2022 Guide: How to Use GIFs in Emails - MailerLite (2023)

Express feelings with words? Nobody has time for that! Nowadays we send an emoji, a meme or a gif to share what we think.

Take GIFs into emails, and rightly so! They're interactive and visually appealing, allowing you to convey your story in a way that catches the attention of your subscribers.

Of course, it's important to be strategic about using animated GIFs in your email campaigns. Things like placement, frequency, technicalities, and copyright terms should be considered before including GIFs in your newsletters.

By the end of this guide, you'll know how to correctly embed GIFs in emails and how you can use them to enhance your email content.

What is a GIF? It's story time...

A GIF (Graphical Interchange Format) is a series of images displayed at very high speed, making them appear to be in motion.

For example, check out this Warby Parker email GIF below.

2022 Guide: How to Use GIFs in Emails - MailerLite (1)

GIF files have actually been around since 1987. Back then, people struggled to share images without taking up too much space. Then along came a developer named Steve Wilhite and created a compression algorithm that could send animated image files with timed delays. This resulted in the GIF we know and love today.

Since then, GIFs have gone through everything from a patent that nearly wiped them out to a sudden boom with the launch of GIPHY in 2013. They became the ultimate way to quantify emotion and add context, and now they're everywhere!

You can see these eye-catching image formats in blog articles, websites, email signatures, forums, etc. They're an iconic part of internet culture and our overall user experience.

And they all gift happily ever after.

The end.

(But it's not the end, because now we're going to show you how to get the most out of GIFs in your email newsletters!)

Why People Love Seeing GIFs in Their Emails (With Examples)

The Japanese knew it long before anyone else: flashing lights attracts attention. Okay, maybe don't treat your email asNight in Shibuya city, but a well-placed and sparingly used animated GIF in emails can definitely increase engagement and CTR.

Aside from being a fun element, email GIFs are also there to make your message much clearer. They are functional and can tell your story in just one image.

Let's take a look at 12 reasons why your customers love seeing animated GIFs in their inboxes.

1. Movement attracts attention

Numerous studies show that movement captures our attention much faster than still images. Putting a GIF at the beginning of your email can hook your reader right from the start, making them more likely to read the entire newsletter — just like this email from bonobos, which immediately gets curious about what the new product is.

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2. They're short enough to watch to the end

With Snapchat, Instagram Reels, and TikTok more popular than ever, it's clear that the shorter the content, the better. Because of this, GIFs are viewed better than videos.

GIFs are usually short (people expect it). Because of this, your subscribers prefer to watch email GIFs to the end rather than your average video. Watching a short animation is easier and your readers are more likely to remember the message.

This quick GIF from Liberty Bottleworks gets straight to the point and shows how customers can save 30% on their products.

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3. GIFs are more than popular

Email marketing used to have a somewhat stiff demeanor, but now the rise of GIFs and emojis has given newsletters a personal, fun edge.

GIFs can change the tone of your emails to sound more like our everyday online conversations, making your brand much more relatable and personal. In fact, these short animations are now among the trendiest forms of online communication.

GIFs are used in conversations, as reactions on social media, and even in work environments (who else spends way too much time looking for the right Giphy on Slack? Yeah, same thing). And they're pretty fun to look at - who can resist this spinning shoes GIF from Depop?

(Video) How to create an email Campaign in Mailerlite | Mailerlite Tutorial

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4. GIFs in emails help you stand out from the competition

Not everyone in the email marketing world has gotten the memo yet. Even today, we still see many newsletters that don't use GIFs in their email layout. Use this to your advantage and stay one step ahead of the competition.

MeUndies often uses creative GIFs in their emails to stand out from the crowd - in this case, to wow us with their new prints!

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5. GIFs show, not just tell

Aside from being entertaining, GIF newsletters are also practical and informative.

Countdown to a specific time? An animatedGIF-Countdown-Timersee at a glance how much time is left until the deadline.

GIFs also come in handy when you have a lot of products to showcase. Instead of creating an image gallery, you can show everything at once.

Using animation also works well when you need to explain a complex product. With movement, you can tell a lot more in less time. This GIF by Poo-Pourri features their eye-catching toilet spray bottles, showing what they look like.

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6. GIFs make great video teasers

Videos in newsletters. As much as we'd like to play them right in the email, not all email clients support video formats.

Our MailerLite customers can therefore send GIF snippets as a preview.

When inserting aVideo block in the newsletteryou have the option to automatically create a GIF showing a short teaser of the video. When the reader clicks on the video, they will be taken to the full video, just like in this email GIF by MODEKUNGEN.

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7. GIFs in email marketing are the new CTAs

YourCall to Action (CTA)is probably the most important thing in your email. Every newsletter should be created with a specific goal in mind, whether it's driving the visitor to your store or getting them to sign up. You want readers to be drawn to your CTA button, which is why you need to make it prominent in your email template.

To take this to the next level, you can create an animated CTA. Add some subtle details (like the glittery button below) to make the button pop. This can have a positive effect on your click-through rate.

