. Yet GIFs are not just decorative: they can serve various purposes, from illustrating the functionality of a product to storytelling on its origin to describing how the software works or mimicking a fashion show.
In essence, they serve to give emails that dimension of movement that we are increasingly used to looking for on the web. It is then easy to understand why in a medium such as an email, which still has difficulty hosting actual videos (we talk about it in this ebook), animated GIFs represent an excellent alternative.
The beauty of animated GIFs is that they are easy to insert into emails: they work like any other type of image. They require some more creative effort, but once ready, the file can be uploaded to the email normally, as if it were a jpeg.
In this post we have collected 15 excellent inspirations (plus a bonus) to use animated GIFs in emails in a creative, original, and – why not – practical way for the purpose of the “story” of the product.
Animated GIFs in emails: 15 ways to use them
1. Narrating the product
It is the mantra of today’s marketing: tell stories about the product, do storytelling, and give an extra dimension to the “showcase” with description and price. Here is why animated GIFs can come in usefully to help.
First of all, the format gives the message a new movement, which makes an otherwise flat image interesting. Secondly, the brand effectively emphasizes its artisan vocation, using the terminology of a shoemaker and making a sort of tour in the “backstage” of the shop. All thanks to a simple animated GIF.
2. Demonstrate a software
For software companies (such as MailUp, on the other hand), illustrating the product can often be a challenge. Thanks to animated GIFs, it is possible to visually “tell” a new feature, make it immediately understandable to the user and lighten the email of entire paragraphs of descriptive text. A sort of video tutorial is more effective than a thousand illustrations or words.
3. Mimicking a fashion show
Fashion brands often struggle to convey the facets of the way a garment can be dressed, worn, and interpreted in emails. All are solved with a simple animated GIF, which allows you to show every angle and detail of each garment.
4. Show a roundup of products
Guaranteed space-saving solution: a roundup of products shown via the animated GIF. The vibrant effect, lengthened residence time on the image, increasing the propensity to click. This use of GIFs is perfect for launching a new collection or presenting a rich category of products.
5. Emphasize a promotion
Discounts, discounts, discounts! How to make sure that the message is not lost among the other graphic elements of the email? Using the digital equivalent of the flashing neon of offline shops: a colorful GIF that is impossible to ignore. The movement element captures the attention, making even a small text effective.
6. Play with words
An animated GIF is also extremely effective for giving a different dignity to a simple text email, which would otherwise be trivial or flat. Just a game, or an animation effect of words that are composed, or that change color. Room for imagination!
7. Show how the product works
We said it before: if an image is worth a thousand words, a moving image is worth ten thousand. How to make people understand immediately and effectively how a tea filter works? By creating an explanatory tutorial in the format of an animated GIF!
8. Replace a video
Inserting videos into emails is possible, but risky and complex. A much safer and simpler solution is to create a preview of the video in GIF format, to give an idea of the first frames and then refer, by clicking on the player, to the actual video on an external page. If the quality of the animated GIF is adequate, the difference with a real video is minimal.
9. Make the user experience tangible
New app? New site? Why not try the browsing experience through an animated GIF? You can do this in the email when launching the new version of the mobile application. This a simple way to give a tangible idea of how it works and the UX, inviting you to download it.
10. Give your email a seasonal twist
It’s winter and you want to give a Christmas touch to an image that has nothing of Christmas? Just a light snowfall created with an animated GIF, and that’s it. Ditto for other holidays or seasons of the year: hearts for Valentine’s Day, confetti for Carnival, and so on.
11. Make a transactional email memorable
We have already discussed the importance of a well-made welcome series. Why settle for a trivial email that says “Registration successful”, when you can start building a real relationship with the user? Animated GIFs have no descriptive or practical value sometimes: it serves to make people smile and impress the brand in the reader’s mind.
12. Show the color variants of a product
Save space and give visibility to all product variants. Of course, with a gallery that alternates the colors of the same article! A simple idea with a sure visual effect, thanks to the animated GIF.
13. Make a static image come alive
Sometimes an animated GIF is simply the best idea to give a unique vitality to the simplest image. And it is not even so hard to create one, you can find tools that help you, design it from scratch or export the GIFs from other formats.
14. Accompany or give relevance to the call-to-action
It is one of the pillars in the use of animated GIFs: it is useful for them to accompany the eye and the user toward the action indicated by the call-to-action. It is therefore good to use them to emphasize, chromatically or with movement, the highlight of the email, where to attract all the attention.
15. Underline the urgency with a countdown
Inserting a countdown in email messages plays with FOMO (fear of missing out, or fear of missing something), a very powerful psychological lever in closing a purchase. In this article we have studied how to insert a real countdown, relying on special tools available on the web. A handy alternative is to create a “fake” countdown in an animated GIF.
There are a thousand ways and a thousand contexts to use animated GIFs. Very simple to insert in emails, they provide optimal assistance to attract attention and meet practical needs, such as:
- Show different product variants
- Miming the effect of a video
- Give urgency through a countdown
- Bring the product experience to life
And so on. Show off creativity!