How to Add a GIF to an Email + 14 Creative Examples

Remember the early ages of the internet? The days when MySpace and MSN ruled our worlds and there was no way to use the internet and the phone at the same time? There was one thing that most definitely caught your eye during that time.

The appearance of animated pictures—or GIFs.

GIFs have become a part of our everyday lives. They are simply EVERYWHERE! They represent a way of communicating with the outside world and one of many tools for humor among internet users.

And let’s not forget the oldest debate of the internet era. Is “GIF” with a “J” or a “G”?

But we don't want to get into it right now (we got some strong opinions over here) nor bore you with historical facts about the development of GIFs. Let’s stick to what matters today. And that’s how GIFs are used to catch users’ attention and increase engagement in emails.

GIFs in Email Design

Did you know that people remember only 10% of what they hear according to an infographic from Wyzowl? And only 20% of what they read? Honestly, we are not surprised!

BUT they remember 80% of what they see and do! Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

But, hey, it’s not 1999! Today’s users demand MORE! While static pictures do give visual power to your emails, they are not really dynamic. On the other hand, videos are extremely powerful but they are still not supported by all email clients.

A possible magical solution to this problem?

GIFs’ purpose in emails is to add to the overall message and be the middle ground between static images and videos.

In the first example below, you can clearly see the eye path our designer wants you to follow, with the descending BEST SELLERS text below the copy. The GIF is enticing you to scroll down as it leads you to the call to action (CTA).
1 — 1THRIVE's Best Sellers GIF
Source: The Better Creative
Sometimes though, less can be more! You need to know what’s important and tell that to your email recipients. Or rather, in the case of GIFs — SHOW it!
2 — 1THRIVE's St. Patrick's Day GIF
Source: The Better Creative
3 — Sterling Forever's Last Chance Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
Do we have your attention? Good. Now, listen. We’ll tell you a little secret. If you have static parts in the image, you can separate them from the GIF just like we did in the examples below.

Why? Smaller dimensions = smaller file size = faster loading speed = smaller email weight = better email experience overall!

The animated parts below (truck and calendar) don't take the attention away, rather they add to the overall message and amuse the viewers.
4 — Fringe Sport's WODers Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
5 — Fringe Sport's Fitness Goals Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
Sometimes, though, the vision we have for the GIF can’t be done in only two parts.

Below we have an example of 3 GIFs and a static image. However, when put together, you wouldn’t be able to really tell it’s cut like that. But shh! That’s kind of the point.
6 — Ephedra Warehouse's Free Shipping Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
Of course, sometimes, you need a smooth transition. But listen to our warning: it comes with a cost. It takes up far more space — no Law of Surprise here for you Witcher fans! At times like this, you want to keep it short and sweet.
7— Club Furniture's Best Sellers Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
Unfortunately, when it comes to GIFs, you can’t have it all! Here’s the breakdown—the trick is—you only get to pick 2.
Now, you may be wondering — what’s so good about GIFs anyway? We actually have an answer for that too.

GIFs — The Good And The Bad

  1. Entertainment – They’re fun and dynamic, you can surprise people reading the email, and they look really cool.
  2. Hierarchy – You can highlight what's most important.
  3. Usefulness – You can showcase products and tutorials, step-by-step guides, etc. This way the content will be far more engaging.
  4. Length - They can be shorter than a regular text/image.

  1. There literally aren’t any!
  2. Okay, for real now, they can be a bit heavy on the MB, which can technically slow down the loading time, but not if you're an expert and keep all your GIFs below 3MB in size.
  3. Perfection (a GIF) takes time.
  4. You need to customize them (or create them from scratch) if you want to properly capture your brand's style.
  5. GIFs can pose a problem in terms of accessibility for a variety of reasons.

GIFs That Keep On GIFing!

Now that you know how to create a GIF for an email, and what to watch out for, check out some of our other work below—it might inspire your next GIF.
8 — International Key Supply's Website Launch GIF
Source: The Better Creative
9 — Fringe Sport's Back in Stock GIF
Source: The Better Creative
10 — 1THRIVE's Valentine's Day GIF
Source: The Better Creative
11 — 1THRIVE's Markers Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
12 — Leisure Shop Direct's BBQ Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
13 — Sterling Forever's Must-Have Campaign GIF
Source: The Better Creative
14 — Hybrid Racing's Product Launch GIF
Source: The Better Creative

Final Thoughts

No matter whether you like them or not (you’d be the first though), one thing is for sure: GIFs are here to stay! And by using them you can definitely take your emails to the next level!

However, don’t forget that there should always be a reason why you’re using them. Don’t animate just for the sake of it!
Danica Spasic
Email Designer @ The Better Creative
In collaboration with Simona Gelova, Content Marketing Expert
July 13, 2022

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