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8. GIFs are perfect for tutorials

If you need a quick visual aid to illustrate your email tutorial, GIFs are the way to go! Moving images speak louder than words when explaining a process.

Videos and static text can take a long time to prepare, so adding GIFs to emails is a fun and quick way to help people follow your tutorial. They're also a universal language, so they can help people understand the emotion and context you're trying to convey.

This email GIF shows how people can connectMailerCheck with Zapier, for example.

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9. Share your corporate culture with GIFs

Show your subscribers who you and your team are by embedding GIFs in your email marketing campaign.

GIFs work because they add flair and personality to your email design. They can amplify your brand voice and help your audience better understand you and your values.

At MailerLite, we're proud of our company culture and GIFs are a fun, creative way to share what we're about.

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10. GIFs are a quick way to tell a story

The best email marketers use GIFs to tell a story. When you release a new product or feature, GIFs in emails are the perfect way to quickly share the information.

You can share a sneak peek, a demo, or a quick step sequence that shows how you came up with the idea. GIFs rank high in your list of marketing tools. So think outside the box and use them to tell your story.

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ClassPass is doing just that, using animated GIFs in its email newsletter to tell its customers' fitness stories during lockdown! This provides a quick overview of the services offered and can be an incentive to participate.

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11. GIFs can set the mood

You can use GIFs to add a touch of personality to your newsletter. They can be a great way to set the tone and show some of your character.

Just remember not to overdo it - a tasteful GIF that reflects your business is far more effective than a cluttered newsletter that looks like Times Square!

This Adelaide Fringe email GIF packs a punch; It compliments the whole newsletter design and adds a whimsical touch to their look.

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12. GIFs can be the ultimate endorsement

What bettermicrophone fallAbility to end an email than with a GIF in yourE-Mail Signature? You could take a series of headshots just like this one from our team of content writers.

Or you can animate your logo or contact details - what you want to draw the most attention to!

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Looking for more inspiration?

Check out oursanimated email template galleryfor many more sparkling examples.

Where do you get your email GIFs from?

There are two approaches here. You can either create your own GIFs or just add them using MailerLite's file manager.

1. Tools to create your own email GIF

If you want to get crafty and create your own GIF, the internet offers many different tools for GIF creators.

Most of these GIF makers simply require you to upload your images or videos and the software will automatically create a GIF from that footage. You can also use your phone to create your own GIF (just check the quality on desktop).

Here is a list of online GIF tools:

And for mobile GIF apps, you can check:

  • ImgPlay (iOS)

  • GIF Maker - GIF-Editor (iOS, Android)

  • Make Video to GIFs (iOS)

  • GIF Maker by Moment (iOS)

  • Video on GIF Maker (iOS)

  • GIPHY: GIF & Stickers Keyboard & Maker (Android)

  • GIF Maker, GIF Editor, Video Maker, Video to GIF (Android)

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  • GifGuru (Android)

2. Add ready-made GIFs with MailerLite

MailerLite makes it easy to add GIFs to your email via MailerLitefile manager. As we will explain in the next section, you can use it to search for GIFs directly on GIPHY without having to leave the MailerLite editor. Pretty cool right?

How to insert GIFs in emails

If you're wondering how to actually embed a GIF in your email newsletter, don't worry. Our file manager supports GIFs and is very easy to use! Here is the step-by-step guide for MailerLite:

How to add GIFs to your email newsletter
  1. Create and download the GIF you want to use (if you're not sure how to make one, we'll share more info on that later)! If you don't have a GIF, read on to Step 4.

  2. Open a new email draft in MailerLite and insert a new image block.

  3. Click the Browse button in the right menu. You can either access your GIFs through the file manager or import them from your computer.

  4. If you don't already have a GIF, you can toosearch directly on GIPHYfrom the file manager without leaving the MailerLite editor.

  5. Select your GIF and it will appear in the image block.

  6. Ta-da! Your newsletter is GIF-ready!

Other slightly boring but good to know aspects of using GIFs in newsletters

Now we need to share some quick housekeeping tips! Since GIFs are a bit more difficult to view than static images, there are some limitations to them.

Here are some of your practical questions answered:

Which email clients support GIFs?

As for viewing GIFs, most major webmail, mobile, and desktop email clients support the GIF format. Clients like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL, Apple can all easily display your GIFs, so you can safely implement them.

You just have to be careful if you have many subscribers using specific versions of Outlook: 2007, 2010 and 2013. Microsoft Outlook doesn't support animated GIFs in emails and only shows the first frame (a static image). Therefore, always secure your GIF with an explanatory headline, caption, and ALT text so that readers understand your message, even if it appears as a static image.

If possible, make the first static frame such that it can convey your message without movement. And if you're wondering which email clients exactly support GIFs, here's a handy list!

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What is the ideal GIF file size?

The file size of your GIF matters a lot. If your GIF is unnecessarily large, it can take up a lot of data, causing your GIF to load slowly and eat up your subscribers' mobile data when they view your emails.

