Friday, March 16, 2012 3:41 PM
Have you ever seen an animated GIF used in an email campaign? It’s quite possible that you haven’t; most companies use them sparingly, and with good reason. While animation can help your email pop – movement both attracts the eye and allows you to showcase more in one space (and above the fold!) – animated GIFs can raise some problems when incorporated into email campaigns.
So, how can you ensure that your animated GIFs are up to snuff?
FredFlare email, 12.17.2011
1. Watch your file size
Animated GIF files tend to be much larger files due to the animation element. While many email platforms nowadays have seemingly unlimited amounts of storage, you do still have to keep email size in mind. Larger-sized emails (measured based on the file size of the images & copy contained within) could force email platforms or devices to truncate a message or to block delivery entirely. For this reason, industry professionals recommend keeping GIF file sizes below 300k so as not to weight down a message.
2. Consider clients
One of the biggest concerns about GIFs is that they are not supported by all email clients, with Outlook being a prominent one. If you choose to include an animated GIF in an email, you have to understand that these recipients will never be able to see the animation part, regardless of whether or not they’ve enabled ‘images’. There is simply no ‘opt-in’ choice. Outlook will simply show the first frame of the animated GIF. So…
3. Don’t overlook the freeze frame element
If you do choose to use animated GIFs, it’s important to make sure that the email looks good even when the animation doesn’t work (as is the case with Outlook). Assess your GIF objectively: does the image look good if it’s frozen on just the first frame? If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board. Taking this into consideration means that you’ll send an email with interesting animation to those clients that can handle it, while still ensuring that the rest get a sense of the design and message even without motion.
The deciding factor…?
With so many potential hurdles, should you even use animated GIFs at all? As with most elements of email design, there’s no hard and fast rule, but we do recommend exercising using restraint in their frequency. Part of the appeal of animation is how rarely it appears. However, if overused, the novelty will quickly wear off, and recipients may become accustomed to your ‘clever’ design to the point where it will no longer spur much of a change in CTR.
It’s also important not to overcompensate when designing your GIF. Animated GIFs are by their very nature flashy and eye-catching, so there’s no need to go overboard with large blinking frames and rapidly changing colors. This is more likely to annoy customers than to entice them. Stick to tasteful animations that use muted colors, move at a steady pace, or perhaps loop just once. This can be much more effective than throwing every animation trick in the book at your customers. In this, as in many other areas, less is often more. Good luck!
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