To make your newsletter GIF as small as possible, do the following:

  • Crop it to only show what you need

  • Adjust the dimensions to your newsletter

  • Reduce the number of frames to the least amount possible (e.g. skip every 3rd frame)

  • Change the number of color bits (e.g. from 8 to 4 bits), the more colors, the larger the GIF

  • Advanced: Animate only the part you want to move within the image

  • Save it at the minimum required quality level

  • Aim for a maximum of 500 KB

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If you don't have the tools you need, you can look for oneOnline GIF Compressorto reduce the file size.

Remember, we're not in a laser light show

Our eyes have to withstand sufficient visual stimuli even during the day. So make sure your GIF isn't moving too fast and use smooth transitions. Rapid frame changes can trigger photosensitive epilepsy and impair your reader's vision.

What about GIFs and copyright?

I know Fresh Prince's Carlton dance immediately sparks glee in readers who grew up in the '90s era, but unfortunately this counts as using someone else's original content. Which isn't entirely legal.

GIFs can be used in emails if it's fair use. Because this law is complicated and every case is different, it's best to get written permission, link or embed content you didn't upload yourself, or create your own GIF to avoid trouble.

This article aboutanimated GIFs and copyrightexplains the rules in more detail.

How to keep your email GIF out of spam box?

Should you be worried about your emails ending up in the spam folder if you use GIFs?

Although spam filters are constantly changing and could potentially flag GIFs during their "rating", they have become so popular that the likelihood of them being a spam factor is very small. As long as your GIF isn't too big (maximum around 500 KB), you don't have to worry.

Especially not if you use MailerLite to send your GIF email campaigns. Did you know that we have been awarded?EmailToolTester Award for “Best Deliverability”3 times in a row?

Would you like to be extra sure that your e-mail arrives in the inbox?

Our friends at MailerCheck have a tool calledinbox placement, which tests your e-mails before sending them to see if they end up in the inbox or spam folder. That way, you can tweak your campaigns accordingly before hitting send, so you can be sure they hit the mark.

Here's how to find out if GIFs are right for you

When deciding whether to email a GIF, keep your audience in mind. It is important to createEmail Marketing Contentthat are important to them. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will they understand the message I'm trying to convey?

  • Do they belong to a demographic that regularly uses GIFs?

  • Will this GIF enhance or detract from the email message?

When it comes to GIFs, less is more. Don't overuse them. Otherwise, your audience will be overwhelmed with a bunch of flashing lights! A well-chosen GIF or two is always better than an explosion of animated images.

If you're still not sure whether to include GIFs in your email marketing campaign, you should try A/B testing. Here you can test two versions of the same email on a small sample of your subscribers before sending them out to everyone. This way, you can try an email with a GIF and one without a GIF and see which one gets the best results.

A/B testing for email marketing made easy

The GIF that shares

GIFs are officially a thing (and not just for the cool kids). Bring your emails to life by implementing a well-placed GIF. Your customers will love it when something moves in their inbox.

Although GIFs are known to be funny and engaging, they can also be used to tell a story. Complex theories or instructions can be explained much more easily with moving images and longer messages can be conveyed in a matter of seconds with visual language.

For your next newsletter, try adding a GIF that goes with your brand and email marketing content and see how your customers react. We bet they will be pleasantly surprised!

Editor's note:This post was last published in November 2020 but has now been updated with fresh examples and new tips that all kids use.

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Why do GIFs not work in email? ›

You need to make sure that email clients will support your GIF files. The good news is that most email clients – like Gmail – support GIF files. Animated GIFs work in all webmail clients and most desktop and mobile clients. The only email client that can be stingy about sending GIFs in emails is Microsoft Outlook.

How do I add a GIF to my email newsletter? ›

Step 1: Compose your new email and move your cursor where you want to put the GIF. Step 2: When you're ready to add the GIF, click Insert Photo from the options below. Step 3: Add a GIF straight from your device through the Photos or do it the drag-and-drop way via the Upload button.

Do GIFs perform in email? ›

Although GIFs will work great for certain segments of your audience and certain email campaigns, they may not be the best choice for every campaign every time. You might want to step away from the GIF editor if you think the following situations apply. GIFs can get annoying.

Why is my GIF not working? ›

If your GIF file is not playing or looping, it might be because the file is too large. If it's more than 1080 pixels high or 1920 pixels wide, you'll need to reduce the size. There are a number of free, online tools of varying sophistication that you can use.

How do I get GIFs back on my Outlook email? ›

In the Display section, check the box to Play animated GIFs. If you have Outlook for Office 365, version 2008 or higher, use Windows 10 to enable animated GIFs. Click Start and type Show animations. Click the search result and under Simplify and personalize Windows, enable Show animations in Windows.

How do you add GIFs to Outlook emails? ›

To add a GIF in Outlook:

Click the “Insert” tab, and click “Pictures” on the ribbon. If the animated GIF is online, then click on “Online Pictures. Select the file, and then click “Insert.”· It would insert the file into your email message.


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